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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 2010

1. Aiki-concepts at Work

Recently, I was asked to take part in an innovation workshop for two days and teach some aikido concepts to inspire the design and creation of the new systems at my employer, the European Patent Office.

The challenge was to find a way of inspiring the course participants to recognise their resistances and negativity which
could work against good teamwork, communication and trust, using aikido concepts as the medium of exercise.

On the first day, I was faced with some levels of scepticism, though I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of encouragement I got from the participants too.

After day two, I saw so many smiling faces, it made me smile too. I was impressed by the openness and willingness to try something completely radical away from the office's normal comfort zone. I am thankful for the varied and useful feedback from all participants. The group generally felt the need for more of this training and they have asked me to come back again for a third day

Day three involved more movement and really feeling resistance in our bodies looking for more "aiki" ways of dealing with resistance (such as
relaxing the shoulders, moving out of the centre and connecting to and feeling the partner's resistance, whilst trying to maintain a contract of trust coming from the centre and the heart). Of course, the results were not perfect though this was not as important as the participants getting to know themselves and the team with which they work.

The feedback provided was varied but gave a broad impression how aiki-concepts could be useful for a team of innovators and change managers. In principle, I got an impression from the facilitators that, by bearing in mind the aiki-concepts exercises, the participants became more orderly and seemed to converge in direction and vision when facing their workshop tasks.

The encouragement from the participants and the positive feedback made this event a great success and I look forward to exploring further how aikido can be useful in the workplace!

The result of three days of Aiki-concepts!

2. Yamashima sensei's Whirlwind Winterschool Tour in Holland

The CABN was fortunate to have the opportunity to receive Yamashima Sensei, 7th dan aikikai officially for the second time this year. Yamashima Sensei visited the dojos of Dordrecht, The Hague, Rijswijk, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Beverwijk and Delft for a week full of Aikido in his style.
The lessons of Yamashima sensei are somewhat simple but actually difficult to achieve. There is a way to move without resistance and from the centre though this is the art which takes decades to perfect. It is therefore no wonder that people watch Yamashima Sensei in awe as he seems to achieve the exercises effortlessly and has attracted the attention of aikidoka all over The Netherlands. Yamashima sensei returns for the Lent school taking place in February 2011.
During the class in The Hague, Yamashima sensei was interviewed on local TV. Here is the link to the interview and filming of the training:

3. Announcements

With christmas approaching, the editorial wishes its readers happy holidays!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 2010

1. Californian Aiki-Dreaming: Visiting Aikido dojos in the State of California, USA

Next to Japan, California and other parts of the USA have some of the most abundance of experienced Aikidoists in the world. It was no wonder a joyous adventure for me to pay a visit to a number of dojos lining the pacific coast in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
I spent 3 weeks with a rented car admiring the Pacific coast along highway number 1 with the off-chance visit to some highly recommended dojos. Those dojos visited include: City Aikido in San Francisco (Robert Nadeau Shihan, 7th dan Aikikai and Jack Wada Sensei, 6th dan Aikikai), Mountain View dojo (Robert Nadeau Shihan, 7th dan Aikikai), Santa Barbara Kenkyukai (Lia Suzuki Sensei, 5th dan Aikikai), Aikido of Santa Cruz (Linda Holiday Sensei, 7th dan Aikikai), University of California Santa Cruz dojo (Yoshi Shibata Sensei), Petaluma Two Rocks Dojo (Richard Hecklar Sensei, 6th dan Aikikai). This was already an abundance of senseis and yet there is a lot more to be seen which calls for my return visit (for example Doran Sensei and Frager Sensei)! Despite not managing to have visited all dojos I maybe would have liked to, I nevertheless feel privelaged and honoured to have trained with so many high ranking teachers along the course of my Holiday (always good to pack with the suitcase with a spare gi, you never know when it might come in handy!). I only have deeper admiration for the quality of Aikido in California and the result of my short visits to the dojos around the area only entice me to want to come back and get some more. It was also by sheer chance and good fortune that the popular and respected teacher, Jan Nevelius, was in the area giving seminars.

