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Remembering a seminar of mine in Serbia 2004



On the 7th of December 2004 I flew to Belgrade for business reasons. I stayed there for five days. I wanted to train in aikido, so I spoke with the late Sensei William Smith MBE, 6th dan Aikikai, Shihan of the United Kingdom Aikikai(UKA) on the telephone, asking for information of whom to contact from the local association affiliated with the UKA. 
 
Mr. Smith arranged everything and gave me instructions of where to go and what to do at the location, since he had already been there for seminars. So, when I arrived I called Sasa Obradovic, President of the Aikido Federation of Serbia. He came, picked me up from my hotel and we went to the dojo. This was the first time we met, but from the very first moment it felt like we knew each other for a long time. That is one of the advantages of aikido – one can feel familiar with a stranger easily and fast! It always happens like this in the aikido world. 


The dojo is a big hall where the tatami is a puzzle of a lot of one square-meter mats. There were about 40-45 people including 12 black belts, a lot of advanced kyus and about 10 children (exceptionally quiet!). Sasha asked me to lead the class. A lot of the people spoke English, so I didn’t have any problem communicating. Their aikido level is high, they were absorbing the techniques easily. During the class all of them were very friendly to me and seemed to enjoy the training, so I was very pleased. Two of them Novak, 4th dan, and Neboisha, 3rd dan, good friends of Sasa who run another dojo, came specially for the training.

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After the class Sasa and a bunch of people took me to a pub nearby and I had the opportunity to get to know them better. Later, on the way to my hotel, Neboisha showed me ruins of some bombed buildings…. I was shocked! War is the worst thing I can think of. Next day Sasa  showed me more of the city for about 3 hours. I had the chance to see how nice Belgrade is. Not to mention that in some places it looks like Athens in terms of traffic. 
 
On Thursday I led the class again with more people this time. After the class Sasa asked me to go again on Sunday.

I would have really liked that but I was leaving on Friday. I am looking forward to one day repeating the experience......

Babis Keranis Sensei
President of the Hellenic Aikido Association-Fukushinkan Dojo, Athens Greece
5th dan So Hombu Aikikai Japan, Shidoin, Technical Advisor and Chief Instructor of the Hellenic Aikido Association-Fukushinkan Dojo, Athens Greece