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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 2012

The month of april is a very special month of Aikido Anniversaries (2nd of April: Doshu Aikido, Moriteru Ueshiba's birthday, 21st of April: Shihan Fujita Masatake's birthday, 26th of April: Anniversary of the passing away of O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba). Another anniversary (not so well known) also exists in the month of April which has the number 10 this year. That is, the anniversary of the EAAC (European Patent Office Aikido Club). In this issue, we look at the past, present and potential future of this club of European civil servants. Also in this issue, some news about national certification of CABN teachers and a story of fascination about the legendary Samurai Game (TM) created by the genius of George Leonard. We finish this issue with one of Ernesto Sensei's recommended cooking recipes and a Japanese word which is central to Aikido and central to a focussed and authentic practice, "Chuushin/中心" (which literally means centre).

Lawrence Warry

1. Celebrating 10 Years of Aikido at The European Patent Office
The EAAC (European Patent Office Aikikai Aikido Club) is not the only patent office Aikido club in the world. There exists at least one more (the JPO, Japanese Patent Office, Aikido club) and we have enjoyed a number of exchanges already (both JPO Aikido members coming to Europe and EPO Aikido members going to Japan) and Aikido is simply one of the perfect ways to balance a working day at the office. On the 25th of April this year, the EAAC will celebrate its 10th anniversary with special guests Ernesto Ladavas Sensei (our local 6th dan aikikai sensei) and Takeshi Yamashima Sensei (7th dan aikikai from Tokyo, Japan). During the summer, on the 24th of July, we will extend our celebration with the invitation of Ze'ev Erlich Sensei (5th dan aikikai from Israel). On celebrating, we reflect the paths the club has taken and the current state of how Aikido is enjoyed by members of the EAAC today, its connection to the Dutch organisation, the CABN, and we look at the possibilities of development for the club into the future.

The Past (The History): The EAAC was inaugurated under the Amicale Society (the social, cultural and sports organisation of the European Patent Office)  in April 2002 by Mr. Franck Adkhis who sought the technical supervision of Peter Bacas Sensei (✝ 27/3/2006, 6th dan Aikikai), the former chairman of the CABN. Bacas Sensei was and still is a great inspiration to the club and we still display Bacas Sensei's portrait at each of our lessons. Through Bacas Sensei, the EAAC had the privelage and Honour to receive direct instruction from a highly respected figure of the Hombu Dojo, Shihan Masake Fujita (8th dan Aikikai). We had many visits over the years from Fujita Shihan from our beginning until the point where Fujita Shihan could no longer travel to Europe for health reasons (Fujita Shihan's last visit to Holland being in February 2008 for the CABN's Lent School in Ameland). Later in 2008, the CABN received Yamashima sensei, 7th dan Aikikai and, again, the EAAC was honoured to receive a great sensei's direct instruction. Including my person (as assistant instructor to Bacas Sensei) also there in the beginning was Arnaud Rilliard who helped to start up the club and was the club's first chairman. Despite some changes in the wind, Arnaud has become an adept Aikidoka who doesn't hesitate to help out with assisting at the club as a guest teacher and continues to maintain friendly links with the club. A number of patent office staff passed through the membership and guest teaching of the EAAC since the beginnning and, quite clearly, not all were going to stay. However, each individual who has at some point been a member of the club regardless of the period of membership, has contributed in some way to enriching the club, thereby making it a success. The EPO success story would not be complete, however, without the mentioning of the long-time service and immense contribution of 82 years old K.F. Leisinger sensei who, since the beginning, year in, year out, up to last year, was driving 3 hours from Germany to Holland and 3 hours back, teaching at the EPO twice per month in addition to teaching at 4 or 5 other clubs in the region. Currently, Leisinger sensei is recovering from heart surgery that took place earlier this year though, when he spoke on the phone recently, he was in high spirits and sounded chirpy and happy.
The Present (The Gift): The EAAC is a modestly sized club of about 25 adult aikido members, 11 child members (plus 40 EPO staff who have registered to enjoy the Friday morning Aiki-Stretch & Move classes). The class schedule runs every day from Tuesday to Friday (Tuesady mornings 07:30 - 09:00, Wednesday lunch times 12:15 -13:30, Thursday mornings 07:30 - 09:00, Thursday afternoons kids class 17:00 - 18:00, Friday mornings Aiki-Stretch & Move classes 08:00 -09:00, and Friday lunch times bokken and jo class 12:00 - 13:00). We give thanks for our links the club has made to the Aikido world both in the Netherlands and internationally and the pleasure we take in the many opportunities to practice at one's working place during the working week. We are truly privelaged to have such a possibility of practicing our hobby at our work place to such a level of intensity. The EAAC's 10th anniversary this month marks, above all, a celebration of all the friendships made in the past 10 years.

