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

Monday, November 10, 2014

October - December 2014

1. Editorial
It's been quite an active new season, hardly leaving me time to update this blog. This can only be a good sign for the activities surrounding this little Aikido world have been vibrant and enriching for all participants.

Of particular note, since September, there has been a surge of interest from the public concerning the new Monday Aikido practices at the Grote Pyr in The Hague, I've been quite busy teaching Aikido minimum 6 times per week, and, have been also occupied with bringing another production of the Samurai Game® to The Hague at the beginning of November. 

Some words about these activities here-below.
In this edition, I also provide an update of where Yamashima sensei will be hanging out in November, and, I have something to report about a recent lesson I was invited to teach at The Hagukumi dojo, where I emphasised the need to practice Henka waza (changing of technique) and Kaeshi waza (uke taking over technique from tori).

Do you want to know more about what I do in Aikido or would you like to hire me for teaching Aikido at your dojo or applying Aikido to your business? Feel free to contact me (official email: I would be happy to hear from you if you have a genuine interest in the services I provide.

Lawrence Warry
4th dan Aikido Instructor, 
Certified Samurai Game® Facilitator
Director of Shinyu Body & Mind

2. The Grote Pyr, an Excellent Place to Practice Aikido
The Grote Pyr is something of a well kept secret of The Hague but it's popularity is expanding. The Grote Pyr (at the waldeck pyrmontkade.115) is a social organisation situated in an historic building located just outside of the center of The Hague. They organise cultural and social events for the local people and there is really a folky atmosphere in the surroundings. At the location, just next to the sports hall, the well known vegetarian restaurant, The Hagedis, provides excellent fresh cooked vegetarian food every day. 
Grote Pyr members practicing ukemi.
Many activities take place each day at the sports hall, and, it is a privilege, therefore, to be able to provide weekly Aikido practice from 19:00 - 20:30 every Monday at The Grote Pyr. Every 4th Monday of the month, there is an extended practice, in which we include additional Aiki-weapons practice, Aiki-Move & Stretch to music, and, Mindful healing practice.
For more information about these activities at the Grote Pyr, see the website of Shinyu Body & Mind or send an email with an enquiry (official email:

3. Samurai Game® Report from 1st & 2nd November
The fourth Samurai Game® event took place at The Hagukumi dojo, in The Hague on the 1st & 2nd November just passed. The event was enthusiastically attended and participants were highly engaged in the three or so hours of challenges that took place during the game, and, equally engaged in the feedback sessions that took place the next day.
The Samurai Game® is quite something to try if you have not yet done so and, even if you have been before to a Samurai Game® event, each attendance will lead to a unique experience never had before. 
Whilst the Samurai Game®, designed by the late thinker, philosopher, writer, and Aikido teacher, George Leonard, is not Aikido as such, many of the approaches we learn in Aikido apply also to the Samurai Game®. George Leonard effectively took the ideas of Aikido and applied them to his life simulation game, only, with the setting of the Samurai generation of feudal times of Japan. 
It's really quite an experience, and the next such event has already been planned for the 21st and 22nd of March 2015
Samurai Game® in action. Participants prepare themselves.
I do advise you to keep that weekend booked in your agenda. More updates about it will be appearing on facebook here:
The official Samurai Game® can be found here:
It was furthermore a great pleasure, an honour, and with thanks, that we received, from Petaluma, California, worldwide representative and facilitator certifier, Lance Giroux, who, with more than 40 years of facilitation experience, made the last Samurai Game® event extra special and a whole lot of fun. 
Lance Giroux with me on the beach near The Hagukumi dojo, visitin The Netherlands from Petaluma, California, USA.
4. Lessons on Changing the Technique (Henka & Kaeshi).
On the weekend of the 18th and 19th of October just passed, I was invited by The Hagukumi Dojo to give two morning classes in a more 'seminar' style than just the regular classes I give. I'm not really the 'seminar' type, I must admit, and, I apologize if the people found me too much like another one of them. But, that is how I feel when I am at the Hagukumi dojo. I feel like just a regular student and not exceptional in any way. But times have changed, our teachers have passed away, and the Hagukumi dojo will always be the dojo I started out with when I first moved to The Hague in 1999, and, I've never looked to be a student of another dojo since then. So, with changing times, The Hagukumi dojo was looking for inspiration from the 4th dans that travel a lot for Aikido (namely, myself, and Silvia sensei). I went to Silvia's lesson on Saturday morning, and had basically a really good time with her and the other Hagukumi students. She showed us some of the movement that has inspired her Aikido and one could see that she'd really been thinking about this movement and how to put it to effective practice.
My two morning lessons revolved around the themes I've been working with and seeing from various senseis with regards to Henka and Kaeshi. Henka waza is applied when the tori wants to change from one technique to another. Kaeshi waza is applied when the uke takes over the lead from the tori and applies another technique to tori. Both are interesting concepts for the following reasons that I can think of right now:
1. Applying henka waza and kaeshi waza in Aikido allows us to be creative in our movement.
2. Henka is often useful when one technique doesn't work. Rather than be blocked by the uke, applying Henka allows us to continue to flow in our movement. 
3. Henka is often necessary as a philosophy of life. If we cannot adapt and change when there are blockages in life, we also lose momentum, grace and grounding.
4. Kaeshi is useful for ukemi. It gives the uke the feeling that he/she should always be ready to take over if the opportunity arises. This deviates Aikido from being just dance, and, puts it firmly under the category of martial arts. 
5. Kaeshi is often necessary as a real concept in relationships in every day life, at work, at home, with friends and family. Kaeshi effectively promotes good communication allowing freedom to interchange leadership and followership in conversations.
There are probably much more reasons why to practice henka and kaeshi. Needless to say, these are not commonly tested aspects in the yudansha exams. This, I find, to be quite perplexing because they seem, at least to me, to grasp the essence of what Aikido is really about.
Anyway, here is a result of our practice on that weekend. Two of the yudansha students, Martijn and Jahan, taking home with them some useful ideas of kaeshi waza from yonkyo to shiho nage, for example:
In all, it was a pleasure exploring this theme at the Hagukumi dojo, and, afterwards, I got some requests to show it again some time soon. It would be my pleasure to study these ideas again with my fellow Hagukumi students.
Domo Arigatou!
- Lawrence

5. Yamashima Sensei, Where are you?!!!
It's already November and Yamahima Sensei, 7th dan Aikikai is nowhere in sight in Europe right now. So, I do wonder. Well, looking at his Aikido agenda, it seems like the beginning of November is quiet, and hopefully he's having a break from travelling and going to his regular practices in Tokyo. Greetings, to the Nerima and Chiyoda ku Aikido friends.
However, we're excited to receive Yamashima Sensei soon.
At the end of November, sensei will be first in The Netherlands (from 19th to 23rd of November), and, from there, he will move on to South Korea, where a seminar will take place from the 27th of November until the 1st of December. A few crazy ones of us will also be flying together to Seoul to also enjoy that seminar.
For the Dutch program, you can find the schedule, locations and contact details here: 
For the South Korea program, you can contact the Korean Aikido Federation ( Email me if you're interested to travel to S.Korea for thsi event from The Netherlands (
And, to conclude this edition, here-below, a reminder of what you may have missed during 2014, Yamashima sensei's Aikido agenda this year:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 2014

1. Editorial; New Season, Open Classes and Aikido Introduction Workshops in and Around The Hague
In the month of September, there are usually a lot of chances to meet Aikido for the first time in your life. In my local community, a number events have taken place in the past week.

2. Grote Pyr Aikido

Aikido Beginners at The Grote Pyr.
The season started on Monday 1st of September at the Grote Pyr Aikido club. A new Aikido venue, every Monday from 19:00 - 20:30. It is a good time to go if you're starting Aikido as the basics are given step-by-step, in an easy to learn manner. The public of The Hague is welcome to try the first lesson free of charge at The Grote Pyr. Website:

3. Hagukumi Aikido
Yujo Seminar @ Hagukumi Dojo
On the weekend of the 13th and 14th of September, the Hagukumi dojo in The Hague held their "Yujo" friendship weekend seminar and open day, welcoming the public to come and try out Aikido and, at the same time, welcoming the Aikido community to come and celebrate the end of the summer and start of a new season. Dojo cho, Paul Jungschlager, 4th dan Aikikai, ran the show, which included inviting a prominent Japanese teacher, Yamada (not the Yamada shihan of New York) but a less well know but equally interesting shihan from Narita, Japan. Local Aikido teachers also gave their time to share their Aikido on this packed training weekend at the Hagukumi dojo. As well as Aikido, also on the programme during the Yujo seminar were the arts of Kendo, Kempo, Chi Gong and Foot reflex healing. Aikido lessons in the Hagukumi dojo have the following programme:

4. Aikido Workshop on The Beach
Aikido on The Beach @ Licht Puntjes Festival
Also on the evening of Saturday the 13th of September, another festival took place in the beach cafe FAST at the beach of Scheveninge, The Hague. The organising group is called "Lichte Puntjes" and, as well as providing an Aikido introduction workshop on the beach, they had guest healers and artists performing poetry and music. The aim of the workshop was to encourage radiance in people. The Aikido evening workshop taking place at 19:45, as the sun set, was warmly received and well attended by about 20 festival participants. Website:

5. Leiden LCSA Aikido
LCSA Leiden Aikido.
On the evening of Sunday the 14th of September, the Leiden dojo, LCSA (Leidse Culturele Stichting Aikido) opened their doors to the public for a new season open class. This was a great way to kick-start the season as the attendees were all lookin motivated and recharged after their summer break. Website:

6. EAAC Aikido
Monday 15th of September sees the open class of the EPO Aikikai Aikido Club (EAAC). A short open class will take place at lunch time (12:15 - 13:00), allowing the European Patent staff members to meet Aikido for the first time. Website:
Demonstration practice at the EAAC:

Monday, July 21, 2014

July & August 2014

1.0 Solar & Lunar Alignment & The Human Body
As was abundantly reported all around the world, on December 21st 2012, all the planets in our solar system were perfectly aligned with each other. For the first time, our Earth, Moon, all 9 planets in our solar system, our Sun and the Pleiades constellation (which is the star system that our Sun orbits) ALL came into direct perfect alignment with the massive black hole that exists at the very center of our Milky Way Galaxy. If that's not amazing enough, this exact alignment only happens once every 200+ million years!

This 2012 event also marked the completion of a 26,000 year solar cycle that our sun is on orbiting Pleiades. This was an event that the Mayans and many other ancient tribes around the planet predicted as symbolising "the end of the world".
What is so interesting for one studying Aikido is that O-Sensei often spoke about the Sun, the Moon and the Earth being Aiki. Here is a doka from O-Sensei: 
The sun, the moon and the earth
All have become Aiki
Standing on this bridge
The great expanse of the sea is
The Way of the Mountain Echo.

Shimamoto shihan of Osaka has been heard to speak of O-Sensei as teaching students to have a big imagination and to imagine placing the sun, the moon and the earth on a stick and swallowing them whole. Many alternative healing theories (such as medical astrology) involve representing celestial bodies with human body parts. One can consider, for example, the alignment of the mind, heart, lungs and stomach as corresponding to aligning celestial bodies in order to create an influence on the environment by way of gravitational force. This is indeed what we try to achieve in disbalancing uke, as a role as tori. For this disbalancing to happen, we have to create the correct alignment in our bodies. We do this by way of hanmi. Hanmi is, indeed, the intentional act that a human has to make in Aikido in order to create such a burst of energetic influence on their training partner. One can parallel such an effect with that of the spring tide which happens when the moon is full or when the sun and the moon are aligned with the earth, causing the combination of gravitational pull, both from the sun and from the moon. 
If we are to consider our body parts (such as, for example, heart, lungs and stomach, having a gravitational pull of some degree with respect to the earth), then we can also understand that the combined gravitational pull would be achieved when the body parts are aligned, and a corresponding effective force would be established as a consequence. 
In this video from the recent course in Geneva, Yamashima sensei talks about the importance of aligning the center in hanmi:

It seems interestingly close to the spring tide effect caused by planetary alignment with the sun and the moon and is an explanation, to those who comment that "he is not moving" and "it looks fake", as to why he can cause such a big gravitational effect on uke without an exhaustive physical effort. 
How close Yamashima sensei is to O-Sensei in his idea, I can't gauge and, yet, at to that point, it is not even necessary to consider whether this was O-Sensei's main focus, for the study itself and the progress being achieved is of enough value in its own right to be interesting and to be followed up with further reasearch.

