The Swiss aikido web






The below informations are freely translated excerpts of the interview between Freddy Jacot-Descombes and Martin Bundi.

Since the original writing, back in 2004, quite a lot of changes have happened, and unfortunately several people passed away as well. Those people will be forever in our hearts and deserve our gratitude to have introduced Aikido in Switzerland thus we can continue their effort.

O’Sensei’s inheritance

Morihei Ueshiba has left us a very deep and meaningful inheritance.
As a result of his lifetime spiritual research of truth, he discovered that the mankind should take responsibility for all creatures. He taught us to respect every last living being. His budo does not aim to destructive techniques, but preserving and supporting life in all aspects. This is considered to be the reason why Aikido is so attractive not only for athletic young men, but also for women, children and further socially disadvantaged persons. Morihei saw this technical and didactic system as a tool for training and modelling every aikidoka’s spirit. O’Sensei tried indefatigably until his death to propagate his idea of peace and charity. Even in deathbed Morihei was considered an invincible warrior. He managed to take care for himself despite his illness until the moment of his death. He was happiest when he heard the kiais of the training students in the dojo.

Generally Aikido offers an inner satisfaction as a mean to handle with a world that appears full of violence in escalation.
Unfortunately violence and war go hand in hand with human existence. As a matter of fact mankind invented, following its urges and its feasibility, a huge amount of diverse fighting strategies and combat methods. The instinct of physical fight for survival is deeply rooted in human soul. Fundamental goal has always been the opponent’s defeat.
O’Sensei managed to abandon this undeniable natural but very low instinct by teaching that the main struggle takes place in oneself. On O’Sensei’s mind egoism, arrogance, jealousy and fanaticism are integrative parts of all negative and destructive pattern of mankind. The core idea of Aikido is to overcome these naturally born instincts, for living in peace with mankind and all creations.

Introduction of Aikido in Switzerland

Aikido’s development in Switzerland during 1950-1960

The following information on Aikido’s introduction in Switzerland is delivered by the Swiss sensei Freddy Jacot. Freddy had an important role regarding Aikido’s establishment in Switzerland, as he promoted and modelled that process decisively.
Jacot had managed to achieve an extraordinary experience in Aikido, practising it for more than forty years. He is among the few persons alive that met Ueshiba personally. Briefly before Morihei’s death Freddy went to Japan as he had an appointment with the Doshu. So he had the opportunity to witness a class with Morihei.

Despite this, Aikido was not brought to Switzerland by Freddy Jacot, but by Agge (Micky) Schaaning, born in Norway in 1920. During WW II he was put in charge as a military pilot. After the war he was transferred to Japan. During that period he had his first contacts with budo. After his military service he worked as a Swissair pilot, living in Geneva. Schaaning practiced Judo with Jean-Georges Vallé Sensei in Geneva. Schaaning was able to learn Aikido following the teachings of Minoru Mochizuki in the beginning of the fifties. Schaaning enjoyed going to Japan, whenever there was the occasion. In the late fifties Schaaning started to practice in Tokyo’s Hombu Dojo, taking private lessons from Nobuyoshi Tamura sensei. Today 8th dan he was in Osaka in 1933. He began his uchideshi training with Morihei Ueshiba in 1953. Tamura is one of the protagonists who introduced Aikido in France. He is an official representative of Aikikai in France. Tamura Sensei still continues to lead seminars in Switzerland.
Schaaning managed to pass his expertise achieved in Tokyo to a small group of students in Geneva, starting the Aikido section in Vallé’s sensei Judo dojo after a while. Jean-Georges Vallé sensei practiced Aikido himself as well, teaching in a dojo in Lausanne.

Aviation engineer Freddy Jacot, having the chance to accompany Mickey Schaaning in Japan, was enthusiastic about Aikido, too. Schaaning affirmed that aikido was perfect for Jacot. Until this moment Jacot practiced Aikido in the Swissair Judo Club (founded by him in 1959). After having experienced Aikido for a short while, he started to study Aikido intensively from the beginning of the Sixties. On January 4th, 1964, Jacot founded the Aikido section of the Swissair Judo Club. The new association’s name was Judo and Aikido Club Swissair. This Aikido section separated from Judo and Aikido Club Swissair in 1977, with the founding of a separate entity, becoming the same year the Aikikai Zurich.

