Aikido newspaper article
Report on Suginami Aikikai
Practice held three days a week. Affiliated dojos in the U.S.
We seldom think about the roots of a name and sometimes we are embarrassed when asked about it, but they are sometimes quite simple. Suginami's root is that the landlord planted sugi's (Japanese cedars) to define the boundary on the Ohme road in the early Edo period. Nami is a row.
Suginami was an agricultural area near Edo (old Tokyo). Many other kinds of trees as well were planted, so now it is very full of green compared to other areas of Tokyo.
In 1975, Hiroshi Kato sensei (now 8th dan) first established this Aikido club (associated with Aikikai from its beginning) at the Koenji public gymnasium. In 1987, Suginami Aikikai was officially designated as an affiliated dojo (marshal training place) of Aikikai. As there was not a regular Aikido dojo at the Koenji gymnasium, they had to place many tatami's (mats) by themselves before practicing Aikido.
In 1991, the Ogikubo gymnasium was completed, including a regular dojo with 160 tatami mats. Since then it has been a regular training place for three days a week. Found in 6-7 minutes by walking east from the JR station's south entrance, it is located in a quiet residential area near the public library.
While still in his teens, Kato sensei began to practice Aikido. He met the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei, was very impressed by him, and decided to dedicate himself to practicing Aikido into the future. There are few people now in Suginami Aikikai who knew the founder.
Recently, Kato sensei said he has found that Aikido is not something to learn from others, but to learn by oneself. Ideally, the practice should be for oneself, and it should be rigorous and sternly self-disciplined, by onefs own choice.
The members of Suginami Aikikai are about 100. There are affiliated dojos in the U.S.: in the west, San Francisco and Palo Alto in California, and Houston, Texas in the south (famous as the NASA space shuttle center). Nearly 300 students are learning Aikido there. Kato sensei regularly visits those dojos to teach and administer testing twice a year. Students have also come from abroad to visit and practice Aikido in the Ogikubo dojo. Some have obtained jobs in Japan to enable them to stay longer and deepen their practice of Aikido with Kato sensei.
I found one of the ideal images in their practice when I saw young and old men and women were learning Aikido in a friendly spirit, including students from abroad who believe in the founder's saying of wa wo tohtobu (respect peace, admire getting together in a friendly spirit) even if they can not communicate well in words. (written by Fuji)