Interview with Jacques Payet Sensei. Novosibirsk, 21 Feb 2011.

This post is also available in: Russian

Aikilife: Sensei, welcome to Novosibirsk. It’s great honour for us to meet you again.

Jacques Payet: Thank you. It’s a pleasure for me to arrive to your city again.

Aikilife: Osu, Sensei. On the last year seminar you told us, that you decided to start training in Aikido after watching the technique of Shioda Gozo Sensei. What did you personally for yourself see on that tape?

Jacques Payet: Yes. It was an old, old movie of Shioda Gozo demonstration. I saw very tiny, small person, very easily and smoothly throwing very big people. So, it was looking very beautiful, very fast and very dynamic, and they were doing that, while smiling. So I saw that, what the kind of martial art, I wanted to do.

Aikilife: Did your feelings about Aikido, your view to it change somehow, when you saw the techniques of Shioda Gozo Sensei in real?

Jacques Payet: When I arrived to Japan for the first month I didn’t see Shioda Gozo, I saw just his instructors. And only after that… When I went to Japan, I was very young and I had just a little money. And I went to Honbu and trained for one month. And after that all money was gone! And I haven’t seen Shioda Gozo at all! So last day I said: “Ok”, went back to Dojo, and said “Bye” and “Thank you” to everybody. And when I went there, I met Shioda Gozo sun, Shioda Yasuhisa. And we told a little. And I explained in English, that I could move far to study Aikido, but I hadn’t money. So I had to back home and came here just to say “Goodbye”. And he said: “Oh, what a pity! You came all the way, but you’ve had no chance to see my father! So, since this is your last day here, I’ll introduce him to you. I said: “Oh, yes, please!” So he took me to his father and explained to him my situation. And after that Shioda Gozo looked at me and said: “Oh, really? Did you come far to do Aikido? Do you really love Aikido?” I said: “Yes, of course!” And he said to me: “Ok, if you’re courageous, and if you don’t mind to train six hours a day, clean and help with Dojo, you can stay for free”. I said: “Yes, please!” And that’s I stayed in Japan. And it took about one year, I couldn’t be Uke or train with him, and it took from me about a year, when I became black belt, I was allowed to be his Uke.

Aikilife: What did you feel, when you first time saw the technique of Shioda Gozo Sensei in real?

Jacques Payet: It was too advanced, so I couldn’t understand. It looked like magic. I couldn’t understand at all, what he was doing. I was taught by many instructors, not by him, so when I saw him, he was like a god, he was too far from me, I could understand, what was going on.

Aikilife: Sensei, after the reading of “Aikido Shugyo” book the reader has a image of some person, who really lives with Aikido. What was the difference, on your opinion, between Shioda Gozo, as Aikido Master, and Shioda Gozo, as usual man?

Jacques Payet: I think, it was almost no difference. He was very natural man with anybody, always was laughing, very natural. Only when he was on the mat, he would change. But in every day life he was very natural.

Aikilife: Very natural means, that he was very simple in conversations, may be?

Jacques Payet: Yes, yes. In conversations, in his attitude. He would talk to anybody. It didn’t matter, the child or adult person, or woman, or anybody.

Aikilife: So, in real life he was very kind man?

Jacques Payet: Yes, always and to everybody. Except to his uchi-deshi.

Aikilife: Who was in an instructor staff of Honbu in that time?

Jacques Payet: There were Takeno Sensei, Chida Sensei, Sakurai Sensei, Osaka Sensei, Ando Sensei and myself.

Aikilife: How do you think, is there much difference between Yoshinkan Aikido teaching in that time and today, or not?

Jacques Payet: I think, Yoshinkan changed in 80s, because before that time it was based on spirit, very strong spirit, very hard, and there were very few explanation. Just hard training! But little by little from 1980 to 1990 Shioda Gozo got older. So it changed. And all techniques were showed with more explanation.

Aikilife: Can we say that from that time Aikido Yoshinkan became real Aikido?

Jacques Payet: I think, not real…

Aikilife: May be on the way of real?

Jacques Payet: Yes. And always.

Aikilife: Sensei, after 5 years in Honbu Dojo you left Japan and went to Europe, didn’t you?

Jacques Payet: Yes. It was because I trained hard 5 years, and I was getting into a wall. I couldn’t progress. And I felt that I had to go out and see, how I can use, what I’ve learned. How I can use it in real life. Because Dojo is like a monastery, it’s very closed, no contacts with real life, just trainings, trainings and that’s it. So I wanted to know, how I could use it in normal life, in work, with family, with different environment. So that’s, why I thought, time to go.

Aikilife: And after 3 years in Europe you returned in Japan.

