The ASMonaco Aikido Emblem (Mon) is the traditional Japanese pattern of the nine diamonds (Kokonotsu bishi), in the colours of the Principality.
The diamonds are reminiscent of the Monegasque coat of arms, with its escutcheon, fusily argent and gules (the red and white blazon in heraldry).
The nine diamonds represent the nine foundations of Aikido, according to Tamura sensei (Aïkido, Marseille, 1986) : shisei, the right posture; kokyu, breathing; kamae, the guard; ma ai, distance ; irimi tenkan, entering in the boy and changing direction (like ura omote, irimi and tenkan are here combined; in Aïkido, Tamura sensei writes: "By rotating, you have either changed places or directions. Every change in state or position is tenkan. This is why irimi-tenkan are the two sides of the same thing."); ura omote, the back and the front; tai sabaki, body movement that allows turning the situation around to one's advantage; atemi, striking; kokyu ryoku, the power of breathing. Just like the foundations that together constitute Aikido, the nine diamonds are but one.
The red and white jewels also have a symbolic meaning in the Doka (Chants of the Way) of Morihei Ueshiba: the are the ebb and flow of the tide, the "breathing of the skies and of the earth". Possessing them is understanding the cosmic rules and being able to enter in concordance with the energy of the universe.
ENTERING THE DOJO
When entering the Dojo, one bows towards the kamiza [the traditional Shinto altar, sometimes replaced by a portrait of the founder or a calligraphy], which is normally across from the entrance.
STEPPING IN AND OUT OF THE MAT
When stepping in and out of the mat, one bows towards the kamiza. When stepping on the mat after the beginning of class, one first bows towards the Kamiza standing, then in sitting position, then towards the teacher, in sitting position. One then waits for the teacher, with a nod, to invite one to join the class.
CLEANING THE DOJO
All practitioners take part in the cleaning of the Dojo. It must be swept before every class. The first to step on the mat start.
TAKING CARE OF ONESELF AND ONE'S EQUIPMENT
Respect for others starts with respect for oneself.
"The keiko gi must be clean to avoid inconveniencing one's partners. Hands and feet must be clean and nails clipped short. Practitioners cannot wear any piece of jewellery, watch, etc." Nobuyoshi TAMURA, Étiquette et Transmission, Budo Éditions, 2008.
If you wear your hair long, it is recommended to tie them.
Makeup can stain one's partner's keiko gi: it is recommended to avoid wearing any.
THE SEIZA POSITION
On the mat, when not practising, one must sit in the seiza position, that is, on one's knees. If one's knees hurt, one can sit with legs akimbo, except for the bow.
One may not lean on a wall, or sit with legs outstretched.
The class opens and ends on a formal bow in two steps, following the teacher's lead. For the opening bow, one first bows towards the kamiza then the teacher; for the closing bow, one first bows towards the teacher, then the kamiza. When bowing towards the kamiza, One puts both hands on the mat simultaneously; when bowing towards the teacher (or another practitioner, one first puts the left hand down, then the right. At the beginning of class, one says: "onegai shimasu" [if you please] to the teacher; at the end of class, one thanks the teacher with: "domo arigato gozaimashita" [thank you very much].
BEHAVING ON THE MAT
One must try to talk as little as possible to concentrate on practice.
One can guide the partner, but only yudansha [black belts] can correct someone.
One may not eat or drink on the mat.
One must practice with an eye to harmony and never lose sight that one is studying.
Aikido is a Japanes "way", that is, correctly understood, a life's path. The way, therefore, has no destination, no shortcuts, no steps : all that counts is the journey itself, sincere, devoid of any will to make it somewhere. A coloured belt or a number of bars have, therefore, no place in Budo if taken as ends in themselves. Besides, the colour of a belt or the number of dans does not say anything about a practitioner: the moment of truth is the moment of the encounter on the tatami, that of the attack, where everything that is personal disappears and where Aiki, "meeting the energy", happens, impersonally. Given all this, grades have no importance. However, grade examinations can be a joyful occasion in the life of the Dojo.
At ASMonaco Aikido, we consider dan grade examinations as the reflection of the assiduous work of a practitioner, of his commitment to the way. It is not a punctual examination of one's technique that one can "try to pass", where one can succeed outstandingly or fail miserably: it is not the occasion to measure one's progress or flatter one's ego. The measure is taken every time one is attacked; as for the ego, it comes back quickly enough when not practicing. Instead, the dan grade examination is a symbolic rite that one performs when deemed ready by one's teacher. Taking a grade exam, therefore, is not outdoing oneself to succeed in reaching an objective. Taking a grade exam is rather like becoming aware, along the way, that one has passed under a torii [traditional Japanese gate], without having noticed it in the first place.
AIKIKAI FOUNDATION HOMBU DOJO RECOGNITION
ASMonaco Aikido enjoys the recognition of the Aikikai Foundation Hombu Dojo. In this respect, and according to the Hombu Dojo rules, ASMonaco Aikido can conduct Aikikai dan grade examinations until third dan under the supervision of our Shidoin [Chief instructor] and Aikikai 4th dan holder, Francis Droitcourt. Dan grades are then delivered by Doshu, the Master of the Way and head of Aikikai.
"We must not fight anymore; it is terribly dangerous to fight. We must eradicate conflicts and war from our world. I was born in a background of politicians and have learned very young how much politicians love to polemicize and confront each other, Such an attitude leads to nothing. Every one of us must purify their heart and amend their thoughts - if we cannot manage that, the world will never improve.
I still think this way, and I swear an oath to work with all the peoples of the world so that it becomes a reality. I have no students. From the beginning, I have wanted to be each and everyone's friend. Each of you is my teacher. If we train together, my mission will be achieved."
In keeping with the spirit of the Founder, ASMonaco Aikido refuses political strictures and inward-looking attitudes. We wish to be the privileged place where all aikido styles (and aikidoka) can meet and learn to know each other. This is why we are glad to entertain friendships and partnerships with the following organisations, which represent numerous styles and schools of Aikido in France and in the world.