The interview with Hiroyuki Sakurai, 6 Dan Aikido Aikikai Hombu Dojo Shihan was taken on June 9, 2018 during the third seminar with the Sensei at Chisinau, Moldova. I had my chance to ask Sensei during the lunch break between the classes. Best regards to the main organizer of the seminar Vitalie Oncea 5 Dan Aikido Aikikai and Rado Marinov 5 Dan Aikido Aikikai for helping with the translation.
When and where you were born?
I was born in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. 24 of August, 1971.
What exatly made you interested in Aikido?
I love the Budo overall. I’ve been doing some Karate and Kendo before but it was not as serious as I do Aikido now.
What were the main difficulties for you to join?
Aikido is not easy. One goes through a constant search in order to find correct directions and ways. This takes all life and makes Aikido difficult but at the same time it makes Aikido so interesting for me. Hard ways are the most interesting ones for me.
Was is Hombu right from the start?
It was a University Aikido Club. Ichihashi Norihiko Sensei was my first teacher. He leaded the classes for a year and for the next 3 years it was about the Kuribayashi Takanori Sensei.
What are your brightest memories from that time?
I had a lot pleasure attending the classes. Atmosphere was really good all around.
Who were those Aikidokas that you walked your way through with?
Fujimaki Sensei, Irie Sensei, Mori Sensei, Katsurada Sensei were uchi-deshis at the same time with me. We shared a lot of the hours together.
What is your role in Hombu now?
As you know, I belong to Hombu Dojo instructor department, and the teaching of Aikido is my main task. Besides that, I am involved in editing the magazine “Aikido Tankyu (odyssey, quest)” issued by Aikikai and in the operation of several events, such as setting up the venue for the All Japan Aikido Embu-taikai also.
You’re a 6th Dan Hombu Dojo Shihan now. What is your lessons schedule?
I do a Regular class at Hombu, a special Women class and made a class for the Begginers but the last one doesn’t exist anymore. I also give lessons and seminars at some Universities and have groups around Tokyo, Yokohama and other places. I had some groups in the companies at past too. Have lessons to give for almost everyday.
How does the Hombu changed since you joined?
Yes, these are the different times now. I think Hombu is the pretty much the same and changes are mostly about the people that are attending. They are having all those devices like phones and tablets and do not like to do the exercises as it was before. Intellectual jobs are kind of over the physical activity now.
What are the Aikido goals you have these days?
It is not possible to set the goal clearly. I would like to pursue Aikido as deeply as possible.
You’re coming in Moldova for the third time now, what’s your favourite here?
I like the spirit of the land, the humor of the people. Still, during the classes people are doing the best possible and are very accurate, precise. I like the Aikido in Moldova and feel very well as an instructor here.
Any other countries you give Aikido seminars at?
Sure. Bulgaria, Argentina, Poland, Serbia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and many more.
Thank you for your answers, Sensei and Bon Appetit!