2. Machines and Nadeau Shihan's Aikido

About 20 American miles south of San Francisco lies Mountain View, the home of Google and
the less famously known Computer History Museum. In this museum, the latest construction of the Babbage difference engine can be found (the worlds first conceptualised computing machine designed in the early 19th century by Sir Charles Babbage). The machinery was design so accurately that the people who built it in 2008 did not need to correct any of the designs that Babbage had made in the 19th century. The device was essentially designed to be a very clever adding machine (although mathematicians will understand it deeper as a tool for solving polynomial equations) which would provide results by rotating a shaft connected to a multitude of cogs that turn.

Back to the 21st century, in the city of San Francisco, in another domain on another level, of all the visits to various senseis that I made, the one that stood out and that I attend most often in the three weeks that I was there was Robert Nadeau shihan, 7th dan Aikikai, in City Aikido, San Francisco. City Aikido houses a group of friendly Aikidists who now and again like to go out for a beer with the shihan after the class. Nadeau Shihan presents his classes in the same way he drinks beer, in a non-pretentious and genuine manner.

Nadeau Shihan is one of the few non-Japanese who got close to and learned directly from O-Sensei. The essence for Nadeau Shihan is to uphold the teachings of O-Sensei by taking the ego out of the movement. Therefore it is no longer "I" that is doing the movement but the movement exists and is being and you are letting the movement "be" and do its job (this was the general jist of what I understood from Naeau Shihan's words and the feeling I got in trying to actualise this development). Nadeau shihan allowed the classes start abstractly in this way, giving our bodies the perception of being machines with simple mechanical functions such as "drilling" (turning), "basing" (stable grounding) and "hydrolic pumping" (lifting up and out from within the core or centre rather than lifting with the arms or shoulders). Emphasis is laid upon "presence", "centering", "feeling" with uke and Nadeau shihan presents and requests feedback from the students about analogies of the real world in which the tools we try to develop with O-Sensei's methods would apply. For example, Nadeau Sensei would ask "what does a person who is more grounded feel", "what is intersting about those that come from the planet of grounded people" and then a response would be formed from the contributions of the class particpants and eventually a conclusion would arise from Nadeau "a person who is more grounded is able to take on more projects, more challenges, is more confident, is more able to listen, etc". Nadeau shihan challenges his students in this way to conceptualise with him in defining what the movement is that is being done and so there is a feeling of a unified idea at that moment in the class formed by collaboration of input from all those present in the class. From Babbage to Nadeau, the machine theme is abundantly present in California which has made my trip even more valuable and worthwhile.

My thanks to Filip Miletic (who used to train at the Hagukumi dojo in The Hague before moving to the USA) for hosting me in Mountain View. It was nice to see him again.

3. Santa Barbara

Many thanks to Lia Suzuki sensei for meeting up with me before the class and talking about Aikido and the projects of the Kenkyukai Aikido organisation of Santa Barbara. Suzuki sensei is raising funds in order to allow the her dojo to develop with the community. It is an original and brave way of developing a dojo and requires not just the standard Aikido hours of teaching and organising that she puts in but also endless hours of getting funds and recruiting under-privelaged children with a means to build a positive relation with the community in the direction of a better future. We wish Suzuki sensei the very best for her endeavours and those of her group.
The Aikido class of Suzuki sensei was very physical but not impossible. It was clear from her movement that her teacher, Takeda shihan, was a very close student of the late Yamaguchi shihan. We sweated a lot but we also had fun and the chaps and chappesses (though I didn't see any chappesses except the sensei that evening) are friendly and good aikidoists to work with.
Thank you for sharing your time with me during my visit to your dojo.

4. Santa Cruz

The highlight of my Santa Cruz visit was the Jan Nevelius sensei seminar. I managed to catch two of his classes at Linda Holiday Sensei's dojo in Santa Cruz. Nevelius sensei presented his concepts of connection and in particular the invisible aspects of the movement which make "Musubi". Nevelius sensei's clear explanations allowed us to gain a more conscious grasp of what is already happening in the movement when one connects to their partner, allowing the movement to go on without interruption.

In addition to this training, I made it for two classes with Yoshi Shibata sensei (one morning
and one lunch time class) at the University of California Santa Cruz. The classes were of a much younger group (due to the location at the university) and yet I did see some serious enthusiam towards the learning of Aikido there. I admire Shibata sensei's patience and diligence in teaching these young people. The classes were enjoyable and I got some interesting insights into variations of pinning in commnly known techniques (such as shiho nage).
I wish to present my thanks to Yoshi sensei for allowing me to share some of my points of view about Aikido during his lesson time.

