Aunkai Study Day with Liam O'Donoghue - a review by Gray Gillespie - 22 June 2015

Last weekend I was fortunate to attend an Aunkai Study day conducted by Liam O’Donoghue and hosted by Filip Maric of the Jikishin Dojo in Auckland. During the day, we focused on core fundamentals of Aunkai, including stepping and kicking to name just a few.

But what is Aunkai? Aunkai is new training method founded by Minoru Akuzawa Sensei. Akuzawa Sensei has an extensive background in martial arts. It is clear that internal martial arts has had the most lasting impact on him as he has made this the sole focus of his training. So while Aunkai itself is new, the ideas and skill sets go back many centuries.

Gray tying a knot into participants at the
Auckland Aunkai seminar in Nov 2014
To many, the term internal martial arts brings to mind images of supernatural abilities and chi blasts. For the most part however, internal martial arts are simply the correct use of alignment and body mechanics to produce force far more powerful than what you would otherwise be able to achieve by overtly muscular force. Aunkai is effectively a method that streamlines this skill development. While it can take internal martial artists decades to begin to achieve, Aunkai chases these abilities from day one in a straight-forward and no nonsense fashion. It is almost completely devoid of any technique or application. That said, once one has a foundation in these skills, they become the core or engine from which almost all martial techniques and interpretations can be applied. With this engine behind it, the same techniques will now be way more effective and powerful.

In my own journey of Wing Chun study, I have seen first hand the advantages of an internal focus. I used to train a version of Wing Chun that was very technique oriented. One day, I came across a little known group of Wing Chunners that had a more internal focus. They were from the Chu Shong Tin lineage of Wing Chun. When I practiced Chi Sao with them (sticky hands), I immediately noticed the difference. These guys would cut through my structures with relative ease and I found myself having to move twice as fast as them to compensate for my own lack of structure. While it felt forceful, they appeared to be way more relaxed than me. Having an integrated body and structure meant they were able to take the more direct approach where I had been trained to go around.

The problem with the “go around” or “divert the force” approach found in many Wing Chun schools and martial arts, is that you never get to develop the knowledge and body awareness of what to do with pressure and how to move the body and limbs in ways that integrates your mass to its potential. When I tried to explain this to my old Wing Chun classmates, they disapproved and thought that force on force meant activating muscle and using strength. This is a misunderstanding.

I would like to dispel a myth about internal martial arts. When you see it in practice it looks very soft and gentle. However, to be on the receiving end of it can be one of the most brutal things you will ever feel. There are probably many ways internal martial arts can be expressed. However, in the case of the Wing Chun group I came across, one of the first things I noticed was the shock to my limbs and my spine. The second time I felt this type of force was with Akuzawa Sensei, the founder of Aunkai.

Having to move back to Japan from NZ for family reasons was unfortunate because I had to end my Wing Chun training. In Tokyo it was hard to find a martial art with a similar approach, so I joined a BJJ school. I kept my eyes open and eventually my search led me to the Aunkai dojo in Tokyo. Meeting Akuzawa sensei was amazing. He made me and another newcomer face each other and grasp each other’s hands strongly. He then gently placed his hand over ours and suddenly brought his arm down. Our arms were brought down with such force that it caused my head to whiplash forward. It was quite a shock to my nervous system and spine. I knew then that Aunkai was what I had been looking for.

Gray with Watanabe Manabu Hanshi at the
Auckland Aunkai seminar Nov 2014
Classes were informal by Japanese standards. We started out with the Aunkai exercises of Tenchijin and Shiko. We then did partner drills like push out and pad work. Towards the end we practiced Randori, which is a sort of light sparring that includes throws. Each training session was followed up with a few beers and snacks at the local Izakaya (Japanese bar). It is here that Akuzawa Sensei’s character comes out. He will talk about anything and everything, but his enthusiasm for the martial arts is infectious. One of the things he joked about was the large number of foreign students he has at his school. “I don't why I am attracting so many foreigners to my classes. I don't even speak English!” he laughed. His students, who were indeed mostly western, all had extensive experience in other martial arts and were passionate about the benefits of Aunkai.

