In der heissesten Zeit des Jahres versammeln sich Aikidokas aus (nicht nur) ganz Deutschland, um sich bei ihrem Bundestrainer und einem Gastlehrer weiterzuentwickeln. Auch aus Reinbek war eine Delegation von neun Leuten dabei und trotzte der Hitze - einer von Ihnen zum ersten mal, und dieser hat seine Erlebnisse in einem kleinen Tagebuch festgehalten.
Day 1, Session 1 - Completed.
Well over 30 degrees in a dojo with a hot tin roof. Led by Miyamoto Sensei (8th Dan). Since I could not understand Miyamoto Sensei, as he only spoke Japanese, I could only try and focus on what I could see. Something which I am not used to, as our trainers normally explain the techniques they are demonstrating.
Ah well... 2,5 hours went by rather fast. 1,5 liters of water went through even quicker
Apparently, 2,5 hours of training needs a total of 2,5 liters to quench the thirst...
Day 2, Session 2.
Almost humane temperatures outside... And inside. At least before we started to warm up. Again Miyamoto Sensei led the exercises. But since we a) gotten used to his style of teaching and b) we partially repeated yesterday's techniques, it was all rather relaxed. Which does not mean, that we didn't move and sweat: Both were done a lot. Moving and sweating. 2,5 hours equals 2 liters of water. Proof that temperatures were lower than yesterday.
Day 2, Session 3.
First session of Asai Sensei, 8th Dan and our German "Bundestrainer". Although familiar for us, he has a completely different style, both where his training and his techniques are concerned. And since he speaks German and explains what and why, you get "full audio and visual". He started with some explanation, about when he started learning Aikido, in the mid 50s in Japan. Learning from pain, as he calls it. Although he was not sure, if that is a better method than the one he uses with us. Impressive! Those who thought, that this session would be a rather relaxed one, with lots of sitting down and listening to Asai Sensei speak, would rather soon know better. Moving, sweating... Repeat... And to top it off: the last 30 minutes were reserved for training with the Bokken, the wooden sword. Hundreds of Shomenuchi, then some more different Shihonage. (It is rather hard to hold up my phone, while writing this. Okay, it is a heavy phone... Honestly!) After finishing this, all bearers of the first Kyu (Brown belts) were summoned to prove their fitness, by being thrown Iriminage... 20 times. Victoria did well, but was empty and soaking wet after that too.
2,5 hours equals 2,5 liters of water... Again. 25% complete... Only 75% to go.
Day 3, Session 4.
Asai Sensei again. Ikkyo all the way All in all a rather laid back session, we even got a few minutes lie down, after which some Ikkyo techniques were practiced, this time with Jo (Stick). Yes, we did practice moving and sweating. We are starting to become good at sweating...
Day 3, Session 5.
Miyamoto Sensei took over, this time with "audio" too, with the aid of a translator, who translated Sensei 's directions in English for us. Since we do have quite a few guests over from Paris, who normally train Kinomichi (a rather different philosophy and way of moving - their way of sweating is the same though), the translator gave her very best to keep us all informed.
Techniques were again quite different and there was a nice mix of working standing and / or kneeling, using tanto (wooden knife) and bokken (wooden sword).
A bit sooner than planned, the session was ended: the heat was scorching and more and more people needed breaks to drink and get the head clear again.
Stopped counting at 3 liters. Estimate over the whole day: 7-8 liters...
Day 4, Sessions 6 and 7.
Hump day! Session 6 was led by Miyamoto Sensei, unfortunately, I had to step out right after warm up, due to my back not cooperating the way it should. For me personally, the time out wasn't completely wasted, as I had the pleasure and honour of speaking with Asai Sensei, who told me a bit about his first weeks of learning Aikido with O Sensei and why Miyamoto Sensei practices a rather different style of Aikido compared to his own.
Of course, on the mat there was moving and sweating everywhere. 50% completed!
During the afternoon break a few of us drove to a swimming pool nearby, where got to cool off a bit, tested the water slide and the fries, all of which were of an excellent quality!
Session 7 was led by Asai Sensei again, who gave us a mix of "Zuckerbrot" (Sweet bread), ie. long explanations of techniques, insights on his take on Aikido from O Sensei and other Senseis ; and "Peitsche" (whip), ie. Iriminage and Shihonage, both of which are always a guarantee for - wait for it... - moving and sweating.
At the end of the session, it was examination time, where 1st Kyu bearers were to prove their skills and earn their 1st Dan, ie. the Black belt.
