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Without Aikido I never would have come to Japan...

Kawaraban No. 53


by Susanne Frohlieb (guest lecturer of languages studies at the Waseda University, member of German Tendoryu Federation)

Because of the job of my father I spent several years in America, and I was 15 years old when I returned to my German hometown. At that time I heart for the first time about the term ‚Aikido’. My classmates learnt Aikido, and when I heart about Aikido for the first time, I had no idea what it was all about. When I asked those friends: „What actually is Aikido?“, they answered: „Why don’t you just come along and take a look“, and they brought me to the Dojo of Sensei Friedrich Vortmüller, where children were enthusiastically practicing Aikido. The atmosphere fascinated me in an instant.

I felt a fascination, which you cannot find in case of Western sports. Aikido is practiced in a clear and pure environment, and there is mental concentration. Others sports are brutal, and during practice frequently you will hear people shouting loudly, whereas in Aikido quietness has been preserved. And when I watched how the attack of a partner is parried by a series of circular movements, a strong interest in Aikido arose, and I decided to learn Aikido, too.

Furthermore during my Aikido study a very deep interest in Japan – the country of origin – developed. Hence the wish to stay some day in Japan emerged. In Germany as well Japanese terms like ‚Kote-gaeshi’, ‚Aihanmi’, ‚Mune-tori’ etc. are used in Aikido for techniques and movements with a partner. But that is not the whole story. In the so-called language of the ‘Aikidoka’ I was able to study also Japanese names for traditional Japanese things like ‚Dojo’ for the place for training and, for example, ‚Zori’. Therefore I was able to understand everything including the body language when Shimizu Sensei came to Germany for teaching.

And we were totally enthusiastic as Shimizu Sensei parried the attacks of two or three of us using circular throwing movements before we actually became aware of it. By the way, Aikido is applied for defense against an attacker.

That means on the other side that break-fall (Ukemi) is just as important to protect the own body, when a technique is applied. Normally this point is not considered very much important, but please read the following episode by Sensei Fritz.

It is reported that some day Sensei Fritz actually was attacked. His body reacted in an instant, and although there was no time for reflection, he all of a sudden took the position of Ikkyo Ura. The opponent, who had attacked Sensei, fell to the ground and was simply stunned. Because he was not able to break-fall, he hurt his face on the asphalt. And Fritz Sensei had to provide first aid.

By this you can see the very importance of break falling.

Since my college time until today I had a couple of experiences. I went to the university, studied a couple of years, and then worked at the research department of the university after receiving my degree. Finally last summer my heart’s desire to live in Japan, which existed since my college times, came into being. Furthermore my dream to receive Aikido instructions by Shimizu Sensei here in Japan has been fulfilled as well, so every day is happy and rich.

© translated by Peter Nawrot 10/2006