This past January I traveled to Urayasu, Japan to train under Tsuneo Ando Sensei of Yoshinkan Aikido Ryu Dojo. Ando Sensei was an uchi deshi under the late Gozo Shioda (the fonder of Yoshinkan Aikido) for over fourteen years. His is a Yoshinkan Aikido Hombu Dojo Shihan, currently ranked as a 7th Dan.
Training at the Ryu Dojo was demanding, but incredible. I trained in four classes a day, usually starting at 6am and eventually ending at 8:30pm (approximately 20 classes total). At the end of my stay, Ando Sensei presented me with a Gasshuku certificate. I also had the opportunity to train in one class under Kancho Kyoichi Inoue, as well as Chida Sensei, at the Hombu Dojo. While at the Ryu Dojo, I also successfully tested for Ikkyu.
Ando Sensei is outstanding and very accommodating teacher. He is an unassuming role model for many people. One my biggest impressions was that of the integrity of the dojo and the students under Ando Sensei. They are truly passionate about their aikido, and dedicated to learning and improving. For me, it was truly a privilege to train with him and his students. Students of Ando Sensei were also a great help in relaying dojo etiquette, language translation, and relaying their instruction and interpretations of aikido techniques. I am truly thankful to all of them. I hope to make it back again next winter. Hopefully, Ando Sensei and his students will come to Alaska someday.