November 2014 I had the opportunity to attend a seminar presented by Sensei Akuzawa Minoru on the new martial art called Aunkai that he founded. With open eyes and curiosity I signed up, booked flights, and organised a place to stay in Auckland, as I live in Wellington. Unfortunately my long awaited knee surgery was ok’d by the health system and guess what…..3 weeks before the seminar!!!

With gratitude to Filip who I had only met through the world of facebook and common friends I was graciously allowed to watch from the sidelines. Now, I can say with conviction I was intrigued by this fluid style of Akuzawa Sensei’s movement, the grounding presented and the use of structure to control movement, all of which resonated with my own exploration in Jiu Jitsu. To say I was disappointed that I was on the sidelines is an understatement.

Scroll forward to 2016 and Filip contacted to say he was bringing Manabu Watanabe, one of Akuzawa Sensei’s longest standing students and assistants to NZ. Well of course I signed up…Take 2!!

Unfortunately the gods intervened and Manabu was unable to get to NZ very last minute. Some would say the gentleman that is Filip Maric, stepped up and offered to run the seminar with his self proclaimed limited exposure to Aunkai.

Filip presented his plan for the weekend, words like centre, alignment, structure were thrown around. Words I had heard before….I know about my centre….who doesn’t. Ha, well was I wrong!! Filip had us warming up with a Bo staff, gluing to our centre and allowing it to move with us.

Now, I don’t train with weapons, so looking like a fish out of water off I went, looking to others in the group who clearly had handled weapons with envoy. Filip continued to coach us towards a mysterious point….only known to him at this point. We practiced spinal alignment, triple chins and all. We stood away from walls to practice the correct method of realignment, correcting years (not that many as still young J) of poor posture. What this had to do with Jitsu was still a little out there for me, yes I could understand the theory of good posture but this was a little OCD.

Well time went on, after a few experiences being roller pinned against the wall to produce the right feeling (wow, that’s how pastry feels). We moved to the afternoon to put some of this into practical experience. LED bulbs (eco friendly moments) were going on everywhere. Filips gentle and persistent corrections, his well thought out direction and planning had led us to this small moment of clarity. Suddenly the simple warm up movements, the time learning Maho static and through movement, Shintaijuku, and many other exercises were coming together.

Filip had by the end of the weekend provided us with a thought provoking, idea of what it means to be centred. I am nowhere near this point yet but can see the benefits for my art and me. Beyond the art, how I walk in daily life, sit, stand hold myself. Did Filip just transcend the martial?? Ha! No…what he did do was present a thought, a seed, an idea as he understands it. He has started a pathway of ideas to explore.

I would have to say the weekend was outstanding. Not just in content but the delivery of this idea, well thought out with purpose. Always recapping to show us the path of learning had direction. It was a glimpse into Aunkai that made me want more and I will certainly return if the chance arises.

Thanks to Filip for this seminar, although disappointing not to catch up with Manabu, I have no reservations about the seminar given. The silver lining in all adversity is after all that it allows us to learn…. Thank you Filip.

Paul Huston, 2nd Dan Ju Jitsu, Wellington Judo & Ju Jitsu Academy