A blog with some news, reports and articles from the Aikido community around the world.
Edited by Lawrence Warry & Ze'ev Erlich

Friday, March 28, 2014

March and April 2014

1.0 Rest in Peace Dr. K.F. Leisinger Sensei
It was with great sadness that we learned last month about the passing away of Dr. K.F. Leisinger Sensei (RIP: 19th of February 2014), long time serving Aikido teacher who travelled to The Netherlands to teach at various dojos around the Randstad. Hereby, my obituary to this great man and friend: OBITUARY LEISINGER SENSEI

2.0 What the Bleep Has the Samurai Game® Got to do With Aikido?
Another successful Samurai Game® took place in The Hague on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of March 2014. The theme of the event was called: "Awaken The Next Chapter in Your Peace Warrior Story". Coincidently, the major heads of states of the world were gathering that weekend in The Hague for the Nuclear Security Summit. Whilst roads were blocked all around the city, the road to the dojo was easy to access and without complications. Therefore I'm happy to report that all participants (including one coming from England and one from Amsterdam) made it to the event without any summit chaos!
This was the third such Samurai Game® taking place since March last year, when I was duely certified by director, Lance Giroux, who visited The Hague and co-facilitated the game of March 2013. My Aikido friends here in The Netherlands are starting to think I might be a little bit mad playing "games" and wasting my time instead of practicing Aikido. Some may wonder what, if anything, does the Samurai Game® have at all to do with Aikido. I do believe that the name of the event leaves open to interpretation what is actually involved in the one and a half day workshops that I have been running and I do therefore forgive my friends for frowning upon me in such a questioning and unapproving way. That said, I'd like to openly invite anybody with doubts to just come along to the next Samurai Game® event on the 1st and 2nd of November and give it a try, at least for one time, instead of jump to unfounded conclusions. 
In an attempt to shed some light, I'd like to explain a little bit of what I know about the relevance of Aikido in The Samurai Game®:
About The Samurai Game®
The Samurai Game® is considered by many to be the most unique, intense and challenging leadership and team-building experiential simulation available anywhere. Tens of thousands of individuals from around the world have participated in it, through organizational and corporate trainings & retreats, university and school leadership courses, and personal development programs.The Samurai Game® was invented, written, and first performed in 1977 by George Leonard, author, award-winning editor, musician, Aikido instructor and pioneer in the Human Potential movement. The Samurai Game® was copyrighted by George Leonard and is solely owned by The Leonard Family Trust. Participants in The Samurai Game® cross a psychological line and step into the unfamiliar simulated world of the medieval Japanese Samurai. They form two competing samurai armies and engage with their teammates and opponents in symbolic battles that eventually determine the simulation’s finale. These battles call upon participants to exercise resourcefulness, decisiveness, honor, dignity, integrity, respect, compassion and personal commitment. The pace is fast and unpredictable, and the outcomes are highly uncertain. No two productions of the simulation are ever quite the same, making each learning experience unique! While involving no significant physical contact, The Samurai Game® demands much in the way of centeredness and teamwork. Participants are encouraged to summon forth their “warrior” spirit with courage and determination.The Game is just one third of the workshop. Before the game takes place, an introduction is made as to what the game involves, the rules, the preparations and build up towards the game. The other third of the workshop takes place on the second day when participants come together and review what happened during the game and further start to integrate their thought processes with eachother. To most people, this is the most meaningful and substantial part of the workshop as realisations are verbalised and dialogued.
George Leonard
Being himself an avid Aikido teacher from California, USA, the late George Leonard was set on applying his Aikido experience to his knowledge and expertise in personal development and human potential. He therefore devised The Samurai Game® with the concepts of Aikido being employed as a set of tools to practice dealing with stressful and critical moments which would eventually arise during the play of the game. Included in this toolset, were embodied movements which help to personify the actions required for changing perspectives allowing new points of view to arise in peoples' world view perceptions. 
Awaken The Next Chapter in Your Peace Warrior Story
We all have a story to tell in our lives. At some point, a chapter will end and another chapter will be opened. When projects die or relationships are over, one moves on and starts a new beginning. We looked at these "moving on" moments of life somewhat in the last Samurai Game® event at least in the form of changing perspectives. To move on we may need the flexibility to change our own perspectives or the courage/bravery to enter other spaces and influence others to change their perspectives. These two basic principles are embodied with the movements of TENKAN (turning around one's own center) and IRIMI (entering movement) respectively. During the weekend, we practiced these movements under various levels of difficulty, aiming all the time to move with G.R.A.C.E (grounding, relaxation, awareness, centering and energising) and we noted the stresses and hindrances that come with those movements when G.R.A.C.E is not embodied. Then the practical application was implicitly tested during the game. Translating those movements into the game meant being faced (and sometimes confronted) with a more vivid realisation of the need for empathy and bravery at various moments during the course of the game (and our lives!!).
Come and Try This Rewarding Experience!
The next public Samurai Game® event in The Hague takes place on the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of November 2014 and we will possibly focus on a new theme of awakening, further using the Aikido toolset to assist our embodied understanding.
For more information about the Samurai Game®:
Samurai Game® The Netherlands facebook page:
Official Samurai Game® Webiste: www.

