POULSBO — For the first time in the 13-year history of Kitsap Aikido, the Poulsbo-based martial arts organization hosted the Pacific Northwest Regional Aikido Seminar and Demonstration in the Poulsbo Middle School gymnasium Saturday.
Aikido organizations from Bainbridge Island, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, Canada made the trek to the North End for a rare opportunity to see head of the United States Aikido Yoshimitsu Yamada in person. Yamada was a student of Morihei Ueshiba, who was the founder of Aikido.
For those interested in the martial art, the event — which featured Aikido’s flowing, artistic movements — did not disappoint.
Jonathan Lilly of Seattle-based Puget Sound Aikido said he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to see the legendary Yamada in person.
“Yamada is a special teacher,” he said. “It’s a very rare occasion for him to travel out here. You have to take the chance to see him when it’s offered.”
Larry Fickel of Seabeck agreed.
“It’s special opportunity for everyone who’s a Aikido student,” he said. “It’s important to observe a direct student of the founder of Aikido. That’s why there are so many people here today. We are taking advantage of that.”
Fickel said he thoroughly enjoyed Yamada’s demonstrations during the seminar.
“He’s been a great teacher,” he said. “He has an extraordinary ability when giving explanations to questions.”
Indianola resident Terry McDonald took a seat in the bleachers, admiring the ability of the Aikido participants.
“You don’t get to see many martial arts demonstrations like this one in Kitsap County very often,” he said. “Aikido is enjoyable to watch. It’s probably the most fluid of the martial arts. It’s something to see. These people here (partaking in demonstrations) know what they’re doing.”
Yamada is an eighth degree black belt and has been a Chief Aikido instructor since 1964.
“They’re polishing their techniques. I like teaching the art of Aikido,” Yamada said. “We have different people from all over the world. Different generations are here. That’s what makes it exciting.”
Kitsap Aikido Chief instructor Dan Delaney was thrilled Yamada decided to make the trip to Poulsbo for the event.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “He travels all over the world. We feel very honored that he felt our dojo was legitimate enough for him to visit. He’s pleased with how we run our organization. These demonstrations today give people in our area an opportunity to get familiar with Aikido.”
Delaney said Aikido is a sport individuals can participate in for their entire life.
“It’s beneficial physically and mentally,” he said. “It’s something a person can do at any age and participate in for their whole life if they want to.”
Aikido is a unique Japanese martial art based on classical jujutsu and weapons that seeks to resolve conflicts peacefully. Its movements are circular and flowing and designed to utilize the force of an attacker rather than fight with it, Delaney said.
“Aikido is an art. It’s an art of not fighting,” he said.
Master of Ceremonies Jason Parker said the demonstrations and seminar were a success.
“It was great seeing so many different people come together,” he said following the final demonstration. “People pour their hearts and souls into training for Aikido. It was special seeing so many people here.”