Sascha’s quest for an alternative way of living led him to the dedicated study of martial arts early in his life. Since his childhood he trained Karate-Dô, which gave him a deep yearning to discover the holistic and wise martial arts of olden days. This desire lead him to study Japanese language and history and to multiple expeditions to Asia, widening his understanding of martial arts and of Asian health methods.
Sascha co-founded the martial arts research and training community Missing Link Karate, now based in England and Germany, and he teaches the Secret Elements Qi Gong system worldwide. Constantly drawn back to exploration and practice, he decided to embark upon his biggest quest and leave home for the adventure of No Journey’s End.
When (and how) did you begin the No Journeys End project?
The project is much older than its official starting date last year. It is the natural expansion and continuation of my prior travels. I started with martial arts as a child and was always intrigued by their mystical background, the philosophy, and the wisdom that surrounds them. But I couldn’t find that mystical tradition in the modern day club I trained in…
So, right after finishing school, I packed my backpack and flew to Japan. Equipped with my knowledge of English (no Japanese at that time), my head was full of romanticized ideas about the land of Samurai, Geishas and lonely mountain temples. It took me a while, but I found both modern Japan and a good pinch of realism, along with the ancient wonders I was searching for.
From then on I traveled to Asia and other places often. I trained in temples and met meditation teachers and monks. Later on, I organized martial arts group trips to China and India. Besides these short-time trips I was busy building up a school in my home city and creating a martial arts organization with fellow teachers in Europe.
The need to “get out” had really built up inside of me before I could inspire a friend to join me in starting the No Journey’s End project. But this was not possible without a lot of great help preparing all my projects to survive without me for at least two years.
How would you describe your work on no-journey-end.com?
The idea behind No Journey’s End is to travel the world on a quest for old traditions and wisdom, new, sustainable ideas and martial arts. It allows us to meet people from so many different walks of life and learn from their fascinating circumstances. In the end all of these topics overlap closely: it’s truly about a healthier, more aware way of living.
One part of my personal research was to dive into interesting martial arts traditions, especially indigenous ones that are nearly extinct or not well known. They bear such a rich cultural heritage and can teach us much about wisdom in a world before the spread of modern western culture. One of my favorite experiences was when I was invited to meet members of a clan of Maori warriors and learn about their style of fighting.
While in Australia, I was also lucky to track down some of the last people who know about aboriginal martial arts on the red continent. The project keeps us focused on what we really want to experience through travel, and also is a great door opener that helps us to meet great people around the world.
What sets you apart from other travel websites and projects?
Our focus on these specific themes is unique. Of course, there are other wonderful sites also interested in martial arts traditions, sustainability, and old wisdom. But it is our mix of interests and our backgrounds that shape this project. My friend whom I started this project with is very much into new, sustainable business ideas. I myself have a long background of martial arts and meditation-like traditions and also a scientific background of history. Joana is an environmental scientist and community builder.
We have a very special blend of topics and insights in our own research. For me, this is an intense and inspiring time. Of course, even a standard round-the-world trip would have had an tremendous effect on me, but I couldn’t imagine a better way to do it than by pursuing these great topics.
There’s some German on your website! What’s your relationship with German language and culture?
All of us at No Journey’s End are Germans, and I guess we just wanted our grandmothers to be able to follow along with our project!
When you are from a non-English speaking country and have an international project, you always have to decide if you want your site to be bilingual. For us, this wasn’t a priority. Most Germans from the younger generations are quite strong in their English. My relationship to the German language and culture on the other hand is improving each time I find myself missing it.
The ability to compare where I come from with other cultures I encounter gives me insight into so many questions. Being European gave me a broad frame of reference because the neighboring countries are quite different, if you look from within Europe. Observing it from Asia, on the other hand, showed me the strong similarities between all the Western countries.
How have martial arts influenced your travel experience?
Martial arts have always been a strong driving force behind my travels. On this trip they brought me into interesting traditions and people, but ultimately the pure technical aspect of martial arts is not as important as the stories and culture that comes with them.
Martial arts are universal: every culture on this planet has developed its own fighting techniques. It might be surprising to hear, but they were not always highly developed in Asian countries as most people today assume. The colonial era in particular wiped out many of these traditions. Bringing them back means bringing back parts of a lost identity and cultural tradition.
In many parts of the world there are wonderful revivals of old martial arts traditions taking place. Again, teaching martial arts gives a sense of pride and identity for ancestral roots and aligns with reviving language and ancestral knowledge.
What are some travel destinations still on your bucket list?
There are so many, I can’t count! The next leg of the trip is planned for South and North America. The revival of old traditions in the so-called ‘New World’ totally intrigues us.
What’s one place you absolutely have to visit again?
There are so many! I am a traveler who tends to always revisit the same places. I like to dive deeper into a place and that takes time and sometimes different perspectives of years in between visits. I’m already longing to come back to Ireland, because it feels like my secret home.
Right now though, what comes to mind is New Zealand. The Maori martial arts teacher and his people host a week of intense training on an island over Christmas each year, and someday soon I would love to go!
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