In October of 2008, I travelled to Awassa, Ethiopia, to offer aikido training to Tesfaye Tukulu, a very talented martial art instructor with a background in Karate, Tai Kwon Do and Wu Shu. A year earlier he had come to Cyprus for “Training Across Borders”, an event organized through Aiki Extensions. This event brought Israeli and Arab martial artists from across the Middle East to train together in the peaceful art of Aikido.

Tesfaye’s gentle, powerful and respectful demeanor drew the attention of several of the teachers presenting there. Aikido ignited Tes. After the summit, he immediately began Aikido training in earnest and opened the first Aikidodojo in Ethiopia.

Several teachers, including myself went to Awassa to teach aikido to Tesfaye. Tes was co-directing the Awassa Youth Project (AYP), a tiny community center he had co-founded in the heart of the city. When I arrived, the center was bursting with activity. Kids of all ages migrated between a very small aikido dojo, an even smaller music room, an art nook and an outdoor area with mats. They used the mats for dance, acrobatics, and theatrical rehearsals for their circus show. Their travelling troupe raised awareness about aids and social justice issues as they performed around Africa.

The first night after landing in Awassa, Tes and a few of the other organizers took us out on the town. After some tibs (a traditional goat dish), chororsaa- (spicey beans) and injera (Ethiopian flat bread) we went out to a bar to dance.

My son, Sam was with us. Already a masterful tap dancer at 19 years of age, he had brought 20 pairs of tap shoes with him so that he could teach dance to the children at AYP. Also proficient at hip-hop, salsa, and other forms of dance, Sam, a tall strapping redhead was used to having all eyes on him when he got on the dance floor. This night, as Tesfaye stepped out, all we could do was stand and stare at this young man who danced so joyfully, powerfully, gracefully and fully in his body.

Into the night we danced, tasting some of the local drink and having a lot of fun.

Then at one point, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Tes quietly escort two of the women that had come with us out of the bar. In close pursuit was a very large, muscular man.  Something didn’t feel right to me, so I followed them at a discrete distance. Tes ushered the two women into a taxi and as he turned around, this very large and now angry looking man stepped up to him. I could not understand what was being said, but the tone and posturing of the big man was clearly confrontational. Later, Tes translated what had transpired in English for me.

Once outside, the man accused Tes of getting in the way of his advances toward one of the women. Clearly trying to provoke a fight, his voice grew louder as he took off his shirt and exposed his rippling muscled chest and six-pack. Looking on at this spectacle, my heart began to race. I had studied martial arts for 30 years and reflexively began to ready myself if I was needed. In the face of this menacing posturing, Tes, surprisingly calm, looked at him and said in a clear and genuinely curious manner,

“Wow! You are really built. Where do you work out?”

The angry look on the man’s face shifted to one of surprise. Somewhat dumbfounded, the man just said, “What?”

Tes said, “ I was wondering where you work out? You’re in incredible shape and I am looking for a new gym to work out in too.”

At that point, the man’s demeanor began to soften as he responded to Tes’s genuine interest in something he clearly valued himself. The subject soon changed to workout regimes and it was right about that point, I went back into the bar.

Tes walked back in to the bar and did not know that I had witnessed the interaction. When I asked him what was going on, he said amicably,

“Oh nothing, I was just talking to a new friend”.

My aikido teacher, Sensei Koichi Barrish, once said to me:

“When someone attacks, you surround them in kindness, a ‘ki‘ field” and he/she will have nothing to resist.”


In that moment of impending conflict, Tes’s practice kicked in. He allowed his embodied learning to lead. Creatively listening with all his senses, he waited for a moment of clarity to guide his intention into action. The above story reflects his ongoing commitment to a way of peace and the recognition that we are all in this together.

David Weinstock

One thought on “Peace Dojo in Ethiopia

  1. HMAS

    The Haitian Revolution (1791 – 1804) leading to the establishment of the Republic of Haiti was the first most successful slave rebellion in the world. A number of complex events may have set the stage for the bloodiest revolt in the history of human race which emerged in the Northern part of Haiti at Vertières on the outskirts of Cap-Haitien.
    Haitian General François Capois later called “Capois-La-Mort” had also proved himself as a fierce and unshakable fighter among the rebels as heavy cannon bullet killed his horse. The Black fighters attacked ferociously the remaining French soldiers, and the latters demoralized, defeated, and numbering no more than 3,000 were driven back to Mole Saint-Nicolas, where they gave up to a fleeing British fleet rather than facing the wrath of Dessalines’ forces.

