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I asked for volunteers, and Jeraldo (not his real name) stepped up. They were all excited, as the class has run for three weeks and I had not yet taught a single technique, focusing instead almost exclusively on ukemi. Well, today I wanted them to take ukemi for ikkyo. They had just learned shikko that class, and they were hungry for more.
Tense and excited, Jeraldo gabbed my wrist, using ai-dori . What would I do, he wondered? Would it hurt?
Suddenly, his head whipped up. "Wait!" he exclaimed. "Did you hear that? It was outside: sounded like someone saying 'you're going to get what's coming, now!' Did you all hear that?" All six pairs of ears were now attuned to noises outside, in hopes of tuning into the same wavelength as Jeraldo.
We were up on the second-floor, way in the back of the building. For someone to come into the Center, he'd have to ring the buzzer, wait to be buzzed in, climb a flight of steps, and make his way through a 30 or so milling students and people in the foyer, to finally reach where we were training. Immediate danger from outsiders was not a likely possibility.
And so, for the next few minutes, I attempted in vain to get the class to re-focus. But they wouldn't have it: they were caught in the spell of fascination and voyeuristic dread that accompanies traffic accidents: people just have to slow down and scan the area for blood...my students were attem
Take a hundred or so Aikido students, give them about two three or four days to train together, add a few feasts and throw in about a dozen or so different nations, cultures, and music, and you're bound to end up with an unforgettable bash, by Saturday night.
Add several other martial arts to the mix (with a little limbo* in the center of the room), with members from one dance mingling and joining another, and you get some idea of the wild spirit that bounced around the room, that night.
"This may be the first time that this kind of dancing has ever occurred," observed Don. Yeah, that IS a tall order, but consider it: there was aikido, chi qung, capoeira, several Mediterranean line-dances, limbo, and a few other dances I have never seen...all occurring at the same time, and sometimes flowing from one to the other. I started in with capoeira with the amazingly acrobatic and talented Tesfaye (to the the sound of...was it Ethiopian, Jordanian, or Iraqi music? I had no way to tell, but I THINK it was mostly Ethiopian. Someone write me and tell me which), and soon I had about 4 people jump up and requested immediate lessons. Every time I tell this story to my capoeira-instructor friend, he busts a gut, laughing (clearly, he's jealous ).
The Aiki-Follies were great. As is often the case, they went from the sublime to the ridiculous. Tesfaye, the student from Ethiopia, amazed us with his acrobatic skil
Richard Heckler*: "Remember why you are training. Keep this thought in your mind, as you train, today."
In respect to keiko: the Training Across Borders Seminar was no different than any other Aikido seminar: classes usually went from 9-5:45PM, with breaks for lunch and workshops dealing with healing from trauma, leadership, meditation, and other topics. Keiko was our center. Without it, we would all have gotten along well enough, but the keiko cemented our connections, provided a framework for interaction.
Jamie Zimron* (at the public Aikido demo): "O Sensei became the greatest warrior in Japan: he could beat everyone. But what good is that? Here (gesturing to her uke's): you're dead (throwing uke down). No, stay down.; you're dead! Now, YOU'RE dead* (next uke)! And you, and you, and you (all uke's on the floor, with Jamie the only one standing). Now, with all of this power to destroy: I'm the only one alive. What good is that, if everyone else is dead?"
We went to Cyprus with the purpose to train. We also went to demonstrate Aikido and to support training efforts and promote harmony throughout countries in the Middle East. The constant commitment to keiko held us to our original intent.
Aikido expresses the order of the universe through the body. If the order of the universe is correctly applied to the bo
At the rate I'm going (still bogged down by jetlag, I might add): the next journal entry of TAB will come out shortly after I finish it, in book form, and right before aiki-extensions puts out their own online version (which I'm told will be happening soon). And so, I'll just forge on ahead, in a piecemeal format. No time like the present, after all (note: picture links included, with text below, noted by an *).
