Evolutianory Aikido in Uster, near Zurich, with Peter and Julia

Evolutianory Aikido  in Uster, near Zurich, with Peter and Julia dans English version 536857_293133487463906_1321979625_n3

One year ago, I had to come  to Uster, near Zurich, and I had then the opportunity to get in touch with the Dojo of Peter and Julia, for a complete week, with even some trainings at 06:30  am! . Upon that year, my stay is  quite shorter, but I could not make less than  seeing my Swiss friends, the one that  had left me an absolutely delicious souvenir. Lucky me, the Hotel booked by my company is  only 15 minutes by feet to the dojo. Then the opportunity  become too beautiful, even if it s just for  one only evening.
By arriving at the dojo, I see through the  windows Judith who ends the children  course . In circle as they use to do, the training ends by a small debriefing where each expresses their feelings. I remove my shoes and I rise to the floor to change. The dojo is absolutely magnificent. A serene, cosy atmosphere, a slightly sieved light, some beautiful colors, make that we feel really very well here. So that,  it reminds me, Peter’s invitation, to spend one week or two as uchi dechi in the dojo , option which I always keep in a corner of my head.

img_20192-300x216 dans English versionThis evening, it is not so common for me, the women are majority. In seiza, Peter in front of us, arrange beside a small metallic dish to invite us for some minutes of meditations. He slowly rings the small bell three times. A little of relaxation is always nice. A kind of new wave backyard music rocks me friendly. Then Peter invites us in for the Rei according to the classic Shinto rite of schools Iwama. The warm-ups are slowly made, in an approach close to what I saw at Farouk Benouali or Issei Tamaki s dojos. Peter always remains very graceful and precise in his movements, not always simple to follow for me. Finally, some series of falls to finish, but silent ones please.
10040510aikidoun1-197x300Peter’s evening course start with Morote Dori,  around some techniques (ikkyo, irimi nage, shiho and kokyu nage), but the main topic is obviously somewhere else, even if Peter corrects the small (or not so) technical details. The study is focused about  connection and the non- opposition. One of the exercises which pleased me so much, consist for Uke, to maintain a constant presence, to give all time. Tori , closed eyes,  moves slowly by receiving what gives Uke, and without ever opposing, has to manage to bring uke to the fall, without specific techniques. The same exercise will also be made with two ukes, one for each arm, and that   is not so easy. What I realize very fast, it is that I have difficulty working eyed open, so focus by observing around. On the other hand,  closed eyes, I start to release myself. And  I am now obliged  to feel to get a good work, and then my work is no more the same!

 At the end of the course, Peter moves on Mentastic/Yoga. Meanwhile, Julia is then kind enough to grant me a small interview.

Peter, before leaving, as upon my arrival, hug me friendly, and we promise to  meet again soon. Such wonderful and adorable people. You should not lock  into some certainties and to run away from this practice in the pretext which the music has anything has to make here, or which the work is not academic. Their aikido is really a budo , efficient, but their search is more access on mind and heart opening than on a too much aggressive relative efficiency. In any case, for me, this work seems to me to goin in the direction  of my own research … Auf Wiedersehen Peter und julia!

Julia Geissberger is 3rd dan. She began the aikido in 1993, and as Peter, follows the teaching of Patrick Cassidy, 6 dan, With Peter Fankhauser, she established the dojo Aikido Unlimited in 2009, or they teach not only the aikido, but also the meditation, the oriental dance, the yoga, conscious movement, and some other mental and physical practices.

Peter Fankhauser is 3rd dan and began the aikido in 1992, and followed the education teaching of Robert Nadeau, Christian Tissier, Patrick Cassidy, Lewis Bernaldo de Quiros, Miles Kessler, Jan Nevelius and Jean-Michel Merit .


514182951_069071b35e_o1-300x224“ »Evolutionary Aikido » is the practice, exploration, and inquiry of and into the developmental processes available through the art of Aikido. It concerns not only the improvement of technical skill, but also a multi-dimensional transformation of ourselves. We look into what is our next step of being, and how do we make space for this new level of understanding, ability, and awareness to manifest. O-Sensei’s proclaimed realization, « I and the Universe are one, » is the basis for our practice. We face this and explore how to express this perspective of integrated unity in our Aikido.

Patrick Cassidy, 6th dan Aikido

The interview of Julia Geissberger


PAGT: Julia, When did you start with this dojo?

Julia: First of May 2009! In fact, really before, Peter already taught here , in Uster, in the judo club. There was one, two then three courses a week. But the very starts were difficults, the atmosphere was very different from that of today, people looking more  for a sport than a martial art as we practise  in our current dojo. I met Peter at this moment, and during a conversation, we said to ourselves that we should make something else, somewhere else, around here . I immediately said  » OK, let’s go  » and we settled down here.

PAGT: you and Peter followed Patrick Cassidy, who s teaching in Montreux. How did you know him?

Julia: He is always our sensei. At that time, I  practiced in another dojo near Uster with Rosemary Herzig. Rosemary had invited him for a seminary. Patrick Cassidy just arrived from California, I believe he had just got married to a swiss girl. My meeting with him was dominant and quickly I have decided to follow him as uchi dechi in Montreux. Peter already knew him before for what I remember.

PAGT: you remained for a long time uchi dechi?

Julia: 18 months. I was shodan at this moment. And I left nidan. I received my sandan last year.

PAGT: congratulations!

Julia: thank you (laughter)

PAGT: He sometimes comes on Uster?