5. Two Rocks Aikido, Petaluma

The Two Rocks dojo in Petaluma reminds me of the Hagukumi dojo in The Hague. It is a very familial dojo with all walks of life passing through. A vast experience is combined with newcomers and the whole combination provides a nice flavour of Aikido training. Last year I already trained at this dojo under Richared Heckler sensei though I heard that this year Heckler sensei was recovering from surgery. We wish, therefore, to pass our wishes for a quick and healthy recovery to Heckler sensei. The training was nevertheless enjoyable and was conducted with the theme of sending healing energy to Heckler sensei and loved ones.

Since Thursday evening is usually the after-training social, I tried to tweek my agenda in order to catch the Thursday evening training, we ended up afterwards at Dempsy's diner in Petaluma for some beer and snacks and social ramblings. It was nice Save Nowto see Paul Rest again whom I wish to thank for accommodating me and spending time with me along the Salmon creek for a costal view and lunch by the river mouth. I wish to extend my thanks to the Lukof family who spontaneously and kindly accommodated me in Petaluma. In the photo, I am wearing orange but this is not a Dutch T-Shirt. The San Francisco Giants baseball team had adopted the same colour for their world series T-Shirts.

6. Announcements

CABN Winter School (Yamashima Sensei, 7th dan Aikikai):
The CABN will be pleased to receive Yamashima Sensei again for the third time this year.
The seminar shall take places at various dojos in Holland between the 23rd and 27th of November.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October Special: Seminar with Fukakusa Shihan in Israel

Beginning of October and the weather is still very much fine in Tel Aviv. The flight captain reports no clouds and no wind with a temparature of 35 degrees celcius. It is perfect weather as
the humidity levels are also very low. Wouldn´t it be nice if all autumns could be like this!
I arrive a few days before the start of the seminar with Fukakusa shihan, hosted by Ze´ev Erlich and the Israeli Aikido Association in Rehovot. That gives me a bit of time to enjoy Tel Aviv in all its wonders (the night life, the beautiful heritage of Jaffa, the interesting diverse shops and, of course, the sandy beach along the coastline.
Before the arrival of Fukakusa shihan from Thailand, Ze´ev san kindly asked me to give two classes, one on Monday and one on Wednesday. So I decided to present two themes, one in line with Fujita shihan´s training method and the other with more stretching and exercises geared to opening the body and preparing for aikido movement. On Thursday morning, I woke up bright and early to join Ze´ev and a some of his more dedicated students to form a welcoming party at Ben Gurion airport, for the anticipated shihan to arrive to a warm greeting.

Preparing the car for taking in the Shihan!

Ze'ev san greets the shihan and takes the shihan's suitcase.

Fukakusa shihan with welcoming party at Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv.

(sitting with Ze'ev at café Lool).

Israel is one of my favorite places to train, not just becaused the training is of an excellent quality but also because the people are also of the highest quality. The members of the Rehovot aikido group also greet me with much friendliness and openess, it is always a pleasure to join them for Aikido. The additional attraction of Rehovot is the marvellous coffee bar, Lool, where one can order their tastey sweetcorn snack and have the best coffee in town.

The dojo, where Ze´ev teaches (local school near his house). The childrens class of Ze'ev is well attended and the kids show an amazing level of discipline and interest to learn Aikido.

Hanging at the Kamiza is a Japanese word of the month. This month's word hanging there was "Den" which means to transmit (knowledge, energy, etc). This is an appropriate word as I gave a lesson themed around Fujita shihan's passing on of his knowledge.

"Den" means to transmit.

During the next three days, Fukakusa shihan will transfer some his decades of aikido experience to the students of Rehovot. Wishing all participants a wonderful and enriching seminar.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October 2010

1. Aikido and health and happiness.

A student of aikido told me once that they were not doing Aikido because it is healthy and further went on to even claim that the practice of Aikido is not healthy at all. I spent a considerablly long time overcoming my astonishment at this declaration and required many meditation sessions to accept what the person had said.