    This event marked the end of slavery as well as Napoleon’s plan to conquer North America. Haiti was born and the first black independent nation in the new world was established on January 1st, 1804.

    The Haitian Revolution served as a model of courage. It sent tremors throughout the Caribbean and the United States slave plantations. Therefore, many slave revolts were sparked in the Caribbean including the Lesser Antilles such as Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent, Guadeloupe,
    St. Lucia and Jamaica. In the U.S. the leaders of the three largest slave revolts, Gabriel Prosser (1800), Nat Turner (1822) and Denmark Vesey (1831), were inspired by the success of the Haitian Revolution. Haitian system of fighting was developed which helped paved the way for many countries for years to come. With the successes of the current Haitian fighting regime several countries such as Panama, Chile, Venezuela, Equator was able to gain there freedom.
    The system of fighting consist of Judo as one of the many popular system incorporated and regarded as part of the Haitian fighting styles. Judo is really a contemporary self-protection type of Martial Arts that started in Japan in the late nineteenth century. It is generally used as an aggressive style for self-defense. My system of Martial Arts consists of many years of training in Kyokushinkai, Shotokan Karate-Do, Judo, Tae-Kwon-Do, and Taichi. I traveled the world teaching and learning different methodology. The most important part of my system is to train in vigorous rigid conditioning to develop not only the mind but the internal self. Most modern form of Mix Martial Arts adapt to some aspect of Jujitsu, Boxing, Grappling, my method is to control your opponent and never have go to the ground. Utilizing controlled targeted strikes and punches. With a strong mind body and spirit you can control all of your action furthermore it helps to control pain. As in the battle for freedom the focus is to train making every fight as your last; work on strategies against a resisting challenger.
    Haitian mix Martial Arts is a part of Haiti’s Way of life. Haitian are very proud and very competitive. Tae-kwon-do is another style used as part of typical Haitian fighting. The greatest objective after kicking is to control your opponent using their own inability to move and change from one system to another. My system uses the entire body , this is exactly what help and differentiate with other mix martial arts.

    There are numerous choice varieties of fighting styles that are shown over the planet. These are inclined in instructions of being optimum common with the considerably -east items and also Bruce Lee flicks, however there are lots of various other websites in simply the atmosphere the area martial arts is exactly as important as inside Asia.
    Judo is a solitary of the far more identified and also related to Haitian fighting styles variations. Judo is a innovative self-safety design that originated within Japan inside of the late 19th century.
    “mixed martial arts”, which has become a style in itself, but the training will still often be split into different sections.
    While mixed martial arts was initially practiced almost exclusively by competitive fighters, this is no longer the case. As the sport has become more mainstream and more widely taught, it has become accessible to wider range of practitioners of all ages. Proponents of this sort of training argue that it is safe for anyone, of any age, with varying levels of competitiveness and fitness. AFMA Executive Director/Chairman of the Board
    Professor Mario Arthur, Hanshi
    Here’s a short bio on him:
    Professor Mario Arthur began his Martial Arts training in 1963 in -Judo with Master Alexander Hamilton and trained later with various other instructors, Aikido with Sensei Rod, Kyokushinkai with Sensei Kenemura, Shotokan with Stephen Oliver and the JKA Organization Sensei Abe, Kendo with Sensei Tomita, Tai-Chi with Master Min-Pai, Tae-Kwon-Do with Tai Sik Kim and countless other Instructors.
    My name is Mario Arthur. I was born in Port-Au-Prince Haiti. I immigrated to the United States at age 8 and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from High School, I became an American citizen.. I hold a degree in Police Science, Criminal Justice and Master study in Asian Culture and Philosophy. Certificates in Safety Standards, Management development, Attended Placid Harbor Editor school.
    My interest in Martial Arts started at the age of six. I became fascinated, watching my older brother’s, weight lifting and practicing Judo. Initially it was a form of physical activity and for self-defense. It was after migrating to the United States that I was introduced to Karate–Do, Shotokan. I obtained my Black Belt at the age of 12. Opened my first school in East New York a section of Brooklyn in 1973. Traveled the world Competing and training in various Martial Arts. At the present, I hold a 9th Degree Black Belt in Shotokan (Japanese Karate). I am also the Technical Director for the American Federation of Martial Arts (AFMA) and now Chairman of the Board.