The Future (The Mystery):
The future lies in: 1. The children of our club (who are children of EPO office staff) many of whom may well grow out of Aikido and pursue other interests but some my grow into Aikido and become amazing Aikido ambassadors; 2. The new members. They are not just the new blood of the club. They are also the inspiration. They teach the experienced ones how to be beginners again. They are going to be fresh with ideas and will bring a new voice to the club; 3. The friendships that have been made with other Aikido clubs and teachers locally and globally. Without friendship, Aikido cannot be exchanged from heart to heart. So, we hope that our future is bright and our existing friendships bloom (I think of friendships made between office staff but also friendships made externally, Dutch friends, friends from France, England, Germany, Israel, friends from Japan, friends from America, Australia and New Zealand, Hawaii, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. Yes, we have been making a lot of friends in the past 10 years!) and we are looking forward to new friendships being created. Recently, in 2011, a new patent office Aikido club was formed in the EPO Muich branch. Some members of the Munich branch Aikido club will be joining our 10th anniversary celebrations and we look forward to sharing ideas about future exchanges and joint projects between The Hague and Munich sites. Although the future is "the mystery", the gift of the present lies in the many possibilities in which the EAAC can grow and develop. We'll let you know how it went in 10 years time!

2. CABN Instructors On The Way to National Instructor Accreditation. This year has been a busy time for the CABN instructors and assistant instructors who have brought themselves forward for national accreditation. A number of weekend courses have taken place to prepare these people for their exams. On the 15th of April, the Aikido Teacher Level 4 exam will take place and on the 2nd of June,  the Aikido Teacher Level 3 exam will take place. We wish these teachers much success for their exams.

