New book out now!!!

Jikishin Dojo Budo Kenshu 

Study of the Martial Way

Very happy to announce and share with you the publication of our first ever book
Jikishin Dojo Budo Kenshu - Study of the Martial Way is a unique account of the purpose, method and content of Budo study at Jikishin Dojo Auckland, New Zealand. Based on the author’s combined research in Zen, Shiatsu, physiotherapy, Western philosophy, Aikido and many other martial arts, Jikishin Dojo Budo Kenshu offers a renewed and fresh perspective on a wide array of topics pertinent to Aikido and Budo practice. 

Originally intended for a small circle of members and friends, Jikishin Dojo Budo Kenshu, makes no claim on definitive answer to the questions and challenges along the Martial Way. Much rather, by providing a case in point example, it discloses an approach to Budo characterised by thorough personal research. Its ultimate hope is that it inspires you to not just blindly follow what you are taught or told, but search and finally find your very own path. 

For a reading sample please click on the amazon link to the right.

Print: available on amazon and
eBook: Kindle, Nook, Kobo & iBooks versions available shortly!

Philippe Orban in Christchurch - 2 videos and a seminar review by Liam O'Donoghue - 18 April 2014

A week on and I am still buzzing from the truly inspirational seminar offered to us by the wonderful French Aikido Sensei Philippe Orban.

I have been training Aikido for more than 30 years now and have been to dozens of seminars in NZ and overseas. Too often lately I have come away from major international seminars somehow feeling empty: disappointed that concepts haven’t been taught and thoughts shared. Technique only just doesn’t do it for me anymore. So, coming into this seminar I was ready for something more than just technique and looking around the dojo at the beaming faces on Saturday afternoon so were many others.

This was the first of hopefully many international seminars Otautahi Aikido will host in cooperation with Filip Marić (Jikishin dojo, Auckland). Filip arranges regular seminars with international sensei but until now they have only ever taken place in Auckland. We thought it was a great idea to bring them down to Christchurch to give the South Island Aikido community some more learning opportunities. We had a good turnout for a first seminar with around 20 people on the mat from 5 different Christchurch clubs plus Filip from Auckland.
If I had to give the seminar a theme it would be: The Essence of Aikido – beyond technique. The warm ups included many breathing exercises, always integrating body movement with the breath – normalising your Kokyu I would call it. Common technical concepts during warm up and training were, to: relax and stay present; breathe deeply; keep your structure; work in your centre being aware of the 3 axes; and Musubi – keep connection while maintaining your integrity. The goal (or maybe just the journey!) was to develop a sense of Unity: the Unity of self and the Unity of the whole framework of the technique with your partner – there is no duality, no intention. Among other things Sensei Orban also introduced me to exciting concepts around the timing of Kiai and how it relates to intention.

I enjoyed all aspects of this seminar; it was skilfully managed by a professional instructor. There were times when it was quite meditative, there was energetic training and there was a lot to process intellectually. The atmosphere in the dojo was excellent, members from all clubs attending brought a really positive attitude to the mat.

And I was inspired by the man as well as his message. He demonstrated a real depth of understanding and skill that I so admire – a stunningly proficient martial artist. He also showed that he is still growing and learning and taking risks - when he pulled out the Tabi (socks) for ½ a session after a discussion the night before. What fantastic messages for us all, especially us high grades. I really enjoyed my time with him in the days preceding the seminar and am excited about the prospect of more time together both in the dojo and out of it.

I have so many ‘take-outs’ from this seminar and whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is just plain wrong! First things first I am going to work on my breathing and structure.

Special thanks to Filip Marić for his energy, enthusiasm and great networking, to Otautahi Aikido members for being so supportive and to all those who came along to share this physically, intellectually and spiritually invigorating weekend. I look forward to many others.

Liam O’Donoghue, Otautahi Aikido, 18 April 2014.