    I have had the honor to work and train with some of the best Martial Artists in the world. One of which, a personal friend and mentor, Master Thomas Lapuppett. e have traveled together for many years representing AAU, USA Karate Federation. We were members of both Executive boards. In 1975 certify A rated Referee with the Amateur Athletic Union represented the Metropolitan Association in New York. In the 80’s Hosted a weekly cable TV program in New York with well-known Martial Artist. Guests included, Major Leon Wallace, Fred Hamilton, Stephen Oliver, Malachi Lee and others. Trained and traveled representing the USA as an official at many State, National and World Championships. Produced several Black Belts in the New York, Los Angeles area and other parts of the world.

    Regional Coordinator for Intrax In charge of Training, Hiring of Teachers and Coordinators. Shop Steward International Association of Machinist / Member of Education Committee, Community Service and Human Rights. Explorer program. Represented and manages the activities of the post. Worked with High School and College age students. Interview skills and career development. Using Martial Arts as a mean of Social change. Regional Director Amateur Athletic Union/ Coached the United States Karate Team. Supervisor Trainer of Security Raleigh Studio and ABC Television Los Angeles. Member of the Los Angeles Police Department. Facilitated workshop on Diversity and Sexual Harassment/ Race Relation and Teamwork. Martial Arts Instructor and motivational speaker. Developed programs for Youth and seniors. Education: Master level studies in Martial Arts Asian culture. Accreditation in philosophy and history. Member International Fraternal order of the Black Dragon Society. San-Tan Instructor John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York City. Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Associate in Police Science. International Association of Machinists (IAM) Attended Placid Harbor Editor’s training School. Colorado Aids Project. Aids Counseling and training coordinator. Amway Corporation Sales, Multi Level Marketing and developments. Boy Scouts of America. Counseling and Leadership Skills Development. Co-Founder Haitian Sports Foundation ( Providing a vehicle for children in Haiti to get an education through sports development. Community Involvement: Black Professional Organization Representative Washington DC Metro area. Past President Denver Chapter Black Professional. Explorers and Colorado Uplift Mentor. Colorado Aids Project Counselor. /Foreign Exchange Student Counselor. Member of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. Salvation Army Centers Mentoring Program Coordinator. (Life Member Amateur Athletic Union / Member of National Committee (Life Member Take Your Community to Work/ Habitat for Humanities. 9th Degree Black Belt holder Japanese Karate. Technical Director American Federation of Martial Arts/ Executive board member Haitian Karate Academy. Former Haitian Karate Federation Coordinator Vice President CCCK- Central American Caribbean Karate Presently: Traveling throughout the World promoting Martial Arts, and cultural awareness. Promoting the technical aspects of Karate. I have been working with various Martial Arts Organizations on technical development. In November 2001: Received the appointment of Technical Director for AFMA International by the AFMA Board of Directors and March 10, 2014 appointed as Chairman of the Board.On November 15, 2014 will transition to Executive Director of AFMA succeeding Soke Ennever.

    Haitian Mix Martial Arts
    Founder Hanshi (Great Grand Master) Mario Arthur
    Haitian mix martial Arts is a system that I developed using all of the skills that I studied over 5 decades. Putting together the best of skills from my ancestry. Therefore using the variation of skills and techniques learned from many different martial arts. Hanshi Arthur System focuses on true test of skills and endurance. The application of Karate, Judo, and other Martial Arts help HMMA athletes to develop mind body and Spirit. The practice of HMMA is beneficial for all levels, Amateur and Professional. This system is a real test of will and determination. For Different martial art instructors with Solomon Kebede
    In 2014 he brought new martial art (Mixed Martial Arts) the first time in Ethiopia. The next presentation March 2016 Addis Ababa Ethiopia proved that anyone willing to put the time can learn to develop their skills and become proficient in using the HMMA system. It’s a life Journey into yourself, a reality check exposing your mental and spiritual development to accomplish physical feast and establish a personal goal.

