2018 Aikido seminars

20 01 2019

The past year has not been a very good one with respect to Aikido practice, traveling and my health. Bad luck or major call from above, or just the end result of a not so health oriented life, it does not really matter how you call it, but the end result led to a period off work for sickness (never happened before in my life!) and a quite major health discovery that has already required major changes in my lifestyle. Then when I thought things were starting getting better, a problem with my left knee reappeared, most probably because of bursitis, and then again I was obliged to skip practice (also because a demanding new job) for too long.

I am not yet sure how 2019 Aikido year will be: Friday I had to discard my plans to travel to Germany for first year chance to practice with Jorma Lyly sensei because exhausted by the previous 4 days in the road (2 in Germany followed by 2 in Italy with 2 nights of 3 hours sleep). Friday I slept about 15 hours, and the thought to get on a train to and from Germany was too much.. a pity..

But now a look at last year, that started very promising but then, it just wasn’t..

6 – 7 January: Trondheim, practice with friends at TAK (1)
13 – 14 January: Trondheim, practice with friends at TAK
19 – 21 January: Dusseldorf, weekend seminar with Lyly sensei
26 – 28 January: Sofia, weekend seminar with Kuribayashi sensei
2 – 4 February: Tikkurila, weekend seminar with Endo sensei
9 – 11 February: Stockholm, weekend seminar with Endo sensei
16 – 18 February: Dublin, weekend seminar with Irie sensei
17 – 18 March: Ho Chi Minh City, weekend seminar with Irie sensei
6 – 8 April: Prague, weekend seminar with Nevelius sensei
13 – 15 April: Bratislava, weekend seminar with Noel sensei
11 – 13 May: Trondheim, weekend seminar with Lyly sensei
24 – 27 May: Stavanger, 10 year anniversary of Jushinkand dojo, with Nevelius sensei and Martucci sensei
1 – 3 June: Sochi, weekend seminar with Kuribayashi sensei
8 – 10 June: Krasnoyarsk, weekend seminar with Irie sensei (2)
16 – 17 June: Amsterdam, weekend seminar with Tissier sensei
17 – 18 August: Duisburg, weekend bokken seminar with Lyly sensei (4)
7 – 9 September: Oslo, weekend seminar with Kuribayashi sensei
19 – 21 October: Prague, weekend seminar with Noel sensei (5)

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BPPV: not a Minion language happy birthday!

7 07 2018

Yesterday it was my birthday, 46 years spent around this funny world and I was supposed to be in Italy for celebrating the wedding of a special friend Valentina and her partner, Ivano..

But I had not taken into consideration my typical bad luck: Monday I experienced some weird vertigo and dizziness that got worse on Tuesday (a day home from work, first time since China and before that maybe happened at university) nd on Wednesday when I managed to get to hospital, I got diagnosed by a full set of neurologist to suffer from BPPV, Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a disorder arising from a problem in the inner ear.

Yeah, something new in my life… that I could really happily avoid!

This disease is most common in women and at an age of 49 or older, it can be related to head blows, but 50% of the time is idiopathic. Guess in which category I fall?

The result is that basically every time I move the head my brain lose balance information and I feel like falling: I walk (and feel in my head) like a drunk man, without having been drinking though.. cheap hangover way, right?

The interesting part of this disease is that there is no medical treatment but there are maneuvers to be performed in order to solve the problem:

…where only the first one should be repeated for about 2 weeks in order to solve the problem. OK, guess again what I have been recommended to do? Of course the first one, because apparently the other 2 are too technical (!) for doing it at home alone. But,, still apparently, the other 2 should lead to a faster solution of the problem..

Anyway, baby steps. I feel better than Wednesday, better then Thursday when I had my first walk outside to test a little myself and then I felt like sh*t the rest of the day, and I had to decide to not travel to Italy to Vale & Ivano’s wedding.. and then I felt worse than sh*t.. still feeling (the wedding was a few hours go, the celebration now.. my heart and head are really heavy..).

Friday I decided to celebrate anyway my birthday with a sushi lunch (and a cake) and especially buying myself a new lens for my camera, a prime lens f/1.4 50 mm (and actually a used camera as well, but this will come later and have all her space).. and then I got a surprise by a very nice friend who did give me lots of Minions and a fantastic Aikido t-shirt:

And not only this, but I have been promised too a monkey present (before minions I was a monkey aficionados… Don’t ask!):

I cannot complain too much about my birthday day itself. The walk also was less destructive than the day before.

Baby steps, not only when physically walking but also mentally in my expectations of recovery.

Of course it’s not possible to practice Aikido and that is another aspect I have to control, mentally.

The thing that scares me the most about BPPV is that there is not assurance when (and if) it will disappear and if it will come back, and when. Actually it’s very probable it will come back..

Not so different again from my previous arthritis problem, but one was enough: I’m greedy, but not about diseases!!

