For more than 20 years the Gothenburg Aikido Club has arranged international seminars with participants from all over the world. This has put the Gothenburg Aikido Club on the map among aikido practitioners.
Many people have also met the dojo leader, Shihan Ulf Evenås 7 dan, at his seminars around the world. Ulf Sensei is an internationally well known teacher and one of the most well-qualified in the world. He has taught at 500 seminars in 20 countries – on five continents. In addition to Ulf Sensei, several other teachers from the Gothenburg Aikido Club hold seminars in Sweden and in other countries.
Over two weeks during the summer, participants from Australia, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Lithuania, Malaysia, Russia, Sweden and the Ukraine have attended the Sotodeshi weeks with Ulf Sensei. Many of them have been here before but some are here for the first time. Here are some of their thoughts.
Domas Jablonskis 3 dan, is from Ulf Evenas Aikido Center in Vilnius, Lithuania. He has been practicing aikido for 16 years.
Domas met Ulf Sensei for the first time in 1995 at a seminar in Kaunas, Lithuania. In 1999 Ulf invited some students from Lithuania and Russia to come to Gothenburg. Since then Domas has been in Gothenburg 20 weeks altogether as uchideshi and sotodeshi. He has also been to several seminars with Ulf Sensei in Lithuania, Estonia and Russia.
“I know exactly why I came to aikido and that was the techniques. Especially after I visited my first seminar with Ulf Sensei. Eventually it changed. It´s still very important but now also communication with others and self realization. It´s also about physical sharpness and alertness. You become more sensible. But I don´t really know [what aikido means to me] – it´s just the same as you can´t say why you are in love. You just are. I enjoy it.”
“I believe there are two kinds of people – masters and teachers. Ulf Sensei embodies both of those features. He is a master and can teach you how to do it. He is a kind of role model for many people.”
Peter Kang 2 dan, from YMCA Aikido Club Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he has been practising aikido for ten years. He also practised aikido for seven years when he was a student in California, USA.
Peter has never been to Gothenburg before but has attended seminars with Ulf Sensei in Kuala Lumpur five times, between 2002 and 2008. He also participated when Ulf Sensei had a seminar in Italy, together with Paolo Corallini Sensei and Ethan Weisgard Sensei in 2005.
“What aikido means to me? May I answer that with a song? A Malayan singer called P Ramlee, wrote a song called Rhythms of life. The song says:
“The notes and the rhythm goes together. They cannot be separated.”
Life shouldn´t be separated. Just like hanmi and center in aikido, yin and yang, food and water, male and female et cetera. In one word – balance.”
“For me Ulf Sensei is generous, dedicated and detailed about teaching his aikido. He teaches in a way that reminds me of stories of Saito sensei. I hope this will not be my last visit to Gothenburg.”
Cristian Vallderruten 5 kyu, is from Nippon Budokan in Cali, Colombia. He has been practicing aikido for three years.
“I participated in a seminar with Ulf Sensei in Cali, Colombia, last year.”
“Aikido is passion. Something I really like. It is a way to connect to other people, and also a way to connect to myself and resolve personal issues. A way to understand myself.”
”For me and for my dojo this visit is very important. We are a very young dojo and understand that in order to grow in our aikido we need to learn from others. We need to search for knowledge.”
“Ulf Sensei represents a very stable organization – Takemusu Aikido – and is closely related to Hombu dojo. There is no-one who represents Hombu dojo in Colombia. So for us it´s a really good opportunity to come here.”
Elena has been in Gothenburg once before as uchideshi. She has also attended seminars with Ulf Sensei in Russia, six or seven times.
“Aikido is a part of life. Not a great part but I can´t refuse it – at all. I can do some breaks and pauses in my practise – but I can´t refuse it. It´s very important.”
“Ulf Sensei teaches my teachers. At my level my other teachers are closer to me. But he is teaching us all. It´s so amazing to be here as sotodeshi.”
Fredrik Snell Sensei 4 dan, is from Karlstad, Sweden. He has been practising aikido for 18 years. He is dojo leader for Karlstad Aikido Club Takemusu Aikido.
Fredrik Sensei has been in Gothenburg many times before practising with Ulf Sensei. At regular classes, as uchideshi and sotodeshi and at seminars. He has also attended seminars with Ulf Sensei in Denmark, Germany, Russia and England.