Jacques Payet: Yes. It’s because I realized that I didn’t understand Aikido. When I was back to France, there wasn’t Yoshinkan, only Aikikai. So I went back to my friend, who we started with to train Karate Do and Jiu-jitsu. And he said: “Oh, you spent so much time in Japan, so show us, what you can do!” So I realized that I couldn’t really make the technique works some time. So it made me think a lot. I went to England and to Germany and trained with different people. I improved my technique, but I wasn’t satisfied. So 3 years later Shioda Gozo went to Europe with series of clinics and demonstrations. It was his last visit overseas. I went with him and traveled with him, and we had a chance to talk. So I told him, that after so many years of training I wasn’t satisfied. And I felt, that I couldn’t do anything, I was lost a little. So I asked a permission to go back and study more. He just laughed and said: “Ok”.

Aikilife: Approximately in that time in early 90s the idea of International Yoshinkan Aikido Federation grew up. What was the reason of its creation?

Jacques Payet: I think, that 1990 was very interesting time, because it was the time, when Shioda Gozo was getting older, and he wanted to pass something to next generation. And he realized that time was changing, and until now his goal was not in expansion, because he just loved Aikido, he didn’t care about getting a lot of students, getting famous. Anyway he had sponsors. It wasn’t matter for him to have 10 students or 1000. For him it was the same. So that was the reason, Yoshinkan was not trying to attract many students. He wanted just to get a police and people, really wanted to train hard and just loved Aikido. So that’s only purpose. There’s no need to expand overseas or get bigger, but in the 90s he realized, I think, that more foreigners were going interested in Aikido and may be that was the time to open, the time, the other people know the beauty of Aikido, his philosophy, that Aikido was for peace, and more people could become friends, and if Aikido extends overseas, more people get friends, know each other, and it will be the better world. That was the idea.

Aikilife: Who was in the origins of International Federation?

Jacques Payet: There were three of us basically: Fred Haynes, who’s now in Canada, Mark Baker, I think he’s now in New Zealand, and myself. Plus the instructor staff of Honbu of that time and Shioda Gozo, of course.

Aikilife: As I understood, you started teaching of Aikido Yoshinkan to other people in Europe. But the Japanese, as I know, look very carefully on the attempts of foreigners to open their own Dojos in Japan. How did you open your Dojo in Kyoto? Was it difficult?

Jacques Payet: No, because I didn’t ask permission. I think, it’s because I’ve been a long time with Yoshinkan and recognized as an instructor. So, when I opened my Dojo, nobody said anything.

Aikilife: But as I know, Sensei, you don’t teach children. Why?

Jacques Payet: I do, but I don’t do it personally, my instructors do it.

Aikilife: I do mean personally, Sensei.

Jacques Payet: May be, it’s because I have the instructors to train children. But, eventually, if I’ll have to do it, yes, I’ll do. And may be it’s because I don’t have any children myself. But I think, it’s, of course, very important and if you train children, you must have good educational program.

Aikilife: Last two years you’ve led two clinics in Novosibirsk already, led our trainings and the children trainings, of course. What do you think about our little Aikidokas?

Jacques Payet: I think they are great! And I think, they are more disciplined, than the Japanese. How do they say “Osu”! You can’t get the Japanese children the focus more than 20 minutes, so I think, you do great job. I was impressed by their discipline.

Aikilife: What would you, may be, say or wish to them?

Jacques Payet: I think, it’s very dangerous to teach children and you have to do it very carefully, since you can not ask children to focus too much and to do the movements and techniques very seriously, so it’s very easy for them to do the techniques very sloppy. And when they get older, somewhere their body keeps that bad habit. In Japan we start to train from children and somewhere it’s not very good, because some of them keep that bad habit. But in another way, I think Aikido is very good for children, because there is no competitive, Aikido training cultivates discipline, respect and also it’s very good physically.

The Novosibirsk kid program is in my opinion very good and bring discipline and healthy exercise to children. I hope they will continue to enjoy training and learn to respect each other and never hurt their friend, but try to help each other and be kind to others while practicing Aikido.

Aikilife: What do you think about our adult students?

Jacques Payet: I was very impressed, because although Aikido is the Japanese martial art, but very few Japanese are interested in martial arts. Even if they practice, it’s for health or just a sort of hobby. But people here very like Aikido, they think, it’s important for their life, they try to do the best.

Aikilife: What would you wish to them?

Jacques Payet: Relax more, understand that there is no point to resist and fight each other at the beginning, but help each other understand the principles of Aikido – non resistance, circular motion, blending and entering without clashing into each other. Train in a joyful atmosphere and respect each other. Use the techniques as tools to learn to understand and master the principles of Aikido not trying to make the technique work using strength.

Aikilife: Osu, Sensei, thank you very much for the interview. We are very glad to see you in Novosibirsk again and we hope, you will come here many times in future.

Jacques Payet: Thank you very much for your hospitality. Siberian people are very warmth, this visit is unforgettable for me.

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