I found Akuzawa Sensei’s personality and approach to martial arts quite refreshing. One of the ways he stands out from other internal martial artists is in how dynamic and explosively fast his movements are. Another difference is his belief that internal martial arts can be applied in competitive fighting arenas. He himself has had extensive competitive fighting experience and he encourages his students to get out and compete in anything from Sanda to K1. One of his students I spoke with regularly fought in amateur heavy weight K1 tournaments.

Unfortunately, I had to return to Auckland before I could really get going in Aunkai. While I kept up my Wing Chun and BJJ. I kept contemplating Aunkai and stayed active on the Aunkai forum. Wherever I could, I would find friends to practice standing push out with. I would regularly check the internet to see if anyone was practicing Aunkai in Auckland. Fortunately my persistence paid off and I found a reference to Aunkai on Filip’s Jikishin Dojo Auckland website. I quickly emailed him and got a speedy reply. It was great to make contact with someone who shared my enthusiasm.

Filip and Liam organized Akuzawa Sensei’s first visit to NZ in November 2014. I attended the two day seminar in Auckland, which was amazing! About a week after the seminar certain things started to click for me and I was able to do some of the more advanced Wing Chun structural tests with ease. Filip was also inspired and got to spend a lot of time with Akuzawa Sensei during his stay here in NZ and since then there are two Aunkai study groups in New Zealand, one in Christchurch and one here in Auckland (training every Thursday evening at Jikishin Dojo). At the moment classes are still small, but I am finding them extremely rewarding and love the fact that we are keeping up and developing our Aunkai skills for the next time Akuzawa Sensei and/or other instructors might come to visit. Filip himself is very open-minded and we both appreciate each other’s arts. Aunkai bridges the gap between our two arts and thanks to Filip, I am able to see a side of Aikido that I was unaware of.

Gray Gillespie, Akuzawa Sensei & Filip Maric
and the mandatory after-training beers!
Internal martial arts is an incredibly rewarding journey of never ending realization and discovery. Having Liam conduct the Aunkai study day last week opened my eyes and body to even new depths of understanding and possibilities. Liam, like Filip, is extremely committed to his Aikido training, as well as Aunkai. He has just recently returned from a four-day intensive Aunkai seminar instructed by Akuzawa Sensei, at Philippe Orban Sensei's dojo in Leipzig (a high grade Aikido instructor who will be returning to NZ for a series of seminars later this year). The Auckland study day was attended by people with a variety of martial art backgrounds, but the thing that struck Liam was how open minded this group of students were.

I believe there is an emerging martial art movement where more and more people are becoming inspired by the possibilities of internal martial arts and how it can benefit their practice. I have no doubt that Aunkai’s popularity will continue to grow both in New Zealand and abroad. If this sounds like your cup of tea, why don’t you join us on Thursdays at the Jikishin Dojo? We would love to have you there! 

Gray Gillespie, 22 June 2015, Auckland, NZ

Chest is clean - Systema RMA Seminar with Vali Majd - 29 May 2015

Last weekend was the second time that I had the pleasure and benefit of being able to train under the guidance of Vali Majd from Roots Dojo - School of Warrior Arts (Denman Island, BC, Canada). First time I met Vali was on his first visit to Auckland a little over two years ago and I can say I've been looking forward to his return ever since.

As I am already busy writing a thesis as it is, I won't make another one of this blogpost, but will keep it short and to the point. What I will say is also no different than what I have said in the roundup following the weekend and comes down to 4 points...