The TAB Project itself was the result of many collaborators, working at different ends of the spectrum. From beginning to end, many hands went into the planning and execution of TAB, on different levels. For instance, Horoshi Ikeda Sensei contributed to the calligraphy for the shomen (when there was concern about the Islamic proscription about bowing to images), and he also held a benefit seminar. One Sensei wanted to take part in the Seminar and even was one of the five featured Sensei's, but he had to bow out when he learned that his foreign citizenship might get him into legal problems, in training with Aikidoists from a hostile nation.
I came onboard about a year ago, after I had searched the internet and interested Aikido Sensei's for an Iraqi-American Aikido Friendship Seminar. Three years' ago on aikidojournal, I made the acquaintance of Ala'a Hijazi, from Jordan. We both agreed what a great idea it would be to establish an Iraqi-Jordanian-American AIkido Seminar, possibly taking place in Amman, Jordan. Timewise, this was shortly before the US
Welcome to my blog, all you amazing TAB-people! Thank you for visiting. As soon as I am recovered from my jetlag, I will begin the process of recounting the amazing events that occurred last weekend. I am even now editing and collecting photos of the event. I am especially interested in the last huge group photo, as I was in the middle of it and could not take it, with my camera.
By all accounts, it was a wonderful seminar. What really strikes me is the recurring imagery of the "wave" that seems to pop up. I guess it originated within a Seminar keiko (but which one? Which Sensei referred to a "wave" first? Was it Goto Sensei? Or Zimron Sensei? I think it was Jamie Zimron, but I am not sure), and now it takes on the symbolic overture of the whole event...WE are the first wave, the beginning of a ripple that is spreading outward to the whole Aikido community, even now.
In class today, I briefly recounted the troubles the Iraqi students had in getting to Cyprus. My Sensei, Linda Holiday wryly noted how it makes any difficulties WE might have in getting to the dojo seem paltry, by comparison.
Please, feel free to drop me a comment here, or at my email address.
I look forward to the day when we can train again: either in smaller groups, or as a huge, tidal mass, again. Check back here soon (in a few days) for the more detailed description of the Seminar, with pic's.
(Note: this is a work in progress. Meaning, I will likely change a few things around when I return to the States, or sooner. Certainly, I will add pic-links, delete some unnecessary notes...such as this one...and "fine tune" it all up, later...much like this Seminar. So, check in later: much may change).
Must. Fight. Jetlag. OK.
I did a lot today. Awakened by a fire engine blaring outside my window at the barbaric hour of 7:30 AM (and just WHAT scion of hotel management figured it a good idea to build a hotel across the street from a fire station and a police station?! Arrgh! ), I barely finished breakfast before my duties came knocking. Moving this, helping Sensei's with that, catching a class when I can (mostly not), relocating mats, helping new arriving groups find the dojo.
After breakfast, I went to the dojo to move some furniture and get in a little practice. Heckler Sensei asked me to uke for the public demo at the Fulbright Center, next to the UN building (formerly a palace, still called the Ledra Palace), in the middle of the Buffer Zone.
How to describe the Buffer Zone? Pretty much how I expected the whole area to look--crumbling storefronts next to stores selling paltry wares here and there; relaxed looking soldiers peering out from various apartments within the Ledra Palace, mean-spirited signs placed at the Turkish and Cypriot Zones---Turkey: "Turkey will FOREVER remain in Northern Cyprus!!!!" or Cyprus: "Express Your Humanity By Fightin
The day began with a chaotic bang. We had a meeting shortly after breakfast hurriedly discussing the seminar itinerary. The meeting never came to fruition, however: we were interrupted by a mixed contingent of 11 Jordanian's and Iraqi's, who came early. This was unfortunate, as we were not quite finished with assigning rooms (by the time this seminar is over, I will have checked into three separate hotels, all within one block of each other). It was good to finally meet Ala'a in person. Three years' ago, we chatted on aikidojournal about the prospect of having a seminar in Iraq, before the invasion (of course, the invasion made all of those plans moot).