3. The Samurai Still Exist and They are All Around Us (Report About A Recent Samurai Game).

When I arrived at Zu studios in Lewes, near Brighton, England, I had a rough idea what was in stall for me as I was about to play, for the first time in my life, the Samurai Game ™, an epic game of wit and decisions which brings two armies into a battle with the general objective of observing the behaviour parterns of yourself and others and various life scenarios that can unfold based on players' decisions made as a result of those patterns, appropriately set in a simulated environment in the context of the 15th century samurai era.The participation in my first game was a subsequent stepping stone on the road to Sumarai Game™ facilitator certification. Already, in 2011, I flew to Petaluma (near San Francisco) to participate in the falicitator course and, in order to complete this course, I must participate in some games and invite Lance Giroux (the game's director in charge) to run a course in my local area with my assitance.Even though, with the facilitators course behind me, I had a few clues about how the day was going to unfold, I had not expected the game to be so intensely fun, life-teaching and inspirational as it was. A bit more about the game. The Samurai Game ™ (by George Leonard) is played between two armies by way of random/natural selection within the group of participants. The game is a simulation of samurai battles of Japan in the 15th century though there is no physical violence nor contact during the game. A battle takes place and challenges are made between samurai of opposing armies. A challenge is symbolic of a dual between two samurai warroirs and will either be by way of testing physical strength, balance, coordination, aesthetic prowess and, possibly, luck at times. A challenge lost would, more often than not, lead to the “death” of the losing soldier (“death” is symbolised by the soldier lying still on the ground). A leader (or Daimyo) is selected within the armies themselves and, once selected, the leader/Daimyo will select his or her second person in charge (assisting the leadership), a century (who will keep a look out and report about in-coming enemy samurai, and ninja (who may get to infiltrate the enemy lines and make mischief). The other army members are samurai soldiers with the capability of undergoing challenges. An oath will be sworn, in allegance to the Daimyo, by each soldier of the army and the Daimyo will go on to make a speach and outline a strategy. Once both armies have gone through this process and outlined their strategies, a battle can begin. Central to the running of the battles and ensuring that there is progress, a war god (or fate of war) is present. The war god can be compared to a referee. However, the general task of the war god may be considered non-typical for a referee since the war god is allowed to be arbitrary, capricious and unfair. Certified facilitators of the Samurai Game(TM) are the only people who can be war gods. The war god will announce the beginning and end of the game. Usually the game ends once one army's soldiers have all died and the only person standing in that army is the Daimyo. The winning army's Daimyo must then give an historical account of the battle that took place, not in biased terms, but with the samurai values of respect and honour towards the losing side.Throughout the game, people will “die” and reincarnate (at the war gods discretion) either by losing challenges or because the war god declares a person must die. Death that did not arise from a challenge is usually because a participant didn't follow a rule (though it may be the case that the war god might capriciously and arbitrarily order a person to die for no apparent reason, possibly for the simple reason that life sometimes is not alweays fair). At certain times (especially when the battlefield becomes full of dead bodies), the war god will announce all to stop any challenges and to bury their dead. The burials should be done ceremoniously, according to the samurai conduct, in honour of those who fell. Some rules are set expressly to challenge our habbits. For example, it is generally not permitted to smile or laugh during the game (except for ninjas who, on the war gods permission, may have the right to smile when making mischief) and it is not permitted to say “please” and “thank you” during the game.Such a description of the game, as given here-above, is provided in the build up to the battle as the facilitator guides the participants to understanding how to play the game. The day, however, does not begin with an explanation of the game. Instead, some concepts are explained by the facilitaor. The facilitator of this day in Lewes was Francis Briers, certified since 2009 with already a number of games now behind him. Francis was clear and informative in his facilitation skills and appeared to make a friendly and warm atmosphere within the group of participants.The day lasted from 10:00 – 20:00 of which the first half comprised preparations and exercises necessary for understanding the game's setting and context. Francis provided some information about the code of the samurai and their values (what the samurai stood for) which would have an influence on how one is supposed to try to behave during the game and we studied briefly some samurai anecdotes to inspire our ideas about how to act as a samurai. During the morning, we explored some exercises which would provide an advantage in the challenges through centering, relaxing and breathing and we looked at the concepts of “fight and flight” and “freeze and fold” scenarios, as responses to social confrontation, and how we could rather try to change our responses to “rest and digest” in such conflicting moments). After the lunch break, we practiced some of the challenges that could take place during the game (white crane, black crane, flying eagle, falling stick, running stick, balancing stick, paper scissor stone, Polish wrestling) and only just before the battle was going to start, did Francis describe the game and outline the rules of the game. The battle lasted about 2 – 3 hours and the last hour of the day was dedicated to debriefing and giving feedback about experiences during the game and how those experiences might apply to one's own reality and the life they live.What I found most interesting and impressive from the whole day is the way that the Samurai Game ™ allows people to feel they are in a safe zone where they can reveal their weaknesses and vulnarabilities. It was, in fact, a burning question I had after I finished the facilitators course in 2011. How do you deal with resistance? I have told several colleagues about the game and many of them feel negative about the idea of revealing some skeletons from the dark realms of their personas. During the game, however, I personally didn't feel any resistance about exposing my own weakness and, it seems, that the other participants were also okay with it.I believe that the reason why there is this safe feeling is due to the clever design of the facilitation structure. Participants are given three chances not to play the game but to opt out and participate only as an observer. At the moment of each chance, the particpant knows a bit more about the game and what they might expect and be expected to do during the game and therefore will be able to assess, as the expectations accumulate, whether or not the game is suitable for them to play. Such a progressive approach builds a lot of trust and, ultimately, puts the choice of whether or not to play, more in the hands of the participant so that they are not left to feel that they are cornered in any way. The first time a call is made for people to opt out is just before explaining the game and its challenges. The second time a call is made for people to opt out is after practicing the challenges. The third time a call is made for people to opt out is just before the war god announces the start of the battle. Because the game is a based on teams, the awareness of individuals' strengths and weaknesses on an individual and group level is important as the two armies try to select the most approriate challengees and challenges.As our battle progressed over the afternoon, the whole group from both armies became gradually aware of the talents that the people in the group had and there was a prfound sense of respect for all the participants at the end. It made me particularly aware how I too easily made prejudgements of the people there in the beginning of the day and how much I saw them in a completely different light after the battle was over.The genius of the game is the way in which it is able to bring out of each participant not only the awareness of each individual's behavior patterns and, with that awareness, an appreciation of how one makes decisions in life, but also makes apparent to each individiual and those participating, the sparkling talent, that each of us have, that may sometimes in life have got shunned or pushed out of the way.It seems, indeed, that the Samurai have not at all dissapeard though maybe the warriors of yesteryear have been reincarnated and cocooned within the personas of each individual who seeks to make a positive transformation in, and be a warrior of, the life as they know it today. After this amazing day in Lewes, I have witnessed that The Samurai Game ™ is here and it is waking up those warriors from their cocoons!I'm very excited about my next step in the Game.
Lawrence Warry, 19th of March 2012