On the first day, on the first exercise and in one of his very first few bits of instruction regarding what we were doing Vali said: "Don't breathe because you move, you move because you breathe." The response in my brain was equally succinct: "Right, that's it, that is good enough for me and how much more can we think about, learn or practice in a weekend. Seminar is over. Thank you. Amazing!" Don't get me wrong, I'm not being ironic here at all! I seriously mean it. That little piece of advice/thinking/information/instruction there is so good I cannot even begin to say and there is so much that can be explored with it. Sorry if my explanation sounds cryptic, but at least what Vali said there is actually really simple. But in its simplicity equally lies its depth.

Of course I didn't leave after this and it wasn't actually the end of the seminar. Instead and without fault Vali continued delivering at that level, adding fire to the flame. Much of the focus of the seminar was on 'form' as one of the 4 fundamental principles of Systema RMA and the often neglected, yet not at all (!!!) less important sibling of the group of 'breathing, relaxation, movement AND form'. 

As I have said in the roundup, to me the principle of 'form' in a sense ties together and cleans up a lot of the breathing, movement and relaxation that we work on in Systema. Though not bound to it exclusively, it has a kind of beginning in the simplicity of a natural, relaxed, upright posture. Next, this natural posture is taken along for the ride as we begin to move, rather than giving it up by default when we start to move even though there is no real reason to give it up. Now if we were just practicing how to move around by ourselves that would be ok as it is, but of course we are also investigating martial arts and so we find our natural, moving posture disturbed by incoming forces, ill will, etc., all of which are intended to 'take us down'. At least in my thinking at the moment, this is a crucial point in the exploration and in fact development of 'form' and Vali took us through beautiful progressions for working on this. Simply put, we try to work on keeping form, even under pressure (psychological, physical, ...), and build this ability. We move, breathe, relax and keep form as we are dealing with our attacker(s). The frequently recurring image from the seminar was people moving, pushing, pulling, striking, breathing, sweating and Vali's voice in the background, ever reminding us to keep our form - "Chest is clean. Chest is clean." 

This emphasis on keeping and developing form is neither stupidity, nor 'childishly defiant', but helps us either entirely bypass or at least delay the point at which we might be forced to give it up. If and when we are, of course that is ok and we readily accept this (!!!) as we get back to the arsenal of three remaining principles we have left - breathing, relaxation, movement - AND work our way back towards recovering 'form'. I'll leave the matter of keeping form whilst on the ground and in transition aside here, which is also important and to some extent the real place where form departs more drastically from being merely posture, structure,..., but it might well be somewhat advanced and the above a good beginning (not to be left behind!!). I might well be biased here and my perspective of the seminar and what Vali was guiding us through in regard to form reminded me heavily of some of the work we do in Aunkai that really helped me feel the element of form more clearly in Systema training as well.

Clean, clear and simple is the gist of how I would describe Vali and his movement. Chest is clean, the facial expression clear, no malice and no desire to win/dominate, never doing more than necessary, never complicating things more than necessary, simply moving, simple movements - getting straightforward 'results'. I've always been, but am recently yet again growing more and more appreciate of simplicity. As talked about with Loren during the weekend, good, no, actually great things are (often) simple. And why would they have to be more than that?

Many thanks to Vali, many thanks to Loren for organising, and many thanks to everyone for training together on such a simple weekend. For those wanting a piece of this, join the various regular classes available in Auckland, and if you can make it, Vali offers a huge amount of pretty unique weekend seminars, camps etc at Roots Dojo. If all this wasn't clear enough, I can thoroughly recommend it and hope to get another chance to learn from Vali again sometime soon.

And yes, sorry, damn it, I've written more than I wanted yet again!! But nevermind...

Chest is clean.

David & Hisae Lynch - Pioneers of Aikido in New Zealand - 20 April 2015

Last week I met a remarkable man, a remarkable couple I should say, namely David and Hisae Lynch. I had heard and read about David and Hisae a few years ago already and had always wanted to meet them, but somehow the stars just never aligned. Well, now they did and I couldn't be happier about it.

