Above Peter Bussell, 4th Dan, instructing a seminar.
(Photo © 2002 Peter Bussell.
All rights reserved)
I first became acquainted
with Peter Bussell several years ago from an e-mail I received
announcing an unprecedented ---- never done seminar,
featuring two well-known and respected senior Aikido instructors from entirely
different Aikido organizations. Through Peter’s own efforts, he was able
to arrange Koichi Kashiwaya, 8th Dan, Chief Instructor of the USA Ki
Society and Larry Bieri, 6th Dan, an
Aikikai Shidoin, to commence the first joint
Aikido seminar, August 14th and 15th, 1999. This was a huge success
and became the model by which all other seminars featuring
instructors of various Aikido federations and styles, pattern from. I, myself
felt that this was an honorable and most earnest effort by all three
individuals involved: Koichi Kashiwaya, 8th Dan and Larry Bieri, 6th
Dan, and Peter Bussell, 4th Dan to show true Aiki at work. After all ---
Aiki, according to Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido - is practiced
as a living martial art, everyday, in and out of the dojo. I was very
flattered and honored to be asked to announce and feature his article, on
this historic seminar.
Peter Bussell is the founder and Chief instructor of the Ryurei Aikido
Dojo in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. His organization offers Aikido,
Shinkido – coordination of Mind, Body and Spirit, -- and Shinki-Ryoho –
Kiatsu or Ki – therapeutic massage.
Ryurei Aikido, an independent Aikido dojo, has evolved with its roots
from the direct influences of Gozo Shioda 9th Dan, David Lynch 6th Dan -
Yoshinkai Aikido, Koichi Tohei, 10th Dan, Ki No Kenkyukai, and Shin Shin
Toitsu Aikido - the very foundation of Ryurei Aikido is the study of
Peter’s Aikido training started 39 years ago, under the tutelage of
David Lynch, 6th Dan. He was born in Wellington, New Zealand. His first
years of Aikido study were in Auckland. During his teen’s and 20’s –
several visits to Japan over the subsequent years, with time at the
Yoshinkai Hombu Dojo when Gozo Shioda Sensei was alive, and then at the Ki no
Kenkyukai. He emigrated to Canada, in 1977. He lived the first 4 years
in Toronto, Canada and ended up in Ottawa in 1981, where he presently
lives and instructs Aikido.
This interview was done in
person with Peter and myself, in Ottawa, May 2002. We were both
instructing what has become affectionately known as our:
Her’s and His Seminars".
Can you tell us about yourself and how you became interested in
"I work for the City of Ottawa in what would be termed the welfare
department. And I started Aikido while at college in 1965."
"1964 was my first year at college/university. In high school I had been
very active in gymnastics and very conscious of my body – fitness
conscious. When I went to college, academia was the name of the game, so
I didn’t do anything physical. About August 1964 or around there, my Dad
wanted some help one weekend – some physical work. I was so sore after
that weekend – that I thought “You’ll never get to be 40 years old if
you don’t do something about your fitness!” So I thought, “what should I
do? I thought I might start Judo. So, I went to a Judo dojo and enrolled
in Judo. The classes were on Friday night. I used to arrive about an
hour or so before the class started. At that time there was an Aikido
class so I used sit and watch. I thought that it was very interesting
and it looked very good. But I had started Judo and so continued with
the Judo class. I had been doing Judo for about 3 or 4 months when we
were then allowed, as new students, to go to the free practice on
Saturday afternoons. So, I went to free practice one Saturday. When I
got there, some fellow wearing a brown belt said: 'Hey common – you –',
so I went in there to practice with him. He threw me instantly and I
landed on my knee, and my knee just went poof – inflated like a
balloon. I thought to myself, 'I don’t need this. I’m at university –
and I was only going to do this for fun and to keep me a little but
fitter, I don’t need injuries.'”
"So, I never went back to Judo. Then a few months later I was getting so
unfit and I seriously felt that I needed to do something. I thought I
might go and look at the Aikido and see what it was like. It had looked
interesting. But the Aikido teacher had moved out of that dojo, I was
able to track him down. I went and took one class, and went back and
took another. As we say in our dojo: Now the hook was in and set I
Who was your instructor then?
"My instructor was David Lynch Sensei and his wife Hisae Lynch Sensei.
Mainly, David. They were a young couple, just married. When I first
started Aikido, Hisae was still teaching, but shortly after was pregnant
with their first child. So she wasn’t training as much. After their
first child (Kenichi) grew a little, she started back again training.
That was many years ago."
What were your most memorable moments with David Lynch, at his dojo?