    We Thanks Great Grand Master
    ( Hanshi Mario Arthur ) The founder of HMMA – Mixed Martial Arts,
    9th Dan Shotokan and awards many martial arts Dan
    American Federation of Martial Arts
    Executive chairman, official examiner and Technical Director

    Ethiopian AFMA & HMMA –Mixed Martial Arts Members
    Members Take Exam AFMA & HMMA 2016
     Genet Abegaz :- HMMA 5th Dan AE-HMMA 2- 5-16
     Seifu Mekonnen :- HMMA 5th Dan AE-HMMA 3-5-16
     Yonas Tesfaye :- HMMA 5th Dan AE-HMMA 4-5-16 WTF & HMMA
     Zerihun Asfaw :- HMMA 4th dan AE-HMMA 5-4-16
     Addisu Adinew:- HMMA 4th Dan AE-HMMA 6-4-16
     Shumi Buta:- HMMA 4th Dan AE-HMMA 7-4-16
     Tesfu Goshu :- HMMA 4th Dan AE-HMMA 8-4-16.
     Matiyas Tesfaye Master Instructor 4th Dan AE-MI -14-4-14
     Yohannes Nida Master Instructor 4th Dan AE-MI-15-4-14
     Negusu Solomon:- Master instructor 3rd Dan AE-HMMA 9-3-16
     Ashenafi Asrat Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI -12-3-16
     Felmon Yeman Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI -13-3-16
     Temesgen Tenaye Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI – 1-3- 16
     Husen Abdela Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI – 2-3-16
     Meteke Seifu Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI-9-3-16
     Yonas Tesfaye Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI- 10-3-2014 /Karate HMMA
     Raje Boresa Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI -7- 3- 16
     Dejene Habita Master Instructor 3rd Dan AE-MI – 5-3- 16
     Jemal Nassyo Master Instructor 2nd Dan AE-MI – 3-2-16
     Demoze G/Michael Master Instructor 2nd Dan AE-MI – 4-2- 16
     Abubeker Shikury Master Instructor 2nd Dan AE-MI – 6- 2-16
     Betsegaw Brhanu Master Instructor 2nd Dan AE-MI – 8-2-16
     Ermias Gessess Master Instructor Advance Level AE-MI -10-AD-16
     Awol Talegen Master Instructor 2nd dan AE-MI-11-2-16
     Alexander Gidy HMMA 1st dan AE-HMMA 10- 1-16
     Temesgen Kibebew HMMA 1st Dan AE-HMMA 11-1-16
     Master Azajie Ayele Kick Box & HMMA Senior
     Dagnachew Geremew Kick Box AE-K -1- 3-16
     Abdrahman Sultan Kick Box AE-K -2-3-16
     Tesfu Goshu Kick Box AE-K 3-3- 16
     Dang Thi Thanh Lan Karate 4th Dan AE- K- 1-4- 2016
     Lara Portal Karate 2nd Dan AE-K-1-2- 2016
     Nannette Govanni Karate 2nd Dan AE-K-2-2- 2016
     Jacob Seth Barrett Karate 1st Dan AE-K-1-Oct-2014
     The late (decease) Getu Abate Karate 6th Dan AE -K- 1-6-2016

    Shihan Solomon Kebede Negash:-
    • In 2010 Hanshi Mario Arthur came to Ethiopia and met Solomon then trained his students then appointed him to represent AFMA in Ethiopia
    • 2011 he came again by collaborate of Solomon then gave for different martial arts instructors exam then gave them what they deserved level.
    • He came each year to teach different martial art Instructors with Solomon
    • In 2014 again he brought new martial art (Mixed Martial Arts) the first time in Ethiopia He thought HMMA-Mixed Martial Arts How to teach their students and how to referee the competition and rule and regulation of HMMA, by HMMA founder Hanshi Mario Arthur. And he gave for different martial arts Instructors HMMA and AFMA Diploma what they deserved also Shihan Solomon Kebede Negash awards Nana Dan (7th) Dan.
    • In 2017 Solomon Kebede Negash also represent World Union Karate Organization (WUKO).

    Shihan Solomon Kebede Negash:-
    AFMA KARATE, HMMA Nana Dan (7th Dan) AE-HMMA 01-7-14
    AFMA Ethiopia Representative &
    Ethiopia and Africa Representative of HMMA
    Tel, + 251 911 23 73 33
    + 251 913 70 80 18
    P.O.Box 17103
    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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