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Shimizu sensei’s spring seminars 2003 in Germany

by Peter Nawrot

This year’s official stations of Shimizu sensei’s 2003 spring visit to Germany were as follows:

Moers (March 7th to 8th)

Hennef (March 9th to 12th)

Berlin (March 13th to 15th)

Additionally there have been local seminars in Moers, , Lüneburg and Hamburg, and other seminars took place in Maastricht/Netherlands and Genk/Belgium prior to the seminars in Germany.

Seminar in Moers

Subsequent to the internal seminar on Friday with 20-30 local participants the official seminar with 70 – 80 aikidōka from all over Germany and from the Netherlands was conducted on the weekend.

The seminar started after a morning shopping tour in Moers, where Shimizu sensei and Kenta provided themselves with fashionable T-shirts as souvenirs for Tendōkan students. In spite of the compendiousness of the seminar and the high number of participants big Tendōryu specific techniques were practiced, and highly motivated by the smooth ukemi of Kenta sweat was pouring. During the hard-earned breaks Shimizu sensei could explain freely, as the interpretation was done nearly simultaneously.

The first seminar was completed with a ‚working-dinner’ among the higher dan degree holders at a location with a wonderful panoramic view on the river Rhine, where Shimizu sensei discussed some aikidō related issues. At this occasion Shimzu sensei once again pointed out, that he is hoping for support by all Tendōryu aikidōka regarding sales of his new video, which had been asked for by German Aikidōka as well, to amortize production costs.

Seminar in Hennef

After some refreshment at an Italian restaurant with original Italian music the one-week seminar in Hennef started at the same location as last year (the soccer sports center Hennef). As most of the 70-80 participants attended already for the second time the danger of getting lost within the huge sports area with several coliseums, swimming pools and sports fields in the middle of a little forest was quite unlikely. Thus we were not the only guests, besides several sports and company groups a Japanese soccer team from Miyazaki was practicing as well. They were surprised to learn that Japanese come to Germany for playing soccer whereas Germans learn the Japanese art of aikidō by a Japanese teacher.

Because of the high temperatures in the gym and because of the quite high training level 90 minutes practice in the morning and in the afternoon were fully sufficient. On top of that after the end of the official lessons Shimizu sensei mostly offered about 30 minutes of special practice for advanced students, where he straightforwardly pointed out at individual habits and corrected them relentlessly.

Also here the role model of Kenta as uke was tremendously helpful, because Kenta is practicing since childhood under the guidance of Shimizu sensei. He now fully concentrates on aikidō (therefore we could not spot him among the Japanese soccer team on the soccer ground).

Sword and stick techniques were not missed out, and the lucky ones were able to catch sword specialist Jos from Belgium as a partner.

Compared to earlier seminars the aikidō techniques of everybody have become quite homogeneous and are practiced increasingly smooth and effortlessly yet with ki power. The ratio of participating women was about 20% being on the low side. Unfortunately among femal Tendōryu aikidō students you cannot find such a broad basis as you can find among men.

The breaks between the lessons were spent with eating, relaxing, taking a walk (unfortunately there wasn’t much of spring to see yet) and chatting while drinking wine in the evening.

The last training ended Thursday evening, and most of the students coming from Berlin or attending the next seminar in Berlin left immediately hoping to get to Berlin before midnight.

Anniversary seminar in Berlin

The number of more than 200 aikidōka reflected the importance of this last spring 2003 seminar, which was at the same time an anniversary seminar (25 years of Shimizu sensei coming to Germany, 10 years Tendōryu Aikidō Federation Germany). Because of the high number of participants – all highly graduated German degree holders were attending for example – the lower gym had to be closed for safety reasons, enabling practice in the upper gym. Shimizu sensei demonstrated the techniques flexibly and dynamically as usual, and the spectators as well were completely enthusiastic watching more than 200 aikidōka practicing together as if they were guided by an unvisible power.

The first part of the anniversary celebration took place Saturday evening in a restaurant called ‚Alter Krug’. A variegated program came along with the evening. Besides musical and prosaic shows Shimizu sensei presented videos from Japan. One showed clips from the aikidō seminar in Vladiwostok in October 2002. Besides demonstrations by Shimizu sensei and Kenta a ‚crane dance’ performed by two young Russian girls was displayed. The crane dance comprised of aikidō movements from taisabaki to irimi-nage forms, harmonizing perfectly with the music.

A second video showed recordings of a Japanese TV program with the topic ‚There is a 6th sense!’. In this video Shimizu sensei responds to attacks of an uke, who was invisible to him behind a black screen. Surprisingly most of his defending movements harmonized with the attacks like shomen-uchi, tsuki and ryote-tori to a large extend, which couldn’t be explained even by some consulted Japanese specialists.

Thereafter Shimizu sensei received a golden pin by Mr. Brandl, chairman of the sports club SSC Südwest.

Another oustanding event on this evening was the distribution of the first copies of the commemorative publication, which emphasizes this unique special anniversary felicitously by picture and text contributions of long term students and by excellent graphical design (by Peter Haase).

The second part of the official anniversary celebration took place before the last training session on Sunday morning. After some meditative and contemplative flute music by a Japanese shakuhachi representatives from the SSC Südwest Aikidō, from the Japanese embassy, from the local government and from the German-Japanese Society addressed the audience. A short demonstration by Shimizu sensei and Kenta completed the program, and the present TV channel OKB interviewed some spectators and some students during the then beginning training. The announcement of gradings for 1st to 5th dan completed the seminar.

Most of the guests started their journey home after lunch. For some of them it was a long journey. Shimizu sensei and Kenta went for sightseeing in Berlin before they eventually returned to Japan via Frankfurt on Monday.

The whole seminar was carefully and professionally arranged and organized, and will be an unforgettable memory and serve as motivation for all participants.