Getting older for once should force me to be wiser and respect the baby steps approach.

Funny enough this vertigo feeling is keeping me away from alcohol: I really wish I could not feel this drunk!!

Ever, I mean it!!!

2017 Aikido seminars

3 01 2018

Wrap up of an year of travelling/training for Aikido, that it was certainly not bad. Unfortunately a change in my work, a change I wanted and I appreciate, has influenced my training schedule, reducing the amount of seminars I could attend, but even more the weekly practice sessions..

Still I definitively do not complain!

20 – 22 January: Dusseldorf, weekend seminar with Lyly sensei
27 – 29 January: Brussels, weekend seminar with Kuribayashi sensei
3 – 5 February: Strømmen, weekend seminar with Bachraty sensei
10 – 12 February: Stockholm, weekend seminar with Endo sensei
17 – 19 February: Rome, weekend seminar with Endo sensei
4 – 5 March: Shanghai & Hangzhou, weekend seminar with Sasaki sensei
11 – 12 March: Ho Chi Minh, weekend seminar with Irie sensei
17 – 19 March: Bratislava, weekend seminar with Noel sensei
25 – 26 March: Wasquehal, weekend seminar with Yasuno sensei
8 – 9 April: Prague, weekend seminar with Nevelius sensei
21 – 23 April: Dublin, weekend seminar with Irie sensei
28 – 30 April: Oslo, weekend seminar with Okamoto sensei
5 – 7 May: Langenthal, weekend seminar with Irie sensei and several other teachers for the 40 years in Aikido of Heuscher sensei
12 – 14 May: Trondheim, weekend seminar with Lyly sensei
6 – 9 July: Zilina, seminar with Endo sensei
24 – 27 August: Jakarta, weekend seminar with Irie sensei
15 – 17 September: Oslo, weekend seminar with Kuribayashi sensei
22 – 24 September: Trondheim, weekend seminar with Martucci sensei
13 – 15 October: Bratislava, weekend seminar with Ariga sensei
3 – 5 November: Brussels, weekend seminar with Kuribayashi sensei
24 – 26 November: Moscow, weekend seminar with Irie sensei
1 – 3 December: Vienna, weekend seminar with Endo sensei
8 – 10 December: Cologne, weekend seminar with Lyly sensei

and 2 shorter participations:

6 – 8 October: Prague, 2 sessions of the weekend seminar with Noel sensei
22 October: Amsterdam, 1 session of the weekend seminar with Dijkman sensei

And as usual, the start of my Aikido year in Trondheim:

14 – 15 January: Trondheim, weekend practicing with my local friends at Trondheim Aikido.

I practiced less days than in 2016, both because of traveling (next year I’ll carry along my keikogi more often) but also because of a knee problem during the summer (half June and full July basically no practice).


  • Endo sensei, Rome: asked me to grab him for ushiro ryotedori exercise and after that and a couple of movements he turns to me and says: “Oh you are not so stiff”.. 🙂 made my day!
  • Nevelius sensei, Prague: asked me for uke then said to be stiff and after a second thought, he added “Oh, it should be easy you are naturally stiff”… 😦 made not my day!

Kein Risiko, kein Spass

30 10 2017

Kein Risiko, kein Spass

Kein Risiko, kein Spass

By chance I saw the tagging long time ago in Germany and that triggered memories and thoughts.. not all happy ones..

I know I have myself followed this motto more than once, both in relationships and in other parts of my life. But, is it really fun or necessary to take risks in  working life, “love” life, sex life and what about the most important part of my life: Aikido life?

I am actually a relatively boring person. I do not like taking unnecessary risks. When I travel I like to plan the trip in advance: find the hotel or accommodation, usually the dojo for Aikido practice, the road between the 2 and mark on my local maps place of interests (and of course dojo and where I sleep). A boring person, right? I have been told. Maybe it is because I am an engineer..

I started writing this post the weekend before I miss the trip to Norway because of several problems with a Norwegian flight, including the forced disembark of a person, escorted by 4 well armed officials. I travel so often that it is actually surprising I assisted only so recently to something like that. Has it affected me? Not really, except the annoyance in the delays and then the cancellation of my trip (at least Norwegian refunded me of the full fare). But every time I book a fly ticket or every time I board an airplane I have no special feelings that I am doing something risky. Same when I bike to work during a rainy and windy day, on slippery Dutch streets, with several other bikes, tourists lost in their thoughts and stoned car drivers… 😉


let it go..

So many risks in the day to day life that if one starts thinking about that maybe one would get too afraid and overwhelmed for even going out in the morning. Is that reasonable adding personal risks, risks of physical or psychological injures, social risks practicing a martial art?

Is fun taking risks during practice?

