Every two years, a unique event in the aikido world takes place in the UK and this year saw the third iteration of the Aiki Extended seminar. So what makes it so special? There are a lot of reasons.
First, no other event that I know of provides so many teachers in such a condensed period of time. This year saw 25 presenters.
Second, the breadth of topics covered is simply staggering and many times the presenters offer insight on topics that simply aren’t covered elsewhere. For example this year we looked at the part that aikido can play in dealing with depression, politics, leadership, business, teaching the blind, and everyday conversation to name but a few.
Third, the more traditional aikido sessions focus on principle rather than technique, so that the students, no matter what their lineage, have a takeaway that they can bring into their own practice.
Fourth, the seminar offers the opportunity to explore related arts/topics and to see how they relate to aikido, (yoga, tai chi, Alexander technique).
Fifth, the event cuts across the normal aikido boundaries. Students/ teachers from a wide range of lineages are represented. They train together with an open minded attitude and the differences seem to be forgotten, whilst what we share is celebrated.
Sixth, Aiki Extended has an international flavour as students and teachers come from far and wide. This year we had a generous helping of Americans, as well as representation from Poland, Greece, Germany, Norway and Ireland, with of course good representation from across the UK.
Seventh, every single teacher comes because they want to. They give their time, expertise and money with no financial reward. They all pay their way to be there, to stay there and share there. Everyone recognises that they are students first and share what they have with modesty and skill. There is no ego, just an enormous sense of sharing and unity.
Eighth, it’s proved to be an amazing way of making new friends, building networks and has resulted in a good many seminars post the event that would never have happened otherwise. The ripples just keep on spreading.
Lastly this celebration of aikido manages to raise a significant amount of money for the good works of Aiki Extensions, (www.aikiextensions.org).
In summary, the Aiki Extended seminar offers an exploration of aikido unlike any other and in a spirit that truly represents what aikido can and should be about. It’s an event that will live with you for always, a fact that is easy to demonstrate, as I already have 18 teachers lined up for the 2020 event, which will take place between 11-13 September 2020. Mark the date, save your pennies and watch the website, (https://qcooke.wixsite.com/aiki-extended) and if appropriate offer your skills and services.