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Philosophy of a martial art

Henry Naiken spent 25 years in martial arts to discover his own system of self-defence called Aikendo. Meet the seasoned self-help guru from Seychelles



Henry Naiken (centre) at a demonstration in Nizam College grounds.

HE REVELS in showing on his laptop the video of the free-style combat in which a puny under-50 kilo student overwhelms an 80-kilo biggie in three-and-a-half minutes. "This fight is unlike a boxing or classical karate match where you follow the rules of the game. This is more like real life. Everything is allowed except hitting the eyes and the groin. It is the technique that is important and not force," he explains as the biggie taps on the ground conceding defeat.

At first sight, Henry Naiken is not unlike those seasoned gurus of self-help/positive thinking/leadership/motivation — charming, groomed, extremely energetic, witty and articulate. But, he has earned his eligibility to be a mentor the hard way. Naiken's grandfather, Rajoo Naiken, hailed from Gujarat. He spent his early childhood in Tanzania and shifted to Seychelles which was his father's chosen homeland. At school in Seychelles, he was a nervous weakling and quite a laggard. At the age of 15, he came across Lobsang Rampa's Doctor from Lhasa. The book helped him develop self-confidence. .

The next 25 years were spent learning and honing skills in a clutch of martial arts. His sturdy physique is evidence tothe endless hours of hard work he has put in. "I went to Johannesburg, South Africa, to participate in the UFC — Ultimate Fight Championship. There, I lost my bout to one of the native boxers, adept at street fighting, in just 40 seconds. But that was still better than the earlier competitors who had lost in lesser time. I was shocked! All my 25 years of training proved to be naught. It was fine as long as I was standing, but once I was on the ground, those fighters were marvellous. So, I stayed back for a week and learned everything about fighting on the floor."

This experience helped him develop a new system of self-defence — a combination of boxing, Greco-Roman wrestling and Brazilian Jijitsu — which he christened `Aikendo'. "It basically implies evoking confidence in everyone that "I" can do! When you train your body to this type of readiness for unarmed combat which may occur anytime and anywhere, it reflects your personality and builds an aura around you. You remain cool and confident. I call it the art of expressing oneself through live combat," Naiken explained at the Nizam College grounds, where he offered training in the basics of Aikendo to a group of eager students over four sessions.

"Anyone can learn it. It's even better if you are not trained in any martial art. And I can assure you that after 16 hours of basic training, you will be in a position to bring down the most seasoned commando in a matter of seconds" he proclaimed.

Naiken was on a visit to Hyderabad along with the Seychelles contingent for the Afro-Asian games. He also utilised the occasion to release his sixth book, Soar with the Eagles, an inspirational self-help book. This is his first book launch in India. His previous five books have similar-sounding titles: Know Thy Self: Mind Power Programme, Cosmo-earth System (about universal thinking), Love and Grow Rich, and a long one, The Winning Formula When You Can See The Light Within.

Naiken combines techniques of NLP and a lot of pop-religious thinking to drive home the simple message of overcoming the naysayers lurking in each of us and unleash the hidden potential for achievement. He has helped over 200 companies in the U.S., the U.K., Channel Islands and Mauritius in motivating their workers. He has also trained the Air Seychelles cabin crew and the Seychellian defence forces in Aikendo. Last year, an airhostess trained by him successfully aborted a hijack attempt of an Air Seychelles plane by physically overpowering the hijacker. Earlier, this year he had held an Aikendo session for the Bangalore police.

Naiken's method — both his martial art and motivation lectures — have the merit of not simplifying things too much. "This self-defence technique is of no use against armed opponents. But it toughens you mentally and physically to take appropriate action, keeping you relaxed even when your adrenalin is pumping!" Naiken proposes to go on an extensive tour of India next year to popularise his methods and create a network of certified trainers and coaching centres.

SUMANASPATI

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