- Category: Aikido - IAF
- Published on Thursday, 01 March 2007 10:22
- Written by Peter Goldsbury
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 46 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.
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 Technical Council is appointed by the IAF President, who is Doshu.
These elected officials are all accountable to a Directing Committee, which meets every two years. The Directing Committee, in turn, is accountable to the Congress.
The last Directing Committee Meeting took place from October 19 till October 22 in Moscow. The meeting was followed by a training seminar, given by Mitsuteru Ueshiba, Waka Sensei, S Sugawara Shihan, H Fujimaki Shihan and T Hino Shidoin, from the Hombu Dojo, and T Smibert Shihan and S Stenudd Shihan from the IAF. The training session was part of a major aikido festival, organized by the Aikido Aikikai Federation of Russia (AAFR), the IAF member for the Russian Federation.
During this Directing Committee Meeting preparations were made for the 11th IAF Congress, scheduled to take plan in Japan in 2012. The devastating Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in March 2011 and the possibility of the 11th Congress being held in Japan was thrown into doubt. There was much discussion with the Aikikai Hombu and eventually the decision was made to go ahead and hold the Congress in Tokyo as planned. The location was the Olympic Memorial Center in Yoyogi, Tokyo, which was the same location as for the 8th and the 9th IAF Congresses. Over 40 IAF member organizations were present or represented and there was a large attendance at the aikido training seminars, held to coincide with the Congress. New officials were elected or appointed and their names appear elsewhere on this website. New IAF members were elected for Estonia, Slovenia, Romania and Venezuela and preparations began for the IAF demonstration at the 2013 World Combat Games, due to take place in St Petersburg in October 2013.
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 very successful training course recently took place during the 11th Congress, which was held in Tokyo, Japan.
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 Sportaccord Combat Games, which took place in Beijing, China, in 2010. For these Games, over 70 participants assembled and gave demonstrations over three days. The demonstrations culminated in two special demonstrations given by shihans, Christian Tissier Shihan (7th dan) from the FFAAA (France) and Yoshiaki Yokota Shihan (7th dan), from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan. The next Sportaccord World Combat Games is planned for 2013. The IAF will participate in these Games and give an international demonstration.
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