Jakob Botschi Sensei was among those early Aikido instructors of that period and studied Aikido in Osaka. During his holidays in Switzerland he taught occasionally at the Nippon Club Zurich.
At the moment of Aikikai Zurich’s establishment, the aikidokas were in a clear minority, however, and there was not a single club in which Aikido was taught exclusively. Until that moment Aikido was generally regarded as less important than the other disciplines taught by the Swiss Judo Association (SJV - Schweizerischer Judoverband). As the Aikido associations naturally needed tatamis for training, they had been embedded in Judo clubs. As long as being integrated in those clubs, they didn’t have the right to demand their official independency.

Schaaning and Jacot wanted to learn Aikido being directly taught by the Japanese senseis, being convinced that only the Japanese instructors represented true Aikido. In order to do so, they contacted the following senseis: Nobuyoshi Tamura, Mutsuru Nakazono (7th dan born in1918, expert in acupuncture and oriental medicine. During his Aikido career he practiced mainly in France), Masamichi Noro (6th dan born in 1935, began his uchideshi studies at the Honbu Dojo in 1955. Later he distanced himself from Aikikai developing his own style (Pranin 1991, 84): Ki no michi), Hiroshi Tada (9th dan born in Nagasaki in 1929, started his training at Honbu Dojo in 1948. Having obtained his instruction licence in 1954, he moved to Italy where he opened his dojo) and Katsuaki Asai (8th dan born in 1942, sent from Aikikai to Western Germany to pass his technique and knowledge to that region. Asai, a very proactive person, organized many seminars. In 1975 he invited Kisshomaru and Moriteru Ueshiba to Dusseldorf). They were all students of O’Sensei, who asked them to bring the Aikido inheritance to Europe.

The development of Aikido in Switzerland after 1960

Tamura Sensei came to Switzerland invited by Freddy Jacot for the first time in 1965 to teach a seminar in Zurich. Nakazono sensei had been invited earlier by Willy Frischknecht (Born in 1931. He was a craftsman. He had come in contact with Aikido by his French friends. Through those friends he met Nakazono sensei and became his student) one of the first aikidoka, as well, in his dojo in Appenzell.

From 1965 dozens of seminars have been taught by the mentioned senseis. Such Japanese senseis kept on coming to Switzerland teaching personally due to young enthusiastic aikidokas like Freddy Jacot and Willy Frischknecht. Consequently a close lifetime relationship with the Japanese sensei was born.

The aim of the Swiss pioneers like Jacot and Frischknecht was training – under the Japanese senseis’ leadership – together with all aikidokas of the country. But unfortunately the idea of an Aikido community was a wild dream. Jacot and his friends were aware that Aikido could be learned correctly exclusively from Morihei’s direct students. During the 1960 Morihei was still alive, and so was his spirit on the tatamis when the Japanese senseis were teaching.

Aikido has been continuing gaining space within the powerful Swiss Judo Association (SJV), and an Aikido section has been established. This section of the association was ready to collaborate with the Japanese senseis. In the meantime typical and inevitable problems linked to the budo arts appeared. The reason was about the graduation authority. Should this belong to the Japanese senseis or to the judo association? As the Swiss Judo Association (SJV) had the graduation authority regarding judo, it affirmed its authority also clearly over aikido. One could imagine what the Japanese senseis thought about that. As representatives of the Honbu Dojo they considered themselves the only competent to graduate members and to assign diplomas of the Honbu Dojo. When the responsible representatives of aikido in Switzerland pointed out during a conference that they claimed to maintain the graduation authority, it was clear that was time to separate from who wanted to be graduated by the Japanese and who preferred to be graduated by SJV. All efforts of Freddy Jacot to reach an agreement on the matter were in vain.

The foundation of the first independent Aikido association in Switzerland

As a result, Micky Schaaning, Willy Frischknecht, Carlo Wernli, Susi Meier, Jacqueline Thomann and Freddy Jacot had a meeting in Willy Frischknecht’s home in Herisau, aiming to found an independent association: the A.C.S.A. (Association Culturelle Suisse d'Aikido – Swiss Cultural Association of Aikido). Their main purpose was to found an association that offered the Japanese senseis (Tamura Sensei, NakazonO’Sensei, etc.) the chance to teach and propagate true Aikido in Switzerland.