Philippe Orban Sensei in Auckland - a seminar review by Colin Jowett - 15 April 2014

Another year and another seminar in New Zealand for Phillipe Orban, but my first time in Phillipe’s company.  I have to say straight off the mark that I have been to about 4 seminars this year and to date, this has been the most enlightening.  Philippe seems to have a simple and subtle way of explaining, what at heart, are very complex ‘principles’ or ‘ideas’.  Maybe I just happened to be in the correct frame of mind to absorb what he had to say or maybe it was the right time to hear the right message but I am very glad this was a seminar I did not miss.

After a few seminars, you get used to certain ideas and key themes repeating themselves – not because the ideas are old and tired, but because they are some of the key ideas of true Budo – and they never change and they never get tired of being the centre of attention.  That said, Philippe has taken some of these key thoughts to another level entirely.

As he says himself, he spent the first 20 years of his Aikido life learning form after form and technique after technique, while in the last 16 years he has ditched those ideas in favour of a more UNIFIED approach to the whole martial art process.  It is this distillation of thought and continuous evolution that he brings to the mat, and his apparently boundless ability and activity cannot but confirm that he walks a path that is certainly worth exploring.

In two days, I do not recall a single technique being explained in any way that you would normally expect, yet, I can humbly say that I feel that my Aikido has improved by attempting to understand and feel what Philippe was explaining.  I honestly think that this has been a key turning point, a branch on the road, of my own Budo practice that will be a turning point I will look back on with fondness in the years to follow.

Like all seminars, there often key ideas that the Sensei expounds upon that may be different to other ideas you have heard elsewhere – and this was no exception.  Philippe challenges some of our preconceived ideas, some of what others might have told you, and some of what you may have tried, or habits you have acquired, over the years.  Challenge is always good.  If your ideas and practices are never truly challenged then how can you ever know if they can withstand the pressure of stress, and from where, in your heart, they truly arise? 

I found one of sensei’s ideas very thoughtful, and certainly one that we have all seen cause stress in the dojo.  We are all helpful people, we are a very supportive and friendly bunch us Aikidoka, and we have a tendency to try and ‘help’ other, especially more junior, Aikidoka with their techniques.  Philippe believes this should be avoided for two reasons. One – it is a dangerous avenue for the ego, and the ego has no place on the mat at any time and is in fact the barrier between proper unity of spirit and formlessness. Two – your comments can be disturbing to the other person’s progress – not helpful.  Not everyone on the path of Budo is moving along the path at the same time and everyone is learning their own lessons in their own way – we should all have the respect to understand this and acknowledge it.  By all means if someone is in danger of hurting themselves, or you – speak up.  There is no point risking injury to yourself or others when it can be avoided.  Likewise, consenting adults enquiring of each other’s practice can discuss everything in a mutually agreeable fashion.

Finally, an acknowledgement of the Great Spirit that can be found again at all Aikido seminars.  It was good to catch up with the usual, and not so usual, suspects.  It is good to see up and coming white belts and brown belts embracing the variety of teachers and ideas that we are fortunate to receive in this country, and also to meet with students from other martial Ways that are humble enough and interested enough to explore what our martial Way has to offer.
A big thank you, respectfully, to Philippe Orban for taking the time out of his life to travel the 000’s of Km’s from Leipzig to our little corner of the universe and not forgetting Filip Maric’s time and effort and boundless enthusiasm for the study of the martial Way in making all of this possible.

Hope to see you all again (and more new faces) next year!

Seminars, seminars, seminars (Tissier, Orban, and more) - 10 March 2014

It's pretty crazy really, and I've been saying this for a while now, but here in Europe you can literally go to a seminar every weekend if you wanted to. And not just one seminar, but up to three in one weekend. And this is just purely speaking Aikido, so if you wanted to delve into other things like Koryu Budo, Systema, or you name it, well I'm not sure you could even follow the number of things on offer. 