2.0 Yamashima Sensei in Geneva
Again, for another time, Yamashima sensei drew Aikido enthusiasts from all around Europe to Geneva to practice Aikido. The participants enthusiastically studied together and enjoyed social time visiting touristic parts of Geneva and having lunch and supper.
The training atmosphere was of a typical friendly nature and the practice with Yamashima sensei gets increasingly interesting for everybody who follows what his development is all about. One aspect is the alignment and hanmi position (as mentioned about) but there is much more than that to it. Aspects of how and when to use your center are important details which need to be considered. 
(Uke: Rodolph Peyvel)
Indeed, the practice of Aikido is not just a spatial practice but equally as much so, it is also a temporal practice. Time and space in unison, should somehow be managed and Yamashima sensei provides a wonderful enquirey into that study. All students got tired and sweaty in the summertime heat and in grabbing Yamashima sensei's arm, curiously trying to feel how he cultivates such an immense and effective power from the relaxed, aligned state.
Many thanks to Rodolph Peyvel for hosting again another great seminar in Geneva. Also, I can't forget to mention and thank the amazing and warm hospitality of Luc Giradin and his family who hosted us in their beautiful house in the countryside outside of Geneva! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 2014

1.0 Report on Seminar with Miles Kessler Sensei, 5th dan Aikikai, in Maastricht 13, 14 and 15 June 2014
I attended just one day of this seminar but it already gave me a taste of what I can only imagine to be an inspirational and powerful workshop to develop our mindfulness towards ourselves and towards others and allow us to make a more expansive relationship experience in Aikido. The course was intended for both experienced Aikidoka and beginners. On the day that I attended, we started with a one hour session of mindfulness meditation where Kessler sensei, with his profound Vipassana meditation experience, invited us to inquire about the nature of being mindful to the "I" and the nature of being mindful to the "we", the two entities requiring fundamentally two different approaches of being mindful. On this initial basis, the two hours Aikido practice that followed drew upon this meditation and the concept of harmony being only attainable through conflict and not by avoiding conflict. Therefore, after some basic movement, Kessler sensei presented some physical and verbal challenges into the exercises which allowed us to face (in a "cool" way without getting bogged down by the challenge) resistances in movement, and verbal "hits" using a question/response exercise integrated with a physical tai sabaki movement. The question/response exercises happened in 3 initial phases. In the first phase, uke would come and push tori's shoulder whilst presenting the question "what makes you comfortable?". Tori's response was required to be given as much as possible without stopping the movement even if a pause of reflection was required. In the second phase, uke would come and push tori's shoulder whilst presenting the question "what makes you uncomfortable?". Again, Tori's answers should not interrupt a centered flow of movement in tai sabaki. At the third stage, the ultimate question was asked by Uke to Tori whilst pushing, "what is your potential gold?" which allowed the opening into the space from the "comfort zone" to the "discomfort zone" and outwards to the problem how to transform those pointers which make us uncomfortable into what could be our potential gold. After each stage of movement, participants were encouraged to share what they experienced with each other, dialoging in particular what was easy or difficult about the exercise. The final exercise in the series was also based on a further question "what is the magic you need?". The "magic", being the solution or process or practice that you would need in your life to allow the "potential gold" to materialize. During the last phase of the practice, the verbalisations ended and the mat became busy as the participants jammed their aikido with each other in a free-flowing way.
With some alchemistic references and spiritual insights, Kessler sensei presented a fun and effective transformative Aikido workshop. I felt grateful to have this opportunity to meet Miles in a different setting to that of Tel Aviv and to meet the friendly Aikido people of Maastricht.