My aiki-brother wrote about the feeling of being safe during Aikido practice.What he points out comes from many years of practice and especially lots of “study, research” on the mats with Jorma Lyly sensei:

Let’s close in on danger in a nice and comfortable way..

Jorma Lyly, 6.dan Aikikai

taking ukemi for Jorma Lyly sensei

taking ukemi for Jorma Lyly sensei – picture by Sigurd Rage (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sigurdr)

In many ways I agree with aikifreak, of course (considering as well Jorma one of my biggest inspiration and motivation). Very often when practicing with a beginner partner, I suggest to try to keep a longer contact, grab, in particular when a technique ends with a throw or projection. I call that one’s own safety belt, the same kind of feeling I like when taking a break-fall with partners I am still not completely in tune with. Equally I prefer to perform slow techniques and working on the basics most of the time instead of hurry up to the conclusion (throw or pin) with the risk to surprise and provoke unnecessary pain to my partner.

In the old times, Aikido and martial art in general were considered effective only if the execution was painful for the attacker, even better if the pin or torsion was causing some breakage. Times were different: maybe many remember or have read at least once a long interview with Chiba sensei, where he talks about challenges. At the beginning of Aikido history, in older Japan but not only, everything new had to be tested according to the time standards.

I am actually convinced that “testing” Aikido respect to effectiveness is not a bad thing, but there is a place and time for doing that (unless you are with the shoulder against a wall facing people interested in taking away your freedom or life or attacking your loved ones: then there is no discussion about place and time, and if no room for discussion, there must be confidence for action). I love testing and working on techniques during seminars as well, but most of the times depends on the partners and the environment.

In some places it is the natural way on the mats: one example I was talking about recently is the seminar with Ariga sensei the past 2 years in Bratislava. Sensei is presenting an extremely interesting work that requires a good deal of thinking especially about the foot movement, and I love to work with someone on the mats that is also interested in exploring, not only in the outcome of the throw. Bratislava, as many friends I often meet also in Prague and Norway/Sweden in particular, is the kind of place I feel at home in this research. The final result of the throw becomes almost irrelevant, or better, don’t misunderstand me, it becomes like the natural result of the research, even if in my own thoughts it does not have the main importance in the process. So the fact that a technique is working or not is not only shown by the throw itself, but by all the steps that lead to the throw, making the throw just the natural end step. Details after detail building up the whole..

The colors of autumn

Autumn Details

This research is the main purpose and motivation of my traveling, my going to meet several teachers I appreciate or make me curious. Many friends know I was not fully convinced about Ariga sensei fearing another attempted imitation of Endo sensei, probably the best one giving the background, but still.. and I was proven wrong. And I loved his seminar! Next year he will not visit Bratislava anymore: different people that I do not know as well as over there and I think it will be a different seminar. I will join it, hoping to meet someone on the mats also curious about how to naturally get to the throw not putting the throw as the only relevant aspect of the technique.

Removing the throw from the “main titles” of the technique is part of my thinking that also without risk there is a lot of fun. Another motto one hears often in training environments is: no pain no gain. Really? I could paraphrase it here, for several Aikido people, as no throw no gain, but again my research now goes in the opposite direction, both about pain and throw seen in the most demanding way.

Having said this, I love of course throws, and being thrown around!

But I feel sometimes that people does not feel safe when practicing with me. It might be because of my size or because I do like to change the tempo in the techniques sometimes (when I know/feel my partner can enjoy and keep up), slow and dynamic or maybe they think that since I love to be thrown and I take tobi ukemi (jumping ukemi) I am going to throw my partners in the same way and they think it is rough or dangerous. Or maybe they just do not like my face (not properly angelic). A few days ago, after giving a suggestion to a fellow aikidoka, from my same club, he reacted saying that I should not get angry.. and this hit me deeply..

Maybe the reason was that I was not smiling as I usually do, because these days I am being extremely tired. It is probably one of my biggest personal disappointment. My goal is making all my partners feeling safe and comfortable (yeah, still talking about Aikido here!).

Maybe it’s also that I tend to show disappointment on my face: the thing that is difficult to explain is that the disappointment is about myself, for not being able to properly guide my partner, to be able to transmit the feelings I have, or also for maybe expecting too much by my abilities, thinking I am actually able to make my partner feeling something else than fear, or pain, or discomfort.

I have to work on taking every step slower. Let the technique enter completely in my own self, from the eyes, flow properly to every cell, so that it is assimilated and not only superficially touched: when I manage to feel that flow without thinking at that I know the kata has become art. But the only way to get there, at least for me, is through repetition and through researching.

Interiorize the kata makes it effective and allows me to be able to focus on my not “ideally every day partner” comfort: for “ideally every day partner” I mean some of the people I know I could almost practice with closed eyes and we would both have a great time.. not many here in Amsterdam. My growth can only be shown by people enjoying practicing with me, searching me on the mats and not ending up at a new rotation with me and thinking “damn, next time I have to be faster to find someone else!”… as it happens too often..