We had been given the kind permission to publish the minutes A.C.S.A.’s foundation conference by Freddy Jacot, A.C.S.A.’s first president.

Minutes of A.C.S.A.’s foundation conference of September 9, 1969

Presents were Tamura Sensei, Mr. Micky Schaaning, Mr. Willy Frischknecht, Mr. CarloWernli, Mr. Freddy Jacot, Mrs. Susi Meier, Mrs. Jacqueline Thomann, as well as some members of Aikido Club Swissair and Aikido Club Herisau, that wanted to witness the historical meeting.

Mr. Freddy Jacot is elected the meeting’s Chairman. The Chair opens the meeting at 2.00 p.m. illustrating the situation of Aikido in Switzerland and of how it developed during the last four years, since Mr. Deppen (SJV) was put in charge of founding an Aikido section. The situation slowly became intolerable especially from the moment the representatives of Aikido in Switzerland during the last year meeting in Fribourg made fun of the letters of Nakazono sensei. Since then it was clear that those representatives did not accept neither Aikido’s philosophy nor its spirit. The difficulties of such senseis’s and for all who want to maintain Aikido in its pure essence developed by Morihei Ueshiba Sensei appeared clearly.
By the way, this situation had similar examples in all surrounding countries. And this is the reason why there was the need of an alliance between all having the same ideas.

The AIKIKAI SUISSE alias A.C.S.A. was expected since years from the Japanese senseis. However, as everyone was putting hopes on ability to solve all mentioned problems together, and studying with the Japanese senseis, the realization of that process had been delayed.
Supreme authority: Honbu Dojo In Tokyo. From there all senseis leave for different countries teaching and propagating Aikido.

In order to support the masters and their efforts teaching the true Aikido, and simultaneously serving as a link to Honbu Dojo, ACEA (Association Culturelle Européenne d’Aikido) has been founded.

The Chairman reads the statutes that have been created basing their articles on those of Honbu Dojo and on those of ACEA and ACFA (Association Culturelle Fran?aise d’Aikido). Every single article is presented, examined and approved, by correcting or completing a few details. The motion for amendment is carried unanimously.

Mr. Freddy Jacot is elected President. Mr. Micky Schaaning, Mr. Willy Frischknecht and Mr. Carlo Wernli are elected Vice-presidents for the running year. Mrs. Jacqueline Thomann is elected secretary, Mrs. Susi Meier is elected teller.

Seminars: On Tamura Sensei request, the motion that the associations have to contact A.C.S.A. when they plan to organize a seminar is carried.
Regarding the question whether those seminars should be centralized, the committee agrees that every association has the right to invite a sensei to hold a seminar, as required. The costs should be split among the different members.

At the moment the members of A.C.S.A. are the following: Aikido-Club Herisau, Aikido-Club Appenzell, Sektion Aikido Swissair.
Mr. Jacot will contact Mr. Wenger (Secretary of SJV) in order to explain the points of view and goals of the newly founded associaton. The aim is that Aikido sections of associations affiliated to SJV could join A.C.S.A without causing difficulties to the associations.

The meeting is declared closed at 5.00 p.m.

Freddy Jacot (President)
Jacqueline Thomann (Secretary)

The actual situation of Aikido in Switzerland

As Freddy Jacot can certify, A.C.S.A. was founded for offering the Japanese senseis the chance to pass their knowledge on Switzerland. A.C.S.A. still continues to exist, counting more than a thousand members, having new senseis among them.
Year after year the Japanese senseis pass their techniques leading seminars in Switzerland. Such seminars are organized in huge gyms halls that are crowded with aikidokas .

After that starting point, other associations were born, and the study of aikido in Switzerland is now spreaded in almost all states of the country, counting several thousands of aikidokas.

Final thought

Every serious aikidoka has to be conscious of his responsibility for O’Sensei’s inheritance. Every single aikidoka is needed to propagate Aikido’s spirit. Everyone who bravely tries to understand Aikido’s meaning has his part in the trial of fighting together for a better world. If we bear O’Sensei’s message of peace in mind, our attitude, behaviour and action in society will change.