Skip navigation

Herzogenhorn One Year Later

Kawaraban No. 43


by Kenji Shimizu

After one year’s break I traveled again to Germany for teaching. The seminar’s location is called Herzogenhorn (located in the south of Germany, in the mountains of the Black Forest, 1350 m high), in midst a wonderful pristine landscape. Here at this location the seminars start every year in summer.

On this seminar Tendōryu students from all over the world were worried about the condition of my knees after the operation, and each time I heard compassionate words I felt their big sympathy. At the two-weeks seminar 120 students participated altogether. A second group replaced the group of 60 students in the first week. The Germans presented the main group, and for students from other countries there was a contingent of 20 students only; the rules were quite strict.

This year, too, students from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Slovenia, Spain, America and Mexico attended.

A special feature this time was consul general, Mr. Nakane, from the consulate general in Munich, who specially visited the seminar’s location and watched the training more than one hour unhurriedly. Mr. Nakane, whom I just met recently in June in Tōkyō by introduction of a friend, was enthusiastic about the exchange of Japanese traditional culture with foreign participants. And best of all was sitting comfortably on the terrace after practice and talking to each other while watching the brilliant green of the plateau in front.

Furthermore I was invited to the consulate residence during my breakpoint in Munich, and also the eight Germans who accompanied me, were exhilarated about the reception, which beat every expectation.

Another difference to other years was that l granted my son’s (Kenta, 17 years) request and let him participate in the seminar. The school accommodated us by granting a so-called exemption, but I was worried, whether he would be able to keep up in this eminent training with the sturdy physical strength of the Germans. And as the Germans took turns after one week, I was wondering deep in my heart, how well my son would be able to keep up with a training, in which people normally loose 2-3 kg of weight, not only for two weeks in succession, but also as the first Japanese participant.

In spite of all that he persevered until the very end. Besides practice he contributed to intensifying the cultural exchange. While having dinner he conversed naturally and stayed at the table until late at night chatting. There was no need to worry, even when he repeatedly didn’t go to bed early to prepare for the morning class. As next morning he practiced good as he could. When I told him: “You really work hard”, the answer was: “After all I am Japanese, and as I have traveled for practice so far, that I don’t want to dissemble any weakness.”

By that he showed me he was ready to participate, although he was still a child. As a result of his aikido practice, which he started when he was only 5 years old, he probably internalized something.

However, when I take the issue of keeping doors open for other persons to pass for an example and compare his conduct with that of the Europeans, who have internalized these interpersonal manners, I felt his inexperience.

Without manners you are not an urbane human being. Therefore I believe this has been a good lesson for him.

Concerning myself, each time when the yearly seminars draw near, I resolve to put emphasis in my teachings on how to show persistence even in cases of adverseness, how to maintain integrity, and how to strengthen the fighting spirit of bushidō as well as the power of ki. In my job as an aikido teacher I encounter a variety of things when teaching, which I have still to learn. Now and in the future do not want to forget my own studies.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 04/2004