Ulrike Serak, Rokudan Aikikai Tokyo, Shihan
After my graduation at 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, and 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, attended seminars of high-ranked Aikido masters all over Europe, and we all were very committed. It turned out that many of the future teachers in Germany emerged from his Dojo. It was this special mixture in 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 training, 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 seminars I attended, Yamaguchi Sensei’s made the biggest impression on me. Furthermore, I attended his seminars in Germany and practiced at his Dojo during my first visit to Japan. I definitely wanted to follow up on this trail, and my path leads me to Christian Tissier, the closest student of Yamaguchi Sensei in Europe. I had met him before at several seminars of Yamaguchi Sensei, however, I had not yet met him as a teacher.
When I went to Paris for three months in 1992 to practice at Noro Sensei‘s Dojo, I got to know Tissier Sense as a teacher. It was a revelation to me and any reservations which I previously had vanished. I spent a short but very intense time at his Dojo, he introduced me to his main students and from then on I ‚had to‘ mainly practice with them.
After leaving Paris I felt that I have found my teacher again. Since then I have continuously attended his seminars and I regularly invite him to Berlin and to a one-week summer seminar in Germany. Christian Tissier awarded me the 6th Dan in 2013. 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.
- 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
- 1993 – follows Christian Tissier Shihan as her teacher
- 1993 – first-time visit to Japan, practice at Hombu Dojo as well as in the Dojo of Yamaguchi Shihan in Shibuya, and a two-months stay at the Zen monastery “Hoshinji” under Harada Roshi
- 1992 – foundation of her Dojo in Berlin as a full-time Aikido teacher
- 1985-1992 – teaching Aikido at a women’s self-defense center
- 1984-1992 – assistant teacher in the Dojo of Gerd Walter Sensei
- 1984 – exam for Shodan, by Asai Shihan
- 1983 – meets 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 Aikikai Tokyo
Practicing Judo as a teenager for a few years, I discovered Aikido at the age of 17. For the first 10 years, I studied under Gerd Walter sensei.
At a Yudansha seminar in Norway with Seishiro Endo Shihan in 2000, I met Ulrike Serak Sensei. She already was an experienced student of Christian Tissier Shihan and through her teaching, I was able to understand was Tissier was talking about. Looking for new input to my Aikido studies, I decided to practice in her Dojo in Berlin Kreuzberg. Following her lead opened the door for me to the Aikido of Christian Tissier Sensei as well as Seishiro Endo Sensei.
Through Tissier Sensei, I learned about the ancient sword-fighting style Kashima Shin Ryu, which he had studied under Minoru Inaba sensei in Japan. In 2006 I was able to travel to Japan for two months and to study Kenjutsu directly under Inaba sensei. Since then I deepened my research in Kenjutsu and try to visit Japan every other year to practice at the Shiseikan.
- January 2021 – promoted 6th Dan Aikikai recommended by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- Oktober 2020 – elected for President of the Aikido Federation Germany
- January 2015 – promoted 5th Dan Aikikai recommended by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- March 2011 – one year world trip (USA, South America, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Japan)
- Oct. 2009 – one month intense Aikido/Kenjutsu practice in Tokyo
- July 2008 – examination for 4th Dan Aikikai by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- Sept. 2006 – two month intense Aikido/Kenjutsu practice in Tokyo
- June 2004 – examination for 3rd Dan Aikikai by Ch. Tissier Shihan
- March 2004 – three weeks intense Aikido/Kenjutsu practice in Cercle Tissier, Paris
- Autumn 2002 – grading as Dipl. Ing. E&VT
- Oct. 2000 – starting Aikido with U. Serak, Ch. Tissier, S. Endo
- January 1990 – starting Aikido with G. Walter sensei
Werner Gräf, Godan Aikikai Tokyo
Werner Gräf made his first experiences 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 and 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 Aikikiai on the Kagami-Biraki Ceremony by recommendation of Ulrike Serak Sensei.
Christiane Gräf, Yondan Aikikai Tokyo
Christiane Gräf started with the Aikido in 1997, still in the first dojo of Ulrike Serak at Badensche Straße. She gained her first teaching experience in aikido in the children’s training of the dojo, which she led from 2007 to 2012, and also as a substitute teacher.
Since 2012, she has been building her club, Aikido Lankwitz e.V. Here she teaches aikido for children, adolescents, and adults. At the dojo, she gives a regular morning class on Monday and regularly substitutes for Ulrike Serak Sensei and Max Eriksson Sensei in their absence.
Teachers for the Dojo children program
Helmut Seiler – Nidan Aikikai Hombu Dojo
Helmut is teaching classes for children age 7-12 on Thursday and for adolescents on Friday.
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.