Guam Aikikai (Guam Aikido Association)
Martial art: Aikido
Years practicing: 45 years
In Aikido, students rise through the ranks based on the number of years dedicated to the art instead of through competition.
Mutsuko Minegishi, founder of Guam Aikikai (Guam Aikido Association) in Barrigada, is a 7th degree black belt and is celebrating 45 years of dedication to Aikido this year. Her lifelong dedication to Aikido is an inspiration to her students and all who seek to lead a positive and peaceful life.
Aikido techniques include entering and turning movements that redirect the momentum of an opponent's attack. The practice of Aikido combines martial arts and philosophy as a way to preserve the harmony and peace of the universe.
Minegishi joined Aikido in her youth with a friend in 1972. “From the first day, I never stopped”, she said. Today, she strives to spread Aikido's messages of peace and positivity. She is a member of many Aikido organisations in the world and travels frequently to visit them.
In 1998, she became the first female to earn the 6th degree black belt, and in 2010. was the first woman to earn the 7th degree black belt. In a few more years, she hopes to get her 8th degree black belt.
Her promotion to the 6th degree black belt was difficult, as the Aikido Federation headquarters was reluctant at first to give her the recognition.
“Because of that I am more energized. If there are walls, I will break them down. I will get strong and break the walls. The more walls there are, the stronger I get," Minegishi says.
Minegishi has a special mission for peace in Guam and Micronesia.
As a young child, she and her family fled Tokyo during World War II and were sheltered by her uncle.
“I experienced war... (but) until I moved to Kiribati, I didn’t understand what Japan did in the war," she says. Minegishi moved to Kiribati in 1988. while working for a grant aid project by the Japanese government. She learned about the Japanese occupation of the islands and the strain it caused on the environment and the people.
I thought, 'War is a terrible thing”, she says. Minegishi then developed a 10-year project to spread Aikido in Micronesia, starting in Kiribati and moving northward toward Japan, connecting all the islands that were impacted by the war. Her mission was to make friends and peace with the people.
After six years of instructing in Kiribati, Minegishi spent five years traveling between Guam and Saipan before
settling on Guam permanently. She founded Guam Aikikai Aikido in 1999.
Having reconnecting with former students in Kiribati this year, Minegishi will return to the island for a short period
at the end of the year to assist in reviving Aikido in Kiribati. She also has plans to help another former student establish
Aikido in Pohnpei. Once the dojos are established, she hopes to one day form an inter-island Aikido federation.
“In this way, my dream is going to come true”, she says.
When it comes to accomplishing her dreams and goals, Minegishi is not a quitter, and she wants all her students to
show the same determination and dedication, she says.
Minegishi tells her students, "If you can't do it at first, keep trying ... That joy (of accomplishment) you won't feel
until you have achieved it.