"David ran a very, very good dojo. He had come from Japan after studying
Aikido, as an uchideshi, at the Yoshinkan Hombu dojo. He was the first
New Zealander to have done any Aikido and he introduced Aikido to New
Zealand. So it was a very privileged position really - I was one of his
early students. It wasn’t long before Aikido was an everyday occurrence
for me. Sometimes twice a day – you know some of us practiced 14 –18
hours a week. I became a very close student of his and at one time,
maybe the closest to him. It was a very special relationship. After a
relatively short time maybe two and half years or so, I decided I had to
go to Japan. So, I was the very first student from New Zealand to go
back to Japan with David and Hisae’s sponsorship. At that time it was
very difficult to get a visa to study Aikido in Japan. As a matter of
fact, my visa was the very first one issued in New Zealand for a student
to go full-time to live in Japan to study aikido. But it was only
through Hisae and David’s contact with Shioda Sensei that made that
happen. Also David had a close relationship with the Japanese Consul
General in New Zealand at the time. I also knew the Consul General quite
well, because both his children were learning aikido in David’s dojo at
that time. It was sealed for me to go to Japan. So it was a close
relationship at that time, I roughly spent as much time in David’s
company as I did at my own house. I think he is seven or eight years or
so older than me. He was like an older brother, but yet a sought of
aikido father to me. It was really that type of relationship for about 8
or 9 years. It was a very special relationship to me."
He must have been very proud of you, being able to go to Japan. You
represented him as a student of his.
"Maybe. Before I went to Japan we had some visits from groups of Japanese
from the Yoshinkai. For instance Japan Airlines Aikido club was a
Yoshinkai dojo. A whole group of Japan Airlines Aikido club members -
decided they could get an aircraft for very little – they had about 30
of them and took an aircraft and flew to New Zealand for three weeks or
so. So we had 30, mainly Yudansha, that had arrived and we trained with
them every day. Shioda Sensei was supposed to come for this trip, but he
couldn’t come at the last minute, because he had broken his Achilles
tendon (if my memory’s correct). So, he couldn’t train for six weeks.
Instead of him coming, Kushida Sensei and Inoue Sensei came. As you know
Inoue Sensei is the dojo cho now and Kushida Sensei is in Michigan where
he has been for about 30 years or so now. But these were two 8th Dans
that came and Wow! That was pretty magnificent for our whole dojo."
"I guess I was a representative of the Yoshinkai from New Zealand at that
time (when I went to Tokyo) – the first one back there. That was
special. And I felt I was treated special. Shioda sensei was
David Lynch, what did you like about him? Was there something -
charisma, as an instructor, as an individual? Otherwise you wouldn’t
have stayed there. What was it - if you could put it into words?
"It is hard to pinpoint. But David is a very charismatic person. He’s got
an incredible sense of humor. He took Aikido very seriously. He was
someone you could respect, but also really like. He has a warm, caring,
generous and gentle personality. It wasn’t just me that stayed with him
– there were innumerable numbers of people. Like any dojo, there was a
lot of turnover too, but those that stayed – made up a hard core of
inner students there. Thinking back, there were probably 10 or 12 in the
inner core and now 38 + years later there are still about 6 of those
persons that are still practicing Aikido. I think that is very special.
And not all of us, but many of us still correspond with each other, this
includes people that are older. When I first started Aikido I was 19
years old, and another person was probably in his late 30’s or early
forties, he is still practicing and he is still very active. He loved to
challenge the younger ones, like me. We had a nickname for him (Lynch
had nicknames for almost everyone), and this guy was known as the
Beast." (He laughs lovingly and his warm smile glows).
"And he is still the beast.
He still writes to me. Of course, he knows that I subsequently went from
the Yoshinkai and started practicing with Tohei Sensei and the Ki
Society (Koichi Tohei), and he knows I still practice a lot of things in
a similar way to the Ki Society. He still writes to me: “Well, so - are
you still doing your fancy dancing?” (We both chuckle in delight with
the delightful humor of the phrase). It’s memories like that from that
era – from those people that are very special."
"Eddie Wong Sensei 6th dan, is now the head of the Yoshinkai in New
Zealand. He joined just a little before me. It seems that being of Asian
background he is very loyal to the Yoshinkai and would never ever leave.
Of course, this was his first and only aikido school and that’s where he
studied. Eddie and I were the first Kiwis (New Zealanders) under Lynch
Sensei to reach Shodan. I guess we were the first home grown shodans
in New Zealand. Eddie was my Best Man at my wedding."
He is very dedicated.
"Very dedicated. You know, he has been doing this a very long time too,
and still runs the dojo."
"You don’t find this dedication often. It is very difficult to keep
dedication ongoing because of other circumstances. I’m not saying that
anyone that is dedicated is serious and only those people that show this
type of dedication are serious. There are situations such as yours, or
even myself where we have had to, or chose to, switch our organizations."
Continued on Page 2
Cheryl Matrasko is a Network
Analyst for the department of Networking and Communications at a
prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the LAN Administrator for
Northwestern University Medical School - Department of Obstetrics and
Gynecology, and assistant LAN Administrator to the previous MIS of the
School of Law. Previous to that, she was a Field Technical Engineer, for some
time with Northern Telecom.
She started Aikido in 1965, studying under Isao Takahashi as her first
instructor. She enjoyed working out under many well known Aikido
instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei, and thereafter
following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors
in Northern Shaolin Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu
Aikijujitsu to extend her martial arts education and perspectives.
Currently, she is instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's
Chicago Campus and supporting Aikido World Journal.
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