February 16, 2014

Strong Ki

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Strong Ki

Please imagine that a person that you know as having “strong Ki”.  The image that comes to most people is usually of a person being very assertive, tough and intense.

The meaning of “strong Ki” is actually very positive and good. It means that no matter how tough the situation may be, Ki is always extending positively and strongly.

The operative word here is “always”.

Human beings go through both good and bad conditions. During good conditions Ki is naturally extending positively, this happens for everyone.

But what is important is whether positive Ki is extending during tough situations, such as when we are unwell, having family problems or even when we are having a hard time at work. When positive Ki is extending, we can face the problem that has arisen, as well as be able to find a solution and overcome it.

Most people misunderstand extending positive/plus Ki. They may try very hard to imagine extending Ki, or they may just try to think about having positive/plus Ki.

To constantly be extending plus Ki means that our subconscious mind always has to have and store plus/positive thoughts, and then we will be able to keep our conscious mind positive without consciously trying to do something. In order for this to be the case, it is essential for us to practice in our daily lives to train to put only plus/positive thoughts in our sub-conscious mind.

There are many people who are easily affected by their surroundings and it makes them susceptible to negative words used, actions and behavior. A person that has a negative sub-conscious mind is easily influenced by negativity around them. This is usually referred to as having weak Ki.

My line of work allows me to meet and interact with many professional sports athletes. What I noticed about these individuals was that some of them have outstanding abilities but are unable to produce great results because of their weak Ki extension.

Here are some examples of thoughts that influence weak Ki extension:

“I failed the last time, this time I might fail again.”

“If that person can’t do it, I will be unable to do it as well.”

“Everyone says it is impossible, so I guess it really is impossible.”

These thoughts all come from the result of weak Ki extension. This weak Ki extension influences our abilities, and the outcome is that we are unable to perform at all. Failure is not the problem, it is the fear of failure and letting it affect our Ki extension that is the problem.

Practicing the form and training the physical capabilities is of course important, but many people/athletes forget that training to have stronger Ki flow is also important. It is not how much you have “the guts to perform,” but the specific training is important.

The same applies to practicing Aikido.

Thoughts such as “I can’t do this” will definitely mean that you will not be able to perform and succeed in what you are practicing. There are some age and gender differences, such as how much physical power or experience you have. However, those are not the reasons for not being able to accomplish something. The only reason would be that you have weak Ki extension.

Always having plus/positive Ki extension in Dojo practice is not enough. There are 365 days and 24 hours a day to practice keeping positive/plus Ki extension continuously, and that will keep our sub-conscious mind positive/plus.

This will not be an easy task to accomplish. Whatever is easy to learn can also be easily used up. What is not easily learned or adopted, will stay with you for a long time after you get it. Strong Ki extension and flow is definitely an asset in life.

Let’s practice together to have “strong plus Ki”.

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October 07, 2013

Senshin No Gyo

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


                               

Senshin No Gyo

Our “Kagami Biraki,” which is the first celebration of each year, starts from “Senshin No Gyo” which usually begins with a splash of water on oneself in the extreme cold. It is then followed by the first Aikido practice of the year in the dojo. This year it was -5 degrees centigrade when we started with the Senshin no Gyo (cleansing of mind and body) ceremony.

This year would mark the 55th time that this traditional ceremony is participated in.

Originally it was carried out at the small stream that runs behind Koichi Tohei Sensei’s ancestral home (Daikan Yashiki), but became very popular and many people came to participate in it, so the venue was changed to the Kinugawa River.

The Kinugawa River later became unsuitable as there was less water because of the dam. The ceremony was then moved back to Tochigi HQ and was carried out in the big pond. Now, this ceremony is held at “Gyoba”, the proper water area near the Tenshin Gosho.

Due to area constraints the number of people allowed to join now is limited, but in the old days when this ceremony was still being carried out at Kinugawa River, about 400 people used to participate, it was also televised in the news, as some of you may know.

The purpose of “Senshin No Gyo” is not about how much cold a person can withstand or how long he/she can withstand it, it also does not prove anything according to how many times a person has participated in the event.

