The WSAF2017 World Aikido Championship in London was fabulously hosted by our friends at the British Aikido Association, in a great facility (University of East London), with a record-breading turn-out. Over 100 children in the under 18 tournament, and almost 200 in the adults’ tournament.
We had players from Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, USA, Ireland, Ukraine, England, Scotland and Brazil. We owe a big thank you to the BAA, who now looks to the USA to live up to their standard as we host the 2019 World Aikido Championship in San Diego (either the last weekend in July or the first weekend in August, depending on venue availability – so mark your calendars).
The WSAF Executive Committee made great progress on addressing key issues:
- We have revised the elements of the Kongo dantaisen event by eliminating women’s tanto taisabaki and men’s toshu randori. In their place, we have installed kyu rank tanto taisabaki and women’s tanto randori. I personally thought these changes were long overdue. The kongo dantaisen will be a “festival” type of event to encourage interaction and international friendship rather than a pure competition event. Accordingly, the names of all players will be tossed into a hat, and the various teams will be constituted at random by drawing the names out of a hat. We have been doing this in the USA for several years with great success (thanks in large part to Tiffany’s organizing ability!), and the WSAF Executive Committee thought it was a great idea.
- We have established a Rules Sub-committee to revamp, revise and improve the rules of competition, with an explicit request to implement a “shido reduction zone.” [Smile.] This Sub-committee will do its work over the next two years and submit their recommendations to the Congress of the WSAF at the 2019 World Championship to be held in San Diego. The final competition rules to be approved by the Congress in 2019 will then be implemented at the 2021 World Championship.
- The 2021 World Championship is tentatively scheduled for Brazil.
We have much work to do here in the USA, and I appreciate all the help and support of all our members. The 2019 World Championship will be a real test of our ability to function well and cohesively, so please do consider how you can help the organizing committee.
On a separate note, I am delighted to say that our long-serving Treasurer, Antonio Gonzalez (3rd dan, Orange County, Californai), is a father for the third time (a son to complement his two young daughters), and has unsurprisingly asked to retire, which we have accepted with reluctance and great thanks. Greg Linden (4th dan, Baltimore), who was one of the founding directors of the TAA in 1990, has graciously agreed to rejoin the Board, replacing Antonio as Treasurer.
For the first time, the TAA instituted a formal organization for Team USA and its entry into the World Championship. We appointed the winners of the Gold Medal at the last US Nationals in 2016 at UNC (or the Silver Medalist if the Gold Medalist was unable to attend) as the Captains of Team USA. A big thanks to Will Ball and Tiffany Gonzalez for assuming that role and obligation. Bob King, our Technical Director, served as the coach of Team USA, and provided much support in London when he wasn’t busy on the mats as a judge. Sean Flynn was the Manager of Team USA and helped to coordinate the logistics for the tournament.
I am pleased to say that the TAA fielded a team of four judges in London to help fulfill the WSAF goal of having fair and independent judges from each country participating. TAA judges were: Bob Dziubla, Bob King, Wade Current and Greg Linden. Deep thanks to each of them for judging, as several of them would have much preferred to be competing on the mats. Please remember that without the judges and referees, we cannot have tournaments where you have the chance to impress the World with your ability and win a medal. Once your days as a competitor have concluded, however, then your duty to the younger generations is to become a judge and ref.
Finally, the TAA spent over $7,000 providing subsidies and financial support to many members of Team USA who competed in London. We look forward to all of those recipients sharing their new-found knowledge, commitment and experience with all of the TAA for many years ahead.
In aikido friendship,
Shihan & 8th dan