Can you tell us your name, age and graduation?
My name is Humberto Jose Miranda Afonso, born in 1954 and have the graduation of 5ºdan Aikikai ( Tokio ), 5ºdan Takemusu Aikido and 5ºdan Bukiwaza (weapons of Aikido)


 Can you tell us briefly how your Martial Arts training started, specially Aikido.
I Started in 1971 at the age of 17 with Professor Mário Águas ( Soshinkai school). We did practice Karate Shotokan and at the end of the lessons, we did some Self Defence techniques (kind of jujitsu).

In those days, Sensei Tran (With knowledge of Judo, Karate, Kendo and Aikido) was the Technical Director. Apart from this school, there was only the Bushidokan school from professor Antonio Cacho (Shotokai). After two years I moved to Spain (Madrid). In 1973, I changed to Shotokai Karate with Sensei Atsuo Hiruma. At the same time I started to practice Aikido with Sensei Yasunari Kitaura and his main students such as Tomaz de Miguel and Tomaz Sanchez. Other Teachers (such as Chiba, Tamura, Tsuda and Kanetsuka) used to come to Madrid and other Spanish cities and I used take advantage of it.


(Mr. Pulido, Tomaz Sanchez , Sensei Tamura and Sensei Chiba – 1974)



(First Aikido group in Oporto – 1974)


(Sensei Kitaura and Prof. Humberto Afonso – first Aikido Seminar in Oporto  - 1979)

(Sensei Kitaura and Prof. Humberto Afonso – second Aikido Seminar in Oporto  - 1980)

(Sensei Kitaura and Prof. Humberto Afonso – second Aikido Seminar in Oporto  - 1980)

(Sensei Kitaura and Prof. Humberto Afonso – second Aikido Seminar in Oporto  - 1980)

( Portuguese group - 1980)

In August of 1977, I came back to Portugal With the enthusiasm and the idea of teaching Aikido, but soon afterwards , I found so many barriers, that gave reason to the  words of Sensei Tsuda who used to say “Came to Paris to plant flowers in concrete ”. Soon took conscience that in order to teach without fantasies, would be preferable to practice as a hobby, before I would fall in the temptation to teach Aikido like a show in order to get students. I continued my training in Portugal, attending seminars with Senseis Tamura, Stobbaerts, Tomita, and  lately with Sensei  Corallini and Sensei Hitohiro Saito.



(Sensei Tamura with the Oporto group– Lisbon seminar)

Prof. Humberto Afonso, Sensei Tomita in Aveiro, Portugal)


(Sensei Hitohiro Saito with the Oporto Group in Lisbon)



(Sensei Corallini with the Oporto group in Vigo)


What do you know about the influence of Aikido on Sensei Egami and Shotokai school?
When Sensei Egami ( Funakoshi’s most important student ) visited Madrid, already  at an  advanced age, had a meeting one night at his hotel room with all Japanese Martial Arts teachers, most of them from Karate. He told them that, he and Sensei Hiroshi Tada Both at the time already black belts in Karate started to practice Aikido with O’Sensei  Morihei Ueshiba. Sensei Egami some time afterwards stopped his Aikido practice but Sensei Tada carried on, becoming a qualified Aikikai teacher. So we can see that in Shotokai style, zenkutsu became a stretched sankakutai position. The exercises of Ipon Kumite were changed with irimi movements (kawashi), techniques that were not part of Karate.

Tell us little about Sensei Tsuda and Katsugen.
A colleague from Madrid organised the visit of Sensei Tsuda for Katsugen seminars, while I organised the Aikido part. Sensei Itsuo Tsuda started his Aikido practice at an advanced age, and was more interested by other deep aspects of the art. He always made remarks about those aspects, not only on his books but also in practice, because he thought that those aspects were getting lost. Katsugen means Movement of regeneration, Yuki means healing by the action of the hands and Seitai are techniques of manipulation, specially on the spine.  
Those belong to the techniques of the Seitai Movement founded by Sensei Nogushi . Sensei Tsuda was Nogushi’s student.



When you came to Portugal, what was the Aikido panorama?
As I arrived here in 1977, I visited several existing groups. I went to Cascais, with Professor Raul Cerveira, that knew Sensei Georges Stobbaerts. Also went to visit Mr. Honda and introduced myself. I realised immediately that division existed among them. Today, there are more groups using different styles, which is a good thing. I also remember two important Aikido students, Jean Marc Duclos and Leopoldo Ferreira. I remember well of getting tired, whilst they carried on practising.


