…Fourth of July Jinja-Mairi!!!…


SenseitoSenseiCROPThis summer I was able to visit Tsubaki America Shrine for my O-Mairi.  It has been many years since I was able to go,  so I was really happy to be there and experience the transformative atmosphere of the Shrine,  and even more:  Guji-San’s amazing talent as a shrine-keeper.  We were able to visit a little bit, but it was a very busy time for him, too. So, all the more, we enjoyed so much his hospitality, and hope to return soon.

We are hoping to collect a group of dojo-members who might be  interested in experiencing shrine technology and take them up for a little trip.

I want to extend my incredible gratitude to Sensei for the years of work that have created this Shrine.  He’s one of the few people that I’ve ever met who have that level of commitment that they can make something that everyone says is impossible  actually happen, and happen in a bigger and more incredible way than anyone could have imagined.

- – - Kimbal Anderson Sensei,   August 2014


Long-time Komyozan Dojo member, Pat McDonald…

…returned to Great Nature, Wednesday July 16, 2014…pat_sanCROP






- — – - – - – - – he is in our thoughts- – - – - – - – - 

- – - – - – - – - – and greatly missed – - – - – - – - -

O’Sensei no kuden: Jo(3)

Your mind must never intervene in your movement, no thought should assail your spirit.

You will then be able to master “ten-chi“, which is to say: “heaven and earth” in your own “sphere”, which will become equal in power to the cosmos, as if unreal and without weight.

- – – translated (and possibly paraphrased in translation) by Itsuo Tsuda, recorded by André Nocquet Shihan in his Hombu training diary, 1955-57. Published in Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message p.139

…in the dojo(80) – - – backlit shinai!!!…


There are many swords in aikido…

…the Itto-ryu that Takeda Sokaku Sensei practised:  which is in almost every aikido movement, and which creates the body and  sensitivities on which aikido is based (the relaxed shoulder from a  well-performed chiburi – or from 1,000 cuts, the experience of isshin with aite – or with one’s fellow members in a battle phalanx – , the constant and egoless contact of “sticky swords”,  the centered body – with arms protecting armpits – moving from the hara, the ki-musubi of tsuka and hara mushin…distant-mountain-gaze…)   …and indeed… and by good fortune…  the Iai that Nishio Shoji Shihan learned and practised was in the Itto-Ryu tradition.

…the basic Yagyu Shinkage Ryu kamae of hanmi  (or hito-emi), which O’Sensei valued as the physical manifestation of the ki of katsujinken – all the more so because the initial kihon solo exercises of the clan-related Yagyu Shingan Ryu Jujutsu, in which he held a menkyo, use a 90 degree “in-yo hanmi” and various sword-swinging movements as exercises in sensitization to ten-no-kokyu and chi-no-kokyu 1) . Yagyu Shinkage Ryu is probably the only sword ryu that O’Sensei studied formally, but the body of Ono-ha-Itto-Ryu is in every movement of Daito-Ryu.

…the Kashima Shinto Ryu that O’Sensei investigated,  I would guess, partly  for its primordial and Shrine-centered status…

from which last he developed…

…the kata of Sho-Chiku-Bai,  as exercises in the three flavors of ki-feeling that he felt arising in aikido…and in ki-musubi…and in sen-no-sen

…and Aiki-Myo-Ken: which is a way of talking about the phantom sword that is present to an empty-handed swordsman doing his sword movements as Tai-jutsu – and especially when he does them with a heart of katsujinken.

..and   …and…

1) Yagyu Shingan Ryu Heiho,   Osano Jun,  pp. 34-54

…shimizu kana!!!…


…kanemochi mo kuma mo…

Rich men, and bears, too,
come, drink
at the clear, clear water – - -

- – - Shiki

- – - – - – - – - – Lessons from Fire – - – - – - – - – - -

by Jolene Starr

In my search for a cure for the interminable depression that had consumed most of my energy for the past four years, I finally turned to shamanism.  Shaman and his assistant Lori, took me up toward Bogus Basin to perform a shamanic healing ceremony with me.

On the drive up, Shaman discussed the details of how the ceremony would proceed.

We’re going to build a fire,” Shaman said.  “Fire is cleansing. It can burn away sadness, anger, grief. You can have a conversation with the fire. Let the fire know what you would like it to do. But also listen to the fire. There will definitely be times where the fire will talk to you. Sit back and absorb what the fire has to say.”

We had gained about 1500 ft in elevation when Shaman pulled off the main road onto a dirt road. He drove a short distance, then parked.  “This is it,” he said.