Indeed, with injuries, and countless cases of senseis passing away, God forgive, I started to have doubts myself if aikido really is a healthy practice. I came to my senses finally after re-reading the book "Kodo - Ancient Ways" by Kensho Furuya, which was recommended to me by Ze'ev san. Towards the end of this book, there is an excellent exerpt about health and modern day attitudes to health and, I quote from the article, Furuya sensei mentions "Isn't happiness the missing ingredient in our desire for true health?".

I had the pleasure and honour to practice with Yamashima sensei over many occassions this past summer (Geneva, Bath, Hamburg and The Hague and concluding in his own home dojo in Japan). Yamashima sensei has mastered a true way to healthy living and healthy training. It makes his aikido a great pleasure for all and he eminates a true wisdom of continuous repetition of the basic practice. There is no show or spectacle in his practice, he simply expresses in his movement a peace of mind which we are all striving. That, together with true happiness are what comes from my impression of Yamashima sensei's practice.

(Yamashima Sensei teaching at Nerima Sports Centre, Tokyo, at the end of September 2010)

An honest practice of Aikido which prevents physical and emotional injury to oneself and to others will cultivate hapiness and, from there, will arise good health. Therefore, please let's get back in touch with our spiritual insights which have been somewhat washed away with modern day trends and total dependence on modern medicine and adopt a healthy way of living with the dependence more on our own personal happiness (with the inclusion of aikido training)! You can see the happiness eminated on this sample clip of a training session that took place towards the end of September this year:

2. Fujita Sensei corner. Kokkyu-ho.

Fujita Sensei taught often variations of kokkyu-ho, a training for the centre and letting go of the desire to fight or contest. In his training method, he had a very well-defined approach:

Physical power and breath power.

1. Za-gi kokyu ho (seated breath power exercise).

2. Tachi waza kokyu ho (standing breath power exercise).

Remember Following points:

1. Avoid a foolish contest of strength with your training partner.

2. Move your body in a circular way and your hand in a twisting motion so as not to be hindered by your opponent’s power.

3. Use the power of your whole body and do not attempt to be clever by only using concentrated spurts of power.

These exercises, performed both standing and sitting, enable one to learn the correct means of using and projecting one’s concentrated body strength and using one’s power in a properly coordinated manner.

3. Announcements.

We wish Ladavas Sensei and Marcel Reijers a wonderful promotion trip to Siberia during the month of October.

In October (7th - 9th of October), the Israeli Aikikai Aikido Organisation hosts for the second time Thailand and East Asia's supervising shihan,Fukakusa shihan, 7th dan Aikikai. Contact Ze'ev Erlich for more information (

In October (2nd - 7th of October), Mumei Shudan dojo invites Yamashima sensei, 7th dan Aikikai. For more information, see the website:

In November (12 - 14 November 2010), Christian Tissier shihan, 7th dan Aikikai, shall be giving a seminar at the dojo of Serge Beraud in Singapore.
Because this seminar is likely to be fully booked, the announcement comes well in advance. Please read the following message from the organisers. Early bird registration is now over. Registration for this seminar after the 1st of September is S$200. Student discount 50% applies. Seminar will take place at The Swiss Club. For more info, registration and payment please follow, email info@mumeishudan.comor call (+65) 9112-1193.

4. Quote.

When your eyes engage those of another person, greet him or her with a smile and they will smile back. This is one of the essential techniques of the Art of Peace.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September 2010

1.0 Three Legends Depart the Budo World

We start with sad news as, during the summer, three legendary figures of aikido and budo passed away: Aikido masters Tamura Shihan and Sugano Shihan and legendary judoka Anthon Geesink.

Passing Away of Tamura Shihan (9th of July 2010).

At the age of 77, Tamura shihan passed away in France. Tamura Sensei is one of the great legendary uchideshi of O-Sensei who brought Aikido to the world. His influence in propagating and teaching aikido is overwhelming. Aikido has lost a very significant figure. Our heartfelt condolences go out to family and friends of Tamura shihan.

Passing Away of Sugano Shihan (in New York City on August 29th 2010).

The following notice has been posted on the Australian Aikikai site announcing his death:

“Sugano Shihan has passed away in New York. He challenged illness with great courage, then passed away peacefully, in the arms of his family. Sensei touched and changed the lives of generations of aikido students around the world. We were privileged to know him.”

Our heartfelt condolences go out to family and friends of Sugano shihan.

