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Summer Seminars 2006 in Europe

Off Time No. 7

by Kenta Shimizu

On June 14th the journey from Narita to Frankfurt in Germany took about 11 hours. This time it was just in the midst of the Football World Cup period, which took place in Germany, it was crawling with people from around the world, who came for cheering, and Germany and all the other European countries showed a magnificent climax.

June 16th – 17th: Seminar in Lüneburg (Germany)
June 18th – July 1st: Seminar at Herzogenhorn (Germany)
July 2nd – 4th: Seminars in Maribor and Murska Sobota (Slovenia)
July 7th – 9th: Seminar in Kragujevac (Serbia)

Before our departure in Japan the rainy season was immediately following, the level of humidity was rising, but the temperature was still around 20 degrees C. Just after the Football World Cup had started, there were days in Germany on which the temperature exceeded 30 degrees C; after we arrived at Frankfurt I was worried slightly during the whole stay in Europe. The sudden change of temperature had physical consequences, although I was not aware about this, and at the two days seminar in Lüneburg, which was our first stop, I had such a tired feeling that I did not dare to think that this were only the first two days.

Luckily Herzogenhorn, where we stayed after Lüneburg two weeks, is located at high level, and it is a totally refreshing location, where you did not feel anything of the boiling heat. At this location named Herzogenhorn every year since Shimizu Sensei came for seminars for the first time to Europe a seminar takes place, and this year it was the 26th time. To the place of the seminar, which is located on the way to the 1500m high top of the mountain, came about 120 Aikidoka (60 participated in the first week, and thereafter another 60 participants arrived for replacement). After you turn from the official road to the road leading to the mountain driving up will take about 10 minutes by car. Looking around you will see various mountains, mountains, mountains … .And at this place, where you see only the unlimited blue sky besides mountains and countless trees, the seminars take place.

The morning class took one hour and 30 minutes, the class at the afternoon took one hour and 15 minutes. The training started on Monday morning, and the last training was on Friday afternoon. Approximately from Wednesday the participants of the seminar showed signs of exhaustion. I suppose that this is quite natural that the exhaustion increases as everybody devoted himself to the Aikido training continuously for five days, and this is quite an interesting matter, because due to this miraculously no excessive strength is used any more, and gradually natural movements develop. Obviously strange fighting spirits were pulled off, and all dealt with Aikido more obediently. Furthermore all members one by one felt more sense of unity day by day.

Breakfast and lunch were in buffet style and taken jointly. The remaining time was basically free, some enjoyed mountain climbing, some watched football on television, some chatted together, and some spent the time with their thoughts. From the seminar place you can reach the top of the mountain within 20 minutes, and we climbed the mountain daily whenever it was possible to enjoy the good, clear air at the Herzogenhorn. During these two weeks there were only a few rainy days, and we were able to climb the mountain every day. I suppose that all participants agreed that the mind as well as the body was refreshed from every day life.

It is said that many participants consider the participation in this seminar as a great privilege. I as well received the permission to participate in the various foreign seminars until now, and this seminar with its more than 20 years of history has a special atmosphere. You could say that it is a sacred place, where is no time pressure, and where you are able to devote yourself to Aikido and the nature of the Herzogenhorn until complete satisfaction.

On July 2nd we went by car to the airport of Zurich in Switzerland, and then by airplane to the airport of Ljubljana in Slovenia. We stayed two days in Maribor, the second largest city of Slovenia, and then one day in Murska Sobota, which is located a little less than two hours by car from Maribor, and at these two locations the seminars took place. Tendoryu Aikido in Slovenia was founded about 25 years ago, and the history goes far back to the area of the former Yugoslavia.

At the seminars in Maribor and Murska Sobota about 40 Aikidoka participated each, but the participation was not limited to Tendoryu students, and therefore many Aikidoka from different styles participated as well. For me, too, it was a valuable experience to get to learn other forms of Aikido than Tendoryu directly by physical contact.

On July 6th we went on to Beograd in Serbia. To the three days seminar in Kragujevac we went by car. Like Slovenia Tendoryu in Serbia has a long history as well, and since the begin oh his foreign seminars Shimizu Sensei goes to Serbia. However, since last year 2005 Tendoryu in Serbia and Montenegro has a new structure with four representatives, and a new start began.
At the seminar in Kragujevac every day about 100 Aikidoka attended, and we met at a large sports facility. The television channel CM did propaganda, and television and newspapers reported. What I felt especially during this seminar was the growth of a young generation. Among the students, who organized the seminar, there were many young man in their twenties, and thanks to their youthful vitality and their charisma the Tendoryu Aikido seminar proceeded excellently. Their attitude became a strong motivation for me, and we were able to practice until the very last day without breaking Kimochi.

During the era of the former Yugoslavia unfortunately there was a period when Tendoryu Aikido was disassembled due to the civil war. But now a new country named Serbia was built, which develops little by little, and Tendoryu Aikido as well begins to form up newly. The substance of the training and the atmosphere are really excellent, and I am full of confidence, that Tendoryu Aikido will develop successfully again in this area in future.

Regarding my personal feelings, I was permitted to accompany Shimizu Sensei on his foreign seminars, before I became Uch-Deshi. But there is now a difference regarding my previous participation in the seminars. As an Uchi-Deshi I am always thinking, whether I should do something special. But whether due to the climate or whether finally I put myself under some pressure by my attitude, my level of exhaustion has changed considerably compared with before, and at the end of every single day I breathe again relieved with the feeling “that I was able to get over this day safely”. Sensei always said: “We have to become like a blank piece of paper!” With regard to physical spiritual exhaustion it is good, if we are able to recognize clearly feelings within our head, which hinder us at practice, because they make us follow the right way. These feelings made me learn that in every situation it is absolutely necessary, to keep a clear head and to proceed with full KI.

© translated by Peter Nawrot 08/2006