Shumeikan dojo, Vienna's best kept secret for aikidophiles.
It was 2004 when Charlie and I first visited Shumeikan, it was quite an amazing discovery as it a truly authentic traditional Japanese dojo, housed in what was the wine cellar for a nice hotel, I would have loved to stay there but the research budget couldn't quite stretch that far ;).
Anyway back to our first visit, Claude Pellerin Sensei was the guest instructor. He opened class and immediately apologised for teaching in a foreign language. Great we thought he's going to arrange some translation. A little while later the penny dropped - he was apologising to the Austrian students because he was going to teach in French rather than German. Fortunately we had a helpful senior student translate from German to English for us. So third hand we were able to receive instruction. Sensei's class focused on the relationship of sword to Aikido, himself I think an Iaido practicioner, we imitated movements with bokken from undrawn swords to help us move from our centres and then we practiced this open hand.
So dialing forward to 2010, I awoke early thanks to the miracles of Jetlag and had a leisurley 5 hours to practice train station tanninzugake to get to the dojo in time for 7am class. Fortunately for me it was summer vacation so there were just a few senior students practicing and lots of opportunity to ask the dumb questions I am known to ask. Class was led by Wolfgang Sensei who was working through recent seminar material from a visiting sensei from Hokkaido (who's name is on the tip of my tougue but can't remember). It was a wonderful experience to be in the dojo in the early morning with diffuse sunlight of what was to be 35deg day streaming in from the sidewalk level windows high above. After class we enjoyed some nice conversation over hakama folding on the secrets of balancing budo and babies, as he had 2 children about the same age as mine. Horst another senior student has 3 young children and some sage advice to pass on.
I returned again for evening class the following evening with classes led by Aran sensei to share the mat with about 20 other students as the heat of a balmy day quietly... intensified.
Whilst I had planed to return again for another mornings class, the dojo was to be closed owing to the passing of Tamura Sensei, a well known uchideshi of O'Sensei who developed aikido in France and was the headmaster of Shumeikans affiliation.
Looking forward to around 2016 when I may have the opportunity to return again and enjoy some wonderful training at Shumeikan