I started my Aikido practice in 1994, in Oporto, Portugal
In 1996, I started practicing with prof. Carlos Portas, under the guidance of Master Takeji Tomita, with whom we met frequently, in Portugal and in several European countries. At this point, I had a daily practice of at least 2 hours.
I was an Aikido instructor from 2005 to 2013.
I made the first weapons in 2006. I did several bokken Iwama Ryu first. A few months later, I did my first Jo, also in 2006.
At that point, I began to use the weapons I built in my Aikido practice. Over the years, I have also done some to offer and share with colleagues and friends who practiced with me.
Encouraged by fellow practitioners and friends who knew my work and who wanted to have weapons produced by me, in 2016, together with my wife Ana Paula, we made the decision to market the weapons that I make for aikido and create the brand "almarez buki ".
I've always had woodworking practice, since I was a teenager.
While studying architecture, I kept a joinery workshop, which helped to have some pocket money. It is always a great pleasure for me, to build pieces with wood, to get involved with the materials and the development of the projects. It helps me to feel the projects and the ideas that I have for the construction challenges.
It became natural, being so involved in the practice of Aikido, to build my own weapons. Moreover, I believe, that weapons of practice are a personal instrument. It is essential to create a strong bond between the practitioner and his or her weapon. I feel that I begin my bond in the act of building my weapons.
So, when I am building a weapon, if it is possible, it is important to me, to know who it is intended for. I really believe that, at that moment, a connection is established with the person who will use it.
I start the bokken / jo construction by selecting the wood.
I choose each wooden board with the awareness that it is precious material, a scarce resource, that I respect and feel alive, dialoguing.
This imposes that each wooden board is of maximum use, to avoid the waste.
I always use Ipe Brasileiro, wood imported to Portugal, that I can choose each board, individually, in order to make sure that they present the proper specifications for the construction of a weapon. It has to be very dry, with a certain degree of humidity, the correct grain and a good surface.
With the utmost care, I make the measurements in order to take full advantage of the board. I have as a rule, not to waste wood.
This phase is very important. You need to be well centered. It is the beginning of a long work.
The cuts are decisive of the character of each weapon.
From this cutting phase, I select the parts for the construction of a Bokken or a Jo.
A piece of wood represents a long history of Life and the Living Being to which it belongs, a Tree. At this moment of construction, a Living Dialogue is formed. I feel part of this story, part of a relationship, that imposes what is possible to advance and build. I do not decide alone where we are going or what is possible to accomplish or the time that we will take.
Each weapon, each construction, obeys the laws proper to this Dialogue.
The inspiration for the creation of each weapon is built on the possibility of this Dialogue.
A permanent Dialogue with all that Is, the Tree, I, the person to whom the weapon is destined, the day I am living ... I often have to stop with one piece, work with another, give time and distance to gain understanding and make Dialogue possible.
The most difficult thing for me in building a weapon is balancing it. Balance is the inner experience of the understanding of practice reflected in the physical and material expression of a weapon.
Building a weapon, it's a very demanding job on several levels, difficult to reconcile with each other. It has a permanent physical wear, at the same time that it demands the maximum of concentration. It is difficult to remain in this attitude for long periods of time. On the other hand, I do not plan and control the challenges that each piece can raise given its unique character. It is very different from operating with a machine or performing technical operations.
It entails intense devotion and emotional and spiritual involvement. Like I said back, a Dialogue.
When I finish a Bokken / Jo, I feel relief and satisfaction for job that has been successfully completed. I also feel a strong connection to the piece, which makes it difficult for me to separate myself from it.
The relief comes from the tension that involves building a weapon. It involves a lot of attention, care, respect, physical effort and great emotional involvement. These conjugated factors cause a lot of wear and tear on several levels.
I feel relief because the hardest part of this sculpture, for me, is how to stop. The temptation to go further, to achieve better, generates inner conflict. Stopping is just as important as getting started. One more gesture and can change the balance of the piece.
I get very pleased because it is a beautiful piece, made by my hands and part of a secular tradition, which had structured in a material form a very rich interior experience, of which I am part and identified.
It is my wish that those who receive it feel the same satisfaction and pleasure that I experience in building it.