and then there were four… Scott Richards’ final exam

Today is a sad day in the kenshusei house.  Scott Richards is gone, already on an airplane on his way back to America.

Due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, Scott was forced to leave the 2014-15 Kenshusei Course early.  This means the kenshusei who began last April are now down to four: Kitamura Ryuji, Saegusa Jotaro, Herve Laruelle, and Alex Gusev.



Scott is a funny and loud guy, and now that he’s gone, the apartment is a little duller and quieter than before.  All is not bad news, though.  Scott did not drop out of the course, and he parts on good terms with the Mugenjuku instructors and his fellow kenshusei.

After learning about his need to return to America, Payet-sensei granted him the unique opportunity to take his final Kenshusei Course Exit Exam early, and the dojo arranged a going-away party for him last Sunday.


The kenshusei final exam contains several elements:

  • kihon dosa (basic movements)
  • kihon waza (basic techniques)
  • ushiro jiyu waza (free techniques against an attack from behind)
  • tanto dori (techniques against a knife attack)
  • shido ho (a demonstration of the accepted Yoshinkan teaching model)

The following two videos show Scott’s exam from yesterday.

Part 1 contains the kihon dosa and kihon waza. (The quality is not good because I could not get the HD version to upload from my phone.  Sorry!)

Part 2 contains the ushiro jiyu waza, tanto dori, and shido ho. (HD quality!)

Now that he has done the exam, Scott will receive a course completion certificate from Mugenjuku, and, if he wishes to register with the Yoshinkan hombu dojo, can start teaching Yoshinkan aikido in Boston, Montreal, Manila, San José, or wherever he wishes to live in the world.


Scott Richards (2014-2015)

Gone but not forgotten…



shodan award ceremony


As you know, the kenshusei took their shodan (1st-degree) test last December, so they are now entitled to wear the kuro-obi (black belt).  After they passed the test, Payet-sensei had to send their applications to the Yoshinkan hombu (headquarters) dojo in Tokyo.

Last week, the shodan certificates arrived in the mail from hombu, so Payet-sensei presented them to the kenshusei last Friday, January 30, 2015.

Here are two videos–a fun one and a documentary one.

The first video shows the kenshusei, some of their trials and tribulations at the beginning of the year, and then wearing their new black belts, the reward for their hard work and real progress in Yoshinkan aikido.  Dig the sound track!

If that wasn’t enough kenshusei for you, you can watch the shodan certificate presentations without a soundtrack…

2014 shodan exam


On Wednesday, the kenshusei gave a great shodan exam, and now they can all wear the kuro obi or “black belt.”  I was lucky enough to be there with my iPhone, so I took some videos and pictures…

After the exam, the kenshusei were very happy (see above).

Then everyone ate bento lunches together, provided by Payet-sensei.   Arigato-gozaimasu, Sensei!


Dai Ni exam

On Friday, the kenshusei had their Dai Ni exam for 3rd, 2nd, or 1st -kyu rank.

A student from Ritsumeikan University came to interview Payet-sensei and watch the test.  She is writing a thesis on foreigners pursuing traditional Japanese arts.  Everyone waited while she conducted interviews.

1 2 3


All the kenshusei passed the exam with 1st kyu.  Here’s their test in three parts–kihon dosa, waza, and finished.

training with Yuri & big test tomorrow

Tomorrow is the Dai Ni exam for the 2014-15 kenshusei.  Apparently they are doing well.  Check back tomorrow for results from the test.

This week, Yuri from Novosibirsk has been training at Mugenjuku with the kenshusei.  In this video from Wednesday, the kenshusei practice pivoting on the knees for doing sitting techniques.  Yuri is training with Kitamura-san.


Another of the web gems I found while prospecting for Payet-sensei gold recently was a video of Payet-sensei and Shiramine Shrine that was made by a Japanese travel show called YAJIKITA ON THE ROAD.  From my limited ability to understand Japanese webpages, this appears to be a radio show that also releases videos of its radio broadcasts.  First, I found a blog entry about Kyoto on the radio show’s website.  Then, a couple days later, I realized that there were cameramen in the photos, so I started looking for a video and, voila!, there it is on YouTube.


In a moment, the video; but first…

For me, personally, this video is extra cool for two reasons:

(1) In it, we can see Payet-sensei training with Kikuchi-sensei.  When I first came to Kyoto in January 2013, I didn’t know jack about Mugenjuku, but I went to the dojo’s farewell party for Yannick, Nick, and Yasuda in February.  There was this guy there who got up and gave a big speech, but I had never seen him before.  “Who’s this joker who never trains?” I thought.  It’s a sad fact that in the world of martial arts, if you haven’t been on the mat in the last week, you start to get forgotten.  Anyhow, Kikuchi-sensei was the first shidoin of Mugenjuku, and it is nice to have his memory preserved in video.


(2) The first half of this video is about Randy Channell.  I wrote about him before: I met him by chance in a laundromat when I was still new in Kyoto and discovered that he used to produce on Kendo World magazine, which was one of my favorites for a short time in the 2000s.  Talk about small world!

And now, the video (Payet around 2:45 mark)…

Payet-sensei and Ando-sensei share a laugh

As I mentioned a couple days ago in the post about Payet-sensei’s Wikipedia article, I came across many small mentions of sensei while researching him on the web.  One is this blog post from 2009 by someone who mentions going to a seminar with Payet-sensei and Ando-sensei.

京都合宿のお知らせ (News of the Kyoto camp)

I’m pretty sure the photo that accompanies the blog post is of Sensei standing with Ando-sensei, although I can’t be sure.  Anyhow, here it is: Payet-sensei and Ando-sensei share a laugh… probably…


Payet-sensei on Wikipedia

If you can believe it, Payet-sensei did not have a Wikipedia entry until today!  Aikido, Yoshinkan, Gozo Shioda, Senshusei Course, Tsuneo Ando… so many things connected with his life had entries, but not him!!  So, I decided to make him a Wikipedia entry.

It has taken me quite a while to get my article to the point where it could “go live” on Wikipedia.  Formatting and rewriting took a long time.  By digging deep in the Internet, I discovered a lot of information about Payet-sensei I didn’t know–nothing scandalous of course but little things like the fact that his mother was a school teacher and his father a farmer.

Also, part of what took so long was dealing with my ADD brain.  When you start poking around anything, you find many interesting facts, even if irrelevant.  For example:

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy reading about Sensei and learn something from this article.  As you know, Wikipedia is user-edited.  That means anyone can change the article I wrote.  I encourage you to do it… but only if you have something valuable to add.  Please don’t just add links to your own websites–this will make Wikipedia’s editors think twice about the article.

Also, if you have any good photographs of Payet-sensei, please consider legally releasing them by uploading them to Wikimedia Commons.  That way, anyone can use your images of Payet-sensei to make web content.  Osu!


Hey, it’s…

Anybody remember… THIS GUY


Yes, it’s Yannick, appearing as uke for Chris Johnston-sensei in Canada.  As you may know, Johnston-sensei worked with Payet-sensei to produce the books Aikido Shugyo: Harmony in Conflict and Aikido Jinsei: My Life in Aikido, both available from Shindokan Books.  And Yannick was on the first Kenshusei Course in 2012-13.  We haven’t heard much from Yannick recently.  He never calls, he never writes.  Kids these days!