The Iraqi contingent had quite a tale to tell about their travelling adventures: they barely made it to the airport in Jordan, because the US security forces closed down the border. More on that, later. Other contingents faced difficulties, as well: the Bosnian's had to completely cancel, due to an airport strike. From what I hear, the Palestinian's had some difficulties, too: but they just arrived (it now being 11PM).
After excitable introductions all around (not to mention some bleary-eyed Iraqi's), I shunted around an unseasonably hot and muggy Nicosia, on errands with our capable local contact, Herodotus, on various errands, with only a break to locate various media sources via the internet.
Fast forward to 5pm. With a little help from our friends and a slow-building excitement, we made the finishin
A former British colony, Cyprus received independence in 1960 following years of resistance to British rule. Tensions between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority came to a head in December 1963, when violence broke out in the capital of Nicosia. Despite the deployment of UN peacekeepers in 1964, sporadic intercommunal violence continued forcing most Turkish Cypriots into enclaves throughout the island. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the government was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled more than a third of the island. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," but it is recognized only by Turkey. The latest two-year round of UN-brokered direct talks - between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to reach an agreement to reunite the divided island - ended when the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN settlement plan in an April 2004 referendum.
Let's not talk about Day 1, if you don't mind. I don't even know if I could, except in brief, feverish, jetlag-induced, "telegraphic" bursts.
Now, on to Day 2.
Day 2--Quiet, excitable misogi
Things are progressing very well, in preparation for the Big Event. Don Levine, Philip Emminger, Mark Walsh, and several core aiki-extensions members are all here. I am working on some of the international PR (of which this blog is a small part) as well as c
At the site of the politically contested "green zone" in Nicosia, Cyprus: delegations of Aikido students from a dozen countries within the Middle East will assemble to inaugurate the first "Training Across Borders" seminar, on April 15-17, 2005. Coming from lands that have stood in chronic conflict for decades, these Aikidoka--Croatians, Serbs and Bosnian Muslims; Greeks, Turks and Cypriots north and south; Israeli's, Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanian's, and Iraqi'sówill experience and demonstrate to the world the effectiveness of the Aiki Way to overcome combativeness and promote understanding.
For three days these martial artists (men, women, and teen's) will meet and train under five internationally respected Sensei's (or teachers), participate in workshops aimed at applying aiki principles outside the contexts of training, and initiate plans for future cross-border training and community-building.
Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O Sensei' or 'Great Teacher'). O Sensei emphasized the moral and spiritual aspects of this art, placing great weight on the development of harmony and peace. "The Way of Harmony of the Spirit" is one way that "Aikido" may be translated into English. Although it may seem parodoxical to seek harmony and peace through a martial art, it is one of the basic tenets of Aikido.
The Seminar is sponsored by Aiki Extensions, Inc. a nonprofit organization establishe
On Saturday, March 26th, my friends, family, and fellow Aikidoists will all come to watch my Sandan test, a work-in-progress 20+ years in the making, and still progressing. In other words, my community will be there to support, bear witness, and share a bowl of what promises to be mighty good soup! But, it would be wrong to suggest that this test is solely "my" endeavor, alone. Many other "cooks" helped create this "dish." Sensei's Linda, Glen, Aimen, David and Jeannie Sofen and Dennis all added necessary "ingredients" and invaluable signposts; and all the other regular members and visitors of North Bay Aikido were critical in "stirring the pot," and providing signposts of their own. I would mention you all here, but the list would number in the hundred's.
Thanks to you all, for your heartfelt training, your openness and your honesty. I could not have made this effort without your participation, your suggestions, your heartfelt ukemi.
To understand the relevance of my promotion, it is important to examine the relationship of the rank, to the larger community. Linda Sensei refers to Sandan-rank as a "pillar of the community." Since Dennis' Sandan-test, I had puzzled over that designation. Of course, other dojo's and other Aikido-styles have differing interpretations of what "Sandan" meansóat its most basic, yudansha-rank refers, generally, to a qualification to teach. The higher your