August 17, 2015

Breathing Training

When practicing breathing training, it is best to start with Ki Breathing. The basic of Ki Breathing is to do Ki Breathing with natural posture (Oneness of mind and body). Exhaling should be slow and calmly from the One point.

At this time, if we consciously try to control our breathing by trying to exhale longer or trying to exhale better this will not help our Ki breathing exercise improve.

While Exhaling, it is best to leave it alone and let it naturally become 1/2, 1/2, 1/2… allowing it to continue and become infinitely smaller. At this time the “waves” in our mind should also become calmer and continue infinitely to the ends of the Universe.

An example that can be used to describe this is like a bowl, which is filled with water. In the beginning there will be waves, but if left alone after some time the waves or ripples that were on the surface of the water will naturally become calmer and quieter.

If we try to control our exhale during Ki Breathing, it is the same as creating “waves” in our mind, which has the opposite effect of leaving the breath alone, and our mind will not become calm.

The most important point of Exhaling during Ki Breathing is to “exhale and to let it be natural”. Once this feeling is experienced and felt, practicing Ki breathing becomes very easy.

This is like learning to ride a bicycle. To be able to ride it properly some practice time is necessary. The same applies to Ki breathing. For us to do it naturally and for Ki Breathing to be a part of us, frequent practice is necessary for us to catch this feeling and for it to become natural.

For Exhaling during Ki Breathing, “our breath should continue infinitely to the ends of the Universe.” Once this feeling is experienced, we can start to practice “exhaling in one breath.”

During the practice of exhaling in one-breath, many people usually tend to have unnecessary tension.

By frequently practicing Ki breathing and catching the correct feeling for it, the same applies to exhaling in one-breath. Here the end of the exhale is calm and continues infinitely to the end of the Universe. When this happens, inhale happens naturally after exhaling.

Practicing exhaling in one breath can be done continuously.

If each exhaled breath is not calm at the end, or if each breath is not exhaled completely, the next breaths for inhale then becomes shorter and not complete, thus the feeling of shortness of breath.

Another form of training, is practicing exhaling with one breath while swinging the bell, this is called “Sokushin no Gyo”. In the past this training was done for many hours in a day. Now we practice Sokushin no Gyo for about an hour.

By being able to extend our natural energy and strength completely, we then receive new energy and strength naturally. If we do not extend our natural energy and strength fully, then are unable to receive new energy and strength. “Sokushin no Gyo” can teach you this secret of breathing.

Once we get the feeling from practicing exhaling in one breath, we can start to practice “Ki Ai”, as in “Counting with Ki”.

“To count out loud” is the same as “Breathing out or Exhaling.” The way we exhale is projected in the way we count out loud as they are both connected.

When we keep One point calmly and exhale with one breath when counting out loud, we experience this same feeling, and so the voice that we project out will sound calm, confident and clear. 

With a voice that sounds calm, clear and confident it will also help when practicing or interacting with our partner and our surroundings. This is why we have had many actors and people who give speeches come to learn this breathing practice so as to improve and apply it to their work.

The final stage when practicing Breathing Training is to practice matching our “Breathing” and “Movements”.

This practice is usually applied by counting out loud during Bokken and Jo training, but the main purpose of training during Bokken and Jo moves should be that our count and our moves match as one naturally.

During Kengi and Jogi (Bokken and Jo) training, if our count is weak or not correct, it reduces the power of our actual movements by half. This is why it is very important for us to realize the importance of counting correctly.

Breathing and movements should always match as one naturally. It is when we are not in our best natural state or condition that our breathing and motion becomes separate and we are unable to perform to the best of our ability.

When teaching athletes, we also teach them how to train matching “Breathing and Movement” as one. By practicing this, most athletes usually improve their performance.

“Breathing out calmly”“Breathing out or Exhaling in One Breath” “Ki Ai or Counting out loud” “Breathing and Movement”, these are the steps that we can use to train in our Breathing Training.

|

July 05, 2015

What is Education?

(What is the definition of Education?)

 

Of course there is more than one answer to this question, but one answer could be “to acquire good habits”. To be more precise, it is “continuing to practice good habits till it becomes part of us.” 

If good habits are part of our daily routines, these good habits become “assets” for our whole lives. If bad habits are part of our daily routines, then these bad habits are like “obstacles/shackles” for our whole lives.

