I could only reply “I will think about it.”

Bak László visited Japan in May 2012. While we were having lunch together after a keiko, someone asked me when I might visit Europe again, because I mentioned that my last visit to Europe was back in 2002. I was at a loss for words since I really had no idea about when I might go again. However, László answered for me instead. “In October 2013, Noriko will come to my dojo’s 15th anniversary. I will invite Urban from Sweden and an instructor from Kobayashi Dojo,” he said. I could only reply “I will think about it.” When I received the annual schedule of Kobayashi Dojo for 2013, I immediately recalled this conversation. From that point on it seemed that things just worked out in a way that made it possible for me to make the trip; it was as if Hungary was calling me.

15:2When I took the first step into Shinbukan dojo on the first day of the camp, I thought of Kodaira dojo. The feeling of the tatami under my bare feet was completely the same feeling I had there 10 years ago. (Kobayashi dojo had changed all tatamis so the hard and cold tatamis were not there anymore).

There were more than 70 participants from Bulgaria, Japan, Sweden, Germany and Hungary in attendance. Even if we did not share the same language, once we started to practice together, aikido our common language, the tool for communication. Not only did I recall the feeling of hard and cold tatami, but while there I also felt the same atmosphere I always feel at Kobayashi dojo in Japan .

There were also happy reunions with people who had uchideshi in Japan and those who had visited Japan before. Also, I was impressed that some people still remembered my last visit that happened back in 2001. Even with people whom I had not met for a long time, once we met on tatami we just opened up to each other immediately. That is one thing I really appreciate about doing Aikido.

Both Urban-sensei and Koyanagi-sensei taught techniques that built off of the basics, like Hanmi position, Ikkyō Undō, and Sabaki (Irimi, Tenkan, Kaiten). Even though their teaching styles were different, I could tell the basic conception was the same, which is Kobayashi-sensei’s Aikido. Especially, I liked how Urban-sensei included some anecdotes in his teaching. Some episodes were about what he learned while he was the first uchideshi from a foreign country in Kobayashi dojo, in 1980. I got a feeling of meeting Kobayashi-sensei as he must have been at that time.


Even though the camp was held in Esztergom, Hungary, I kept having the feeling that I was still in Japan, practicing aikido in Kobayashi dojo or the annual camp at Iwai. That is one of the greatest things Laszlo had accomplished in the past 15 years: to cultivate the same atmosphere as Kobayashi dojo in Japan. I got the impression that the way Kobayashi-sensei communicates through aikido without making any boundaries has spread far beyond Japan.


It was an honor to be a part of this anniversary camp. Congratulations, Bak László, for all that you have accomplished during these first 15 years. I am very grateful for your invitation and hospitality. I also would like to thank everyone for making every single moment I spent in Esztergom, Budapest, Kecskemét, Pilisszentiván, Solymar, and Slovak so enjoyable. My stay would not have been as happy without the presence of all of you I met in Hungary. I really hope to see you all soon. I also hope we can practice joyfully together even after 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years, wherever in the world it may be.

Ujjie Noriko


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