Aikido and the marzipan sphere. 2023 Aikido FIJLKAM Seminar in Palermo – Part 2

A few days after its conclusion, it is possible to draw a small report of the National Aikido Seminar organized by FIJLKAM in Palermo.

In the name of hope

The location chosen by the organization to host the event is a symbolic place of hope, not only for Palermo. The San Paolo Palace is a hotel confiscated from the mafia and has become a symbol of revitalization. A reality that provides employment to many people and is a reference for conference activities throughout northern Sicily. Being able to organize here an event of a discipline that promotes the well-being and dignity of the individual is not just a symbolic act of hope.

Skyscrapers don’t need wide bases yet deep foundations

By institutional tradition, federal national activities have always been held at the Olympic center in Ostia (Rome). In recent years FIJLKAM has chosen to adopt a decentralized, itinerant formula. The reasons are multiple. The Olympic center hosts many events, not always guaranteeing the right setting of space and tranquility for an event such as a national seminar. Furthermore, some local entities are equipping themselves with large Martial Arts facilities, which are enhanced by national events.

This leads to conditions such that the logistical inconvenience (well known to Sicilian and Sardinian friends for every trip to mainland) has contributed to reducing the number of participants compared to recent national events.

However, three things must be said in this regard:

  1. In the world of associations, there are many ways to make numbers appear. Inflating the number of members is not that difficult.
  2. It is more difficult to build loyalty among the base, convincing them of the validity of a proposal. We were there when Fijlkam organized the first Aikido seminar in Isola delle Femmine (Palermo). In the space of a few years the Sicilian tatami has been filled with practitioners and this is proof of a clear adherence.
  3. If the goal of a movement is numerical growth, it must be remembered that people are attracted by clear proposals and by the way in which teachers and practitioners embody their passion. A convincingly passionate first dan has more impact than a teacher who has within him the ashes of an extinguished fire.

There are a thousand reasons, all legitimate in themselves, for “not being there” at events of this kind. However, if not being there is a sign of an internal malaise; if it is the indicator of a passion that broke dormant in the past; if you consider yourself in a situation in which there is nothing more to learn from teaching, then it is appropriate to ask yourself not only about the sense of belonging (to the federation or to an EPS), rather about the sense of dragging yourself without a goal.

Skyscrapers need very deep pillars and a structure capable of elastically withstanding large stresses. A base that is not wide but not that narrow of people who practice and commit themselves daily to witness, live and spread the values of a discipline is certainly a guarantee of growth for the future.

For the first time in a long time, we didn’t see people abandon the tatami, start giving conferences on the side of the venue but everyone – everyone – remained committed for all the hours of training. This is also a sign of change.

The marzipan sphere

The culture of hospitality of southern Italy sees unique peaks of elegance in Palermo. Receiving martorana (marzipan) fruit as a welcome gift is the emerging part of an iceberg made of full availability and obsessive attention so that the guest is happy in every aspect.

All things that must become a stimulus to acquire an ever higher style of hospitality and attention to others. And paying attention so that the event is useful in multiple dimensions.

If it must be a training seminar, then the provision of training (mandatory for those who teach classes) at the BLSD and use of the defibrillator is welcome. The scientific contribution of the nutritionist is welcome to highlight some good nutrition practices for martial activity. We welcome the illustration of how to access funding for our activities, the institutional meetings with local administrators who illustrate the plans for sports facilities…

All without taking away space for practice and moments of happy conviviality made even happier by a cuisine which, by making our dynamic sphere more rounded, demands a tribute of additional ukemi.

Even in this, especially for those who have been “inside” for a while, there is a wind of change. To talk about Aikido you can no longer talk “only” about Aikido.

A polytechnic tatami

The current National Technical Commission is represented by masters whose technical background is clearly rooted in Iwama Ryu and Kobayashi Ryu. Who knows a little history of our Italian Aikido knows that until some time ago the federal technical program coincided with the Iwama Ryu program. The National Technical Commission worked over the years to draw up a unified technical program which gives value to the various styles and thus honors the personal history of each practitioner, bringing out the principles better, even before the techniques.

A polytechnic tatami can never fully satisfy a pedantic approach to the discipline. After all, no seminar, no matter who the Sensei is, is the place in which to carry out a purely technical path.

A polytechnic tatami, on the other hand, is the place where multiple dialects try to share their perspectives on the same principles, with the obvious conclusion that none of these will be able to prevail – and that no one will be able to say they have fully understood every nuance.

The hope is that the quantity of dialects represented, already rich today, may continue to grow, to contribute to moments of comparison. A comparison that is useful to root one’s belonging by enhancing that of others, facilitated by a common work that year after year highlights the common traits.

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