Passing Away of Anthon Geesink (26th of August 2010)

Dutch judo Olympic champion Anton Geesink, the first non-Japanese to win a world judo championship, has died at the age of 76. Dutch state broadcaster NOS said Geesink, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member since 1987, died on Friday from a brief illness after spending the past few weeks in hospital. Geesink shocked the Japanese judo establishment by winning a world championship title in 1961, the first non-Japanese to do so, and won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Anton Geesink has a street in Utrecht, The Netherlands, named after him and, there you can find the location of the CABN’s aikido training dojo, the Anton Geesink dojo. A representative of the CABN attended Geesinks funeral in his honour.

2.0 CABN Members attend World Combat Games in China

The Dutch man, Marcel Reijers, and Bulgarian lady, Silvia Marton, (both ranked 4th dan) have been selected to participate on the 30th and 31st of August together with other Dutch Aikido group representatives at the 2010 World Combat Games in China. From the whole world, only 80 Aikidokas were selected. The new 4-yearly event is taking place this year in Peeking from the 28th of August until the 4th of September. This event was made possible with the influence of the World Games organisation. The 5 Dutch representatives join the group under the supervision of the internationally famous aikido personalities, Tissier Shihan (France) and Yokota Shihan (Japan).

During the combat games, thirteen different martial disciplines (Aikido, Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Kendo, Kick Boxing, Muay Thai, Sambo, Sumo, Taekwondo, Wrestling and Wushi) will be demonstrated at a high level. The event is competition oriented and has an olympic style medal presentation scheme. This feature, makes the Aikido participation exceptional since it is not a fighting sport and not a competitive sport. Therefore, it has been given a special place in the games as a dynamic and spectacular self-defense art, only for demonstration.

We wish Marcel and Silvia a successful visit to China and safe return home.

3.0 Aikido Trip Reviews (August 2010)


If you want to combine a pleasant beach resort with sunshine and Aikido, then the seminar
at Caldes d'Estrac near Barcelona is the place for you. In addition, you get quality aikido teaching from
top teacher: Stephanne Benedetti, a former close student of Tamura shihan. The dojo is refreshingly located outside under large trees, keeping the training under the shade and in the cool breeze (quite welcome in the heat). There is an international atmosphere at this seminar as many people from accross Europe and beyond (including Ukraine and Russia) attended and this enrichened the social moments
between training.
For photos of the event, click here:


Yamashima Sensei is travelling so much these days to enjoy Aikido as much as he can while the
humidity of Tokyo is unbearable. I met Yamashima Sensei in Geneva last weekend.
He explained to me that he prefers to travel around during the summer because this is the time when weather conditions in Tokyo don't allow the practise of Aikido. Yamashima sensei's flowing and centred movement is sought after by many people and he becomes more and more a popular sensei around the world. Yamashima sensei will also be making further trips soon in Europe (see annoucements below).
Thanks to Rodolphe Peyvel of the Geneva group for bringing Yamashima Sensei to Geneva this summer.

For photos of this event, click here:

4.0 Announcements

In September, Yamashima Sensei, 7th dan Aikikai will be making a north European tour to England, Germany and Holland with the following schedule.

September 4th & 5th: Manchester, England (Internet:
September 11th & 12th: Bath, England (Internet:
September 14th-15th: Düsseldorf, Germany (contact Frank
September 16th: Bremen, Germany (contact Frank
September 17th: Lübeck, Germany (contact Frank
September 18th & 19th: Hamburg, Germany (Internet:
September 20th, 21st & 22nd: The Hague, Amsterdam, Rijswijk and Dordrecht, Holland (Email:

In October, the Israeli Aikikai Aikido Organisation hosts for the second time Thailand and East Asia's supervising shihan,Fukakusa shihan, 7th dan Aikikai. The seminar takes place on the 7th to 9th of October. More news about this seminar coming soon. Contact Ze'ev Erlich for more information (

In November (12 - 14 November 2010), Christian Tissier shihan, 7th dan Aikikai, shall be giving a seminar at the dojo of Serge Beraud in Singapore. Because this seminar is likely to be fully booked, the announcement comes well in advance. Please read the following message from the organisers. Early bird registration is now over. Registration for this seminar after the 1st of September is S$200. Student discount 50% applies. Seminar will take place at The Swiss Club. For more info, registration and payment please follow, email info@mumeishudan.comor call (+65) 9112-1193.