For good habits to be a part of us, sometimes this may take a few weeks, months or even years.

The person/teacher leading or helping someone or a student cultivate good habits needs to always be patient and continuous when leading and helping.

When I was a young child, I was not good at aligning my shoes neatly when I took them off at the door.  

In Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, our footwear is regarded as an “extension of our own feet,” if our footwear is not properly aligned neatly and disturbed, the same is thought of our feet as also being untidy and disturbed.

During that time, Soshu Kochi Tohei Sensei who was like a father than a teacher would patiently call out to me when my shoes were in a clutter and we both would align my shoes together.

This happened many times as I failed to learn and make it a good habit quickly. Instead of getting angry with me and telling me “why do still make the same mistake, even after I have repeatedly shown and taught you that you should align your shoes”, he would still always patiently align my shoes neatly together with me.

What he was strict about was that I always had to come and align my shoes neatly, he did not make any exceptions and he never allowed my shoes to be left scattered around.

I am not sure how long this went on or how long it would have carried on, aligning my shoes neatly by myself became a good habit without me realizing and knowing.

My mother, who was more hot tempered and strict, used to marvel at my father’s patience with me but he would always answer that “this is the fastest and quickest way to change and cultivate a habit.”

This habit of always aligning my shoes neatly is still a part of me now. Even though my father has passed away, I have still maintained and continued this habit.

Despite being brought up in that way by my father, when I first became an instructor I thought in order for students to progress well, it was necessary to be strict when teaching them. I soon realized then that this was not correct.

When teaching students and children Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, it is very important for them to learn good habits and how to continue to practice good habits. Which as a result, this would be the fastest way that they can change habits and continue to maintain good habits in their daily lives.

By being strict and severe to students in trying to make them change their bad habits, the result would be that this was almost impossible and not successful.

An example of a glass of water having a drop of red ink in it, to try and remove the red ink drop from the water is very difficult, it would be much easier to gradually pour in more clear clean water till the red ink stain disappears and the color of the water goes back to its original clear state.

The same applies to changing habits, instead of trying to repress and stop bad habits it would be much more affective to change by adding new good habits. The problem then is: having the patience “to keep continuing to pour clean and clear water till the change happens.”

During an Aikido grading, there was an applicant who kept making the same mistake at the same part of an Aikido technique. Each time he made a mistake, he would keep re-starting the technique from the beginning even though he had no instructions from the Examiner grading him to do so.

By continuously repeating the same mistake over and over again, there was no choice for the examiner but to ask him to re-take the exam again at another date. According to the applicant’s instructor, we were told that he usually never made any mistakes during practice and that there was usually no problem during that part of the techniques.

This student, as we soon found out would always stop in the middle of an Aikido art technique/ waza and re-start from the beginning whenever he made a mistake during training. This habit of always stopping Ki flow happened so many times it became a bad habit. As a result of this bad habit going unnoticed or changed, things did not go well for him during the exam.

If it was up to me, I would make sure that this student always continues the practice of his art techniques / waza all the way from start to end, so that he does not make a bad habit of stopping Ki flow during training.

What is most important during training is that we always “continue and do not stop Ki flow” by making this into a good habit, we can then apply this same habit of “not stopping Ki flow” to our daily lives as well as our work. Continuing this good habit would be an asset for life. If we always practice “stopping Ki flow” and it becomes a bad habit.….. , it would be very frightening to think about the consequence it would have on our lives.

“Always keep extending Ki till the end”

“Always maintaining positive Ki”

“Always keep company with people who have a good, Calm state of Mind”

“………”

By always practicing Shinshin Toitsu Aikido art techniques/ waza with good habits, only then can we start to apply the same lessons that we learn from the dojo into our daily lives.

 

|

June 27, 2015

Teaching at EKF Special Seminar (Southern Carolina)

From the 18th of June – 21st of June, I travelled to South Carolina, USA and taught at a Special Seminar hosted by EKF federation for 4 days. EKF which stands for Eastern Ki Federation is a branch of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido located in the East Coast of the United States.

We have taught at many USA National Seminars, which is held once a year for many years, but I am usually not able to teach and help each member directly as there are usually many members who come and participate at the Seminars. Which is why from this year, we decided to hold a smaller sized regional Seminar for a branch/ state instead. This year, 90 people took part in the EKF special seminar.