Anyway, over the last two weeks I have managed to teach a seminar here myself, visit four different Aikido dojos for regular training sessions, and this weekend, attend two different seminars (there was actually a third one I thought about going to but then skipped). On Friday evening I joined 100+ people on the mat from all over Europe who got together to train under the high-quality instruction of Christian Tissier Shihan here in Frankfurt. On saturday I sat in the car and drove some 3.5hrs over to Chemnitz (former East Germany) and joined another 40+ people at a seminar with Philippe Orban Sensei

Orban Sensei had us work intensively on our breathing, posture, relaxation and connecting our body and mind into a single unit that can work as a whole. Since I moved to NZ five years ago, I only see Orban Sensei twice a year (once when he comes to visit us, and once on my yearly trip to Europe), but I continue to be amazed by the speed at which even he himself is improving on these topics and continues to challenge himself incessantly. Considering his increasingly busy travelling schedule that is now taking him to South America, Canada, Africa, Asia, and all across Europe, I am extremely happy that he still takes the time to visit us in NZ on a fairly regular basis and am already looking forward to our seminar(s) that is only a few weeks away now!!
For a teaser of Orban Sensei's work have a look at the below video from his last visit to Auckland or the others on our media page
Orban Sensei's seminars are increasingly being visited by martial arts practitioners from all kinds of styles and directions and I believe that this is due to the principle based/focussed nature of his work. Though the forms and exercises might look a little different than in other styles, Orban Sensei merely uses these as tools to develop the mind and body in such a way that they can function effectively and efficiently in a martial context (and a lot of space is given to a free experimentation with the acquired tools). 

If you are interested in broadening your horizon, regardless of which martial art you train, or simply spend some more time quality training, please feel free to
contact me on filipmaric(at) to register and confirm your spot 
and get in quick as there is not much time left until the seminar!! Also, an additional seminar will be held in Christchurch, South Island NZ on the following weekend. For the very eager ones who want to go the extra mile. I will definitely be at both so I am looking forward to training with you here or there.

On a more personal note, my time here in Europe is coming to an end and I have yet again greatly enjoyed myself, both on and off the mat. This time I was very glad to feel that I have spent the most possible quality time with every single one I have met and I am very grateful for that. It is great to have such good friends all over the world and I am now looking forward to coming back to NZ and catching up with everyone there again. 

Much love, worldwide, and from seminar to seminar,

Surf the Waves and Face Your Zombies - Review of a seminar with Filip Marić in Frankfurt - 2 March 2014

„Back from a rather unconventional seminar with Filip Marić. Five hours, and not a single Aikido technique, but so much food for thought“ was what I scribbled down as my first impression, after returning from Takeshin Dojo Frankurt yesterday. And I had a big smile on my face.

Filip - who is involved in a variety of different martial arts disciplines - left the boundaries of Aikido in this seminar, getting closer to the essence of budo. He set out to explore what he called "surfing the waves": when you are mounting a surf board, you are dealing with your own physical and mental disposition on the one hand (keep breathing calmly and deeply, stay focused, keep your tension), and with the rather unpredictable impact the waves have on your journey, able to give you a phantastic ride but also crush you the very next second (stay flexible, respond adequately, accept failure). Though this metaphor was drawn from this great pastime at his present home in Auckland, NZ, it can be applied to budo easily.

Filip announced right at the beginning that he was not going to give us any answers, 
but rather share his questions with us. And given that we had a wide range of experience present - from a first-timer up to a 6th dan - there was a lot of room for exploration. All the more so as the tasks were equally unusual for people at both ends of the experience scale, like the "living carpet" where you had to keep moving flat on the ground in a confined space with hardly enough room to move a hand or foot while somebody was "surfing" the carpet.

And then, there were the "zombie wars", a kind of exaggerated randori where everybody was coming at you with outstretched hands and you had to wiggle your way out of the situation before they could bring you down. In this exercise - apart from it being very demanding - the faces brightened visibly, and when we were done with it everybody was puffing and smiling simultaneously. "Aikido makes people happy" is one of my favourite quotes, expressing the joy that the exchange with other people brings if they are all enthusiastic, curious and playful in their research of martial arts.

There was a lot more on the agenda worth mentioning - such as various Kashima Shin Ryu

sword katas developed from wave movements -, but the essence for me was the joyful exploration of what happens if you start thinking outside the box of fixed forms. 

Thank you for sharing your questions Filip!
Klaus Messlinger, Aikido Dojo Oberursel"

(More, non-highspeedcamera, photos on the Media page)