"Ethics and aesthetics are one," Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889 – 1951
Monday + Tuesday: 4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Thursday: 9.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.
Friday: 3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.
DOJO – CONVERSION OF A CHURCH
A place for silent exercise and a companion
Dō (道) stands for "way, pursuit" and Jō (場) for "a place". In Japan, the term "dojo" refers to the practice halls for martial arts and the meditation halls in Zen monasteries.
Our dojo has moved to the former Trinity Church in the Cologne-Ossendorf district. Respect for the spiritual task of converting a Western sacred building into an Eastern meditative practice hall led me to consult Professor Paul Böhm (architect) and to ask and commission him to undertake the structural and artistic design of the new dojo.
With a great deal of sensitivity and respect for the existing building, the church was converted into a genuine, beautiful dojo, above all with wood and plaster - puristic yet at the same time striking. It’s a dojo that invites silence, offers grounding, while simultaneously opening one's senses.
It reflects precisely how I understand, practice and teach aikido.
THE LUXURY OF EMPTY SPACE
A dojo is essentially a large, empty space that opens up wide – and in the new dojo, also upward – thus visibly creating space for physical and mental movement. A luxury in our dense everyday life that’s full of things and issues.
Inspired by Zen aesthetics, our dojo has been designed on simple, clear and harmonious lines. You don't need much to practise aikido. But the little it takes is looked after with much love and devotion. This ideal of reduction required careful planning and implementation. Every building block matters. Even that which is not visible can still be sensed.
Thanks to Holger Reif (an energy consultant with an engineering background) the work of art has succeeded in heating the former church in an ecological and affordable manner.
- The roof was insulated to a high standard – while at the same time offering protection from heat in summer.
- Numerous windows were replaced.
- A clean slate: the old, dilapidated and energy-guzzling heating system was carefully dismantled. Likewise, a huge "forgotten" oil tank in a deep cellar.
- Modern biomass heating,
- combined with a solar thermal system and
- two large energy buffer storage tanks (water) were installed.
Three coordinated systems with an excellent eco-balance: the clean burning of pellets* + the power of the sun + the ability of water to store heat!
* Pellets: small, cylindrical bodies made from residual wood such as sawdust and shavings produced when wood is processed. Short distances and production save resources. Heating with pellets is considered to be climate neutral.
The most demanding heating task is the former worship space, which is today’s practice hall. High ceilings and large leaded windows. All gorgeous, but keeping this space warm in the winter in an energy-efficient way while not disturbing the aesthetics of the empty space was a feat in itself. The solution:
- The expertise of an experienced church heating specialist. It embedded three heating stations into the floor next to the mat. They use warm water to generate warm air. A quiet air recirculation system with fine dust and pollen filters.
FROM THE INSIDE TO THE OUTSIDE
Since we’re working our way from the inside to the outside, at present “only” the new beautiful red roof, the plastered gables painted dark grey, the eleven new windows and the improved protective glazing in front of the resurrection window can be seen from the outside, and, in the dark, the warm light and the new entrance: a heavy, Japanese-style wooden door with a canopy.
We took down the bulky, very old canopy of one pathway on the front lawn. It had blocked the view of the beautiful, clear silhouette of the building and five magnificent trees. The old main portal – the current emergency exit – has been preserved, finely sanded and refurbished and has had frosted panes of glass added on the left and right sides.
The first construction phase has now been completed. Inside, almost everything is ready. Aikido has been practised here six days a week since January 2022 .
What is still pending is the redesign of the areas around the dojo, such as the former church square.
- The façade of the dojo will be plastered with a slurry seal.
- The plan is to install a garden and a path to the dojo, which will help people let go of their everyday thoughts. Architecturally inspired by the gardens of Japanese teahouses.
- In it, there will be an open space for meditation.
- To make the garden area a calm place, the stairway of the church tower will be closed off and planted.
The only church building in Ossendorf will be preserved. A simple post-war building that has shaped the cityscape for decades. By being converted into our dojo, it has been saved from being demolished.
It is important to Paul Böhm and me to make the new character of the building visible and perceptible on the outside, too.
The costs for remodelling interior have turned out to be considerably higher than anticipated in the initial plans. But everything has also turned out much nicer than I could have ever imagined. I don’t regret a cent; on the contrary, I’m grateful. However, the budget is exhausted. This means that the plans for the outside also depend on financial support.