On Thursday last week I made the trip along the coast of the Coromandel side of the Firth of Thames and across the beautiful Coromandel Forest Park, which seemed to be just the perfect road trip prior to meeting David and Hisae. 

About 18 years ago they moved out to Coromandel and sometime after started building an adjacent dojo next to their home, surrounded by 67-acres of native bush. 

I'm not entirely sure what to add to the information that is available about David and his various Dojo's online, so I will provide some links to said material later on, and just add a very few, brief first impressions of my own and let the photos speak a little more.

The first and most outstanding of these first impressions is without a doubt the simple, unpretentious and pure friendliness that one meets upon arrival in both David and Hisae, something that the following photo and their smiles can maybe convey a lot better than I can in words.
At the risk of sounding completely off-key, if not downright rude, there is really 'nothing special' about David and Hisae. But when I say 'nothing special' I mean this as one of the highest compliments I can make and my primary point of reference is a calligraphy that used to hang at the wall of my old home Dojo in Germany with the Kanji for 'Bu Ji', which wrongly or not, was translated underneath the image as 'Nothing special (Not trying/wanting to be anything special). From this background I consider it either just a given happenstance or a very special something that David and Hisae have achieved in there being 'nothing special' about them.

This is of particular importance in a case or in lives like theirs in which there has been and still is every reason to consider them quite special. Amongst the 'special' bits of note is of course the fact that they are truly pioneers of Aikido in New Zealand, having introduced the art here 50 years ago. If you are curious about historical detail, just recently, David published a booklet covering their part of the history of Aikido over the last 50 years that you can read and download here and that I highly recommend.

Next to that, David trained directly and for considerable periods of time under some of the best known names in the history of the art, most notably Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Gozo Shioda and Koichi Tohei. Photos of the latter two still hang in David's office, right above a window overlooking the incredible Dojo built into the middle of their own little forest. The next photo shows the view from that window into the Dojo, from which I can only imagine David shaking his head over the incompetence of us beginners as we train there. ;)

Inside the Dojo, amongst other things, one can also find David's 6th Dan certificate, issued to him by none less than Gozo Shioda Sensei himself, giving evidence of and a direct connection to a very special time in the history of the art of which David and Hisae were and are very much a part of to this day.

The best way to have a look into and around the Dojo is obviously by visiting yourself, but if you are curious for something more immediate, there are two good videos on the Koru Dojo NZ youtube channel and more information on the website of Koru Dojo in Coromandel. There is also a separate website for the Koshinkai Dojo Auckland, the Auckland home of David's group, which I also highly recommend. Both Dojos are without a doubt amongst the nicest Dojos I have seen in New Zealand thus far.

I hope to have more chances of this sort in the future, but I can finally say that I've had the honour to train with him at least for a short while. David took some time for some casual practice in the Dojo and introduced a visiting student and me to some of the fundamental concepts from Tohei Sensei's practice.

As you can see in the photos, several attempts at trying to explain something to and have me understand and do it myself, posed a considerable test to David's patience, finally leading him to turn away from me and to his guest, who proved to be a much more talented and amenable student.

The critical point here is the same I have made before, namely the fact that it is not only possible to joke and write like this with and about a true master of the art. David is exactly this light-hearted. There is zero air of superiority about him, despite every reason there could in theory be for it and I have to say I love that about him. Despite or maybe even because of his apparent passion for Aikido and his continuing practice for such a long time, David shows no signs of taking himself too seriously, but rather emanates the wisdom of someone who has seen and heard a lot over the years and has no need to force himself or his opinions on others. His great humour about all that he has seen shines a bright light into his poetry, including the following poem that he has published sometime ago and reposted on Facebook not too long ago. I've loved it so much, I just couldn't help myself from snatching it from there to share it with you all here:

New Age Ending:

I've been Pulsed
I've been Rolfed
I have Alexanderised

I've had Mudras
I've had Mantras
I have Moshe Feldenkraised

I've been pricked with Acupuncture
I have Yoga's and I've Zenned
Yet I never cease to wonder:

Where will all this end?

