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Wissam J. Faraj
05-23-2008, 03:06 PM
Iraqi Aikido in Exile
(Jaramana Dojo) - Syria

Due to the bad security situation and all the fighting that had been tearing the country apart. Since the war started in 2003, more of one million Iraqis fled to Syria looking for peace and security in this neighboring country that had opened its doors welcoming for the Iraqis looking for refuge. Years go by away from home, and for many (students, educated, artists, athletes and others) life goes on in the new home.
Tens of thousands Iraqis lived in Jaramana city in the capital of Syria Damascus. And among them a small group of Iraqi Aikidoka members from the (I.A.O). Where they left their homes in Baghdad because of the bad situation.

From this came the idea to look for a suitable dojo for Aikido training. And the start was with (Wissam & Ahmed) when they got together to train for the first time in Syria in 20/9/2006 in a gym in (Jaramana Athletic Club).
That was the new hope for the Iraqi Aikidoka whom left training for long time, and started to come back again, a lot of them came to the dojo from different parts of Damascus to train together again hence they were training together in Baghdad before.

As it was always Aikido training, is a big opportunity to mingle and blend between the Iraqi and Syrian Aikidoka, and even from different nationalities too. Adding to that the new Aikido students (Iraqis and Syrians) who started to practice Aikido in this dojo.

To announce, promote and publicity about the dojo presence and the art that it teaches we did some Aikido demos in national and athletic festivities. The unique Aikido style captured the attention and admiration of the athletic and non-athletic audience who saw it for the first time.

Like one family in an atmosphere filled with love and harmony, members of (Jaramana Dojo) celebrated one the year since they had had started training in this dojo. A year of training and practicing Aikido gathered them under the principle of O'sensei.

During that year members of the dojo made couple of visits to other dojos in Damascus like (Syrian Dojo) and (Dardari Ryu Dojo) for acquaintance and bring people together to train on one mat.

Jaramana dojo had the honor and great privilege of receiving couple of international trainers and masters to give classes and train with dojo members. Among those senseis are (Atif Amin sensei), (Bashar Ahmed sensei), (Kurt Bartholet sensei).

Wissam Faraj

05-24-2008, 10:35 AM
Iraqi Aikido in Exile
(Jaramana Dojo) - Syria...
Wissam Faraj

The best of luck to you! It's my deepest wish that the heart of Aikido, reconciliation, may take root and grow strong and beautiful amidst the chaos of the region.
take care,

Janet Rosen
05-24-2008, 01:58 PM
My heart goes out to you and your families and your community. The very best of luck; may you continue to seek out and use opportunities to keep moving forward through life.

Rocky Izumi
05-24-2008, 02:35 PM
Come and visit me after I get set up in Kuwait City. I will be there after August of 2008, this year and you can get hold of me either through this website or my email at hizumi@mnxics.com.


Bill Danosky
05-25-2008, 09:10 AM
I'm glad you have Aikido to help you find some familiarity while you're "in exile".

I don't know if it was your purpose or just a lucky accident, but it was really cool of you to make this post, Wissam- I bet a lot of Americans have never thought of Iraqis being Aikidoka.

As usual, we find that one common point is all people need to see each other as fellow human beings. It's so much better for us to make our own introductions than getting our views of each other from the media, don't you think?

It's sort of an iconoclasm that martial arts can be the instrument of peace and unification. It must have been like that in Japan in the late 1940s, too.

O Sensei was right again!