A vision of peace runs through my life like a common thread. I’m now another big step closer to achieving this vision.
Even as a teenager, influenced by my mother’s war-time traumas that didn’t heal, I felt the desire to bring some peace and stability into the world. In my thirties, I persistently developed the martial art of aikido into a way of peace. In my forties, in collaboration with Christina Barandun, I wrote a book about this path of practice and experience. During this time, I also started to train aikido teachers according to a Japanese teaching method.
The former dojo on Silcher Street used to a garage for lorries that was built in the 1950s.
In 33 years and through thousands and thousands of hours of practice, it matured into a place where the idea of martial arts as a way of peace was long lived and left clear traces. A space that invited people to move in a healthy way, to be in contact with themselves and others, to gain some distance from everyday life in silence, perhaps to reflect on the one thing or the other and to become more relaxed.
To continue this work now in a small former church, which itself was a place of inner reflection for decades, motivates me deeply.
Any support is good.
- Samu, 作務
, refers to the work of maintaining a dojo, such as vacuuming the mat, cleaning the floors, minor repairs, and gardening. Samu is part of meditative practice in Japan and serves the common good.
Saturday 9.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.
Dirk Kropp, Aikido üben
IBAN: DE51 3705 0198 0002 9926 26
Intended purpose: Donation new dojo
A donation receipt for tax purposes cannot be issued.
Handling of donations
The responsible and transparent handling of donations is important to me. If you’d like more detailed information, please contact me at any time.
My heartfelt thanks to the many, many practitioners from our dojo, alumni and neighbours who have supported all this in their own personal way and continue to do so. Such a project draws and develops its strength from such broad solidarity.
- Countless hours on the construction site, in the garden or in the background.
- €155,456.03 in donations.
Protestant congregation of Bickendorf
- Took over the clean-up of pollutants and the repair of the sewer system. Participation in the protective glazing (resurrection window)
State climate funding
- €84,418.00 of support for replacing the entire heating system and renovating the roof.
Architekturbüro Paul Böhm,
Holger Reif, Ekoplan,
Patrick Posielski, P2 Brandschutz,
Markus Breuer Elektrotechnik,
Putz & Stuck, Daniel Dibke,
Tischlerei Heinrich Müller,
Gerüstbau Christian Eggert,
Jens Peter Reichert, PR Licht,
Seeger, architektonisches Licht,
Florian Kick, Emit,
Theod. Mahr Söhne, Kirchenheizung,
Josef Frings, Sanitär-Heizung,
Villeroy und Boch,
Mario Krech, MK Bau,
Giovanni Noé, Rohrreinigung,
N. Barsuhn – Versetzen von Schwergut,
Guido Jüsgen, Schornsteinfegermeister,
Christian Schmitt, Schornsteinfegermeister,
Lukas Roth, Fotografie,
PUBLIC RELATIONS WORK
Marlis Wodara – MW, Lukas Roth – LR, Heribert Rösgen – HR, Dirk Kropp – DK.
- 18. Dezember 22, 16.00 Uhr: "Taiko im Dojo" mit Ranvita Hahn. Ein kurzer, kraftvoller Festakt. Dauer ca. 20 Minuten. Anschließend Zeit zum Nachklingen lassen.
- 18. Mai 22, Öffentliche Führung "Die Kraft der Leere" mit Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lieb und Prof. Paul Böhm.
- 5. September 20, Info-Veranstaltung mit Pfarrerin Uta Walger, Architekt Prof. Paul Böhm, Aikido-Übender Uli Krüger und Bezirksbürgermeister Josef Wirges.
Photo documentation of the “conversion”
by Marlis Wodara, as of May 2022:
- Artikel, 1. Juli 22, von Angelika Stahl im Express die Woche.
- Artikel, 24. Juni 22, von Roland Friedrich, über die Glasmalerin Ingrid Vetter-Spilker, im Schau dich um.
- Artikel, 2. Juni 22, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
- Interview, 18. Mai 22, mit Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lieb im Domradio.
- Artikel, 14. Oktober 21, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
- Artikel, 16. April 21, von Angelika Stahl im Kölner Wochenspiegel.
- Artikel, 21. Januar 21, von Heribert Rösgen im Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
- Interview, 25. August 20, von Ulrike Hilbrig und Georg Kanonenberg in der Begegnung.
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