To 道友会 When I made my decision on going to Japan, there was only one thing I was sure about the future: it would become one important journey. In a certain way we are always experiencing journeys, but usually it’s not easy to determine when it begins and when it ends, which leads us to not reflect about it properly. By going to Japan I knew about the beginning, but more importantly, I knew about the ending. Being conscious about the end since the beginning helped me not to fall in grief in the final moments of my stay. I have many dear memories of my stay in Japan, and the majority of them is related to 道友会. The first day I went to the 道場 was a Saturday. I really didn’t understood Japanese at all, so I asked a friend from the university to come with me and help to get things right. She gladly went with me and showed me how to arrive in the place, but for some reason that I could not understand at the time there wasn’t practice on that day. I went back home very sad, mainly because my friend could only help me again on the next Saturday. Since I really couldn’t wait any longer, on Wednesday I decided to go by myself and try my best at Japanese. And that was the moment I first met most of you. The first interesting part was that I didn’t knew it was a 道場 related to 遠藤師範, but when I arrived I could feel some familiarity to some faces. Later on that week I would check some videos on YouTube I watched years ago and realize from where I had seen those faces. I was very happy by the coincidence, but my brother kept insisting I should not take it as a simple coincidence. Maybe by some way he was right. Everyone patiently listened to my bad Japanese and gave me the opportunity to practice it too, and for that I am the most grateful, but at that time I was really relieved to know there were another foreigner besides me practicing there. Then it came the practice. And what I can say for certain is that I always felt like I was practicing the same thing as always, but on a complete different manner. This change made everything difficult, in a way that I would come out of every practice completely frustrated with myself, wondering if I could manage to get used to this new way before my time on Japan ended. At the same time, my only possible choice was to continue: I wasn’t practicing 合気道 to get somewhere, but only to keep moving forward. So at the same time that I was frustrated, I was also completely fascinated by the 合気道 of everyone that I had practiced with. It was a infinite amount of new things to learn right there in front of me. All that softness and kindness, combined with sharpness and powerfulness. Every technique I would see demonstrated and lately receive glew in my eyes and are still precious memories I carry within me. The first decisive point of this journey came a little bit later: there was going to happen a 講習会 at that week’s Sunday and on Saturday 遠藤師範 would concede the practice at the 道場. Besides all the amazing part of meeting the 師範 for the first time, right on that day I hurted my knee seriously and had to stop the practice for the day. After explaining the situation to my brother – who is a doctor – he advised me to stop practicing for the next weeks. Ignoring his advice, I went to the 講習会 on the next day, even though I couldn’t even walk normally. I had given my word I would go and in fact I was very curious to know how the experience would be. When I arrived at the station, for which I had already received very helpful instructions, I received also a knee supporter and a Melon Pan as presents. At that time I didn’t knew how to thank enough and maybe I still don’t know. But this specific memory, of receiving those in the station, is the memory I treasure the most even now; I had only arrived to the 道場 and even without being able to talk properly, people would be so kind and caring towards me. After that, I decided not to rest and practice the most I could; of course still respecting my body, but moving myself as I could. From that moment on, I could progressively feel more and more as a member of 道友会. Participating on the 演武会 and the 講習会; having lunch with everyone after the events; participating at the 国際講習会 being constantly identified as a member of 道友会; watching the 全日本合気道演武大会 with everyone; and finally taking my 初段審査 at 道友会. These little and big things made me feel welcomed and at the right place. Weren’t for your hospitality, I know that my will to improve wouldn’t be so strong as it were. Thanks to your patience and kindness, I was able to learn not only a lot of 合気道, but also Japan’s culture, Japanese and also learn a lot about myself. When I went on this journey, I didn’t had many questions to be answered. Now, thanks to all this experience, I could find answers that I wasn’t even looking for and most importantly even more questions. It’s easier for me now to understand what I can’t do yet and what I want to be able to do. And by knowing that, I also know what I need to seek. I went to Japan with some few dreams and little perspective, and now I come back: full of good memories, experiences, new dreams and many perspectives to those. We can’t know how is the future going to be, mainly because I feel too young yet in order to have so strict plans; but I know for sure that I feel incredibly connected to 道友会, by my gratitude, my admiration and my friendship towards it. Because of all that, I hope we can keep our contact and that we meet again one time soon. I will continue following this path of 合気道, on new journeys and new dreams, as I take all of you within my heart.
Muito obrigado por tudo.( Thank you for everything.)
令和 元年 8月 6日 Daniel Henrique Bernar Freitas