Ulrike Serak Shihan, Rokudan by Aikikai Hombu Dojo, Tokyo
After my graduation from the Deutsche Sporthochschule Cologne in dance and motion theatre, I started practicing Aikido. Up till my 1st Dan (1984) I practiced at Asai Sensei‘s (now 8th Dan) school. He was a delegate of the Aikikai Honbu Dojo (Tokyo, Japan) for Germany. In this way, I was practically in touch with the source of Aikido, his teachings were authentic. I became familiar with Aikido in his Dojo and owe a lot to these beginnings.
Opening my own dojo in Berlin
After moving to Berlin, I became a student of Gerhard Walter Sensei. His Dojo was very famous in Aikikai Germany. People from all over Germany gathered here to practice intensely. Many of us practiced daily and attended seminars of high-ranked Aikido masters all over Europe. e all were very committed. It turned out that many of the future teachers in Germany emerged from his Dojo. It was this special mixture of Gerd‘s training, his many highly motivated and committed students, and the common attendance at international seminars that made this time so intense and special.
After 13 years of intensive Aikido practice, I opened a Dojo of my own in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. This Dojo worked out very well, I was standing on my own feet and looking for new teachers to proceed further. I did not want to make ends meet, settle for what I have achieved so far, and not become an ‘expert‘ yet.
Finding a new teacher
Of all the teachers I had seen over the years, Yamaguchi Sensei made the biggest impression on me. So I continued to attend his seminars in Europe and also got the chance to practice at his Dojo during my first visit to Japan. I definitely wanted to follow up on this trail, and that leads me to Christian Tissier Sensei, the closest student of Yamaguchi Sensei in Europe. Even though I had met him before at several seminars of Yamaguchi Sensei, however, I had not yet met him as a teacher.
In 1992, I went to Paris for three months, to practice under Noro Masamichi Sensei. Due to the circumstances, that Noro Sensei was abroad, I ended up practicing at Tissier Sensei’s Dojo for the first two weeks of my stay. To meet him as a Teacher, was a revelation to me. Any reservations which I previously had, disappeared. I spent a short but very intense time at the “Circle Tissier”. He introduced me to his core students and from then on I “had to” exclusively practice with them.
After leaving Paris, I felt to have found a teacher again. Ever since I attend his seminars as much as possible and regularly invite him to teach in Berlin. Nowadays I often have the feeling at his seminars, that for me a gap is closing, compared to what I used to practice years ago with Yamaguchi Sensei.
- 2022 : appointed Shihan by the Aikikai Foundation
- 2013 : promotion to Rokudan, recommended by Tissier Shihan
- 2007 : promotion to Godan, recommended by Tissier Shihan
- 2000 : exam for Yondan, by Tissier Shihan
- 1999 : the founding of the “Aikido Federation Germany”
- 1993 : follows Christian Tissier Shihan as her teacher
- 1993 : first-time visit to Japan, practice at Hombu Dojo as well as in the private Dojo of Yamaguchi Shihan in Shibuya.
additional a two-month stay at the Zen monastery “Hoshinji” under Harada Roshi
- 1992 : the foundation of her own Dojo in Berlin and became a full-time Aikido teacher
- 1985-1992 : teaching Aikido at a women’s self-defense center in Berlin
- 1984-1992 : assistant teacher in the Dojo of Gerd Walter Sensei
- 1984 : exam for Shodan, by Asai Shihan
- 1983 : meeting of Harada Sekkei Roshi, and starts to practice Soto Zen
- 1981-1992 : daily practice under Gerhard Walter Sensei in Berlin
- 1979 : start of Aikido practice under Asai Katsuaki Shihan in Düsseldorf
Max Eriksson Ohlwein, Rokudan by Aikikai Hombu Dojo, Tokyo
Practicing Judo as a teenager for a few years, I discovered Aikido at the age of 17. Fascinated by the philosophy and humanistic approach, I joined the famous “Mehringdamm-Dojo” in Berlin-Kreuzberg and started my practice under Gerd Walter Sensei. For about 10 years this Dojo was my Aikido home and I didn’t really look elsewhere.
A new beginning in Aikido
In the summer of 2000, at a Yudansha seminar of Seishiro Endo Shihan in Norway, I met Ulrike Serak Sensei. She already was an experienced student of Christian Tissier Shihan and also close to Endo Shihan. Looking for new input to my Aikido studies, I decided to practice in her Dojo in Berlin Kreuzberg. Through her teaching, I was able to understand was Tissier Sensei and Endo Sensei were talking about. Following her lead opened the door for me to the Aikido of Christian Tissier Sensei as well as Seishiro Endo Sensei.
Kashima No Tachi
In the seminars of Tissier Sensei, I learned about the ancient sword-fighting style “Kashima Shin Ryu,” which he had studied under Minoru Inaba Sensei in Japan. This approach to the sword was very fascinating to me and so different from was I was used to practicing before. Since there was no teacher for that particular style in Berlin, I started to visit the Dojo of Philippe Orban Sensei in Leipzig as much as possible, to develop my understanding. In 2006 I was finally able to travel to Japan for two months and to study Kenjutsu directly under Inaba sensei. This experience fundamentally changed my understanding. Ever since I try to visit Japan every other year to practice directly at the Shiseikan in Tokyo.
- January 2021 : promoted Rokudan Dan Aikikai recommended by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- Oktober 2020 : elected President of the Aikido Federation Germany
- January 2015 : promoted Godan Dan Aikikai recommended by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- March 2011 : starting a one-year world trip (USA, South America, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Japan)
- Oct. 2009 : one month of intensive practice at Hombu Dojo and Shiseikan, Tokyo
- July 2008 : exam of Yondan Dan Aikikai by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- Sept. 2006 : two months of intensive practice at Hombu Dojo and Shiseikan, Tokyo
- June 2004 : taking over my own Aikido class at Serak Senseis Dojo.
- June 2004 : exam of Sandan Dan Aikikai by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- March 2004 : three weeks of intensive practice at Cercle Tissier, Paris
- Autumn 2002 : grading as a Dipl. Ing. E&VT
- January 2002 : becoming an assistant teacher at Serak Sensei’s Dojo
- Oct. 2000 : starting to practice under U. Serak Sensei and visit seminars of Ch. Tissier, S. Endo
- January 1990 : starting Aikido under G. Walter sensei
Werner Gräf, Godan by Aikikai Hombu Dojo, Tokyo
Werner Gräf made his first experience in Aikido with Jürgen Ebertowski in 1985. From 1995 on, he has been training with Ulrike Serak Sensei and in 2004 he started to teach the Friday morning class.
In 2006, he initiated a children’s project for Aikido and violence prevention in the Wassertor-Kiez in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Inspired by his experiences in the Kreuzberg project, he founded an Aikido Dojo for children and teenagers in Berlin-Charlottenburg.
Werner Gräf teaches the morning training on Fridays for many years. As the most senior student in the Dojo, he substitutes for Ulrike Serak Sensei as necessary in the advanced classes.
In January 2021 he received the 5th Dan Aikikai at the Kagami-Biraki Ceremony by recommendation of Ulrike Serak Sensei.
Teachers for the Dojo children program
Simon Debus – Nidan Aikikai Hombu Dojo
Almut Wedekind – Shodan Aikikai Hombu Dojo
Almut and Simon are teaching kids at the age of 4 to 6 together on Mondays and Tuesdays.