The Founder of Aikido O Sensei said Aikido was a force that could (and should) harmonize the world. Yet, I know it’s not just me but doesn’t the world political situation seem to get crazier with each day? I’m almost afraid to open my morning newspaper or check in with an evening news program. How much bad news can a person take in any given day?
What’s the expression my grandmother used to say, “Everything’s going to hell in a hand basket?”
Well, there is one force for the good in the world and it is about to happen again. This is TAB, or Training Across Borders. The first TAB training occurred on Cypress in 2005. It brought together 100 Aikido students and teachers from most of the countries of the Middle East. For many of those attending that initial TAB training, it was the first time those attending were meeting their neighbors in a non-confrontational and non-conflict environment.
TAB, the brainchild of the late Sensei Don Levine who had the idea of bringing those practicing Aikido from countries in conflict together on the mat, was both radical and ground breaking. This first training in Cypress included both men and women from many schools and traditions. It caused a process of deep rethinking of entrenched conceptions about who the “enemy” really was that were in many cases generational.
The group discussions off the mat provided an opportunity for raw words to be spoken based on these centuries of old animosities and prejudices. From reports of those there, no words were minced. Yet, rather than a maelstrom, something else occurred: Bridges were established and built where none existed before. Communication often halted and unsure initially became stronger and more personal as the minutes and hours passed.
The Aikido community in the Great Bay Area, including Robert Frager Sensei and others, has always provided a strong base of support for Aiki Extensions and the various projects this organization sponsors. Aiki Extensions is again the sponsoring organization for TAB. And now, another TAB event will occur in Greece October 7th to the 11th.
This TAB website states: “The seminar will bring together aikidoka from conflict regions around the world to practice aikido and to replace barriers built by years of fear, hatred, and disappointment with foundations for peace, trust, and friendship.”
Sensei Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Sensei Jamie Leno Zimron and others will head the group attending from the Greater Bay Area. The bottom line to all this is: Aikido provides a rich opportunity for those participating to not only experience a transformative cross-cultural encounter with aikidoka on the mat, but opportunities to develop friendships that will continue long after the training ends.
Please, if nothing else, support this wonderful cause with your donation. The link for a donation is on the web page and again here. Your support will make a difference as a gift or a scholarship to give peace a chance.
Thank you Bay Area Aikido community for your on-going support of TAB and Aiki Extensions, and thank you for those of you are reading this in the Aikido community around the world. Your support is welcome too.