The International Aikido Federation (IAF) is a federation of aikido organisations which are directly affiliated to the Aikikai Hombu in Japan, the ‘mother house’ of Aikido.
It is the only worldwide federation of such Aikido organisations and at present it has 49 members.
The organisational structure of the IAF is a unique blend of the ‘vertical’ and the ‘horizontal’.
The IAF President is always the Aikido Doshu and a body called the Senior Council has the power to monitor the decisions taken by the IAF Congress, in order to ensure that the federation does not deviate from the ‘way’ of aikido, as taught by the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba.
These decisions are taken at the Congress by the delegates from each member organisation. The Congress meets every four years under the presidency of the IAF Chairman and makes its decisions by means of the democratic process of debate and voting. Each member organisation has one vote.
Membership of the IAF is open to national organisations which have Recognition from the Aikikai Hombu. Membership is not open to individuals.
There are currently over 100 organisations which have Recognition from the Hombu, but not all of these organisations can be members of the IAF.
It is important to understand that Recognition by the Aikikai Hombu is quite different from Membership of the IAF. At present the IAF has a rule that only one organisation from each country may be a member, but the Aikikai recognizes any aikido organization that fulfills the conditions for Recognition.
An important task of the Congress is to elect the officials who manage the day-to-day operations of the IAF. In between Congresses, the federation is managed by these officials: the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, General Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant General Secretary and four other members. In addition a non-voting Senior Council and Technical Council are appointed by the IAF President, who is Doshu.
The elected officials form the Directing Committee, which is accountable to the Congress and which holds formal meetings every two years. Of course, members of the Directing Committee hold regular discussion sessions via the Internet.
The last Directing Committee Meeting took place from September 8 till september 12 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. An aikido training seminar was held during the latter part of the meeting, with classes given by Mitsuteru Ueshiba, Waka Sensei, Chrisrian Tissier Shihan, Ulf Evenas Shihan, together with other members of the IAF Directing Committee who are ranked 6th dan and 7th dan. Tony Smibert Shihan was also expected to attend, but he encountered some unexpected health problems and was unfortunately absent. (He has now recovered.) The training session was organized by Aikido Aikikai Foundation of Romania, headed by Dorin Marchis and was atternded by 450 participants. The IAF would like to offer thanks for Mr Marchis and his colleagues in the AAFR, for the excellent organization of the events.
During this Directing Committee Meeting preparations were made for the 12th IAF Congress, scheduled to take plan in Japan in 2016. The location of the Congress will be held in the city of Takasaki, in Gunma Prefecture and is scheduled for the last week in September. More information will be given on this website and on the IAF Facebook page as it becomes available.
Many IAF Congresses have been held in Japan and an aikido training course has usually been held to run parallel with the Congress.
This training course is an important part of the IAF Congress, for it allows delegates and ordinary aikidoists to practise the art under the guidance of high-ranking instructors directly affiliated to the Aikikai Hombu.
A training course will duly be held during the 12th Congress, to be held in Takasaki.
The IAF held its first Congress in 1976, in Tokyo, Japan. In 1984, the federation became a Full Member of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the International World Games Association (IWGA). GAISF recently changed its name to SportAccord.
Admission to membership of GAISF and the IWGA was an important milestone for the IAF, for membership of these two associations gives international recognition to aikido, to Doshu and to the Aikikai Hombu.
As a member of the IWGA, the IAF has participated in the World Games. Though Aikido does not hold competitions, participation in the World Games is an important way of making aikido better known. The IAF participated in the last World Games, held in Germany in 2005. An aikido training course, open to everybody, is generally held on the occasion of these events.
The IAF also took part in the Second SportAccord Combat Games, which took place in St Petersburg, in 2013. For these Games, over 70 participants assembled and gave demonstrations over three days. The IAF participated in these Games and gave an international demonstration. The shihans who gave demonstrations were Ulf Evenas, from Sweden, Christian Tissier, from France, and Tsuruzo Miyamoto, from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. An aikido seminar also took place to coincide with the aikido demonstrations and the instructor in the final class was Mr Mitsuteru Ueshiba, who is the great-grandson of the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Mr Ueshiba was also the Ambassador for Aikido at the World Combat Games. SportAccord has recently faced some upheavals and the organization is currently being restructured. It is now unlikely that the next World Combat Games will take place in 2017 and the timing and the location of the next edition is not yet known.
Since its foundation in 1976, the IAF has also been able to fulfil several important functions:
1. The IAF has provided a means whereby aikido practitioners from all over the world can meet and practise the art together under the direction of high-ranking teachers, especially those teachers directly affiliated to the Aikikai Hombu.
2. The IAF has provided an open forum in which aikido organisations affiliated to the Aikikai can meet in friendship and discuss matters of common interest.
3. The IAF has provided a forum for discussion between these aikido organisations and instructors affiliated to the Aikikai Hombu who reside abroad.
4. The IAF has, through its congresses and other meetings, provided an official channel of communication between aikido organisations and the Aikikai Hombu.
5. At a national and a continental level, the IAF has, through its member federations, helped to sow the seeds of aikido on new ground: to introduce and spread the art in countries where it did not exist.
6. The IAF has engaged in official contacts with various officially recognised sports bodies and has thus shown the face of aikido on occasions like the World Games and the SportAccord Combat Games, where the art risks being misunderstood.
The risks of misunderstanding exist, because aikido is not a sport in one commonly-accepted sense of the term, for it does not hold competitions.
7. The IAF’s status as a recognised international federation has been of great assistance in enabling some member federations to gain recognition from their own government authorities.
Not all members need such recognition, but some do—and this is a fact which is of some importance.
P A Goldsbury, IAF Chairman