Alter Wiener, Holocaust Survivor, Speaks at Tulen Center

Holocaust Survivor and author, Alter Wiener, is coming to speak at Tulen Center on Wednesday, February 12th from 6:30 – 8:00PM. Recently, I was asked what a connection I see between martial arts training and the life lessons and stories of someone who survived three years in concentration camps. The connection was intuitive for me, but I thought, “What a great question!”

When I teach self-defense classes to women and kids, part of my job, as I see it, is to instill a sense of self-confidence and empowerment. There are many things we cannot control, but we can take charge of the things within our grasp. We can stand up for ourselves and for others, we can make choices that are in our best interest, we can serve others and make a difference. In the martial art I train, Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, we practice compassion and taking care of one another. It’s what all the kids, teens and adults in my school, and Tulen practitioners around the world, embrace along the way to black belt.

Often, the women in my self-defense classes have suffered rape, assault, child sexual abuse, you name it. Some of the kids come in with stories that make your skin crawl. In coming to Tulen Center’s self-defense workshops and martial arts classes, they are making a choice to stand up for themselves. In speaking out and sharing their stories, they are embracing their strength and potential and making the world a better place. Women, and children too, often choose the journey from victimization to self-actualization. It is a brave choice and I am always honored to be part of it.

I am fascinated by Mr. Wiener’s capacity to take an absolutely horrible, achingly painful experience and turn it into forgiveness and compassion. He is an example of this journey from victimization to healing. He has chosen to move beyond the anger and victimization into a place of strength and love. He is using his voice to help make the world a better place. I cannot wait to hear him speak and I know our students will be inspired by his life story as they make their way along their own path.

If you would like to come hear Mr. Wiener speak, the event is free, but we ask that you register as we have limited space. Register here.

Mr. Wiener will have copies of his book for sale for $20 each. He will sign them for you. He requests check or cash.

For more information about Alter Wiener and his book, “From a Name to a Number”, here are some links:

Alter Wiener’s Facebook:

Alter Wiener’s Autobiography

From the Amazon Page: Alter Wiener’s father was brutally murdered on September 11, 1939 by the German invaders of Poland. Alter was then a boy of 13. At the age of 15 he was deported to Blechhammer, a Forced Labor Camp for Jews, in Germany. He survived five camps. Upon liberation by the Russian Army on May 9, 1945, Alter weighed 80 lbs as reflected on the book’s cover. Alter Wiener is one of the very few Holocaust survivors still living in Portland, Oregon. He moved to Oregon in 2000 and since then he has shared his life story with over 700 audiences (as of June, 2011) in universities, colleges, middle and high schools, Churches, Synagogues, prisons, clubs, etc. He has also been interviewed by radio and TV stations as well as the press. Wiener’s autobiography is a testimony to an unfolding tragedy taking place in WWII. Its message illustrates what prejudice may lead to and how tolerance is imperative. This book is not just Wiener’s life story but it reveals many responses to his story. Hopefully, it will enable many readers to truly understand such levels of horror and a chance to empathize with the unique plight of the Holocaust victims. Feel free to visit my website www.alterwiener.com for more information including links.

One of Mr. Wiener’s friends, and local children’s author, Trudy Ludwig, has written a biography about Alter for kids. The book will be published in April. Click here to follow the link to her book.

Poekoelan Finds You

I know I harp on this a lot, but you are really never too old to train Poekoelan. With age comes wisdom. You might be scared, yes, but you are not too old. The Poekoelan Community loves and cherishes all of our students, from the youngest newborn to the oldest Grampa. There is room for everyone here, this is what we do. Mas Cheryl, from our sister school, One With Heart Tulen Center in North Portland, has some words of wisdom about how she, a Grandma, started on her training path.

GBA Trainer Family

 

To the left, you’ll see some advanced students in our art. You don’t have to look too closely to notice some gray hairs. Really, there’s a place for you in Poekoelan no matter how old you are!

 

How Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen Found Me

by Cheryl Hagen

My first Instructor, Bantoe Gerry, once said “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.”

At first I wasn’t sure what he meant. But I now know this was true for me and my family.

