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…



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.

Kenji’s exam video teasers

As I mentioned in my last post, our favourite filmmaker, Kenji, was at the exam taking video to make a very short film of it.

When the video is done, we will post it of course.  In the meantime, here are some stills from the video as teasers…


(Man! My rei is still hunch-backed!  Oh well, there is always next year…)


Nick as assistant tester watches Yasuda be uke for Takenaga during the kihon portion of the exam.


Izzy and I try to make our kamae right while Payet-sensei examines us.

test preparations : final exam Thursday

Today is Tuesday.  Tomorrow is Wednesday, the last day of training before the exam.   The next day is Thursday, the day of our final course exam.

So we have been preparing for everything we have to do.  This includes:

  1. kihon : demonstrating any aikido technique that we have been taught all year
  2. regular jiyu waza (free techniques, or a kind of aikido sparring)
  3. ushiro jiyu waza (free techniques against an attack from the back)
  4. tanto jiyu waza (free techniques against a knife attack)
  5. shido ho : teaching any aikido technique from the Dai Ichi portion of the course

Last Friday, our favourite filmmaker, Kenji, came to do a photo shoot at the dojo, so he recorded some of our training for posterity.

aikido basic techniques…

Practicing kihon waza (basic techniques)
Practicing kihon waza (basic techniques)
Takenaga performs sankajo on Izzy
Takenaga performs sankajo on Izzy


jiyu waza…

Takenaga throws Izzy
Takenaga throws Izzy


knife defense…

Chris performs knife take-away
Chris performs knife take-away



Chris-sensei critiques Izzy's teaching
Chris-sensei critiques Izzy’s teaching


Please wish us luck.  All of our preparation and hard work comes down to this test!