Seriously and simply put, David is just the most approachable guy you can possibly imagine and I would say that that alone classifies him as a teacher anyone should strive to learn from. If you prowl the internet you will find a lot more both about and by him that is very worthwhile studying. I am also aware of at least one Interview with David Lynch in Stanley Pranin's Aikido Journal and at least one article on Aikido contributed by David to the same Journal, both of which I cannot recommend enough for reading. Without a doubt, you can also connect with him on Facebook where you will find him under his name and a profile picture with Yoda of Star Wars. Being an avid fan of Star Wars myself, I have always openly admitted that Star Wars and specifically master Yoda was what got me into this whole Budo thing. Now I don't take anything Star Wars lightly and I don't consider it something to be joked about, so David is pretty much the only person whom I will grant the use of a Yoda picture as a profile pic. 

Exit the Dojo and enter the forest around it, you would have to add surroundings to the list of very special 'nothing special' things, next to the people and Dojo. The little stream that runs through David and Hisae's property, the three swimming (or Misogi) pools, the small and large Kauri trees all add to the magic of it all. But what I loved especially is to see first-hand how David and Hisae relate to their little forest, the little tracks they've created through it, how they  the places they stop to give thanks, the way they look at certain trees, rock formations, and the waterfalls and how they truly live in and with the nature that surrounds them. All of this together, is Aiki-Do at its best.

Bu Ji - Nothing special
I am really glad to know that this was the first of hopefully many more visits to come. A next one I already look forward to is in October, when I will be part of with a small travelling party of the 'Fudoshin Aikido Tour NZ 2015 with Orban Sensei' that will be having a 4 day intensive here in between the big seminars. 

Nothing special, just a very special space, special place and special people. Should you ever need a retreat for your own group, please do contact David and Hisae and they will be sure to answer all your questions and help however they can. The final pictures shows not David and Hisae, but David and myself (just before I attempted climbing up on the shoulders of this gentle giant of Coromandel Forest to get a bit of a view of what is possible on this path). 

Thanks and gratitude to my hosts for the day, you shine a light.
David Lynch & Filip Marić

Intersections & Synergies. A guest post by Seng-Yew (Melbourne/AUS) - 5 March 2015

Hey all, I am delighted to share this guest post by my friend Seng-Yew whom I first met in person in mid-2014 at the Melbourne Systema Seminar with Martin Wheeler, following a brief exchange of emails in regards to our Aunkai seminar later in the year. Seng-Yew is a kindred spirit in more ways than one I believe, even though we have not known each other for very long. He is also a long-time practitioner of Aikido, an Instructor-in-Training in Systema (Vasiliev, Toronto) and maybe most importantly just a very reflected yet open mind. Not wanting to give away the 'moral' of his post, I am very grateful for it, as it perfectly expresses the notion of Budo Kenshu that is the foundation of our practice at Jikishin Dojo Auckland. So with that I leave to enjoy Seng-Yew's reflections..

My journey began with my first love, Aikido. For several years, that had been my sole focus. Whilst researching about the art in those early days, I would intermittently come across a strange, and bizarre art called, Systema. My fascination about this Russian system grew, but any hands-on exploration was limited due to my isolated geography. After moving interstate several years later, I was fortunate enough to learn more about it from a brilliant instructor. Side-by-side with my first love, I began my foray into Systema. My infatuation grew into a passion, and eventually developed into a firm commitment. At times, I questioned about their compatibility, but for the most part, I was able to compartmentalise my training, and use each to build upon the other's strengths. Whenever others asked how I perceived the two seemingly different arts, I would give the analogy that Aikido was akin to classical music, whilst Systema was like jazz. The former, idealistic and refined; the latter, vibrant and full of spontaneity. Both were different, yet both were equally beautiful to me. I refused to give up one for the other, though I secretly feared that one day, I might be made to choose.

