Monday was the first of the two days of aikido demonstrations at the World Combat Games in St. Petersburg. Eighty aikidoka from 32 countries around the world showed a multitude of aikido techniques and training forms for a total of four hours. Tuesday will have even more.
The aikido demonstrations took place in the Peterburgsky arena, on a great stage and with hundreds of spectators. It was also broadcast live worldwide. Highlights and parts of the demonstrations are available at the SportAccord World Combat Games YouTube account.
The demonstration was divided into two blocks of two hours each, where the national teams performed in quick succession according to a given program. At the live airing of the first block, IAF Senior Council member Tony Smibert Shihan was the expert commentator.
The first block was devoted to basics, whereas the second had a theme of higher speed and intensity, as well as some more advanced techniques and attacks. Each team had been given specific tasks for their parts of the demonstrations, to make a total representing the variety and wide curriculum of aikido.
This exploration of the many aspects of aikido will continue Tuesday, ending with demonstrations by the three Shihan teachers Ulf Evenås, Christian Tissier and Tsuruzo Miyamoto.
I checked with several of the senior aikido teachers present, who all agreed about the overall sharpness and quality of the demonstrations, even exceeding what had been seen at the Combat Games in Beijing 2010.
The video filming, shown also on big screens in the arena, contained several slow motion highlights after each team's demonstrations, adding to the awe of it all. No wonder the audience applauded frequently.
I caught three Russian teenage boys as they were leaving the arena, and asked them if they liked the aikido demonstrations.
“A little,” one of the boys said with a rascal smile, showing a moderate space between his thumb and index finger. Then his fingers closed in on each other as he continued: “Very little.”
The boys were more into boxing and wrestling. On the other hand, they had sat through more than an hour and a half of aikido demonstrations, so something must still have caught their attention.
More photos of the event will be posted at the IAF Facebook account.
Text by Stefan Stenudd
Photos by Viktor Kazarin