The examination took almost one hour, in which the were attacked by other Dan bearers. The attackers were rotated rather quickly, so there always was a fresh attacker in front of the examinees... Alas, for them, there was no replacement, they had to stand their ground all the time.
Session 7 ended rather late with 2 new black belts. Congrats!
Small fact: Apparently, our bodies seem to adapt to heat and 5 hours of training per day: Estimated 3 to 4 liters were enough today...
Day 5, Session 8.
Nikkyo. Then some Nikkyo. To be continued with Nikkyo. After that, we did some Nikkyo. Then again some insights from Asai Sensei. Those expecting to be finished were disappointed: The last 20 minutes were used for "Suwari waza", techniques kneeling down. In this case Shomenuchi Ikkyo both Omote and Ura waza. "Bitte bewegen Sie schneller!" (Please move faster!) is not really what you want to hear near the end of the session. We survived. Somehow.
I must admit, we've somehow lost expertise where sweating is concerned: not even a liter water... The gi still is soaking wet though...
Day 5, Session 9.
Miyamoto Sensei again showed some of his techniques, which differ in many ways from the techniques Asai Sensei shows us. What especially intrigues me, is that he stays rather "compact", keeping his arms close to his body, whereas Asai Sensei seems to move rather "big", sometimes with his arms open wide. Another difference I see (I think, but keep in mind, I am still a beginner!) is that Miyamoto Sensei emphasises the adaptation to the current situation: is the partner close to you, or further away? Is he "in your center", or rather sideways; several times - if not all the time - he demonstrated which technique is more suitable. A sentence he used quite often: Feel your partner, find out which technique works best.
Quite an interesting and intensive session with quite a damp atmosphere outside; it might rain tonight!
The session ended with a - as I saw it- rather furious examination for 2nd Dan. Even more excellent, as the - rightly so- now proud wearer of the 2nd Dan in Aikido was not given a real chance to prepare himself, this examination was on short notice from Asai Sensei himself.
Day 6, Session 10.
This was Miyamoto Sensei 's last session, which was once again a treat! Tai Sabaki (Body turn) in different variations. Not easy for a beginner to spot the differences, but there were a few black belts that also had their difficulties there. It' s always good to know, that a black belt also is just a human being, they too can learn a lot here. Despite the tiredness that starts to weigh in, after 5 days and 22,5 hours of training, it was a satisfying session with, yes yes, I said it before, lots of moving and sweating. Miyamoto Sensei said goodbye, he was thanked with a big applause. He also thanked our translator for her (excellent) service, she too received a big applause.
While I am writing this, most of the Reinbek gang are basking in the sun at a nearby swimming pool... Mentally preparing for the next session.
On the photo all participants from Reinbek, after this morning's session.
Day 6, Session 11.
36 degrees outside. Inside something similar. Imagine a Finnish Sauna or a Turkish steambath. And doing a workout inside, wearing a Gi, so a thick cotton jacket and a thinner pair of trousers. Those "lucky" enough to wear a black belt, must add an additional pair of trousers called hakama. Which is very wide, so either it will wrap around your legs, you might kneel on one leg with the wrong knee (so you can't stand up) or your partner will stand or kneel on it (so you can't move. (Sorry, Rüdiger... Yes, it might happen again).
Asai Sensei led this Session... And he didn't really spare us. Ikkyo - Sankyo , also in Suwari Waza. And Sankyo in "big and fast", ie. lots of running backwards and in circles. It ended with a round of Kaitenage ura waza.
Again, an examination was due, this time a very thorough one for third Dan, which the candidate earned himself by using his head, as far as I could see: Using techniques to get his partner out of breath really soon, so further attacks would be a bit slower.
During the session and directly after it: 3 liters. And counting...
Day 7, Session 12 - Finished!
With a bang, so to speak. Temperature outside and inside steadily rising, but Asai Sensei showed no mercy: Thorough warm up, then a longer talk about Shintoism versus Western religions and questions to be asked and (not) answered.
Who thought that the rest of the session would be relaxed, as it was the last one: you should have known better! Shomenuchi Soto-Kaitenage Omote-Waza... At full speed. Then Shomenuchi Uchi-Kaitenage Omote-Waza for all eternity with different partners. (At least it felt like it would never end...)
Then again, 2 Aikidoka were examinated for 4th Dan this time. 69%humidity and 28°C on the mat... But both candidates did very, very well. Congratulations!
After that, Asai Sensei said goodbye to all, asking all to drive carefully and take a break when needed... But only sleep for a few minutes and not for hours, as he once did.
The last entry to this "Sommerlehrgang" is now finished. It was hot, damp and very informative. Pulheim, we'll meet again, next year!