Saturday was the day when most of the aikido participants at the World Combat Games in St. Petersburg arrived, some of them after more than 24 hours of travel.
All the aikido participants stay at the same hotel, Park Inn Pulkovskaya, where a big team of volunteers have been constantly ready to receive them and help with the many practical matters. They were swiftly transported from the nearby St. Petersburg airport by shuttle buses.
Although many of the participants had traveled for very long, they were in good mood, if not to say cheerful, immediately taking the opportunity to get acquainted with aikidoka from all the corners of the world.
They have a tough schedule in front of them. Sunday activities start early with a seminar in a sports center, to which the shuttle buses go already at 7:30 AM. Classes will be held by the shihan teachers Ulf Evenås, Christian Tissier and Tsuruzo Miyamoto. The Aikido Ambassador to the 2013 World Combat Games, Waka Sensei Mitsuteru Ueshiba, will also teach a class.
Apart from the constant stream of arrivals of the participants, the Park Inn Pulkovskaya was the scene of a rare event of particular significance to Russian aikido. Representatives of all the Hombu Recognized Russian aikido organizations sat down together with IAF officials to discuss matters of mutual interest.
The meeting lasted a couple of hours, where the situation in Russia as well as IAF and Aikikai perspectives were shared.
“It was a unique thing that all those representatives of Russian organizations had a meeting together,” said Wilko Vriesman, IAF Directing Committee member, who had taken the initiative to arrange the meeting. “The atmosphere was friendly and constructive.”
Later in the evening, the aikido participants gathered to listen to a welcoming speech by Aikido Ambassador Mitsuteru Ueshiba, and then went on to socialize and to have dinner at the complimentary buffet the World Combat Games organizers offer every evening of the event.
Text by Stefan Stenudd
Photos by Viktor Kazarin