Cassidy, Kessler and Gonzalez: united in diversity

The Riviera Seminar represents one of the most important events within the Evolutionary Aikido Community, the international group we are member of led by Patrick Cassidy Sensei.

It is a very particular event, which cannot be described using the normal categories that usually frame a seminar. It is not purely technical, if by technical we mean dedicating three days to seeing, studying and practicing a list of techniques. It’s not exactly three days of coaching, in the sense that strengthening one’s relational, emotional and mental skills is not the only aspect that the seminar facilitate in developing.

It’s not even, strictly speaking, a reunion with friends. Or rather: it is the best opportunity of the year to meet people who live in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas and with whom a friendship has developed over the years. However, on the one hand, every year new people participate for the first time; on the other hand, the pace and intensity of the sessions do not allow much time to dedicate to public relations, which often happens in other contexts.

This event is created and hosted by Patrick Cassidy and Miles Kessler Sensei. Over the years, these two teachers have always tried to define an ambitious working theme for the Riviera Seminar.

They are instructors who, in their teaching method, have as their primary target pushing themselves – and therefore the group – towards that leading edge, that border area between what is already known and what is unknown, for both technical and personal growth.

We read from this perspective the invitation to Bruno Gonzalez Sensei to be a guest instructor in the seminar.

The Evolutionary Aikido Community is vast and hosts different souls and technical lineages that derive from different paths. It is a fact, however, that both Patrick Cassidy and Miles Kessler have a technical and didactic imprint roots in the great experience they gained in Japan, in the years in which they were students in Iwama by Morihiro Saito.

Exactly as happens in any small Dojos, gradually and without realizing it, the group acquires, as if by osmosis, the perspective, style and forms of teachers.

We could imagine that the same thing happens -more or less- for our community too and therefore it was an act of courageous openness and necessary multilateralism to open the doors to a teacher who not only brings with him a prestigious curriculum but also and above all a teaching talent of first magnitude.

Bruno Gonzalez entered with the utmost respect into an environment that was new to him – just as the proposal of the technical line that comes from Christian Tissier Shihan was new to many of those present. We appreciated his enormous tact, his clarity in proposing exercises in clear connection with the use of the sword and his patient availability on and off the tatami.

In words it is easy to say that, if you manage to remain firm in the principles, everything goes smoothly. And it was actually like this: although with different technical and didactic approaches, the connection exercises proposed by Miles Kessler were nothing more than the free body version of the sword exercises and the management of the verticality of the axis by Bruno Gonzalez. The attention to the organic nature of the movement and the details on the intention shown by him were nothing other than the path proposed by Patrick Cassidy in feeling one’s partner and sharing centers.

A path, to use key terms from this year’s event, which from apparent dissonance we move to a resonance and a certain coherence, which co-creates the action.

For the three teachers, who were meeting for the first time and moreover during a teaching session, it was certainly challenging. In some way they were the first to push themselves to the limits of their comfort zone. Yet theirs was a combination of mechanisms that were very different from each other and yet all functional and functioning. In the words of Bruno Gonzalez, “organic“.

In boring and neverending discussions it has been said a billion times that, for instance, the style of the French Aikikai is very fluid and dynamic while the Iwama Ryu is clear and powerful in its more or less maniacal geometry…

But is it really like that?

The Riviera Seminar, in the work facilitated by the teachers, showed that this is only the case on the surface, while in reality there is a place inside everyone and inside the relationship that is created in the practicing couple, where the technique emerges with the appearance of what unites.

Unity and diversity are essential for growth. As has been said in recent days, if you live in a dimension where you only experience what unites, you slip into homogeneity and end up not growing. After all, if we focus only on differences, not only we lose sight of what unites but – to give voice to everything that is different – it invariably end up never delving into anything and going astray.

Unity and diversity are constitutive elements of anyone’s experience, inside and outside the Dojo and require competence to be treated. That expertise that the three teachers evidently developed in their career and which they were able to credibly make available to the participants.

Unity in diversity – this is an optimal definition of a discipline like Aikido. The choice of this ambitious theme months ago sparked a series of chaotic reactions on social media. In fact, the term diversity, especially in its polarized meaning in Anglo-Saxon and American society, has a semantics that is now very distant from that which it has in other cultures and in other areas of the Western Countries themselves.

We greatly appreciated the courage of the organizers in keeping the theme fixed and in proposing with humble firmness a path, an exploration made through all the senses and skills of those who were there, mediated by the relationship and physical contact with other practitioners.

Because we are much more than any word that can define us and only those who have the courage to physically touch who they actually are can appreciate their uniqueness made up of their diversity.

   Send article as PDF   


  1. Thank you, Andrea! You captured the essence of the seminar, both in the intention and in the delivery. I’m very happy that you were able to join us and that you gained some benefit from the convergence! I’m looking forward to training together again soon!

    1. Thank you Miles! Hoping that such events could be a reference for the years to come.

Lascia un commento

Il tuo indirizzo email non sarà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *

Questo sito usa Akismet per ridurre lo spam. Scopri come i tuoi dati vengono elaborati.