There are two major points for the purpose of Senshin no Gyo.

The first is that if we are able to maintain calmness at our one point, no matter how challenging our situation may be with training and experience, we are able to go through it effortlessly.

I have been participating in this ceremony since I was seven years old. Even when it was held at Kinugawa River, it does not mean that after doing it so many times that I do not feel the cold. However, I realized that by keeping the mind calm at the one point and being certain of what I was doing, everything became much easier.

I learned that the mind moves the body and that the mind has a very large influence on the movements of the body. I also realized that in order to do everything effectively it is very important to be decisive and set the mind correctly to the task I am doing.  Particularly in daily life or while working, this has proven to help a lot.

The second point is in welcoming a New Year the icy water helps wash away all the events that have happened in the past year, whether they may have been good or bad.

People tend to always reflect in the past. This means that if our mind is always stuck in the past, we cannot move forward and direct it to new things and experiences. A common question is that “it is easy to understand washing away our bad experiences and negative feelings but why should we wash away our good experiences as well?” This is because our mind tends to persist on the good events even more than the bad ones.

For myself I have also had a very busy year last year with many experiences as well as achievements but it is important to let it go and move forward in the New Year to welcome new challenges and focus on new accomplishments.

To all members who have not participated in this event please by all means come and participate in it next year. It is not enough to understand the importance of the ceremony just by thinking, but it is very important to go through it and experience it.

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July 09, 2013

Don’t let your guard down even after a victory

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


“Don’t let your guard down even after a victory”   

When we make mistakes or run into a problem, we tend to think about the reasons and causes for it, but when things are progressing well we often do not think about it. Of course it is good if things are really progressing well but sometimes when things look smooth or things happen to go well by chance, it can actually be quite dangerous. During this time we are most likely to become careless and we will tend to stop Ki flow.

Big mistakes and problems do not occur suddenly without reasons.

Before some problem arises there are usually at least a few small signs to alert us. We often overlook these signs until we finally meet the result. If we pay attention to these small signs and determine the cause of the problem, we can avoid making big mistakes and going through big problems. The danger is that these signs can be hidden by the feeling of “all looks well at first glance,” and as a result we are unable to notice them.

A good example of this occurred when one of my uchideshi was driving the car to take us to a seminar.

Usually when the traffic light turns yellow it means that the driver should start to slow down, but what he did was to step on the accelerator and speed up. If it happened only once, it could have been by chance, but after watching him more closely it seemed that he did it regularly and it had become a bad habit.

I pointed out his mistake, and he responded, “Yes, I understand”, but it was clear that he did not really understand the reason why it was not correct. So, I told him to pull over at a safe spot at the side of the road so that I could explain this to him.

When driving, there are no zero percentage rates of accidents.

However, the probability rate of accidents can be reduced as close to zero as possible. This is usually determined by our daily habits. To believe that everything will always be fine just because we have not encountered any major accidents when driving in the past, is actually a big mistake, as it makes us become less aware and more careless even when there are tell-tale signs given.

By driving through even when the traffic light turns yellow and not getting into an accident only proves that the driver has been lucky so far. By speeding up and driving through on a yellow light actually makes an accident hard to avoid, especially if there are impatient cyclists or pedestrians trying to cross from the side of the road.

Having a habit of slowing down and getting ready to stop when the traffic light turns yellow actually reduces the chance of getting into an accident or causing one. Now the uchideshi understands how dangerous it is to have this bad habit for the rest of his life. As a result, he has changed this bad driving habit.

At times when things look very smooth and there appears to be no problems, it is important to ask ourselves whether it is really as smooth and safe as it appears. “Is it really going well?” “Could it be that this just happens to be smooth?” It is very important that we continually check our habits, behaviors, and our thoughts.

The same thing applies to Aikido practice.

When we get caught or stuck on a particular art or movement during training, we normally make an effort to find out the reason for it and do our best to become better. This practice will help to give us confidence and a positive attitude. However we believe we can do well, we do not often improve those techniques without learning the cause of our mistakes.

Sometimes things move smoothly and sometimes they don’t. We need to be more careful when things go well. When it looks well, please double check. In reality it could be really dangerous sometimes.

