Posted by: Eddie deGuzman | May 24, 2009

Aikido Across the Kanmon Straits

Ms. Abe, a music teacher from school, invited me to the aikido dojo where her daughter practices.  It’s located just across the Kanmon Straits  in Shimonoseki.  The teacher is Hideo Matsuno, 6th dan.  He’s a very nice guy and all the members were friendly and cheerful.  A google search showed the dojo as part of a group of dojo called 自然会 /Jinen Kai.  But it is also Aikikai and Suganuma Sensei will be testing there on June 21st.  I was invited to attend so I think I just might. It was a very positive evening.

There was a 15 minute warm-up, an intense main portion, a water break and part two.  At 8:30 the kids left and the adults stayed and practiced freely until 9:00.

This dojo is a combined child/adult class and and the style and format of the class is different than at Kuroishi Sensei’s dojo.  He knew of my dojo and met Kuroishi sensei years ago when he first started and went to pay respect. I haven’t done breakfall warm-ups in years.  But I suppose it’s necessary for beginners.  There were also colored kyu belts which I haven’t seen since I left the U.S. and ODU dojo 15 years ago.

The techniques were the same, yet different.  Even the starting techinique, tenkan, was different than I am used too.  The teacher paired me up with the highest ranking student at first and later the younger, strongest, genkiest guys.  It was really a good physical work-out and I imagine I’d lose weight if I continued to practice there which I’m considering doing.  Everyone there has that little aikido spark of enthusiasm.

Matsuno Sensei showed me a couple of things during the class.  One of which was tenchi-nage.  Theirs is noticeably different, rather from their perspective, mine is.  When I threw him, he didn’t quite like the feel of it and showed me his way which also works.  For me the difference was one of focus.  Their tenchi-nage receives the motion in an almost always ura version, whereas ours can move straight forward.  We also have an ura version.  In addition to that, there was more focus on the path that the hands follow, one of least resistance, which is in no way bad or wrong.  Ours focuses more on connection at the grasp and a whole body connection and forward intention.  It’s a little tough to explain but you can throw it into the general kokyu ball of wax.

The very last technique was done in a line which I’d done at Aikido of Norfolk, Jim Baker’s dojo when I visited a few years back.  They called it munetori nage(at least that’s what a white belt told me).  I’ve heard it called kokyu-nage.  At any rate we don’t do it much because we lack the space in our dojo.

Other foreigners have practiced at this dojo before but there are none currently attending.  They told me that in the past it was difficult because they didn’t speak much Japanese or know aikido.  I hope that means that both my Japanese and my aikido are improving! 🙂



  1. Hi Eddie,

    Sounds like a fun time across the Strait. Are you still going there?


  2. Hi Steve,

    Nice to hear from you. I go over to Shimonoseki when I can. I went three times over summer vacation as well as our dojo’s regular workouts, and I also went up to Tokyo and practiced at Aikikai honbu dojo again.

    I just got back from Friday night workout. It was great, as usual. Partnered up with Suzuki Shihan first, then Zemyou-san and then Matsunaga-san. Three great partners makes for a great learning experience!

    Everyone is wondering how you’re doing back in the U.S. By the way, could you send me the jpg you took after workout before you left? I’d like to put it up on the blog.


  3. Hi Eddie,

    My name is Reid and in a few weeks I will be moving to Shimonoseki. I’ve trained a little in both Taijutsu and Jiujutsu in New Zealand and am interested in finding a dojo with a different discipline – Aikido or judo hopefully. Is there much you can tell me about this dojo that you train at or perhaps point me in the right direction to find out more.


    Reid Parker

  4. Hi Reid, as you can imagine, I’ve neglected this blog for a while now. If you are still in Shimonoseki, give me a holler- aiki . eddie @ gmail . com minus spaces.

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