Category Archives: Translations

…doing nothing…

The world needs new, different ideas.  It needs forces to develop, which are opposed to man’s warlike instincts,  in order to re-establish an equilibrium that was broken several thousand years ago.

I had gone to the mountains close to Hachiman-cho, in Gifu prefecture, to visit a Japanese friend of mine.  This gentleman is both an internationally famous musician,  and an archeologist specializing in musical instruments of the Jomon period.  He took me to visit a wonderful poetry dojo, in a little village by the name of Yamato, and he told me about the times when Japan was still a country where women were dominant.  He drew the contrast between that peaceful era, marked by flourishing poetry, and the period following the arrival of the horse.  He said, “When man got up on a horse, he became a warrior, and the real culture was wiped out.”  His evocation of the times when women were in control of Japan, reminded me of our druidesses, of our fairies, and of their powerful influence. The emotion in his voice, the precision of the words he chose, the nostalgia behind his eyes, all resonated deeply within me.

This meeting reminded me of a piece of advice that my teacher once gave me regarding my training. At a time that I was trying to figure out what to do to gain speed and power in the execution of my techniques,  I had arrived at the conclusion that I could only achieve this by becoming more flexible in my movement.  Becoming more flexible means for us exercising less constraint on our partner, and less intentional control of our own movement. When I asked him how I should go about achieving this, Sensei answered me: “Starting today, you must train as much as possible with women.”  The advice appeared to me to offer a paradoxical solution, because the truth is that I still believed in strength, even though I was trying not to use it,  and in particular I believed that more speed must also mean better muscle-tone.  I did what Sensei said, however, and I was astonished, after several months, to find my practice changing. I was putting less force into my movements, and in this way I was reducing my tension,  saving energy,  which I was then able to put into speed of movement.  And more than just the fact that I had achieved my  objective,  I was able to see several other ways in which I had changed. I was giving more freedom to my uke, without losing the least bit of effectiveness. And I was free-er, myself,  when I was uke.  In fact,  all round, I was less tense in every interaction. I was able to see, too, that my relationships with other people – even away from the tatami – had become more harmonious.  I had come to give more place to the “other” inside the thing that hitherto I had considered “myself”, but which,  by this very change,  I now found transformed.

- – - André Cognard Shihan (So-Shihan of Aikido Kobayashi Ryu and designated successor to Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan),  Vivre sans ennemi, pp. 149-51

O’Sensei no kuden: in-yo(5)

This attainment of “not doing” can become central to all the happy discoveries of your existence.

- – – 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.207

…Michio Hikitsuchi Shihan: seeing your partner’s ki…

In training,  O’Sensei would teach you to look at your partner’s ki.   Seeing your partner’s ki is to perceive your partner in his totality.  Seeing in this way allows you to absorb your partner’s spirit at the same time as his body – from the head down to the feet.  This is [all] hard.  [For instance]: you cannot wait for your partner’s attack – you have to acquire the ability to perceive instantaneously your partner’s suki,  and his [very first] intention to attack…

- – - Michio Hikitsuchi Shihan,   retrieved from Page française sur Hikitsuchi Michio Sensei 10e Dan,  December 12th, 2014

…shii no ha…

A monkey cries -
from the rocks where it lives
amidst swirling clouds
and in the treetops, scraggly leaves
of scrub oak are shaken by the rain

- – - Shotetsu

…the spirit of O’Sensei…

 - – - Kanshu Sunadomari Shihan:

There are many kinds of aikido and that is alright.  As I already said,  techniques evolve and that is perfectly natural. What is essential is your heart,  the state of your spirit.

As time passes, you will doubtless come to practise differently. It is not right simply to pass on what you studied: you, yourself, will take part in the creative process. Techniques will arise of themselves if you think to unite yourself with aite,  instead of thinking of knocking them down. That is an important point.

If you do not enter the world of the spirit,  then you will continue to work on forms which have no meaning, and you will finish by returning to the world of competition and strength. You must train keeping in your heart the spirit of Ueshiba Morihei.  Dojos where the spirit of O’Sensei is preserved and those where it is absent are very different. You feel it instantly.

