by Gertjan Boks, Chair of the Aikido Federation of the Netherlands (AFN)

Goedemorgen, welkom allemaal. 

I’m honoured to welcome you all on behalf of Aikido of Berkeley, Aikido Shoryukai Nederland and the Aikido Federation of the Nederlands to this friendship seminar for Ukraine.

A special welcome to our friends from Berkeley Kayla Feder sensei and Lisa Baldwin and a special welcome also to Ruud van Ginkel sensei, John Goverts sensei and Piet Lagerwaard sensei, who will be kindly sharing their aikido with us this weekend.

We all feel the impact of the war in Ukraine in our daily lives, but that is nothing compared with the impact on the Ukrainian people that have lost loved ones, fled their homes and cannot be together with their families as a result of the Russian invasion of their country in February this year.

Since then the aikido community has been actively involved in helping the Ukrainian people. Kayla Feder sensei has organized several fundraising events, and by means of the Aiki Extensions organization provided direct help to refugees on the Polish side of the border. From the aikido Shoryukai family Pawel Zdunowski sensei and his students from Warsaw and Gdansk have themselves been taking supplies, food and clothes and provided transportation for refugees in Poland, with financial support also from the Shoryukai dojos in the Netherlands. And only four months ago in this very hall an aikido seminar and fundraiser was hosted by Satomi Ishikawa sensei and Silvia Marton sensei to support Ukraine.

And today, help is unfortunately still needed.

With the commitment of the Senseis with us today, with a financial contribution from the Aikido Bond Nederland that we gratefully acknowledge and of course the indispensable help of our great volunteers, the money raised with your participation in this seminar will be used to support the Ukrainian refugees.

On the tatami, we don’t fight wars and on the tatami we don’t play politics. We have friends both in Ukrainian and in Russian dojos and we will continue to use aikido to bring peace in their hearts and their lives.

With that in mind, I welcome you again and wish you all a good training weekend.

Thank you.