You were told that you should be a part of a certain organisation.
Some international seminars in Madrid, took part on the premises of National Sports Delegation. In one Seminar, one Spanish Judo Representative, that knew me well, introduced me to Mr. Fiadeiro who was responsible for the Martial arts in Portugal. He was there doing some Judo pedagogic training. The introduction was a disappointment to me with remarks such as “ You shouldn’t think of calling any Aikido or Karate teacher to go to Portugal, you should instead join the sensei Stobbaerts, because their Aikido is similar to Sensei Tamura and should not practice with  Honda’s group, because they do a very solid Aikido without circular movements.
This Analysis of the Aikido and the protection of groups and teachers that visited Portugal seemed inappropriate    to me, as the April revolution had passed already. In regards to Sensei Stobbaerts, Which I met later, I just have to say that he is a real Gentleman of the Martial Arts.


Was the Group of teacher Luis Antunes an alternative to Sensei Stobbaerts and Portuguese Budo Association?
No. In those days Luís Antunes was a student of Mr. Honda, only later he decided to practice with Sensei Tamura.

Did you have an idea of the state of Martial Arts in Oporto?

When I came back to Portugal in 1977, there were some groups of Karate, but none of Aikido

When did you start teaching? Can we say that you were the first Aikido Teacher in Oporto?
In Madrid, one year before my exam for 1ºdan (1976), I already gave one hour of lessons every Sunday mornings. In Portugal, in summer and at Christmas during my holidays, I would teach a small group that would carry on practising the rest of the year. After my final return to Portugal in 1977, I started teaching every day.


Effectively I was the pioneer of Aikido lessons not only in Oporto, but also in Penafiel and Viana do Castelo. The first Aikido Seminar was given in 1979 by Sensei Yasunari Kitaura.



Have you ever been a member of the Portuguese federation of Aikido?
No, I was never a member. In the beginning, in the era of  C.D.A.M., we have to praise the sacrifice of Luís Antunes in fighting the way the system was established, for cracking some barriers, even with his teacher(Mr. Honda). I had some admiration for him for his courage, but little by little he also changed. 

Do You consider yourself a self made man?
Yes, In a certain way. When I started to practice Aikido, soon realised that something was wrong, or at least hidden or occult. As I already practised Karate, even without wanting to question the techniques, ended up by mentally question them. Besides the teaching using no methodology, some sort of “fruit salad “, seemed to me that some were teaching to confuse you.                              
When I questioned the Japanese teachers, they answered evasively. They even told me, that the Aikido techniques could not be dumped into a computer, and with this method, the student would not loose its creativity, otherwise you would risk building a factory of masters. Anyway I enjoyed evade their attacks, as they did to my questions.
For a long time I followed that process, but then realised that others forms of teaching and practice existed. The contact with the books and videos of Sensei Saito were crucial for the transformation of my Aikido. The Iwama pedagogy overtakes all those questions.


Can you describe an Aikido lesson at your school?
We start from 20H00  to 22H00, we start with 15 minutes of warm up, followed by shuwari waza and ukemi.  After we do Bukiwaza, tai-no-henko and kokyu-ho, then immobilisations and projections from a single attack. Half of the year we practice jo (January to July) and the other half boken (September to December). At the end we do seiza kokyu-ho e haishin undo.

 Along the year we practised kihon, only now and then we do Kinonagare. Sensei Kitaura used to say that Kinonagare should be used like the medicines, only the necessary.


What kind of relationships do you have with other Aikido groups?
We always had good relations with all the groups. When I travel around I try to visit and even practice with other groups. I would like to thank Jean Marc Duclos, student of Sensei Georges Stobbaerts, and Carlos Portas, student of Sensei Tomita for their share of knowledge.

What about the Masters?
First I would talk about the pseudo masters. In Madrid, they used to say that there are more gurus in London then all over India. Today, all are masters, even people that do a great job, fall for those titles.
A medical student at end of the world, can do medical treatment to people, because there isn’t any better, but that doesn’t make him a doctor.
We, the older students (sempai) due to circumstantial factors give martial arts lessons, that does not give us the title of master. If we use the title before the proper time we will discredit the real Masters.
I would like to Honour Sensei Georges Stobbaerts, as one of the most outstanding teachers of Aikido in Portugal.
Being an Aikido master, doesn’t give me the best Aikido, only one has mastered his form of the art. Morihei Ushiba had so many students, and each one has his vision and perception of the art. On the movies of that époque, we can spot how different each student practised, and they are the masters of today. So many years have passed, we are like History investigators, in order to narrate a époque, we have to study as many reliable narratives as we can.                              




Is there any thing else that you would like to add?
I would end with a sentence that touched me deeply “ Aikido is like a very sweet honey, no competition, no confrontation, where some “few” bad characters can flourish ”.
The Aikido teachers have a great responsibility to honour the ones that sacrificed for this beautiful art. We should not forget that students tend to exceed their teachers in the good and the bad. We should help to create good Human Beings.

I would like to say that the doors of our dojo are open to all.




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