The Aikido Institute congratulates Wolfgang Baumgartner Sensei on receiving 7th Dan promotion this year. Wolfgang Sensei began his Aikido journey at the Aikido Institute in the late 1970s. His tenure as an uchi deshi at our dojo continues to live on in legend, and he is a celebrated alumnus. Omedetou, Sensei!
[the article below appeared in the Kiai newsletter in late 2000]
On Friday, September 1st,  Wolfgang Baumgartner Sensei taught the 6:30 P.M. class at the Aikido Institute. Wolfgang Sensei started his Aikido training at the Aikido Institute a number of years ago, and now brings Iwama style to Germany at his own dojo [currently chief instructor at Aikido Berlin-Karow]. At 6:00 that evening, the dojo was in a state of excited hush. Even Alonza was focused on the preparations, nestling t-shirts for Wolfgang Sensei and his family in a basket and lecturing the hamsters on the importance of good behavior. Peter Sempai arrived with beer, Kathy followed shortly thereafter with elaborate flowers, and the crowd began to pour in. The usual suspects from our own dojo arrived with even a touch more than the usual gusto, many bearing flowers. Then strangers started appearing, many with colorful hairstyles. This contingent was joined shortly by their leader, Jimmy Friedman of [currently chief instructor of 11th Street Dojo] in San Francisco, who once shared Aikido Institute uchi deshi duties with Wolfgang Sensei for some length of time.
from the dojo's photo vault circa '83
Then Wolfgang Sensei himself appeared, warm and smiling, happily greeting the dojo and his old friends. There was a last minute bustle of form signing, hand shaking and gi straightening, then a good two dozen warm bodies were bowing in.
Wolfgang Sensei is big and calm and kind looking. He speaks precisely with a deep, lightly German voice. He practices Aikido lightly and concisely, seeming to expend no effort, like a clever healthy cat would lazily snatch a tasty rodent.
We started with a bit of tai no henko ki no nagare to warm up and get accustomed to the tight adrenaline charged choreography of the well-populated mat. The theme of the class then became kokyuu nage, mainly in motion. Wolfgang Sensei would demonstrate a technique with a casual hip turn and lightning quick kokyuu, and uke would fall from the sky onto the far end of the mat. Then it was our turn. Concentrating earnestly on replicating Sensei’s simple power and grace without throwing all the ukes together in one big heap, we each performed the technique as well as we could. The heavy breathing and heartfelt kiais were punctuated by the occasional crack of skulls bashing together as mat management failure occurred. A sweaty fog clouded the windows and spilled out the door onto the side-walk. Microscopic organisms began growing on the walls, biosphere style, and every wrist was hot and slippery. Wolfgang Sensei mopped a drop of sweat from his own brow and joyfully threw another uke across the dojo.
Then it was over and we sat to bow out, spent and calm like the aftermath of a tropical thunderstorm. Tables appeared, and wonderfully cold and fizzy beer and water, perfectly accompanied by Deborah’s shamelessly chocolate brownies. Peter made a toast to Wolfgang Sensei and presented him with an uchi deshi t-shirt and 30 year anniversary t-shirts for his wife and family. Then Wolfgang Sensei’s wife and three boys arrived, followed by Pat Hendricks Sensei and her little one, and soon the mat was given over to a raucous bilingual game of pick-up ball tag, interspersed with old friends catching up. There was much laughter, and no one was hurt.
All in all, it was a lovely way to spend an evening.