“A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing.” Morihei Ueshiba
2020 is already off to a roaring start for Nairobi Aikikai and budo arts in East Africa with the commencement of the 5th International Aikido Seminar in Zanzibar 14th-16th February.
The warm tropical climate, hospitable people, good food and rigorous training made for a perfect weekend. This seminar brought together several practitioners of the art from Nairobi(Kenya) , Switzerland and Germany as well as Zanzibar and Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania.Those present were of all ages and varied backgrounds in other martial arts as well.
We couldn't have been luckier to have senseis Hansruedi Nef (6th Dan) Andreas Schriber (5th Dan), Marianne Ostermayer (5th dan) and Klaus Lehan (4th dan) in attendance sharing their practice and decades of wisdom with us.
|Publicity poster for the 5th International Aikido Seminar, Zanzibar 2020.|
|Landed in Zanzibar (left to right) Sensei Hansruedi, Sensei Andi, Sensei Marianne, Sensei Klaus and Joshua Muthii.|
Nairobi Aikikai was represented by two enthusiastic members: Joshua Muthii who is also the chairperson of our club and Imungu Kalevera who packs a big punch in a small frame. The three day seminar started on Friday the 14th with a sweaty Valentine's session led by Sensei Andi at the International School of Zanzibar and this served as a pre-cursor of things to come.
|End of Day 1 (14th February) evening session, a Valentine's day to remember.|
Ramping up the momentum was the second day of the seminar on the 15th of February that saw Senseis Marianne, Hansruedi and Klaus all lead sessions that focused on diverse aspects of Aikido.
Sensei Marianne's technical prowess, Sensei Hansruedi's smooth and precise execution of technique as well as Sensei Klaus love for the pleasure (read as pain) of nikkyo and sankyo and the various ways to blend and combine these techniques with others made for a taxing but fulfilling second day. The different teaching techniques provided an all rounded approach to the art.
Of particular excitement was the introduction of beautiful combinations of techniques that showcase the true dance-like movement of Aikido. It was a joy to watch as the senseis demonstrated and we tried our best to execute the same, albeit not as gracefully. But with practice, maybe some day.
|Day 2, (15th February) morning session at Zanzibar Budokan.|
The final day of the seminar was a bitter sweet one with two sessions that explored further aspects of Aikido but also drew deeper into understanding basic movements and terminologies. The third and final day, (Sunday, 16th February) begun with a basic taisabaki session led by Sensei Andi, laying emphasis on the importance of mastering basic movements but also remaining stable through movement. Staying low, connecting to the centre, keeping the whole body alive and moving through the hip are the fundamental principles of Aikido movement that he emphasized through the various exercises. This session was followed by a session by Sensei Hansruedi that incorporated his signature smooth but effecftive style into staple movements such as the Iriminage, emphasizing the need for tori to conserve energy and use uke's energy to execute technique. The final session of the morning was handled by Sensei Marianne who delved into the technical aspects of several Aikido staple movements and having an awareness of the body of Uke and Tori.
The final session of the day took place at the International School and began with basic taisabaki, kokkyunage sessions and later, program specific movements where each sensei took groups of students through the 4th, 3rd, 5th and 6th Kyu programs. This was followed by a grading session and happily, all candidates passed into 5th and 6th kyu.
|Imungu Kalevera (left) and Joshua Muthii (right) from Nairobi Aikikai with their Sensei, Andi Schriber (5th Dan) from Ikeda Dojo Zurich at the Zanzibar Budokan.|
The seminar was another opportunity to show that despite different languages, ages and backgrounds, Aikido is able to connect people from all facets of life. Young and old, African and European, short and tall were all practicing with respect on the mat.
Nairobi Aikikai is grateful to our Zanzibar team for the invitation and hospitality as well as the teachers who travelled to train with us and look forward to the next seminar.
The next two months will be jam-packed full of interesting activities for Nairobi Aikikai including a local seminar in Nairobi 22nd-23rd February that includes a Jo session. this promises to be worthwhile as well as Sensei Toshi's welcome seminar in April.
|Publicity poster for Nairobi Aikikai February seminar|