Combining work & Aikido in San Francisco

What do you do when you visit San Francisco for a couple of days on behalf of your work ? You ask your sensei where the nearest dojo is. And it turned out that there are actually two Aikikai dojo’s in San Francisco ! Honestly I was a bit nervous to go to a dojo that I’ve never been to before, practising aikido with people I’ve never met before. Fortunately, Anne sensei got into contact with one of the students there, Susan, who sent me an e-mail to let me know I was very welcome to visit and join a training. 
I arrived on Friday afternoon in San Francisco and on a very rainy Sunday morning, excellent weather for a training, I was welcome to train as a guest at San Francisco Aikikai, in the centre of the city. The aikido class was taught by Steve Sandage sensei, by whom I was warmly welcomed. The training was very pleasant with a lot of opportunity to improvise with the techniques and just feel what was working and what not. The other students made me feel very welcome as well. After class we spoke about the different sensei from Europe who regularly come to the USA to teach at seminars. It’s a small world actually ;-)

On Monday there was a bike tour to the Golden Gate bridge planned for me and my colleagues, which is an excellent way of warming up for training. Afterwards I took the BART train to North Berkely station, near San Francisco. Susan, one of the students at Berkely Aikikai was waiting for me there and together we went to the dojo. A while ago, Anne sensei attended a training at Berkely Aikikai herself, which made it very easy for me to get in touch with Susan and arrange a visit. It’s an excellent traditional dojo, it felt very special to experience that. Just before training started I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Shibata sensei and she welcomed me to Berkely Aikikai. It was an interesting training in a very pleasant, small group. The training focused on one technique specifically with quite a few special tricks to take home. Susan joined the training as well, it was very nice that we had already met before the practice started. Both dojo’s are very peaceful places to escape the always busy city of San Francisco for a while, it was an absolute joy to have the opportunity to train at both. It’s also very nice to notice that the regular students are all really supportive and appreciate that you took time to visit a training while you’re there. It made me feel very welcome. 

My special thanks go out to San Francisco Aikikai: Joseph Verville sensei, Steve Sandage sensei, the students of the sunday morning class and to Berkely Aikikai: M. Shibata sensei, Susan Kwong and the other students. It truly was a very special and wonderful experience to be able to visit your dojo and train with you all ! Also thanks to Anne and Edo sensei for your enthousiasm and encouragement to visit other dojo’s whenever you’re abroad for holiday or work. 
Last but not least: whenever you’re in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, just contact Ando and you are very welcome to join us during a training. Hope to see you soon.

Warm regards,