An Interview with Kimura Jiro Shihan
An encounter with the successor of Kobayashi Hirokazu Shihan in Japan
Kimura Jiro Shihan is a Japanese Aikido teacher, the successor of Kobayashi Hirokazu Shihan in Japan, and director of the Buikukai, one of the largest organizations affiliated with the Aikikai Foundation. In 2018, Guillaume Erard, a Daito Ryu practitioner and Aikido historian, and Jordy Delage - who started Aikido in a group affiliated to Kobayashi Hirokazu - teamed up for a joint interview held at the master’s Dojo in Osaka. This is the story of this encounter!
Tokyo, Saturday, September 15th, 2018, Guillaume and I boarded the Shinkansen to Osaka to interview Kimura Jiro Shihan, one of the emblematic figures of Aikido in the Kansai region.
Kimura Shihan started Aikido in 1963 as a Junior High School student under Kobayashi Hirokazu Shihan, well before the passing of Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. Kimura Shihan is one of the main Aikido figures of the Kansai region. He received his 8th Dan at the 2016 Kagami Biraki ceremony, at the same time as Christian Tissier and Miyamoto Tsuruzo Shihan.
By our side, Nicolas and Jean-François, members of Seido who have come to lend a hand for this weekend, which promises to be filled with emotion.
As soon as we arrived in Osaka at the end of the day, we started our mission! First stop: the Higashiosaka Arena where we had a meeting with Kimura Jiro Shihan.
We arrived inside the Dojo where dozens of practitioners are already dressed for the lesson and warming up. Around the tatami mats, several generations rub shoulders, from very young children to people who could be their grandparents, sign of a practice open to all.
We joined the practitioners with Guillaume while Nicolas and Jean-François filmed the class. When the lesson finished, we went out for a dinner nearby with Kimura Shihan accompanied by some of his faithful disciples. We took this opportunity to present Kimura Shihan with a bokken that I had specially engraved for the occasion.
After dinner, everyone went home (or, for us, to the hotel) for a good night's sleep in preparation for the morning workout that was coming the next day.
Sunday morning thus began with a class in Kimura Shihan's personal dojo. The presence of two practitioners who were not part of the Buikukai brought a crowd of practitioners, mostly young, and the cramped dojo was instantly filled more than is reasonable.
Once the training was over, Kimura Shihan took me to lunch with Guillaume while Nicolas and Jean-Francois photographed a large number of personal archive photos of the sensei and prepared Kimura Jiro's office for the upcoming interview.
Back from lunch, Kimura Shihan took a seat, we launched the cameras and a three-hour interview began...
If I already knew Kimura sensei through a visit to his dojo a few years earlier with Rahel Bünzli, our former manager, this second experience confirmed my first impression while giving me the opportunity to discover the man more deeply.
Guillaume and I share a common opinion on this experience, this dojo, and this sensei. In more than 10 years of collaboration, this was one of our most pleasant experiences. Kimura sensei is a cultivated, courteous, kind, and extremely devoted man. The welcome that his students have given us does honor him and shows that Aikido is not confined to purely technical education but also to human values.
Kimura sensei practices and teaches Aikido that can feel violent or brittle, and it is undeniable that it requires an above-average level of tolerance for falls and pain. And yet, when one undergoes the technique, no matter how powerful or how severe the joint block is, the same sense of kindness and courtesy is associated with it. This experience reminded me of my beginnings, over twenty years ago, it reminded me why I practice Aikido, for the development of character, empathy, and benevolence through rigorous and uncompromising practice.
[Aikido Interview] Kimura Jiro - 8th Dan - Osaka Buikukai & its influence outside Japan [1/3]
You can also watch our interview with André Cognard, a long-time friend of Kimura Shihan, which expands on the ethics of Kobayashi Hirokazu's Aikido, an ethic that I also found at the heart of Kimura sensei's Aikido.