The main theme which was practiced by members during the Seminar was focusing on the basics of having “natural posture with Mind and Body Unified”, which was followed through with “Ken (wooden sword) with Hanmi focus” as well as “Ken (wooden sword) and arts”. On the last day, a Ki Exam was held and all 20 members who took the exam passed.

By practicing together during the 4 days seminar and spending time together at gatherings with members in the evenings, we were able to enjoy getting to know members and Instructors even more closely. We would like to thank our kind hosts, Chief Instructor of Eastern Ki Federation David Shaner Sensei and all members of EKF that helped organized the seminar and gatherings, we deeply appreciate all your efforts.

We hope and look forward to have more seminars like this with other branch Dojos and Federations in other states and countries, as well as more camps in Japan at Tochigi HQ Dojo. I also look forward to teaching and helping each member directly as much as I can.

|

June 06, 2015

Learning Attitude

It has been twenty years since I graduated from University and became Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei’s Uchideshi.

Despite starting Aikido at a very young age, the time it took for me to begin my proper Uchideshi training was actually a little late.

When I became an Uchideshi, the very first lesson I had from Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei was about having the correct “Learning Attitude”.

“Learning” is similar to pouring Japanese Sake into a glass. If the glass keeps leaking and no Sake remains in the glass when Sake is being poured in it, there is no use or meaning.

“Learning Attitude” is the Sake glass in this example. Why the Sake does not remain in the glass, can usually be classified into 3 reasons.

1) There is a crack in the glass that causes the Sake to leak out

When there is a crack at the bottom of the Sake glass, the Sake that is being poured into the glass will keep leaking out. The same example can be used to describe the beginning of my Uchideshi training. I was like a Sake glass that had many cracks. I first had to repair the cracks in my “Sake Glass”.

An example of one of the cracks in the “Sake Glass”, is not watching carefully when a teacher is teaching or giving a lesson. The essential aspect of learning is watching carefully and being able to imitate, repeat, or recreate what a teacher is showing. If there is a crack in the “Sake Glass”, you can never learn even though you practice for many years.

The first thing to do is to repair the cracks.

2) Having another type of Sake already in the glass.

If there is another kind of Sake already in the Sake glass, it is not possible to pour new Sake into it.

Using the example of a full Sake glass to explain “Learning Attitude” further, in this case the full Sake Glass is all our “experiences and knowledge” that we have gone through, or what we think we already know and understand based on “our own opinions”, or “the way we think”.

If we think of the teachings our teacher has given us as “I have heard this many times before already,” it means we will never really understand or learn the meaning of what our teacher is trying to teach us. Lessons that are being repeated many times are usually very important and the reason they are being repeated and given again and again is because we have not yet understood or learned correctly the meaning.

We first have to empty out “Our Glass”.

3) The glass is too small.

If the Sake glass is too small, only a small amount of Sake can be poured into it.

It is impossible for things that have physically fixed shapes to continue to become larger, but things that do not have physically fixed shapes in this case our “Learning Attitude” can always improve and grow infinitely depending on the effort we put into it. If the size of our “Sake glass” continues to get bigger, more Sake can be poured into it.

Our “Sake glass” that we make and maintain should continue to grow bigger and improve every day.

We should not try to begin with what we what we are learning or studying, but by changing and having the correct “Learning Attitude” which is the most basic and important aspect of training and practicing. I would not be where I am today had I not been taught this from the beginning.

Usually in schools and at home, children are taught what to learn but they are usually not taught “How to learn” or the importance of having a proper “Learning Attitude”. The foundation of learning or practicing anything is having the right “Learning Attitude”.

From this experience, when teaching and helping my Instructors develop, the first thing I teach them is having the correct “Learning Attitude”. I will come back to this lecture and repeat this class till my Instructors have understood and cultivated having good “Learning Attitudes”. As a result, most Instructors can develop faster.

I believe having a good “Learning Attitude” is more important than having “ability or capabilities”. Recently, there have been more requests and chances to do Seminars and lectures with “Learning Attitude” as a theme. I think this is a very important lesson that most children and students from this generation need.

 The above examples of “Sake in a glass” also works well with “water in a glass”, the reason why it was probably “Sake” instead of “water” is because Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei liked drinking Sake very much.

It is from hearing that story as an example, that I felt how important it was to “not spill or waste a single precious drop”….

