Hubert van Ravensberg of the Netherlands is a familiar figure at B.A.F. Summer Schools and indeed at other national courses. His association with Kanetsuka Sensei goes back many years. At Chester Peter Megann talked to him about this long friendship.
P.M.: Hubert, it's good to see you here again, and congratulations on your promotion to 5th Dan. When did you first meet Kanetsuka Sensei?
H.v.R.: I met Kanetsuka Sensei at the beginning of 1980, soon after I had started practising Aikido. During a course he was giving in Holland he asked me to come to the front of the class and applied nikyo on me. It was such a shock! I was paralyzed because of the pain and didn't know what to do. Sensei noticed this and explained that I only had to tap on the tatami when I felt pain. From that moment I was 'attached' to Kanetsuka Sensei. Over many-years I used to pick him up whenever he arrived in Holland and drove him everywhere in Holland, Belgium and Germany.
P.M.: And how did you become so closely involved with the B.A.F.?
H.v.R.: My first contact with the B.A.F. was through Jack Poole, whom I met several times in Holland when he came with Kanetsuka Sensei. The first time I came to Chester was in 1983. Jack looked after me and suggested that I might become a member of your organisation and arranged for me to receive a membership book. And I've been ë member ever since.
P.M.: What attracts you to Kanetsuka Sensei. Hubert?
H.v.R.: I think Sensei's Aikido is so simple yet so efficient. How to sit properly, how to stand up, how to bring your arms up and down, how to turn your body. He's not interested in complicated, showy techniques. But these basic things are easier said than done!
I think too that Kanetsuka Sensei has an open and honest mind, something maybe not everyone appreciates.
P.M.: You have a close association with Polish Aikido. How did that come about?
H.v.R.: In 1986-87 Andrej Sobolewski from Wroclaw was studying at the University of Enschede and he practised Aikido with me there. He was promoted to shodan before he returned to Poland. Then in 1988 I met Piotr Borowski from Gdansk at our Summer School in Holland (he is here
in Chester this week). Then when Kanetsuka Sensei visited Poland for the first time in 1990 I accompanied him. At the course in Wroclaw I renewed my contact with Andrej and started visiting Poland
In 1992 I was invited by Robert Krac (later to become a
senior figure in the Polish Aikido Federation) to go to Opole in south-west
Poland and I visited Opole regularly after that. Robert arranged
many courses which I attended in Mrowki. In 1996 I was invited by the P.F.A. as a special
guest at its 20th anniversary celebration, at which Moriteru
Ueshiba Sensei was present, as well as Sugawara Sensei.
From 1997 I was invited by Piotr Borowski to attend summer Schools in Szklarska Poreba in the south of the country; and for many years I was an adviser to the P.F.A.. In 2004 Piotr left the P.F.A. and formed the Polish Aikido Society (P.S.A.). Next year the P.F.A. and the P.S.A. will organise together the 30th anniversary of Polish Aikido (29th April to 1st May). I understand that Kanetsuka Sensei has been invited, along with Doshu, of course, as well as Asai Sensei and Tissier Sensei.
P.M.: In recent years you've been visiting Argentina. What is the connection with that distant country?
H.v.R.: At a course in Leeds in 1998, as well as Kanetsuka Sensei there was a guest from Argentina: Miyazawa Sensei, President of the Argentinian Aikido Federation. I learnt that Miyazawa Sensei always came to Amsterdam around September - October before setting out to visit his students and friends throughout Europe and Israel. So I told him that the next time he came to Amsterdam he should stay at my place. From then on we spent a lot of time together and became good friends. In 2003 Miyazawa Sensei invited me to go to Argentina and join in the celebration of his 40 years there. Soon after, we started organising his visit to Holland and Poland, but a few weeks before he was due to come to Europe, we received a message from Argentina telling us that Miyazawa Sensei has passed away. I kept contact with his students in Argentina and they invited me to participate in the 40 years Anniversary and in a memorial dedicated to Miyazawa Sensei. I asked Piotr to join me and we went to Argentina for two weeks. Then in March of this year we returned to celebrate the founding of the Latin American Aikido Association. We plan to return in December and teach at a tew centres. We shall celebrate the New Year in Brazil before returning home.
P.M.: Well, Hubert, you certainly get around! We'll look forward to seeing you again in September at the Ryushinkan course in London.