I am honored that Björn asked me to write the Schönhagen article this year. Unfortunately that means it will be written in English.
This year was my fifth trip to Schönhagen, and I have been looking forward to this trip since we parted after Schönhagen 2015. The trip to Schönhagen is the Aikido highlight of the year. Not only because of the beautiful surroundings by the Baltic Sea, or the very inspiring Aikido classes. The good friends and the whole atmosphere surrounding this seminar is unique, and I feel that I am returning to a home away from home. 2016 was no exception. I feel lucky that you guys keep inviting me.
This year Steff and I had the goal to be there in time to help laying out the mats. Unfortunately we failed miserably, as Björn and Robert had already done it when we arrived. We’ll try to do better next time.
Our normal quarters were unavailable this year, so we had to stay in another building. This didn’t ruin the good spirit though, and we managed to adapt to the new habitat quite fast and had a great time there.
After the Friday evening training, where Björn took us through some of the many “Training after the Training” techniques, he had a little surprise for us. Saturday morning training at 07:00. Time would tell that early morning ukemi training was quite refreshing. Even for those of us who normally don’t speak until after the second cup of coffee.
The rest of Saturdays training was also very giving. Even after many years of practice with a water glass. One can still improve the technique. One of the things that stood out as something special, was a trust exercise by Peter Nieblich. I think this had more than one of us feeling a little uneasy. The four language lesson by Steff also had most people paying a little more attention than they normally would.
Except for the “hunter and gather” team, I think that most people enjoyed the fantastic weather at the beach during the afternoon break. Some even went swimming. I’m pretty sure that the ice cream kiosk doubled the turnover this weekend.
The Saturday night BBQ was as always something special. This year we even had dry firewood, and we didn’t have to think about the weather all day. It is the unique possibility to get together with Aikidokas with different backgrounds and skill level, to enthuse about techniques, philosophy, or simply have a beer with good friends. The singing and guitar play around the camp fire, is also a great tradition that is highly treasured. Oh, and did I mention the food. Grilled to perfection by Master Chef Sebastian, assisted by a number of grill minions.
After the Sunday breakfast, we had another great training session by Björn where Carsten, despite his size, managed to throw two grown men. The fact that everybody can participate in this seminar, no matter the size, is one of the things that makes it a great event.
After the training everybody helped pack up the mats and clean up after the weekend so we could have lunch together at 12:00.
I have returned with two funny learnings (among others): 1) The mess you have in your head while folding your hakama will be sent directly to the hakama, and the result will be equally messy. 2) If you try too hard to succeed, you won’t.
Thank you all for a great weekend. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.
Erik Cornelius (Vejle/DK)