 

 

|

May 19, 2015

Paying Attention and Listening

It was Sakura Season in Japan this past month. Just a few minute walk from the Tokyo HQ Office is a popular spot called “Chidorigafuchi” for viewing beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom. This year, I was able to take some time to enjoy a short walk along “Chidorigafuchi”.

When I happened to look down from the cherry blossoms and looked at the faces of people around, I found a variety of expressions on their faces.

During this time, there was a young couple who seemed to be having an argument. It seemed like they were quarreling because the young man showed up slightly late. The young lady seemed very upset and was persistently questioning the young guy over the reason for him being late. The young guy, seeing how upset the young lady looked, seemed unable to say anything.

The weather was warm and sunny but it seemed there was a cold and unusual atmosphere surrounding the couple having an argument.

Watching them brought back memories of me when I was much younger.

The basic element of communication is to understand the other person or partner. If we put ourselves and our needs first, trying to understand the other person will be almost impossible. Communication is particularly difficult if we have already formed our own opinions in our mind. Instead, we want to listen carefully and try to understand while waiting for the person we are communicating with to finish talking.

When I was much younger, I also made the same mistake of not listening countless of times, causing me to have conflicts with other people.

The same applies to practicing Aikido techniques with a partner.

If we make ourselves and trying to throw our partner the first priority, we will never be able to understand and lead our partner.

By already deciding in our mind the “correct way” of moving and doing an Aikido technique, we will not be able to feel, understand and lead, which in turn makes us “clash” with our partner instead.

When I was having conflicts while communicating with people, the same result happened with my Aikido training while practicing with my partners.

“In order to be able to really grasp and fully understand something, we must first put it into practice through our daily lives.” This was an advice that was always repeated by Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei.

After having realized that I had this habit, I tried to correct it by not deciding beforehand and forming opinions each time I listened to someone speak, until this became a new habit. Of course, this was easier said than done. It takes consistently repeating and practicing daily to accomplish this. I was able to cultivate this new habit and sure enough, this helped change and correct the way I practiced Aikido techniques.

By being calm and keeping one point, Ki naturally flows between my partner and me, thus, making it possible for me to understand my partner. 

Let us go back to the young couple who were having an argument while viewing cherry blossoms.

The young lady who was very upset was finally able to calm down and realize that her partner was holding something in his hand. It turned out that he was late because he was buying a present for their anniversary.

“By listening attentively we are able to change our lives with just one story.”

I made my way back slowly enjoying the Cherry Blossoms.

|

March 30, 2015

Unification during Movement and Action

Unification during Movement and Action 

Getting the feeling of a posture with Coordination of Mind and body is the basics of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido practice.

Natural posture has natural stability, and by checking stability in our posture, we can know whether we coordinate Mind and Body or not.

In the Ki Sayings that Koichi Tohei Sensei put together, there is a paragraph that explains this.

From the Ki Sayings no.12:  

 It is easier to coordinate mind and body when we are sitting or standing still than when in motion. But true unification means to maintain the coordination of mind and body even when we are moving.

 Sei chu no toitsu means – To always maintain the Coordination of Mind and Body while sitting or standing still (no movements).

Dou chu no toitsu means – To always maintain the Coordination of Mind and Body while in motion (during movements).

While sitting, standing or even just moving a little, it is quite easy to lose the Coordination of our Mind and Body which is why training is very important to help us maintain the Coordination of Mind and Body especially during intense and big movements.

A specific training method for maintaining Coordination of Mind and Body is the Ki Development Exercises, which are basic movements that are also included in Aikido techniques.

To some extent, it is first necessary to be able to maintain the Coordination of Mind and Body while sitting or standing (no motions). Once we get this feeling we can apply it to the exercises so as to be able to practice maintaining Coordination of Mind and Body while moving (during motion).

Another most likely way that we may lose our Coordination of Mind and Body is when we are practicing with a partner. When we are able to maintain Coordination of Mind and Body during exercises (practicing exercises by oneself, without a partner), then we should start to apply this feeling of Coordination of Mind and Body to Aikido techniques when we practice with a partner.

This way of step by step practice helps us ensure and understand clearly the feeling of maintaining Coordination of Mind and Body.

I remember a conversation from a few years ago with Mr Tatsuro Hirooka, a professional Baseball Player.