Julia: Yes, we invite him at least once in September for an autumn seminar, and some  others. Last year he came with two friends: miles Kessler who teaches in Tel Aviv, and an old friend of his from California. Via Patrick, we are connected to the CAA of California (californian aikido association).

PAGT: phew, I was afraid to hear CIA! (Laughings)julia1

Julia: Haha, no, the CAA which includes  famous senseis like Franck Doran Shihan, Pat hendricks shihan , Bob Nadeau Shihan, all 7th dans. … Via the CAA, patrick Cassidy is our connection to Japan, where he remained of numerous years as Uchi Dechi in Iwama with  Saito Sensei.

PAGT. Thus, your way of having a practice here to Uster, is completely inspired by the work of Patrick Cassidy?

Julia: Yes,definitely, the basics of our work is the aikido from Iwama, in particular for the bukiwaza. But the work of Patrick evolved towards something more personal, less hard, while keeping the base forms, the main techniques. Our aikido is more feeling orientated, in a non opposition way, connection dealing. We try to work with sincere seizures but without pains.

PAGT. I remind Peters s words during the course   » Uke and tori are two independent systems. Getting in touch, they do  become  one single system  » I find in your aikido, some resonnance with some schools like the ones of  Leo and Issei Tamaki, Tanguy le Vourch, Elis Amdur Farouk benouali. With a work on the very slow ukemis, studies about   perceptions and feelings , for example by working blind.

Julia: Eyes serve in fact in our daily life, all the time, we concentrate with them. But what about other senses? It is necessary to awaken them also. When we close our eyes, the body, partially at least, wakes up suddenly to take over. For example, there is an exercise which we sometimes do. Tori closes eyes, in seiza or up. Uke approach slowly with an atemi, and tori has to try to feel what  is coming on and try to react without opposition. At certain level, we feel the attack before the contact. Some see of the bad choreography there, but it is a fabulous exercise of awakening and connection.

PAGT: it is incredible, because I experimented this kind of work some weeks ago  with Issei Tamaki. There is on You tube Tanguy Le Vourc’h very beautiful video about this way :


Julia: Yes, and we are not completely in self-defense, even if at certain level it become so. But for me, it is just a wa to become better people, to feel my universe. Becoming better persons with more empathy with the others, open minded. Furthermore it is, in view of what you say to me, interesting to see that sometimes in the world, without real explanations, suddenly certain things  come together  by itselves. That reminds me this story of the monkeys who without knowing each other, have the almost simultaneous idea to wash  potatoes. (Story  of the 100th monkey whom I ll tell later on ). I think, naively or not, that the aikido is in this way, by connecting people between them,  and help other connections to set up. It is that way  we see that  aikido is much more than a self-defense method.

PAGT: Another very particular aspect of your school,, I had never seen  somewhere else. You use the music at some moment  of the course, in particular on jiyu waza …

Julia: Patrick Cassidy spent around 8 years  in Japan. Then he returned to California. You know, in California, they always have many new and iconoclastic ideas! (Laughter) .I believe that Patrick studied with Richard Moon, a deshi of Bob Nadeau, from the CAA. And I believe that the idea of the music comes from him. And for my part, I am a dancer, and the music is vital for me. But we use the music, not only because we like it, but also because the music give a rhythm. Aikido has its own rhythm, and it helps, certain persons,  to listen to their body, to open their heart. But it is not so exceptional. Look at Capoeira, or at the African fights, in Hawaii, the martial arts and the music can be connected. In Europe, we are not so open to music. Music give some energy.

PAgt:  Personally, I find that it helps me to release myself and to move freely.

Julia:  Yes, but not everybody  like that .Some find that it perturbs their work. Fortunately, most people find this interesting !

PAGT : Thanks a lot Julia


In the end, the famous story of the monkeys and the potatoes to be meditated

The hundredth monkey or What will be the future of the Humanity

Ken Keyes Jr is the author of « The Hundredth Monkey », the true story of an extraordinary fable which today resounds with our fate as Humanity.

A species of Japanese monkey, the Japanese macaque was observed to the wild state over a period of 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists fed the monkeys with raw sweet potatoes by throwing them on the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of sweet potatoes, but found it disagreeable because of dirt. A 18-month-old female, called Imo, thought that she could resolve the problem by washing potatoes in the river very close by. She taught this trick to her mother. Their playfellows also learnt this new way of making and also taught it to their mothers. This cultural innovation was gradually adopted by various monkeys in front of the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learnt to wash sweet potatoes to make them more pleasant to the taste. Only the grown-up monkeys who imitated their children learnt this social improvement. Other grown-up monkeys kept their habit to eat dirty sweet potatoes.

In the autumn of 1958, a number of monkeys of Koshima washed their sweet potatoes – their exact number remains unknown. Let us suppose that when the sun got up one morning, there were 99 monkeys on the island of Koshima who had learnt to wash their sweet potatoes. Still let us suppose that a little later, a hundredth monkey learnt to wash potatoes. Then something surprising occurred!

This evening almost all the monkeys of the tribe are mirrored to wash their sweet potatoes before eating them. A little as if the additional energy of this hundredth monkey created a kind  » of scientific breakthrough  » but it is not everything: the most surprising thing observed by these scientists was the fact that the habit to wash sweet potatoes was passed on in a unexplained and simultaneous way in colonies of monkeys living in other islands as well as in troop of monkeys of Takasakiyama on the continent who also began to wash their sweet potatoes. This is the way the Japanese macaque was nicknamed the  » washer of potatoes « .


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