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My first visit to the Tendokan

by Eckhardt Hemkemeier

After some meetings with Shimizu Sensei in Germany, I had the confidence for the following action. On a flight from Belgrade to Hamburg a Japanese man was sitting in the row in front of me. He looked like Shimizu Sensei. I finally asked him if he was. When he said »yes«, I asked him if I could join his seminars in Germany. He enquired who my teacher was and when I answered »Ivo Jovovic from Belgrade!«, he replied that I should inform the German organizers of when I was coming.

In this way I met Peter Haase, who gave me a letter of recommendation for the Tendokan. With the NDR symphony orchestra I was finally again in Japan, and there were two and half weeks left for Aikido. At the reception of the Hilton Hotel, a pretty young women gave me, with an excited face, the description of the way to the Tendokan. She knew the Tendokan, because she lived in that area. Through the labyrinth of the Tokyo Subway, I reached Sangenjaya, and after hesitatingly knocking on the door, I entered the Tendokan.

A European practising with weights gave me a friendly smile and welcomed me and said they were expecting me, but Sensei would come later. Sensei came after I had had several cups of green tea and a lively conversation with Bart, the Uchi Deshi in that time and a former student of Jos van Roy, who also arrived a few days later.

After loging in the Hilton it was a strange change to the English House in Ikebukoro, a traditional house with an Asian Flavor of ruin and amiability. But I was happy when I could change to the famous »apato« of the Tendokan, where Jos lived in, too.

With Jos came the first exciting experience in the Tendokan. Due to an extended shopping tour with Jos we came late to the first class of Aikido. Jos said: »This class is for beginners. We don't need to be there on time.«

After entering the Dojo, however, kneeing down for the Rei, I looked up and saw Sensei's face. He said, »'too late - change clothes!« .Moments later, 20 minutes before the class ended, Sensei took me as Uke at once. There is no amusement park with all its roller coasters, which goes more up and down than Sensei's throwings. His menu of Nage Waza is very large. After five minutes I was finished and Sensei let me sit down. Then it was Jos' turn, lie was smarter because he moved slowly and rested his power, but Sensei shouted: "Up!...Up!" And in the end be was exhausted too. We were never laic again.

Ten days later, after I brought Jos with twenty Hakama and ten Dogi to the underground, I met Nagai Sensei in the changing-room. Immediately we spoke about Belgrade and Ivo, and all the funny jokes they made there. Finally we spoke about a joke with Shimizu Sensei, which I will definitely not tell here, and everybody listened carefully and laughed a lot. I asked everybody to be silent about the Joke, but somehow Sensei must have heard about this and I was on the roller coaster again. So much for loyality in Aikido, if it is a joke which is paid by someone else. But I will not forget the fun and the warmest friendly welcome in the Tendokan, which I've got so often since then.

Some serious advice I got in that year from Sensei: «The business of the partners in Aikido is to give way to the partner, Uke does not disturb Nage's technic, and Nage does not disturb Likes fall«. And there is no difference in daily life outside the Dojo.