I received a phone call from the Netherlands; “Hi, I am John Luijten and I would like to invite you to do a workshop in my dojo in the Netherlands.”
In 2008, it was one morning, our phone calls are always in the morning -maybe a Dutch habit!-. John had seen my video : La Voie du Souffle, directed by Teddy Barouh. It is about aikido as I practice it. We had spent months on thinking with Teddy how to present my art. It was in the days when Noro Masamichi sensei was still among us.
John had been very interested in knowing more about Noro sensei’s art and wished to discover it through my pratice. At the time, I suggested to present first my kenjutsu school, the sword of Miyamoto Musashi, the famous 2 swords samourai. The following year, I was back with a presentation of aikido. We had many conversations and John and I went to meet Iwami soke, 11th successor to Musashi when he came to the Netherlands. I joined him in Maruyama sensei’s Yuishinkai Aikido and went to seminars. Later he came to France and I presented him Ikeda sensei.
We had several meetings, with aikido practice and discussions smoothed with nice food in our plates and good beer in our glasses. Last year, he came with Monique to my dojo in Correze, France, on his way to Ikeda sensei’s workshop.
This way we built a strong relation and strengthened our ties and commitment to aikido as our central interest. John is open to new experiences. He enjoys mind opening. His students often welcome new teachers to their dojo. That is something I really appreciate. I once went that road but later had to concentrate on transmitting the ways of Noro Masamichi sensei and Iwami Toshio soke. I appreciate our links and our differences. It makes exchanges more valuable.
At a time, I told John that I wished to concentrate on a more solitary path. He understood. Later, when my dojos and my teachings were well grounded and ready to develop nicely, I told him I was ready to come back. He and Monique answered positively. So I am back to the Netherlands to meet his students once again!
Of John the most warming memory I recall is when I was injured and he changed the bandage of my hands on our trip to Iwami soke’s workshop in Netherlands. Also comes to my memory his interest in my explanation that aikido techniques are about opening doors, Ikkyo as well as Shiho Nage. His dojo opens its doors to new experiences. His dojo possesses a finely tuned aikido spirit.
Once again, John invites me. Our study will go by these words:
A technique is a wall we confront. There is no wall without a door. If the door is missing, then we have to imagine it and make it come real.