In this piece, we converse with Wee-Oon, a committed supporter, companion, and patron of Aikido Shudokan for more than three decades. Throughout this period, Wee-Oon has encountered and enjoyed various advantages that extend beyond the immediate gains for individuals immersed in the practice of Aikido, positively influencing the wider community.

 

AikidoAdmin (Interviewer): Thank you for sharing your insights, Wee-Oon. You have been a long-time friend of Aikido Shudokan and Sensei Joe. At our last interview, we discussed how you integrated BUDO philosophy into your corporate strategy, which I understand has proven to be beneficial to your organisation today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on BUDO assimilation into the corporate world back then.

Today, we would like your insights into how being a patron of Aikido Shudokan for the last 35 years has influenced your everyday journey and lifestyle.

What drew you to support Aikido as a patron and to the worldwide Aikido Shudokan Association?

 

Wee-Oon: Thank you for having me today. I discovered Aikido through Steven Seagal movies in the 80s, which I later found was a common introduction for many individuals. Steven Seagal, a martial artist and actor, is well-known for featuring Aikido prominently in his films. This sparked interest and curiosity about Aikido as a martial art.

I met Joe Thambu Shihan in the mid-80s, who was the non-Hollywood version, and might I say, I was in awe of his abilities, technique, and commanding presence. They say in the romantic novels,” It was love at first sight”, for me “It was an immediate bond from the first Aikido Encounter”!

What drew me to becoming a patron of Aikido Shudokan? Well, Aikido is a martial art that goes beyond physical techniques and financial support. It emphasizes mental and spiritual development, peace, and the well-being of individuals, and the communities, which fosters physical health, mental well-being, cultural preservation, and a sense of unity as a whole. This is what drew me towards Aikido!

Having practised Shitoryu Karate in my early teens which helped me in my discipline, and by the mid-80s, I was in real need of “something” that I could utilise to help me re-focus, and to re-direct my path, my energy, and also to have some sense of quality and freedom through better “life” management.

 

AikidoAdmin (Interviewer): You discovered Aikido at a pivotal point in your life and became aware of Aikido during a crucial or significant moment in your personal journey.

In what ways do you believe Aikido positively impacts individuals and communities? Are there specific aspects of Aikido’s philosophy or techniques that resonate with you?

 

Wee-Oon: Aikido is renowned for its non-aggressive philosophy, focusing on harmonising with the opponent’s energy rather than meeting force with force. As a patron, we support the spread of a martial art that values peaceful resolution and conflict avoidance, fostering a more compassionate and understanding community. Additionally, Aikido’s focus on blending and redirecting energy makes it an effective stress-relief practice. By supporting Aikido, we help create environments where individuals can manage stress, enhance mental resilience, and achieve a sense of balance in their lives. It also promotes camaraderie and community building. Aikido dojos (training halls) often function as close-knit communities. By supporting Aikido, we help build a sense of camaraderie among practitioners, creating spaces where individuals can share experiences, support each other, and form lasting friendships.

 

AikidoAdmin (Interviewer): Your statement beautifully encapsulates the essence of Aikido and highlights the unique qualities that make it a martial art with a profound impact, emphasizing values that extend beyond the confines of the dojo.

What inspired you to become involved in supporting martial arts, particularly Aikido, from a patron’s perspective?

 

Wee-Oon: It was a synergy of two factors;

Firstly, Joe Thambu Shihan has served as an exceptional mentor for me. Under his tutelage, I’ve not only developed my emotional intelligence but have also grown into a more resilient individual on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. His steadfast dedication to upholding the traditional teachings of Aikido and preserving its straightforward yet remarkably effective form serves as a profound source of inspiration for me. Coupled with Aikido’s traditional but progressive principles sealed it for me!

 

AikidoAdmin (Interviewer): That is quite a potent combination, having an 8th Dan Shihan who is internationally recognised for his extraordinary abilities as an Aikidoka, and as a gifted teacher who lives, breathes, translates and projects the principles of Aikido.

How would the application in terms of Physical Fitness and Coordination apply from a patron’s perspective?

 

Wee-Oon: Aikido is a physically demanding martial art that emphasises circular and flowing movements. By supporting Aikido, we contribute to the promotion of agility, and coordination among practitioners. Furthermore, supporting Aikido promotes a culture of physical fitness and well-being. Aikido training encourages a healthy lifestyle by improving cardiovascular health, enhancing flexibility, and building strength. As a patron, we contribute to the overall well-being of individuals and communities.

 

AikidoAdmin (Interviewer): Thank you.

You talk about how Aikido contributed towards physical body connection, for you and as a patron, how does Aikido contribute towards your mental state?    

 

Wee-Oon: Aikido places a strong emphasis on the mind-body connection, encouraging practitioners to develop a heightened awareness of their bodies and surroundings. As a patron, we support an art that promotes mindfulness and mental clarity, contributing to improved overall well-being which leads to the self-defence skills. By supporting Aikido, one contributes to the dissemination of effective self-defence skills that prioritise the well-being of both the defender and the attacker. Aikido’s emphasis on non-violent conflict resolution extends beyond the dojo and contributes to the development of individuals who are skilled in resolving conflicts peacefully, both in their personal lives and in the broader community.

 

AikidoAdmin (Interviewer): Absolutely, your recognition of Aikido’s emphasis on the mind-body connection and its promotion of mindfulness and mental clarity aligns with the core principles of Aikido.

Before we wrap up this interview, are there any further thoughts you would like to share? 

 

Wee-Oon: In closing, I would like to touch on 4 items which I believe is the essence of Aikido and also the foundation of Aikido Shudokan from a patron’s perspective.

1/ Aikido is deeply rooted in philosophical principles such as harmony, unity, and the pursuit of personal growth. As a patron, we contribute to the dissemination of these principles, fostering an environment that encourages moral and ethical development.

2/ Aikido is a lifelong pursuit and a lifetime of learning, with practitioners continuously refining their skills and deepening their understanding of the art. As a patron, we support an environment that encourages continuous learning, personal growth, and the pursuit of excellence. Just like fine wine and good single malts, they aged gracefully with time!

3/ Aikido is accessible to people of all ages and abilities. By supporting Aikido, we contribute to the promotion of inclusivity and diversity, ensuring that individuals from diverse backgrounds can participate and benefit from the practice and to share a common passion.

And finally, the cultural preservation of Aikido, this has the most significant impact for me as a patron.

4/ Aikido has deep traditional cultural roots and historical significance dating back to the 1600s. Supporting the Aikido practices helps preserve and promote cultural traditions. As a patron, we contribute to the continuation of centuries-old techniques, rituals, and philosophies, ensuring its continuity for many more centuries!

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