During Mr Hirooka’s professional playing days, he was taught the Ki Development Exercises by Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei. At the time, he thought that the Ki Development Exercises were the basic exercises for Aikido training.

It was after gaining some more experience as a baseball player that he realized that movements in baseball had close similarities to the fundamental basic movements that he had learned from the Ki Development Exercises in the past.

He then told me that he would like to re-learn the Ki Development Exercises again which I then proceeded to explain to him.

As I am an amateur at Baseball, I did not know how to use one’s body in Baseball, but as I was explaining the Ki Development Exercises to Mr. Hirooka I realized, through his understandings and ideas, how to apply the fundamentals of Ki Development Exercises to Baseball Players as well.

It was through this experience that I was able to learn more in depth the importance of Ki Development Exercises by explaining and teaching him.

It happened also for other Martial Arts, Sports, Music as well as Cultural Arts. By explaining to people who specialized in these fields, I was forced to look at each person and how they moved in their specialized field carefully and explain accordingly so that they could understand and apply it to their arts or sports career.

We realized that Ki principles, as well as Ki development exercises, are the basic foundation and can be applied to any movements.

In daily life, it is usually easy to keep Coordination of Mind and Body alone in quiet place. But it is important to also keep the same feeling even during hectic schedules and situations.

Ki Development Exercises is the access point to experiencing and understanding Unification during Movement and Action.

|

March 06, 2015

”Henshitsu”/Changing

The content of this blog is for Instructors or people in a position to lead members or other people.

 

(Mind) and (Ki) both have no shape or form, which is why we can’t see these with our eyes. Because both are invisible, it is easy to forget their existence.

 

Quantity vs. Quality:

When there are changes in the quantity of something, it is easy to perceive. However, if there are changes in the quality of something, it is usually very difficult to realize it. For example: we can see the difference in quantity when we watch someone who practices a lot, but the quality of practice is usually very difficult to tell at first glance.

 

Being able to maintain the quality of practice/training is one of the important roles for an instructor, and to do this, he or she needs to focus on something that has no shape or form.

 

In life, there are many important things that have no visible form.

 

For example: having a trust relationship with someone, or feeling love, thankfulness, appreciation as well as respect for someone. Ambition and aspiration are also examples of something of importance having no visible form.

 

Whenever we do, or react to, something, it is very important to realize and remember the purpose or reason for doing it, and it is essential to continue without changing and forgetting the original purpose or reason no matter what happens.

 

Usually, “the purpose or reason” why we do something has no visible shape. This is why it is very easy to lose sight and forget, and sometimes we even change the original purpose and reason without actually realizing it.

 

When “the purpose” changes it is called “Henshitsu” which means changing/altering the real purpose. An example is listed below.

 

One of the purposes of practicing Ki Breathing is to get the feeling of a Calm Mind and continue to maintain it. Let’s say you decide to practice for 30 minutes every day. Maybe the practice starts really well, but as the practice continues it is usually very easy for some people to forget and change the real purpose that they began with, and then they start trying to focus on just keeping “30 minutes of Ki Breathing”. Because they try to force themselves to do 30 minutes of Ki Breathing, they start getting frustrated at the same time. This does not fulfill any point.

 

Another example is going regularly for Aikido practice: One of the main purposes of going for training is to learn and acquire the correct feeling while practicing. While coming regularly for classes some members forget the real purpose or reason why they come for training in the first place. Their main purpose changes and simply coming regularly for classes becomes their main purpose, instead of what they want to learn and acquire from training.

 

To continue practicing without remembering the original purpose of our practicing, will only hinder and stop our progress and growth. People who continue to practice with the right mind set, always with their main purpose being the same, will always continue to progress.

 

If the main purpose of learning changes, trying to achieve and acquire the skills we set out to achieve becomes unattainable.

 

If a company loses sight of its “main purpose”, then it will eventually fail. If the human resources lose sight of their “main purpose” then they will become unproductive and serve no purpose.

 

“Main Objectives” are easily changed and forgotten. This is why leaders and Instructors who are in a position to lead and teach people should always make sure that they remind their students/staffs the main purpose of their practice or work. By constantly repeating and reminding their members/staffs of their main purpose of training and work, it is less likely that members and staffs will change their main objective and purpose of training or working.