My path is still so long.. I just have to find more partners to walk along it..

My precious tail....

Safe and comfortable

Happy Moon cake day..

4 10 2017

Cloudy and rainy, I will not see the moon, but I still got a couple of old delicious moon cakes, 月饼, that must be enough for my own celebration of the day!

Today it is the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节, zhōngqiū jié), or so called Moon Cake festival 🙂

A few years ago I got this nice video from a Chinese Aikido friend:

…and I add the memories from my second year in China, when I could really enjoy the moon (in 2010 it had been quite cloudy and rainy!):

Happy mid-autumn festival

From the top: moon cake 月饼, the moon on Hefei, 中 (中秋=mid-autumn)

Zhōngqiū jié kuàilè! !

4 Uber + 2 Grab equals…

22 08 2017

…a very interesting first night in Jakarta, to say it in the most positive possible way… Typical of course of my usual positivity!

That was Sunday night…

After a great seafood dinner in a bit of remote place in Jakarta north I had to get a bike to go back to my hotel, in Jakarta west. 

Amazing seafood

Like in Vietnam I like the motorbike taxis more than the cars, because of the crazy traffic and jams in this overpopulated city! In fact the only Indonesian word I know is “macet”, meaning traffic jam.

On the roads of Saigon

So I sent my request for Uber bike referring to the location given by the Internet signal…


The first 2 Uber after apparently riding around my position with the time for arrival changing from 2 minutes to 15 than 3 and randomly increasing again cancelled.

I take this as a partly personal mistake since then I realized my position was about 50 meters wrong. So I corrected it and try again..

One of the first 2 Uber driver accepted again but then after 20 minutes he canceled again.. And the same happened with the 4th attempt..

Then I gave up on Uber…


….and tried my favorite application for my Vietnamese time… but here more expensive than Uber, still… it was time to change!

I must admit that the drivers seemed to get to my location easier than Uber ones, maybe even too easily: the first driver was a little too eager to pick me up, and start drinking.. Maybe he had a hot girlfriend waiting for me at home, or a hot meal or both..

But after not even a minute when I ask him if he was sure of the direction (I know nothing but I can read maps and I know the cardinal points) he showed me his application with the destination and clearly it was not my hotel…
He had picked up the wrong person!!! Bad luck the first 3 digits of the license plate were the same as for my real ride…
…that luckily arrived a few seconds after the wrong one brought me back…
You might think the adventure was over, right? That was my thought.. and of course I was wrong..
I realized that even if all drivers have a special holder for the mobile phone to put on the front of the motorbike, they are not so good at following the GPS! He stopped 4 times to ask indications to other riders until we got to an area I thought to recognize, I took out my phone with my own Google maps and told him where to go…
After about 1.5 hour (instead of 20 minutes max that I took on the way to the restaurant) I was back to the hotel..
FUNNY THING OF THE DAY – Today I noticed my Uber rating is going fast downhill! That is not good: I’ve been rating almost all drivers with a 5, even when they got lost or I had to support with my own maps… And I wonder why hey have been rating me low.. Occasionally I hit my helmet on theirs with the sudden breaks and accelerations (I always think, hypothetically, a Kaya driver turning and punching me in the face) and most of the time I need help to latch/unlatch the helmet straps.. But these are not so negative points I think.. Once I even gave one driver the laugh of the day putting on the helmet from the wrong side (no, I had not the back of the helmet in front of my face, but the latch was not under my chin but over my forehead… I have no idea how I managed..). Today I tip the driver (almost the same amount of the ride,still cheap for us.. but… not common I think) and he gave me a 5 (my rate was higher than before)… I must carry some change for my rating!!!

My Uber rating Sunday

My Uber rating today before tipping the driver (after it was 4.42)

Trust hurts…

15 08 2017

Finally, after ages before too late, tonight I am going to the concert of Megadeth!!

Lost in a dream
Nothing is what it seems
Searching my head
For the words that you said
Tears filled my eyes
As we said our last goodbyes
This sad scene replays
Of you walking away
My body aches from mistakes
Betrayed by lust
We lied to each other so much
That in nothing we trust
Time and again
She repeats let’s be friends
I smile and say yes
Another truth bends,
I must confess
I try to let go, but I know
We’ll never end ’til we’re dust
We lied to each other again
But I wish I could trust
My body aches of mistakes
Betrayed by lust
We lied to each other so much
That in nothing we trust
God help me please, on my knees
Betrayed by lust
We lied to each other so much
That in nothing we trust
How could this be happening to me
I’m lying when I say, “Trust me”
I can’t believe this is true
Trust hurts
Why does trust equal suffering
Absolutely nothing we trust

…I do trust thought it’s gonna be a great concert!