I participated in the Herzogenhorn Seminar
Kawaraban No. 44
10/2000 by Kenta Shimizu
(Wakō Highschool 2nd year, 12 years Aikidō)
This year I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar in Germany from June 26th until July 8th that took place on the Herzogenhorn. 120 Tendōryu students from ten countries including Japan and Germany gathered on the Herzogenhorn. This area, the so-called Herzogenhorn, is located in a mountain area, about 1,500m high, in the middle of a forest, the Black Forest. Board and lodging was also located in this vast gorgeous scenery, and I climbed the mountains a couple of times.
With regard to the question what kind of seminar it was, please read the following. The seminar was devided into a first and a second week, and each week sixty students attended. In the hostel we stayed in pairs in each room. It wasn’t very spacious, but very nice. Lunch was on your own for everybody, but for breakfast and dinner all participants gathered in the dining room and took their meals chattering a lot together. Talking about the taste however ... to be honest, I cannot say that it was delicious, but we had a nice time.
There were two practice times daily, in the morning from 10.00-11.15 and in the afternooon from 4.00 -5.15 o’clock. That was to be continued for two weeks, and I would like to mention firstly that I got really exhausted. At the end of such a day I always had a sense of satisfaction. In the evening we all had spare time, you could watch soccer, play table tennis, chat with somebody, climb on the mountain, play games, and until late in the evening we spent pleasurable hours.
Why did I want to participate in this seminar under all circumstances? Well, I is quite obvious that I wanted to improve my aikidō, but besides that I entertained some doubts about my previous life, which I cannot explain in detail.
Somehow I hoped to discover something when travelling to Germany, exposing myself to a completely different environment as before. Strangely enough, I don`t think I cornered myself.
Certainly, when reflecting now, I missed two weeks of school (on top of that also the final semester tests), because I went to Germany, but didn’t I have an extraordinary experience both in a positive and negative meaning? Although all foreigners, who came to the Tendōkan for practice have been really nice people and I made a lot of friends, I cannot say that I wasn`t scared a little, nevertheless I wonder now how natural the trip to Germany had been.
But frankly speaking I felt attracting attention, because I was from Tendōkan in Japan and also because of other things. As I didn`t want to be a disgrace to the Tendōkan, I practiced as much as possible without fail. That means I was completely myself, didn’t force anything, and kept my speed. Such I didn’t lose my wind en route, and was able to practice until the very end. That made me downright happy.
Looking back now to my feelings during the Herzogenhorn seminar I remember quite well the sadness and some kind of regret about the farewell from the participants after the first week.
It really was a nice time over there, and I would have liked to talk about so many things. My English ability as well as my communication skills were insufficient, therefore I was not able to conduct a more profound conversation at all, what turned my impatience into regret. But little by little my feelings changed into a suprising direction. During our times together I was able to make a lot of friends. I felt, I was about to get to know a new world, unknown to me up to now, and that something openend up to me all of a sudden.
Being able to contact people of different countries and with different languages by aikidō as a representative of Japanese culture was a pleasure, that taught me a lot. And I discovered the feeling: „Now it really starts!“
During this seminar in Germany I have found a new fascinating facet of aikidō.
© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 04/2003