It is very important not to stop Ki flow in daily life. A well-known Japanese saying goes, “Don’t let your guard down even after a victory.” I try to keep this in mind every day.

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June 28, 2013

Learning about the sense of distance

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


                               

Learning about the sense of distance

Some months ago I was interviewed by an education magazine for parents of students.

During the interview with the press, we talked about how in recent times many children have had trouble with not being able to cope with stress.  They give up easily when faced with important tasks, and are often unable to communicate well and form relationships. As a result, they seem to lack enthusiasm, both at school and in daily life.

When forming relationships it is important to be able to have a good sense of distance. One of the factors in Budo (martial arts) is to be able to maintain a safe distance from our partner, in order to protect one self. This “safe distance’ is called “ma ai”. In Shinshin Toitsu Aikido practice we define “ma ai” as follows:

1)      A distance where you are unable to reach the opponent unless a step forward is taken.

2)      A distance when you see the opponent’s face, you can also see the entire outline of the opponent’s body.

3)      A distance in which you are able to maintain a calm state of mind.

If you are unable to achieve even one of the above points, it is not achieving “ma ai”.

When you are closer than the safe distance, you are inside “ma ai” and when you are further than the distance, you are outside “ma ai”.

To not be able to maintain “ma ai”’ not only means that you are unable to protect yourself, but also that you may pose a threat to, or simply make it uncomfortable for, your partner. When you meet someone for the first time and you have not yet formed a trusted relationship with that person, to enter into their “ma ai” is considered impolite in Japan. 

If you are able to have an appropriate sense of distance in daily life, you will be able to communicate and form good relationships with others.

We should all check to see if we are managing to keep “ma ai” in our daily life.

For example when shaking hands with someone, the distance for it is always within the “ma ai”. In fact, the act of shaking hands is actually getting closer to the inside of the other person’s “ma ai.” However, from the other person’s point of view, it is welcoming to their “ma ai,” since, when shaking hands with someone, there is a demonstration of your trust.

People who do not understand this sense of distance, when introducing themselves for the first time, will usually approach people with abrupt suddenness in trying to shake their hands. If you actually try it, it is easy to understand the uncomfortable feeling caused by this kind of action. When meeting someone for the first time, it is best to greet/introduce oneself outside of the other person’s “ma ai” first, (this helps indicate that you are a safe person), then step into the person’s “ma ai” and offer to shake hands. This is proper manners.

The other day it was reported on a program on NHK (Japanese news broadcast) that children nowadays have difficulty understanding and having a sense for “ma ai.” As stated above, this can result in them not being able to form strong and lasting relationships with others. There is a saying, “a hedge between keeps friendship green.” In any kind of close relationship, it is necessary to have a good sense of distance at times. Unfortunately, it seems that children nowadays are unaware of this practice.

                                                                                                             

Most children spend their time focusing on their studies so that their opportunity to interact with other people is minimized, and this makes their understanding of creating and judging safe distance less. This can be a serious problem. In order to go out into society and make a living in the future, studying should not be the only priority for these children. Being able to form relationships with people around them and communicate well is also very important.

In school, children form many relationships with other children around the same age. In Shinshin Toitsu Aikido children classes, they not only interact and make friends with other ages but also have a chance to practice and experience other aspects of human relationship with older and younger generations.

Older children learn to look after the younger children, the younger children learn to respect as well as learn from the older children. Children of all ages can then be able to learn about forming relationships and as well as sensing appropriate distance.

Learning how to sense and judge a safe distance is also very important for adults as well.

When studying martial arts (budo) becoming stronger both physically and mentally is of course necessary during training.  But it is also important to learn about basic relationship skills, like “ma ai”. By learning these skills, we are then able to become more confident in practice as well as in daily interaction with many different people and their different characters.

We should all put into practice the principles we learn from dojo into our daily lives.

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May 03, 2013

Training in Daily Life (2)

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Training in Daily Life (2)

Last month’s blog on “Training in Daily Life” had a big response so I would like continue a little more on the same topic again this month.