So for a few more years, I continued training both side-by-side. Lo and behold, during that time, yet another facet of Aikido started creeping up. Like a pubescent teenager who could not resist the allure of the exotic temptations of this esoteric promise, I started dabbling in this elusive element of training that went by various names: 'aiki', 'internal power' (IP), 'internal work' etc. Having yet another focus in the mix made juggling these various practices that much harder. But no matter, being the young virile man that I was, I felt confident in being able to manage my expanded harem. Unfortunately, as any experienced polygamist would know, the fantasy did not last long before fractures started appearing between the jealous lovers. Several exercises and principles began to contradict each other quite fundamentally. One posited that I should always keep moving, and never stay still. The other asserted that I should be able to root myself, and form an immovable structure. One was erect like a mighty bodhi tree, the other slinking around like a floppy kraken. I was no longer sure I could prevent an existentialist crisis, and it felt like I had to eventually divorce myself from one, or the other. However, as fate would have it, I suddenly lost both my instructors within a span of a month of each other. I became lost myself, and was simply trying to stay afloat.

Seng-Yew with Akuzawa Sensei
(and Adrian Knight in the background)
Fast forward to late 2014, I had the opportunity to attend a Systema-esque workshop by Alex Kostic, and an 'aiki/IP'-esque workshop by Akuzawa Minoru Sensei, just a week apart. Getting the chance to train with various people from different martial backgrounds gave me a rare chance to evaluate my progress. Unexpectedly, the pieces started to fall together then. I cannot be certain, but I suspect that I had finally gotten a sense of how Systema and Aikido--or more specifically 'aiki/IP'--could fit together. For a while now, I had a feeling that they were closely linked, but I always got thrown off by a number of explicit exercises and principles that appeared to contradict each other. Although the memory now seems vague, I recall a brief insight of conceptualising 'aiki/IP' as an inherent structural foundation to work from--but with the shape and flow of Systema movements. 

More importantly, I also found my answer to another puzzle of mine, which was on finding a way to reconcile the different training methodologies. At the aforementioned workshops, I discovered that that I might not really need to! My experiences there suggested that my different trainings have somehow been 'absorbed' into my body, and it came out as needed without me consciously thinking of which I should use, or manifest. 

For instance, at Kostic's seminar, we had a really fun game where there the goal was to have the 'last person standing'. All participants--from various MA backgrounds, would get on the mat, and try to throw, trip, or wrestle everyone else until only one person remained. At about three quarters way into the game, where most of the participants were already out of the mat, I was just darting between the remaining survivors, as I could not really throw these skilled participants. At one point whilst I was tied up with someone, Kostic loudly declared that participants should be ganging up on each other! Before I knew it, two more people grabbed a hold of me, and tried to throw me off. It must have been a funny sight because there was one person grabbing my arms in front of me, another tugging on my back, and one more pulling on my leg, whilst I was hopping around on one leg! This actually went on for a while until one of my attackers gave me a big swing, and threw the three of us to the ground. To be honest, I did not not even know I had three people on me, as I was just simply focusing on maintaining my balance. I was surprised when people were laughing and applauding when I finally got thrown off. More importantly, I had no idea what I did to keep my balance in such an awkward position for that amount of time. Nonetheless, clearly something 'interesting' happened then. Was it Systema? Was it Aikido? Was it 'aiki/IP'? I don't know. And although not as dramatically illustrated, I found similar revelations when I attended Akuzawa's seminar the following week. Whilst I was groping around the dark with various drills that appeared foreign to me, something from my previous trainings would intermittently click in--and again, interesting things happened, without my conscious awareness.

