The Dojo

Aikido in Tikkurila – how it all began

The first idea of a new aikido club began when we sat with Mari Lehtinen after the class in the Sandokai’s women’s dressing room in Kerava. We shared thoughts, that it would be good to start aikido in Tikkurila, since there was no aikido there within 10 kilometres of the town. When we presented our idea to others we were told “The place is too expensive” and “It is not possible to get classes at the Tikkurila’s Sport hall”.

In the spring of 1998 however, we decided to try and started the preparations! At that time, Mari had left for France to study aikido, and therefore the founding members, beside myself were then Heikki Pokela and Tuula Laisi. Tuula also came from Sandokai, and Heikki visited regularly Sandokai.
Figuring out the name, was both interesting and challenging. This time Mrs. Yamada Yuriko, a professor of Japanese language from the University of Berlin, came to our help. She had often worked as an interpreter at Endo Sensei’s seminars in Europe, and was familiar with Sensei’s way of thinking. Yuriko proposed the names ‘Akari’ or ‘Akebono’. Akari means ‘inner light’, the one which cannot be seen by the eyes. Akebono means ‘sunrise’. Akari sounded more right and familiar, its meaning attractive and easy to pronounce in Finland.

Akari was registered in June 1998, and the first classes, 4 classes a week, started in the following Autumn. The official opening ceremony was held on Saturday, 30.11.1998 and about twenty trainees participated.

In January 1999 we started the first beginner course. Since then, beginner courses have started every August-September and January. Akari has grown constantly and today the club has between 80-100 members, of whom more than 20 are juniors. The number of exercise classes has grown as well, and today we have classes 6 days a week. We are very thankful for all the help and support Vantaa City has provided us with. This has enabled the dojo to develop and grow. Our dojo is very active and the atmosphere is open and happy. We welcome all newcomers and visitors to join!

Miranda Saarentaus 7. Dan, founder member of Akari

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