4. One of Ernesto Sensei's Famous Recipes.
As well as being a famous Italian sensei from Holland, not many people know the other secret talents of Ernesto sensei, one being his large repetoir of cooking recipes. Here is one such recipe courtesey of Ernesto Sensei. As they say in Dutch, Eet Smakelijk!


1 chicken.
4 onions.
1 clove of garlic.salt.pepper.
1 large carrot.
1 green and 1 red pepper.
2 teaspoons paprika.
1 pinch cayenne pepper.
4 large potatoes.
1 can sweetcorn.
4 spoons of oil.
4 small bananas.
i.Cut the chicken into 4 or 8 pieces or the chicken into cubes.
ii.Brown the pieces on all sides in oil.
iii.Then lower the heat and add the chopped onion and garlic added.
iv.Add the paprika and cayenne pepper and stir a few times around.
v.Add the thinly sliced ​​peppers, sliced ​​potatoes andthe sliced ​​carrot with some salt and a dash of hot water.
vi.Cover the pan and cook all together gently and continuously.
vii.Then add the corn cobs and cook to warm through.
viii.Peel the bananas and fry on both sides in butter until lightly brown.
ix.Serve the stew in a warm dish and lay the banana on top.

5. Japanese Word Chuushin/中心

Chuushin literally means "Center". Depending on the context, the word can have various deviations of meaning. Chuushin can mean, for example, balance, core, emphasis, heart, innermost feelings, and pivot (to name but a few). Chuushin can also be used to describe the act of focussing or giving something importance.
In Aikido, the term Chushin-ryoku (中心力 chūshin-ryoku) means "center of power" whereas Chushin-sen (中心線 chūshin-sen) means "center line", often used in the context of the centre line of the body when cutting with the bokken or sword. The same centre line is necessary for the correct alignment of the hand as an extension of the body's power in avoiding excessive force of the shoulders in Aikido.
Just as it is important in Aikido to keep our centre line and center of power in our hanmi and movement, it is also important to keep our training central to our daily routine in order to develop a momentum of practise and habit. Through centralising and focusing one's practise in this way, a person can develop their Aikido more as an art than as a recreation and the satisfaction of study becomes greater. Please practise Aikido in this central way and please become a great Aikidoka!

6. Announcements/Dates to look out for ...
2nd of April: Birthday of Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba
15th of April: Aikido Teacher Level 4 exams, Holland.
21st of April: Birthday of Shihan Masatake Fujita
25th of April: EPO Aikikai Aikido Club Receives Ladavas Sensei and Yamashima Sensei (click here for facebook information page).
(20th - 26th of April): Local clubs receive Yamashima Sensei for private classes.
26th of April: Memorial of passing away of O-Sensei.
29th of April: Aiki Shrine Festival, Iwama, Japan 
26th of May: 50th All Japan Aikikai Embukai.
2nd of June: Aikido Teacher Level 3 exams, Holland.
31st of May - 3rd of June: Masatake Dojo, Israel, receives Shimamoto Shihan, 8th dan Aikikai.
Whole month of June, I'll be in Israel assisting the cause of AWB (Aikido Without Borders).
7th - 12th of July: CABN summer school with Mori Shihan, 6th dan Aikikai.
24th of July: Ze'ev Erlich sensei, 5th dan Aikikai, comes to the EPO for an extension of our 10th anniversary celebration.

7. O-Sensei Quote ...

If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can see right through them and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop them, you will be able to guide them along the path indicated to you by heaven and earth.

1 comment:

Christopher Li said...

Italian guy in Holland cooking Mexican food? And I thought we got mixed up in Hawaii!

See you in July?


Aikido Sangenkai