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The Spirit of the Serbians

Kawaraban No. 84


Head of Tendokan Kenta Shimizu

Serbia is indeed an interesting country, and when we returned from Serbia to Germany we could feel a big gap in the atmosphere although it is the same Europe.

Beograd, the Serbian capital, is a city, which lets you feel her majestic history, and it still will take some time until the exhaust fumes will increase. If you turn a little to the suburbs along the streets you will see houses under construction lined up, on the streets vehicles are running, which are on the verge of being out of service, on the other hand normal cars are quite usual. The Serbian men are largely built, their eyes are unusually intensive, and you feel stared at if they look at you.

However, every time in Serbia in my heart remain warm feelings. When I heard about the earthquake disaster in Eastern Japan, we were arrived in the Serbian Kragujevac just the day before, and it was the second morning of the next day. It was quite sure that there had been a big earthquake in Japan.

Even in Serbia, which is far away from Japan, we were able to listen daily to the news about the earthquake; about the damages of the quite movie like Tsunami, additionally the accident in the nuclear power plant, and an earthquake, which we rarely experienced in the past.

This time the seminar agenda was three weeks all together, and after the first week we now had arrived in Serbia. During the stay in Serbia it was unusually difficult for me to turn towards the seminar with a frank feeling for four days. How many times I asked myself whether I should practice Aikido in such situation; actually I was not able to behave as usual, and I told myself every day that anyhow I had no choice other than concentrating on the training. During the training my thoughts became free, and I had myself distracted from the uneasiness about the earthquake, but all the other time I was busy checking the news on my mobile phone.

It was the morning after the end of the four days seminar in Kragujevac, when we set off for the next seminar location Berlin. By car it takes about one and a half hour from Beograd to the airport. Marko gave us a lift in his car, and we were on the way to the airport. Marko is relatively small compared to other Serbians and a silent character. Until now he has been to Japan two times, and he told us with a smiling face that he feels comfortable in Japan as with his body size he fits quite well to the country. He is silent, and his English is not his strong side either, but when he begins to talk about his feelings for Japan, it does not hinder him.

Also in the morning when we were on the way to the airport Marko started to speak with a reassuring voice, when he noticed how I was checking the news on my mobile phone with wrinkled eyebrows.

„For the past twenty years Serbia went three times through the experience of war, and as well before there was the sad experience of various wars. Nevertheless the Serbians became stronger after every war. Therefore Japan has to become strong now, too. I know that the spirit of the Japanese enables them to pass distress. I am quite sure about that.”

During the actual stay in Europe we truly heard from students from all countries sorrowful voices, and we received encouraging words. Especially the Serbian people still possess the original human sense to sympathize with others, and they always behave warmheartedly, just because they experienced much more than we the loss of important things, and because they passed sorrows and pain. These people, who suffered from such experiences, practice Aikido very seriously. They want to learn ‘strength’ from the spirit of Aikido.

According to the foreign reports the actions of the Japanese were took up often with admiration, especially that everybody showed consideration for others and was ready to make sacrifices, although being in a situation where panic could happen easily.

Nowadays the human relationship became very superficial, and so the big earthquake, which happened in Japan, once again is a chance to think about human relationship. Now we have to cooperate and have to look forward.

Still remembering Marko’s words I was able to deal with my tasks during the remaining seminar with the pride to teach Aikido. I want to thank him with all my heart for this.

© translated by Ichiro Murata and Peter Nawrot 08/2011