When I started studying Aikido, Geoff and Phil had just split from their old club and started Maru Aikido. Maru is a honynym in Japanese; the meaning that they intended was "circle", but it also means "name" when applied to a ship. It tends to get used in the same way that we'd add HMS to the name of any Royal Navy vessel (and for the SF Geeks amongst you, is why the Kobayashi Maru is named so. (Incidentally, I've just used Wikepedia, which tells me that Maru means perfection or purity, and is given as a suffix to ship names because it implies a safe, or round trip. I'm absurdly pleased by that.)
Anyway; when I started, Maru was a member of the Aikido Research Federation which was based in Staffordshire. Over the years, however, our sensei decided that the next logical step was to form a federation - Maru Aikido had MMSU's Aikido club as a sister club, and they weren't necessarily happy with the politics that were necessary to be part of the ARF. (I am aware, before anyone points this out, how much this is like the Judean People's Liberation Front ...).
So the new federation was formed, and called Jiyuu Renmei, which Geoff told us meant "Freedom Federation". He and Phil had club badges designed, with a picture of Fuji-yama in the centre, the sun rising over the mountain, and the name of the Federation in a circle surrounding it. We were to wear these like Samurai mon, on the left upper arm of our best gi. None of this is unusual for a martial arts club.
So, wind on time, 12 years later. I've started Aikido (with a UKA affiliated club, curlwomble
! You got me in the end :-)) and last week, I wore my heavy karate-gi, which was the gi I did my dan grading in, and just so happens to be the gi that has my Jiyuu Renmei badge still carefully sewn to it.
At the end of the practice, I was chatting to Kumiko, a young, Japanese PhD student here and she looked at the badge. It took her a second to translate, and somewhat hesitantly, she said "This means Freedom, yes?"
I breathed a sigh of relief then; one that I'd unknowingly been holding in for 12 years.
Because as seriously as he took his Aikido, I think it would have tickled Wheeler Sensei immensely to have his students wearing a badge which said:
"I don't read Japanese. Please punch me here."