When my granddaughter Tara was in first grade at Beach School she came home excited about an afterschool self-defense class called “No, Go, Tell, Yell.” After she attended the class we were invited to St. Johns to a place called One With Heart.  We had looked at other martial arts schools for the Tara and her brother, but hadn’t found a place that felt quite right. I was no longer looking. As soon as we walked into One With Heart I said to my daughter “sign them up.” I could feel the positive energy immediately.  I noticed everyone was talking and laughing; smiles everywhere, even the instructors. We sat down, watched, and signed Tara up that day.

Tara loves training. She tried for some time to get me to train with her; a grandma, granddaughter thing.  I told her I couldn’t do it because of my age and physical condition. I honestly didn’t think I could do it.  But many people saw more in me than I saw in myself. One student asked me why I didn’t train. I told her what I told Tara; I was too old and I wasn’t in good enough shape. She pointed out there is no better way to get into shape than to start working out. And she pointed out that there was one student who was older than me when she started training and was now close to earning her Black Belt. I wasn’t completely convinced, but Tara was relentless so I continued to think about it. Finally, at age 52, a smoker, not the best shape, I decided to give it a try.  I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That was almost three years ago.

Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen is much more than a martial art. Training has helped me meet and overcome life challenges and I know this is true for many people. There are times during training when I have felt frustrated because physical injuries make certain things difficult to do.  When I am frustrated Bantoe Gerry reminds me that Poekoelan is like a broken mirror, no two students will look the same.  Just like a mirror when you break it, all the little pieces are different, yet together they are complete.  So even though I have had to make modifications in my training I can see that I am part of something bigger. And my part is as important as any other.

Today my daughter and three of my grandchildren train. We are growing together. Since I began training, my physical endurance has improved.  My brain is more alert. My stress level has gone down.  My self-confidence rises with each challenge I overcome. I am more patient than ever before.  And I have just about quite smoking.

I am continuously finding new strengths I never knew I had.   I tell my story because if one person takes the challenge I took from my granddaughter, that person may find strength they never knew they had.  Bantoe Gerry once told me “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.” I never thought I would train a martial art. I certainly wasn’t looking for one.  I feel so fortunate that Poekoelan found me.

The Joy of Selfless Service

Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen is a traditional martial art. One of the things we learn as students is how important it is to be able to put our own ego and needs aside and focus our loving energy on others. In practicing this, we receive incredible gifts, many that we could never have imagined possible!

We are a Poekoelan family. My husband and I have both been training for years and years. Both our kids, who are now 11 and 13, have grown up in a home very influenced by what practitioners call the “Golden Principles of Tulen.” One such principle is selfless service: the art of giving of oneself and putting one’s ego aside.

Some family friends were moving last weekend. Both the mom and dad work full time. They are busy people, so you can imagine that this move has been stressful in a number of ways. As a family, we commited to helping them on Sunday. My kids love our friends, but there were the usual grumbles and “do we really have tos?” you might expect from an 11 and 13 year old on an early Sunday morning. “We said we’d be there so of course we’ll be there! Remember, this is about love. Our friends need us and we are going to help them. This is about giving of ourselves when it really counts. Let’s go!” And off we went.

Our friends who were moving also train Poekoelan, and some other Tulen practitioners were there that day helping as well. This is what we do as a community. We help one another. In a time when it seems so many people are selfishly looking out only for themselves, it is a blessing to be part of a community of people who care about one another and are willing and present when it matters.

We spent the day hauling boxes, furniture and all sorts of odds and ends. We emptied the old house, drove across town to the new house in cars and trucks and unloaded. The new house has 45 steps up to the front door! We chuckled all day long giving one another the “Golden Bootie” award. By the end of the day, we were all tired!

The four of us got home, took care of final weekend wrap up: laundry, finishing touches on homework, showers, and other chores, and met up an hour or so later for dinner. We were discussing the day when both my kids let out incredibly satisfied sighs and said, almost in unison, “I had so much fun today!”

As a mom and a Poekoelan practitioner, this was a beautiful moment for me, when it all came together. Did we have other things we could have done that day? Of course! The house was a mess, our to-do list is always exhaustingly long, and there were bazillions of things left undone. But that day, joy was our gift. The joy of having worked hard and put our energy toward someone else’s goal to help them reach it. There was love around all of us that day. This love will continue to surround us as we move forward in life, and it will continue to bless us long after any item left on our family’s to-do list. Garanteed.

Gatong Rajong

Pendekkar Silvia