Senshusei Reflections:

   It has been a few months since the 2nd Renshinkai Aikido Senshusei course finished.  Since then I have spent time reflecting on my fortune in being a part of it.  Before I came to Japan in December of 2012, I had never practiced Aikido.  I had read the book describing the Senshusei course, and I found the idea of it very appealing, but at that time I never would have guessed that I would have the opportunity to partake in such an endeavor.  When I found out that I would be moving to Tokyo, it seemed like a dream come true.  I immediately began searching the internet, and came across the Renshinkai website, and their Senshusei course.  I emailed the dojo, received a prompt response, and before I knew it, it was April and I was lining up for the first day of the course.

   There are not many opportunities like the Senshusei course.  Members of the course train 5 days a week, for 2 to 4 hours per day.  During this training, they get expert guidance by Chida Sensei, and the excellent Renshinkai staff.  On my course, there were only 2 students for the full course, and 1 additional student who started the instructor only portion in October.  This means that you are able to get highly personalized instruction by the best Aikido practitioners in the world.  This would be equivalent of playing 18 holes of golf every day for a year, with Tiger Woods riding along in the golf cart giving you pointers.  In addition to the regular training, there were several multi-day seminars and a 3 day live-in camp.  This  allowed us to train with many different partners from the Renshinkai organization, and provided the chance to socialize and make new friends as well.  

   Training at this volume is quite difficult to be sure.  In order to become strong in Aikido, muscles specific to Aikido must me be developed through repetitions of the basic movements.  In the beginning, I was quite tired as I rode the train or cycled home from the dojo.  Muscles and joints ached.  My feet became raw and blistered.  My knees were sore.  It would be easy to give up, but a dedicated Senshusei persists through this.  Eventually muscles get stronger and feet and knees heal.  By the end of the course, you are able to forget about the early days of discomfort and focus only on the great training that you participated in during the past year.  I was able to go from an unranked novice to a first degree black belt in 11 months.  In addition, I was certified as an instructor, and am now participating in the 3rd course as a Sewanin, or assistant instructor.  For someone with a passion for Aikido, or even someone who has never experienced Aikido before, but likes to challenge themselves, I can think of no better way to do this than the Renshinkai Senshusei course.