3.0 Friendship Aikido in Marocco with Yamashima Sensei
All gathered to watch the beautiful demonstration of two blind men, showing that Aikido is for everybody.
A weekend holiday to practice Aikido with Yamashima Sensei, 7th dan Aikikai, in Casablanca, Marocco, brought me and 6 Aikido colleagues from The Netherlands closer to learning what is happening with Aikido in Marocco. We were welcomed and fed and made to feel like belonging to one big family and the sun was shining. Day one of the weekend event saw a beautiful Aikido demonstration by two blind Aikidoka and one Aikidoka who had one arm only up to his elbow. Nevertheless, it was one of the most beautiful Aikido demonstrations I had ever seen. It seems that our sight and our arms are indeed not always an advantage if we want to learn to move intuitively with our centre. This was a great lesson in noticing the necessities of just using the centre. To supplement this great demonstration, Yamashima Sensei gave some useful ground work on bokken practice applied to Aikido movement and changing sides with focus on the center line of the body. On the second day, the weekend seminar was concluded with a fabulous lesson with Yamashima Sensei, enjoyed by the Marroccans and international visiters alike.
International Aikido delegation from Japan, Holland, France, Switzerland, Bulgaria with Marrocan hosts at the beautiful Grande Mosquée Hassan II in Casablanca.
Complementing our nice Aikido practice, the sunny beach and a visit to the beautiful Mosque were worthwhile touristic activities to carry out during our times of relaxation.

4.0 Yamashima Sensei's International Agenda for 2014
Here is the eagerly awaited 2014 international agenda for Yamashima Sensei (click image and use zoom function to enlarge):

Thank you, Mr. Ken Aigo, for your collaboration in delivering this important data.
Looking forward to meet more Aikido friends at the next seminars of Yamashima Sensei in The Netherlands, Europe and around the world!
- Lawrence

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 2014

Unbendable Power! 
The late Peter Bacas Sensei, demonstrating his unbendable power!
This month, we've been discussing the unbendable power that Aikido is reknowned for. 
Concentrate on your center and you can allow chaos to happen all around you without being disturbed or disturbing. You will have the strength to let go of the idea of trying to control everything outside and inside yourself. The famous unbendable arm exercise emphasises how by keeping a calm, even and centred focus, stance with weight slightly going down to the front of the feet, arm opened out in a natural position in front of the body, with the fingers of the hand naturally open, your arm is unbendable and unified with your body and your body is grounded and heavy, thus generating an impressive powerful centering position.
The famous unbendable arm and heavy body exercises are an expression of sending ki in directional lines of force and are common to practice in almost every Aikido dojo in the world. The term "unbendable" may, nevertheless, be somewhat misleading. Does it mean we are not to give up our position in a moment of conflict, in a debate, in negotiation? Surely, Aikido is about blending with what comes at us towards a win-win outcome, so we've been always told! So, being unbendable gives an impression of lack of flexibility and reason. How we can maintain good "Aiki" (harmonious flow) in the midst of being unbendable is thus the real challenge. Maybe the Japanese term "Ai" (as in Ai-Hanmi,  半身, rather than Ai-ki, 氣) will lead us somewhere there in the right direction. 
As you can see above, the "Ai" of Ai-Hanmi has quite a different kanji symbol to that of Ai-Ki and rather has a meaning of mutuality taking precedence over the meaning of harmony. So, as much as it is a body exercise, the unbendable arm exercise is also a mental exercise. Mentally, we join our intention with that of the other person whilst, at the same time keeping our body unwavered. 
- Lawrence & Ze'ev

Obituary to Dr. Leisinger Sensei (RIP, 19th of February 2014).

