Over 20 students from Russia came to Chester this year for the B.A.F. Summer School. Some were members of the Russian Aikido Federation and some from the Russian Youth Aikido Federation. Russians have been participating in B.A.F. Summer Schools in significant numbers for many years. Peter Megann took the opportunity to talk to Nikolay Egorov, the President of the Russian Aikido Federation.
Nikolay Yegorov (President of the Russian Aikido Federation) with Andrey Chuyev (President of the Russian Youth Aikido Federation) and Rafik Almiachev at Chester College.
P.M.: Nikolay, you've been coming to England for great number of years. How many times have your come?
N.E.: I think about 16 times. I've been coming regularly for the Summer School and sometimes I've come in the winter.
P.M.: If I remember correctly, the first time you came was before the end of the Soviet Union,
before peretstroika and Gorbachev. It wasn't easy in those days for Russians to travel abroad. So why did you come to England?
N.E.: Those of us who practised various forms of martial arts had heard of Aikido and some people had started to practice it, basing their knowledge on books and videos. We had some people come from America to demonstrate Aikido, but what they did seemed very strange. So I came to England as representative of the Olympic Committee. We had read an article in a magazine about Kanetsuka Sensei, which included his address; and that's how I made first contact.
P.M.: Yes; I remember that occasion. We'd never seen any Russian martial arts people in Britain before. And you came to Oxford and participated in classes with Kanetsuka Sensei at the Oxford Dojo. In fact I remember that Sensei promoted you to shodan before you left.
Although I'm sure you've had a number of different teachers over the years, I think that basically you have been studying what Kanetsuka Sensei teaches. What attracts you to his Aikido?
N.E.: Yes, I've been practising Aikido professionally for over 15 years and of course I have practised under various instructors and I've practiced at the Hombu Dojo and in various countries, but I've always regarded Kanetsuka Sensei as my sensei. Other instructors might be more impressive and spectacular; but from Kanetsuka Sensei we learn basic Aikido and acquire the foundations of Aikido movement. With these foundations we can develop our own Aikido. Sensei shows us the importance of good contact and the use of our centre in all techniques. And this is important not just for me but for Russian Aikido generally.
P.M.: Tell me a little about the Russian Aikido Federation. How many members does it have?
N.E.: We have about 2,000 students belonging to about 20 regional federations.
P.M.: Yes; your country is enormous. It stretches from the borders with Ukraine and Belarus in the west to Vladivostok and Sakhalin in the east.
N.E.: That's right, and you know, an air-ticket from Moscow to Vladivostok costs twice as much as an air-ticket from Moscow to London! So it's difficult for us to maintain contact with everyone.
P.M.: Well, we are certainly very happy to see you and the other Russian students here. Some of you have been coming regularly for many years and seem like old friends. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
Final photo call - over 200 students, representing 16 nations, attended the B.A.F. International Summer School in Chester at the beginning of August.
The guest instructor from the Hombu Dojo was Kobayashi Yukimitsu Shihan.