2.0 Return to California and Some Inspirational Aikido
This week, I'm in the Bay area near San Francisco and I will be heading for some Aikido practices at Two Rocks dojo in Petaluma with Richard Strozzi Heckler sensei, 6th dan Aikikai and City Aikido in San Francisco with Bob Nadeau sensei, 7th dan Aikikai. If you ever get over here you must see them! Bob Nadeau is renowned for having been one of the few westerners who was close to O-Sensei and documented discussions with O-Sensei. Heckler sensei is an ex-US marine and still teaches conflict resolution and Aikido principles to the US marine department and develops the martial arts programme for Afgan National Army. He has written several books, including "In Search of the Warrior Spirit". He is a close student of Mitsuge Saotome shihan.
Further information about these two dojos:

Two Rocks Aikido Dojo, Petaluma:
Heckler sensei addressing students at Two Rocks dojo, Petaluma
4101 Middle Two Rock Road
Telephone: 707-766-9404

City Aikido, San Francisco:
Nadeau shihan demonstrating at City Aikido
City Aikido
1339 Mission Street 
San Francisco 
CA 94103
Telephone: (415) - 552 7208.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 2014

1.0 The "Japanese Curry" Sensei!
Yamashima sensei, 7th dan Aikikai Aikido teacher of Nerima, Tokyo, came to the practice with us in The Netherlands on the weekend of the 16th-18th of May, giving classes in Delft, The Hague, Rijswijk, Amsterdam and Leiden.
At The Hagukumi Dojo, The Hague, The Netherlands
This was just a part of his wider-spreading combined tour of The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany (Düsseldorf). The focus of Yamashima sensei's lessons is around that of simplicity and doing the movement naturally without unnecessary force and, at the same time, for uke and tori to have a good feeling of quality of connection between eachother.
This same simplicity is applied to the wonderful curries that sensei makes. He makes them with a good heart-to-heart connection and always adds fresh but simple ingredients. So, now we know the ingredients also to a rewarding Aikido practice. Keep it fresh and simple!
Sensei Cooks at Our Japanese Curry Party!
The Aikido practices given by Yamashima sensei are often sweaty and tiring, though deceivingly slow and effortless in the beginning and build-up of the lessons. This deception is soon revealed, as the movement becomes more intense during the course of the lesson. This is a perfect way to build up the practice without causing injury or over straining the body. A lot of happy people joined the practice from connected dojos around the west of The Netherlands and some guests came from further away (for example, Luc from Switzerland!). The spirit of Yamashima sensei's lessons is that of international integration between people of the network who invite him to their countries. Already this week, some people from The Netherlands have headed over to Belgium to practice there. This coming weekend, I'll be heading for Düsseldorf for their practice with the sensei.
Yamashima sensei travels yearly to multiple destinations around the world (including: New Zealand, Hawaii, Singapore, South Korea, and various countries in Europe). If you get the chance, it is always nice to combine a visit with a practice with Yamashima Sensei! Seize the opportunity while it is there!
Hereby two clips from the seminar:
(Uke Rachid Gouffi) ..

(Uke Lawrence Warry)..

2.0 Israel Events end of May and Beginning of June
My next trip to Israel starts with meeting the wonderful group of Masatake dojo and their amazing guest shihan, Shimamoto. 8th dan Aikikai. I'm excited to practice Aikido with my Israeli friends again. The full details in English for this event can be found here:
On the following weekend (6th and 7th of June), I will be running a Samurai Game® workshop.
If you're curious and not sure what such an workshop involves, then there is a lot of information on the facebook event created here:
To summarize here, what can I say about it?? It's a two days workshop taking place at Integral dojo, Tel Aviv, on the Fri 6th and Sat 7th of June 2014.
This workshop comes with the theme of love and light! How can we allow love and light to enter, and manifest them as an integral part of, our paths of development to achieve inner and outer peace? Let's play a game and find out! Do see the FB event for more info.
Also, here is the flyer for the event:

3.0 Wearing Your Hakama Properly!!! - By Ze'ev Erlich of Masatake Dojo, Israel
As soon as you receive your black belt in Aikido, you and your teacher are about to begin a new chapter in your relationship. The teacher and the senior students have now new obligations regarding your Aikido learning process. Along with the black-belt exam preparation, the student has to purchase a hakama (traditional dark colored and wide pants). The teacher has to make sure the student is choosing a good hakama and in correct size. It is also important to teach the correct way to wear it and the correct way to tie it. The length of the hakama is also important. Some students buy a hakama with short sleeves. The sleeves should almost touch your foot. The white pants we wear under the hakama, should be hidden underneath. If the white pants are visible, they should be trimmed. Especially when we wear a hakama and black-belt, we represent our teacher and our school, wherever we go. So It is important of course to practice well, but also be aware of etiquette and correct manners and dress code.

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,