Dr. Leisinger Sensei always smiling even in his last years.
I met Dr. Leisinger Sensei around September 1999 for the first time during a Aiki-weapons class at The Hagukumi dojo. Just one month before, I had arrived for the first time to live in The Netherlands. A little destitute and confused in my Aikido, I was fascinated by this old German man's chirpy and chuckly comments and very straight-forward approach to life and Aikido practice. "Man muss aber üben" was a common comment from him during our practices in between his jovial melange of English and Dutch explanations of how to move with the bokken and jo correctly. In the changing rooms, after practice, I soon learned that, although Leisinger Sensei was a born and bred German from Hamburg with experiences of the 2nd world war fresh to him, he was nevertheless, to some part, of Scottish ancestory and, for him, it was intriguing to observe that I, also one of mixed blood with British ancestory, would nevertheless choose to reside in The Netherlands. 
Many years were spent at the Hagukumi dojo with Leisinger sensei teaching bokken and jo and Aikido. I had many moments of confusion, wondering what he was teaching. After a certain time, I became enlightened by understanding his own confusion and started to understand more and more what he was trying to explain in relation to what he had learned for many decades with K. Asai shihan of Aikikai Germany. Aikido is a refined practice and we are never at the nirvana of technique. Therefore, to understand the teacher and his/her manners and behavior is the first step in unlocking the puzzle. Once the mystery was revealed, Leisinger sensei's lessons started to make more and more sense to me. I assure you, there were many arduous years of frustration before I got to that point.
My relation with Leisinger sensei was fortified on many fronts. First of all, he was coming every two weeks to The Hague from Meppen, Germany, to follow the Shiatsu courses of Yoshinori Miyashita sensei and we became shiatsu co-students. It has been said that Miyashita sensei saved Dr. Leisinger's life around 1996, when Leisinger sensei came down with diabetes and he underwent an intensive shiatsu treatment with Miyashita sensei. With the regular treatment of shiatsu and a correction of his diet, Leisinger sensei went on to live a noble and happy life for another 18 years. Quite a remarkable acheivement, considering the seriousness of his illness in 1996.
The lifestyle change made an impressive example of leading a healthy life. A nutritious diet and, most impressive all, a hearty breakfast, comprising the most royal of meuslis (with nuts and fruits finely chopped each morning). 
With that, life-changing period for him, Leisinger strengthened his bond to Peter Bacas sensei, who he had already known since the 1980s because of both their involvement in the forming of the EAF (European Aikido Federation), in which Peter Bacas was the secretary and Dr. Leisinger was the chairman. So, over the years, they went from being Aikido colleagues to being close friends. Leisinger sensei was a welcome guest at Bacas sensei's house on each visit to The Hague and, when Bacas sensei passed away in 2006, I took on the task, together in turn with Paul Jungschlager, to host Dr. Leisinger. One time, he would stay at my house and, the next time at Paul's house. The visits of Dr. Leisinger were always memorable times. It usually involved laughing, jokes, aikido practice at the EPO, the Hagukumi dojo in The Hague, sometimes practices in Utrecht, Leiden, Amsterdam and Delft and there was never a dull moment. Our evenings would end either at Paul's house or at my house with a glass of vodka and some little snacks whilst whatching Leisinger sensei's favorite German TV shows. He would always find something to laugh about and, most hysterical of times were during the discussions about the stupidity of modern day politics and religion. 
On each visit to The Hague, Leisinger would educate me with his vast musical knowledge. On each occassion, I would get yet another Jazz or Classical CD from him. Now, I have a very broad collection of music, thanks to all the years of Leisinger sensei's visits. 
In 2009, we organised in The Hague a big party for Leisinger sensei's 80th birthday, and a golden carriage was arranged for him to go with his wife around the Hague in grandeur!
After that, Leisinger sensei enjoyed a couple more years of Aikido but, then, in early 2013, he was obliged to undergo a heart valve replacement operation. The operation, and the rehabilitation, were successful. And, he was feeling even the urge to come back to the tatami in the middle of 2013. By October that year, however, Leisinger sensei had been diagnosed with cancer and it was the start of the decline of his health.
I will remember his kindness and his hospitality on the occassions I visited him in Germany. He always made time for me when I joined the summer Aikido seminars of Aikikai Deutschland. He always showed concern and attention to how I was and became a genuine friend.
I will also remember good times on international trips to Japan, Bulgaria and St. Petersburg when we joined Leisinger sensei with Bacas sensei and Fujita shihan for seminars and wonderful friendship parties. These were golden times.
Dr. Karl Friedrich Leisinger passed away peacefully with his wife near him on the morning of the 19th of February 2014.
His most famous saying during the Aikido lessons was "Zeit ist Gelt" but the most fond memories of him I will have will go beyond money and time as his inspiration in the Aikido world was one of the shimmering light of the brightest of stars.
- Lawrence