 

For leaders who are running or managing companies, it is important to always repeat the “main purpose/objective” of the company to staff. If instructing, instructors should always remind students the main purpose of their practice and training.

 

In order for us to always make sure that “Our main purpose” of performing/training remains the same, let us always check and re-confirm this purpose.  

|

New Year Greetings

I hope everyone was able to enjoy the beautiful holiday season and the start of the New Year.

 

My role and purpose as Kaicho (President) of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai is 1) To spread the teachings of Ki Aikido, 2) To train and help Instructors progress and teach well, 3) Contribute to the Community.

 

As of January 2015, there are more than 400 Dojos and active classes as well as 300 Instructors teaching in Japan.

 

Japanese instructors nationwide participate and attend instructor Seminars held in various venues to further their learning and understanding of Ki Principles, and to improve on Aikido art techniques. We are hoping this will improve the teaching skills of our Instructors. In addition, Risk Management Seminars are also held to reduce the rate of Injuries and Risk so that Dojos / Aikido classes can be managed well for members to be able to practice and attend classes safely.

 

The most important thing we ask from our Instructors is not based on what Dan they have obtained or how much teaching experience they have, but that only those who continue learning and training can be authorized to continue teaching.

 

Of course having knowledge on Aikido techniques is important, but personality and communication skills are also important qualities Instructors must have when teaching and leading classes in Dojos.

 

This is why in Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai we believe that Instructor Seminars are very important for Instructors and this is also when I have a chance to directly communicate and teach Instructors around Japan.

 

I will continue to further my teachings and gather more chances to teach and continue working on the development of these Instructors this year as well.

 

Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai has also received requests for classes and workshops from Elementary and Junior High Schools. We will answer these requests by sending more Instructors on a volunteer basis to help build up the following programs:

 

1) Correct attitude/ posture and manners

2) Communication with Oneness of Mind and Body

3) Being able to perceive and deal with difficult/dangerous situations

 

These are some of the main themes that I will be teaching at workshops and seminars.

 

Most schools have been hoping for these workshop experiences to encourage their students to be able to learn and grow up with these valuable lessons to apply to their lives. That is why many of the schools ask us to repeat this same workshop every year.

 

From this year, we have also been able to acquire some sponsorship from companies who are willing to work together with us to sponsor these workshops and send more Instructors to teach not only at schools but also for community services and welfare homes to help people with learning disabilities as well as the elderly.

 

We will also do our best to play a bigger part in contributing more to the community this year.

 

We were able to start the New Year well with plus Ki with a successful Kagami Biraki Ceremony training session (the first Aikido training seminar of the year) which was held on Sunday, the 4th of January at Tochigi HQ Dojo.

 

To all our members, thank you very much and let us continue to support and help one another, yoro shiku onegai mōshiagemasu.

 

 

|

December 10, 2014

Performing the Bamboo Cut

Performing the Bamboo Cut

Bamboo cut was held at the Ken and Jo Seminar at Tochigi HQ from the 11th (Saturday) – the 13th (Monday) of October.

The Bamboo cutting (Takekiri no Gyo) was held on the morning of the last day of the camp.

I have been receiving a lot of questions and enquiries from members about Bamboo cutting which is why I will be talking more about it in this blog.

There is a form of practice which is called Bamboo Cutting (Takekiri no Gyo). Each end of a green bamboo stick is placed in a couple layers of paper with slits cut in them to hold the bamboo stick horizontally of the ground, these layers of paper at each end is supported by a short knife with the blade facing up. Each knife is held at each end by someone throughout the bamboo cutting practice.

It is impossible to support the bamboo with just one sheet of paper, with 2 sheets it is also difficult, 3 sheets of paper is at least needed to support the bamboo. Even with 3 sheets of paper, sounds of the papers tearing when supporting a heavy stick of bamboo can be heard.

When everything is ready, all that is left is to cut the bamboo stick with a Bokken (wooden sword). When cutting if even a little weight is put onto the bamboo, the sheets of paper that is holding the bamboo up will rip and tear and the bamboo will fall to the ground without being cut. If there is tension/ unnecessary strain in the hands when swinging the bokken to cut the bamboo, the cut will also be unsuccessful.

While being relaxed and Ki flow is already going first and then swing the bokken to cut the bamboo, the sheets of paper holding the bamboo will not tear and the bamboo will be cut easily and clearly.