I jumped out of the car and began walking up the trail while Lori and Shaman began to unpack the car. They had brought a box with firewood, camp chairs, an ice chest, and a blanket. They hauled them a short distance, to the other side of a large rock outcropping, where there was a natural clearing and a spot that had been used for a campfire before. Shaman and Lori argued briefly about the best way to start the fire. Shaman got it started, but then it died out. Lori took over. “Takes a girl scout,” she said.

Her fire caught and continued to burn.  While Shaman and Lori were getting the fire going, I wandered around and explored the area. There were a number of large boulders I could climb on, and I looked down into the valley. It was a clear fall day with only a few wispy clouds and we could easily see the city below. The temperature was in the low 70′s.

I came back from my exploration and I sat in a camp chair that was positioned close to the fire. The ceremony began with prayers to Mother-Father God and offerings of burnt sage to the four directions.  Chanting and dancing interrupted large spaces of silence.

Lori put a few sticks of wood next to me. “When you think of something you would like the fire to burn up for you, name it and put one of these in,”  she said.

OK,”  I replied. I grabbed a stick of wood.  “Shame,”  I said.  I gently tossed the stick onto the fire. “Here fire,” I said. “I want you to burn up all this shame. I have no need for it anymore.”

I stared at the fire as the stick began to catch.  The colors of the fire were intense:  blue and orange, in elaborate moving patterns. I glanced up at the enormous boulder that was on the other side of the campfire. Someone had sketched an outline of a face: large eyes, a mouth and a nose stared back at me. The face seemed alive. The expression was subtly changing. I looked back at the campfire. The small log that I had placed for shame was engulfed in flames now.

Here, fire,”  I said as I pushed another stick of wood onto it.  “burn up this  GRIEF.  I am tired of it.”  Sadness washed over me as I watched the fire burn.

I remembered Shaman had suggested that I have a conversation with the fire.  “Why did I have to be raped so many times?”  I asked.  The fire said nothing.  “Just karma, I guess,”  I mumbled to myself.  I looked at the fire; it crackled, then a loud pop.  “I’ll take that as a yes,” I said.

How did the rapes affect me” I asked the fire.

 “Stronger and more compassionate,”  the fire said softly.

What?” I asked.

STRONGER AND MORE COMPASSIONATE!”  the fire said firmly.

The words reverberated in my head. Stronger and more compassionate. Yes, I was stronger and more compassionate. Stronger and more compassionate than most people. I felt it and knew it was true, so I said it out loud, “I am stronger and more compassionate.” The words did not sound substantial enough.

I was strong, like Half Dome in Yosemite, like the 800 year-old Bristle Cone Pine that clings to a craggy outcropping of granite,  like the Caterpillar DC-979,  a huge earth mover that works in strip mines.

 I was a warrior for peace and justice. As a 19 year-old college student, when I’d stood up for justice, I’d been spit on by a bully. But I never crumbled,  never cried,  didn’t scream or fight,  just closed the door and walked away.

During my training as a young psychiatrist, I’d separated two young bucks bent on violence, a table flying across the room. Just risen from my chair and gave the command,  “Steve, you sit down. John, leave the room.”  They looked at me defiantly,  then they obeyed.

In my years at the VA.  I’d advocated for my patients with everything I had.  If someone needed a medication and it wasn’t on the formulary,  I fought with the pharmacy department. Once the Chief of Psychiatry came to my office to tell me that my patient, Ben, would no longer receive the treatment I had prescribed for him for the last two years. It was too expensive, a waste of resources. I had discussed the treatment with Ben. He was still benefiting from it and he wanted to continue. When Chief and I finished our discussion, Chief looked down sheepishly, said “you’re right,”  turned and fled from my office.

I was compassionate too. Maybe Mother Teresa had me beat in this department, but not many other people did. One cannot listen to death and destruction and the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man day after day without a huge dose of compassion. One of my patients said, “I know you understand, not by what you say, but because I can see the tears in your eyes.”

I looked at the fire. “I am stronger and more compassionate,” I said again.

The words did still not feel forceful enough, but I knew it was true.

Rebeca’s latest CD, Mostecelo, is…

mostecelo2here …and a preview of the upcoming here!

A change of optic:

Aikido is a gem of many facets – sometimes it seems that every one of O’Sensei’s students remembered a different teacher, and of course, many, many different styles have been preserved and developed – but here is one facet that clicked into focus for me recently:

what if O’Sensei spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo coherently pursuing what he felt to be his “mission in life”?…

what if he spent his time away from Iwama and Tokyo creating and nurturing a network of dojos run by Omoto-Kyo, ex-Omoto-Kyo and Ko-Shinto believers ( hand-picked deshi,  some of them raised, almost, as members of his family) – - – and ex-Kamikaze pilots, too (!) – often with his own name on the sign -  in places – and close to shrines…

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