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 2014

Happy New Year! Happy New Look & Feel! I’ve edited the layout to give the blog a new look and feel for 2014. It has a simple approach. Just the text of the latest post appears immediately as the blog is opened and all other gadgets can be found at the bottom of the page. I don’t know if it is better or worse but it feels good to change the layout of the blog now and again.
Kagami Biraki in Israel
A wonderful Kagami Biraki was had at the Masatake Dojo in Rehovot, Israel on Saturday the 4th of January. Every year at this event, Ze'ev sensei prepares and presents a calligraphy to each of his students. This year he has prepared the word "Kokoro Awase" meaning something like hearts tuning into eachother.
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The calligraphy stamped with the red marking of Masatake Fujita shihan’s name (the stamp was given to Ze’ev by Shoko Fujita, the wife of Fujita shihan). Masatake dojo stamp: The Kanji is "Masatake" which mean: Masa = flourishing - Bu - Warrior (as in budo) 昌武 That is Fujita Sensei's name - Masatake Fujita Sensei.
Masatake Fujita Sensei's Stampt
In addition, the Masatake Dojo kamiza received also a new kanji to be placed by the portrait of O-Sensei for the year (the calligraphy was also made by Ze’ev sensei).
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The Kagami Biraki event in Rehovot comprised a meditation session with purification exercises with aiki-ken (bokken practice) followed by an aikido lesson with the theme of using ikkyundo (a basic body movement used in warm ups) in different directions, applied to basic technique. After the aikido lesson, special Judo guest, Yona Melnik (8th dan Judo, who has a vast experience of competition Judo as well as traditional Judo and who represented Israel many times in the 1970s and 1980s), gave a very interesting lesson about the connections between Aikido and Judo and made some very important observations about the historical background of the arts and their modern practices. In between the classes, there was an opportunity for Aikidokas to gather together and socialize with cookies and refreshing drinks. To end the event, Judo and Aikido demonstrations were given by the Judo guests (Magalit and Arnold) and Masatake dojo members.
Thanks to Ze’ev sensei and his wife Miho who made a wonderful Japanese dinner that evening for being always such welcoming hosts.
If you’d like to report your new year Aikido event and have it published here, feel free to write to me (at my email address
Wishing a wonderful year of Aikido in 2014!

Happy New Year from Ze'ev!

Shimenawa (標縄・注連縄・七五三縄, literally "enclosing rope") are lengths of laid rice straw rope used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion. A space bound by shimenawa often indicates a sacred or pure space, such as that of a Shinto shrine. Shimenawa are believed to act as a ward against evil spirits and are often set up at a ground-breaking ceremony before construction begins on a new building. They are often found at Shinto shrines, torii gates, and sacred landmarks.
The folded white paper is called "shide". Shide (紙垂, 四手) is a zigzag-shaped paper streamer, often seen attached to shimenawa or tamagushi, and used in Shinto rituals. A popular ritual is using a haraegushi, or "lightning wand", named for the zig-zag shide paper that adorns the wand. A similar wand, used by miko for purification and blessing, is the gohei with two shide. A Shinto priest waves the haraegushi over a person, item, or newly bought property, such as a building or car. The wand is waved at a slow rhythmic pace, but with a little force so that the shide strips make a rustling noise on each pass of the wand. For new properties, a similar ritual known as jijin sai is performed with a haraegushi, an enclosed part of the land (enclosed by shimenawa), and sake, or ritually purified sake known as o-miki. The haraegushi has been used for centuries in Shinto ceremonies and has similarities in Ainu culture. In Ainu culture, a shaved willow branch called an inaw or inau closely resembles the Shinto haraegushi, and is used in similar blessing rituals.

Happy New Year (year of the horse) 2014 to all my friends in Holland and around the globe. Also in outer space :)
Thank you Lawrence Sensei for being so dedicated to this wonderful newsletter.

See you around healthy and happy,