- – - from French language interview on the Budo no Nayami website

…some waking up haiku, renku, kanbun and waka…

The First Dream of the Year

The year’s first dream:
still in my nose -
the heart of what it is to be a flower…

- – - Chiyo Ni

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Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan on the ethics of aikido…

Kobayashi Hirokazu passed on in August 1998.  He had given  [to the world years of]  teaching in accordance with traditional Japanese methodology. He demonstrated much, seldom explained, and he used metaphor more often than reasoned discourse. His teaching passed through silence, the body, and the sense of feeling. Nevertheless, he articulated verbally – and frequently – a certain number of points to do with the ethics of aikido:

  • aikido belongs to no-one: the Founder wanted it to be universal, and not exclusively Japanese
  • aikido is in no case a sport – rather, it is incapable of being anything but budo
  • aikido is not tied to any religion – no more to Shinto than to Buddhism or Omoto-kyo – and it cannot, in any case, be a religion.
  • in aikido, no-one defends themself, no-one takes a defensive posture, no-one watches the attack. No-one dominates, no-one submits, and no-one compromises.
  • the only strategy, is that the heart of the aggressor must change when he touches us “aite no kokoro kawaru“. In order for that to happen, it is important to give before receiving.
  • the aikido-ka must focus above all on two points: never injure the attacker, and know that he who attacks is making a call for help, is demanding love, that he is using the last possible means, at a point where conflict has cut off all relationship, to re-establish a connection.
  • the aikido-ka must be thankful for the attack, and [show gratitude in] successfully executing the movement that does good to everyone.

- – - André  Cognard Shihan (So-Shihan of Aikido Kobayashi Ryu and designated successor to Hirokazu Kobayashi Shihan),  Petit manuel d’aikido,  p.51

O’Sensei no kuden: Ame no Torifune

These rhythmic movements that I perform with accompanying sounds show the way in which with each movement I am absorbing and expelling the energy of the universe.

- – – translated (and possibly paraphrased in translation) by Itsuo Tsuda, reported by André Nocquet Shihan in  Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message  p.77

Gérard Blaize Shihan on Torifune…Furitama…

CHINKON KISHIN NO HO:  the method for calming the spirit - – -

Most practioners of aikido still begin each practice with exercises combining body movement, the chanting of names, and breathing associated with vizualisations, similar to those which the Founder of Aikido used to practise.

These exercises are, in Japan, designated by the term “CHINKON KISHIN NO HO” – which translates as: “the method for calming the spirit”.  This definition will come as a surprise to many aikido practitioners, who undoubtedly have no suspicion that such is the goal of these exercises.

But what are these exercises?  Why are they still practised today?   What utility do they have?

*  The CHINKON KISHIN NO HO exercises and their origin

We owe these exercises to a Shinto/Buddhist [sic] monk,  KAWATSURA BONJI (1862-1929).   It was he who brought back into current usage a system of self-purification (misogi) which had existed in pre-Nara Shinto practice: at a time when it had not yet been influenced by Buddhism or Confucianism. This system consisted of a series of exercises with names that are difficult for a Westerner to pronounce: FURUTAMA [FURITAMA] – OTAKEBI – OKOROBI – IKUBI NO HO – AMA NO TORIFUNE. [AME NO TORIFUNE]

FURITAMA: this exercise is done sitting seiza. After reciting the NORITO SOJO,…

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Shigenobu Okumura Shihan on O’Sensei’s warm-ups…

Here is [Webmaster: an extract from] an article by Okumura Shigenobu sensei for the magazine Aikido Tankyu #5.

The original title is: Aikido no shugyo o hajimeru hito no tame ni (for people who are beginning their shugyo in aikido). Aikido no jumbi undo ni tsuite (on preparatory exercises for the practice of aikido).

“Ei-Ho, Ei-Ho, Ei-Ho”… The traveler on the early morning bus can, from as far away as the main street, hear and be astonished by this strange chant. The neighbours of Hombu Dojo, on the other hand, are used to this unusual wake up call, around 6:30, the tradition of which goes back more than half a century: these are the preparatory exercises, a kind of gymnastics which combine preparation of the spirit with that of the body.

The practice of the martial arts, of course, requires a physical preparation to ward off accidents and injuries.

In aikido, the preparation is composed of:

1. “purification” exercises (misogi-taiso) – kawa mo shiki [correct movement and utterance for in the river already] – ishi no ue shiki [correct movement and utterance for on the stones beside the river]

2. health system methods (kenkyo ho) – makko hoNishi shiki [Nishi system]

3. various breathing exercises (shinkokyu)

There are thus a variety of preparatory exercises and health systems in the aikido practised today. Ueshiba Morihei, the founder, used to say: “This is good, but that is good too”.  Consequently, the number of exercises was always growing.

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