What does aikido mean to you?
A lot. Aikido to me is a do [lifepath].
What does Ulf mean to you as a teacher?
A lot. I have followed sensei for many years. He is my guide along the path.
Michael Farrugia Sensei 4 dan, is from Melbourne in Australia. He has been practicing aikido for 17 years. He is dojo leader for Kihon Aikido in Adelaide and Mt Martha in Australia.
Michael Sensei has never been to Gothenburg before. He has attended seminars with Ulf Sensei in Melbourne four times, between 1999 and 2003 as well as in Sydney during 2000 at Saito Sensei’s seminar when Ulf Sensei was asked by Saito Sensei to teach the classes he was unable to take himself.
“In 2001 I took ukemi for Ulf at his demonstration in Melbourne. That is a good memory. I was just so proud to take the ukemi from sensei.”
“Aikido is a physical activity with a means to polish the spirit. You can´t compete with people when you train to train successfully. So in the rest of your life you find better ways than competing with people.”
“Ulf Sensei is a technician. He understands what works and what does not work. But he is also really friendly and really generous. Strong on the outside and kind on the inside.”
“I see I have so much to learn and I would like to convince my students to come along with me here.”
Miles Dunmore 1 dan, is from Aikido Alive in London, Great Britain, where he has been a member for less than a year. Before that he has been practicing aikido for 32 years in different small dojos. He achieved his 1 dan during the seminar.
“This is the first time I practice aikido for Ulf Sensei”
“Aikido is fundamentally meeting people. The mat is a microcosmos where you can learn how to live. Its about relations between people. Normally there are a lots of conflicts. On the mat we learn how to deal with conflicts. In that sense its a model for how one can live.”
“Ulf Sensei is a very human and intelligent teacher. He is grounded in the practice of budo. I think that an immediate testimony is not just his international work but his strengths shows from his dojo in Gothenburg. For here we can se the result of many years teaching in one city.”
“Aikido is a very important part of our life. It usually shows me my limits. I think it means development – all the time. It also means meeting aikido friends from all over the world.”
“Ulf Sensei is a very good teacher. In aikido and in social aspects he is a role model. For us he is the most important person beside Edmund Kern Sensei [Germany].”
“Aikido is another life. In society there are a lots of problems. Aikido is peace. It helps to solve these problems. Aikido is also very interesting for me. Its movements and spirit inside this martial art.”
“I participated in several of Saito Senseis seminars in Denmark. When Saito Sensei died there was only one person who could teach the same aikido as Saito Sensei – Ulf Sensei.”
Joan Larsen 4 kyu, is from Aikido Dojo Thisted, Denmark. She has been practicing aikido for four years.
“It´s the second time I am here in Gothenburg. I have also been training for Ulf Sensei in Aalborg at five seminars.”
“Aikido is a beautiful art you can keep on with when you get old. It means a lot. There are always new things to learn.”
“Ulf Sensei has a peaceful zen within himself. You know he has a powerful force but he does the techniques slowly and carefully.”
Valeriy Kotvitckiy 2 dan, is from Association Aikido Chernigiv Takemusu Aiki, Ukraine. At first he practised aikido betwen 1992 and 1994. After a break he started again in 2000.
Valeriy has never been to Gothenburg before but has attended a seminar with Ulf Sensei in Moskow 2005.
“First of all aikido is an art. Even though it is an art form, it is a martial art. The reason I practise aikido is to discover my body´s abilities. I am learning to establish a connection with a partner. Every partner on the mat represents his own microcosmos and this is how I interact with different aspects of the world.”
“Every person meets a few significant people who changes his course of life. At the present I think Ulf Sensei is one who changes my course of life.”
Walter Isenheim 6 kyu, is from Gothenburg Aikido Club, Sweden. He has been practising aikido for six months. This is his first aikido seminar.
“I used to train judo, but there was too much competition. So I stopped. But I still wanted to train some budo. A friend of mine told me to try aikido because it also contains soft movements.”
“I like the good relation between aikido people. They are always nice and friendly to each other.”
“There has been many new things to learn here at the seminar, but people with higher grades have helped me a lot.”