Seng-Yew with Aunkai Instructor Watanabe Manabu
Whilst reflecting at the time, I came up with a provisional thesis that Systema is easier to learn and use, at a moderate-to-high level of competency, in a relatively short period of time. I suspect that if someone with a decent baseline were to put in a solid 2-5 years in Systema training, they would probably be able to defend themselves under most general circumstances. When it came to 'aiki/IP' however, I propose that it would take a very long time, possibly in range of 5-10+ years, to develop and build, and probably even longer still to use in a practical setting. However, I feel that if someone wanted to achieve a supreme level of competency, it would almost be inevitable that they needed to do some form 'aiki/IP' training--under whichever name/style. 

As for me, I'll keep going where the road takes me, and enjoy my training in whatever shape or form it comes. Whilst tricky to balance at times, every moment on this journey is too precious to fuss over arbitrarily drawn lines.

Seng-Yew is based in Melbourne, AU, where he strives to satiate all his loves. You can follow his sporadic ramblings at, or better yet, get together and play if you are in town.

Frankfurt, City of Philosophers - 17 Feb 2015

Ever since I moved to New Zealand I have been visiting friends and family back home in Frankfurt and based from there in other places in Europe about once every year. Time in Frankfurt is special in more ways than one. The city of Frankfurt is largely known and overshadowed by two things (other than its murky weather) - banking and its airport - often to an extent that makes it very difficult to see any of its other facets. Nonetheless it undoubtedly has these facets. 

For me personally, it was particularly one facet that has always stood out and one that I always return to when I come here, visiting certain places, traces and memories. To be precise, for me Frankfurt has always been most importantly a city of philosophers. It is the city in which I read my first philosophical books - Erich Fromm's Having and Being and The Art of Loving, and which so strongly  sparked my enduring interest in all things philosophy, psychoanalysis, Aikido and Zen. Learning about Erich Fromm it was always somehow special to me that he was originally from Frankfurt and had lived and worked here for a significant amount of time. 

Then there was the house in which my grandparents lived for a long time and in which coincidentally Max Horkheimer also lived for a long time, only two houses away from where I lived myself. 

Horkheimer and Fromm of course were both members of the Frankfurt School that was also home to so many more influential philosophers over the years, including Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin, and Habermas in later years and that still has its base in the Institut für Sozialforschung, again not far from where I used to live in my childhood. 

Like houses and squares, street names also frequently remind me of a connection to very deep thought that runs through this city. 

Continuing this walk through particularly Frankfurt's Westend, next up is the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe Universität of Frankfurt am Main with its impressive new campus, on which one can get lost in a day of exploration.


The hallways of the main building also provide one with the rare joy of travelling from floor to floor in beautifully restored paternoster elevators, which via their age always gave me a sense of connection to all those philosophers that this city has brought forth or hosted for a few years.

Take the paternoster to the second floor and you find yourself at the university's Institute for Philosophy in the rooms of which I also heard of the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas that continues to haunt me until today.

A little further down the hall one enters the library tract and still on the second floor particularly the philosophy library which again has always been a special place for me. It is an interesting feeling to sit and write from here again, the view to the city often as grey as ever...

Further exploration of the university also allows one to find the office of the current professor holding the Martin-Buber-professorship in succession of Martin Buber who himself used to work and teach at the university. Remembering Martin Buber of course immediately reminds one of his friend and colleague Franz Rosenzweig, author of The Star of Redemption and The New Thinking, who also lived, worked and died in Frankfurt.

There are many more philosophers that have a connection to this city, Goethe himself amongst them. Of course, I have not mentioned the Budo Dojos, Zendo's, physiotherapy clinics and countless other little places in which philosophy is studied and practiced inasmuch, nor the restaurants, bars and clubs in which it is passionately debated. It is a strange city somehow, but one can find deep thought, a real yearning to change the earthly situation for the better and just good company here indeed. Importantly, the places, traces and memories that one finds here create a link between the thoughts of these philosophers, to their lives and ones own that, if tended to ever so little, is inseparable even across great distance in space and time. This undercurrent runs deep through the city and it is this Frankfurt that I can recommend to those who ever have the chance to visit.