Being able to cut the bamboo cleanly with the bokken does not mean that the person has done anything “great or special”. The purpose of the Bamboo cutting practice is to realize the state of our mind when we perform the cut, the bamboo being cut at the end, is the result and reflection of the state of our mind throughout the practice.

When we are able to use and focus our mind a 100 percent, this is called Focus / Concentration “Shuchu”, when we get distracted and we are unable to use our mind a 100 percent it means we have already lost our focus/ concentration. During the bamboo cut practice if we think of trying to cut the bamboo perfectly or even if we worry about whether we are able to cut the bamboo, it means we have already lost our focus/ concentration and the result will be that we are unable to cut the bamboo.

If our mind is calm and our focus/ concentration is to just cut the bamboo, the result will be that we are able to cut the bamboo easily and cleanly.

“Mind moves/ leads body”, the state of our mind influences and reflects in our body movements, we can feel this clearly during the bamboo cut practice.

The following is a situation that happened 20 years ago.

Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei was sponsored by the Japanese Management Association to conduct 5 seminars about Ki Principles which ended with the bamboo cut practice for the last seminar.

During that seminar, a mother and her daughter participated. The daughter at that time was still in Elementary school. Her mother worked as a manager in the company and was often times busy working, which led to the daughter having a rebellious attitude towards her mother. The daughter was actually unwilling and uninterested in coming to the Ki Seminar at the Dojo.

Her mother was able to cut the bamboo with a single cut. The daughter tried repeatedly but was unable to cut the bamboo after many tries. She then started crying, at the time I was an Otomo and I remembered watching her cry.

Then, Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei spoke to the daughter gently.

Soshu : “Do you know why you are unable to cut the bamboo?”

The daughter: (While crying) “No, I do not know why!”

Soshu: “You are behaving rebelliously towards your mother right?”

The daughter: “… Yes.”

Soshu: “You were forced to come here by your mother and because of that you do not believe that you are able to cut the bamboo?”

The daughter: “… Yes.”

Soshu: “Trust what I am about to say only one time. Believe and decide in your mind that you are able to cut the bamboo and just cut. Can you do this?”

The daughter: “Yes!”

Immediately after, the daughter cut the bamboo easily and clearly. Everyone watching (mainly managers from companies) started cheering when they saw this.

Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei spoke to the girl’s mother, he said: “Your daughter is strong in determination and able to achieve many things, you should be more encouraging towards her and believe in her.” After hearing this, the mother started to cry as well and went over to hug her daughter.

He then continued to say: “Our mind is real and powerful. I also want you to believe that you are strong and able to achieve many things.” It was at this time that I understood the meaning of the bamboo cut practice.

We have seen many people including a 6 year old boy as well as an 80 year old lady cut the bamboo easily and beautifully. Whether a beginner or an advanced member, anyone can come and practice cutting the bamboo correctly. What about coming to HQ and experience the bamboo cut practice?

|

July 11, 2014

USA National Seminar for Instructors and Members in Las Vegas

The Las Vegas National Seminar was held from the 26th of June (Thursday) to the 29th of June (Sunday). I taught all the classes for the seminar which was held over 4 days.

There were 120 participants for the seminar which came from Dojos all over the USA including many instructors and Chief Instructors of Ki Societies and Ki Federations. The venue for this seminar was at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas (UNLV), 300 mats was laid out in the gym for the practice sessions. The participants also stayed in the dormitory rooms of the campus giving the seminar a feel of being at an Aikido camp.

The seminar held on the 26th of June (Thursday) was for Chief Instructors, Instructors as well as Examiners. From the 27th of June (Friday) till the 29th of June (Sunday), the seminars were open to all members from beginners to Instructors.

The themes that I used to teach for techniques at the Seminar this year is as follows – “Moving from One Point”, “Keep Focus with Basic Posture”, “Respect Ki Movement” as well as “Unify Breathing and Action”.

The USA National Seminar 2014 was a success and I really appreciate the efforts of Northern California Ki Society who organized and managed the event as well as other Ki Societies and members who contributed into making this seminar a success.

This time 6 participants including members and Instructors from Japan attended the Seminar in Las Vegas. In 2018, this Seminar will be held in Las Vegas again and we hope more members from Japan and around the world can attend and participate in this event.

|

«To Recreate/ Imitate