Association aims to promote aikido events

The president of the Macau Aikido Association Iong Weng Hei and student Damien Lam

group of aikido enthusiasts is set to host a seminar tomorrow, aiming to promote the modern Japanese martial art in the SAR.

The goal of aikido is to present the art of self-defense, while also protecting aggressors from injuries..

According to the president of the Macau Aikido Association, Iong Weng Hei, the sport – which originated in Japan – was brought to the city by a master from Laos who came to Macau in 1973.

Iong was part of the first batch of students that were taught the martial art techniques, which now vary with broad range of interpretation and emphasis.

“When aikido was still developing in Macau, there were also Japanese masters who came to teach us some techniques,” Iong told the Times.

The black belter kicked off a dojo – a space where martial arts is practiced – in 2013, after mastering the techniques in dojos in Japan.

“We also always go to Japan to follow up with the techniques of aikido so that we and our students are always updated,” he said, adding that the local association is affiliated with aikido associations in Japan.

Although the master admitted that it is challenging to retain a stable number of participants, Iong said he is pleased that more residents are becoming increasingly interested in this martial art.

Aside from training, the association also regularly holds seminars, which attract up to a hundred participants from the region.

Regarding how the government supports this martial art, Iong explained that the government does not promote it to the extent of other martial arts – such as karate or taekwondo – yet assists the association in funding its events.

“Aikido is not a competitive match but it’s more like training with other participants. From my point of view, I believe that the government thinks that aikido is just a mere self-defense practice for the elderly,” he explained.

“But we want to follow the aikido tradition, which does not hold any competition as there are no winners or losers in this specific martial art. We all learn from each other,” he added.

Currently, Iong holds classes at the dojo and at a local institute, aside from classes he holds in Zhuhai.

According to him, his aikido training sessions count nearly 100 participants, yet only a few train regularly, because of conflicts in his students’ schedules.

“Students come in and go. Aikido is not a competitive sport. Kids nowadays are leaning more into the competitive side, so I think that is also a factor into why youngsters are not that eager to learn,” he said.

Tomorrow, the association is set to hold a seminar, inviting an aikido master from Kobayashi dojo – one of the martial art’s well-known dojos in Japan.

Its speaker, Mikio Kobayashi, will promote the martial art in the region. The seminar aims to allow foreign participants to practice and enhance their skills and knowledge in Aikido.

He will also be holding a seminar the next day in Zhuhai.

Meanwhile, a local student of the association, Damien Lam, remarked that the martial art is one of the many ways that young people could take part as an extra-curricular activity.

“I want to learn a lot of things and this martial art allows me to learn to protect myself and my opponent by not being aggressive. This is one of the many ways we can spend time when we are free,” said the 17-year-old student.

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