The term “Thank you” holds a very important meaning. My father would always show his appreciation by saying “thank you” when he received gifts or when he was being taken care of. Even when he went to the store to buy something he would always thank the staff at the store.

It is easy to understand that the staff at the store or business says “Thank you” to thank the customers for visiting or purchasing from them. However, it may be difficult for some people to understand why the customer needs to say “Thank you” after purchasing from the store.

Even while dining at restaurants, my father would always thank the waiter each time they served him. It is natural for a customer to get proper service as they are paying to get good service. But again, why is it necessary as customers to thank the staff after receiving service?

Again, it comes down to the same question.

From a young age, even without knowing or questioning the reason, I would also imitate my father and say “thank you” whenever I was being helped or assisted. Hence, I have also cultivated this habit till today. 

During the times I have spent abroad in foreign countries, it was more common to hear people saying “thank you” compared to when being in Japan. Of course the cultural differences of Japan and countries overseas would not make this comparison easy, but to hear and feel the sincerity of each “thank you” being repeated was indeed a very pleasant feeling.

Simply put, this is not a matter of words, but the communication of Ki. It is also the same when we bow at each other and show thanks when practicing at the Dojo. 

Whenever we used to stay at hotels, my father would always find out where the emergency exits were on his own.

When I became older, some of these roles became my duty. There are some exchanges of conversation I still remember to this day.

My Father: Have you checked where the emergency exits are?

Me: The exit is on the left when you leave the room.

My Father: Well, how do you open the door? By pushing the door outwards or by pushing the handle down and pulling the door inwards towards you?

Me: ………

My Father: Please go and check again.

After some time:

Me: The door opens by pushing it outwards.

My Father: That’s good. Is there only one emergency exit?

Me: ………

My Father: Please go and check again.

After some time:

Me: There are 3 emergency exits.

My Father: Would it be possible to walk to the exits with our eyes closed?

Me: …… What is the reason for walking to the exits with our eyes closed?!

I vented my irritation at my father for having me check so many times.

My father then explained: “If there is a fire, visibility will be poor because of the smoke. Electricity might also be cut off. Even if you know where the exits are during a bright and visible situation, in a fire you might not be able to find it. It is important to be aware of the walls leading to the exits so that during a fire you can get to the exit far from the fire by touching and following the walls.”

It is always important to know where the fire extinguishers are placed and which part of the building the emergency exits connect to. His cautiousness was learned from his experiences during the war. This checking and locating of exits then became my habit.

When I travel around Japan and overseas to teach and instruct at seminars, I have sometimes found the emergency exits in hotels locked or in some cases blocked by luggage and things. I have learned that in order to protect and/or even save my own life, I should not depend on someone else to take care of it.

This has since become a habit and I practice all the time.

The following story was after I became an Uchi-deshi to Tohei Sensei.

Whenever Tohei Sensei was invited to speak at a company or at organization functions, a waiting room where he usually waited was always prepared beforehand. There would always be a waste paper basket in the room to use. He would always caution me before we left the room to make sure to clean out the waste paper basket and not leave anything in it. I did not understand why it was necessary to clean out the waste paper basket whenever we left because isn’t a waste paper basket used for throwing trash?

When the seminars were finished, I always made sure the chairs and tables or cushions we used in the waiting room were put back in place before we left. I could understand later that successful people in many fields look and check this point and recognize it positively. 

Since I became an instructor, these points have developed into an important habit.

These are many other examples and memories that I value from Tohei Sensei.

Hopefully when there is another opportunity I will be able to share more of it.

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March 14, 2013

Training in Daily Life

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Training in Daily Life

Recently, I remembered lessons I learned from Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei when I was younger. People say that we remember and realize what we are taught after someone has passed away. Apparently this seems to be true.

Of course, during my childhood, my relationship with him was not one of teacher/ student but rather of parent and child relationship. He was of course gentle most times but also strict when he needed to be. The strictness did not come from emotions. He continued to teach me, until I could realize and change my shortcoming. I feel that these were the small things in daily life that really helped me.

One such lesson was about switching off the lights after using them.

One such example was I had forgotten to turn off the light in the toilet after using it. I remember he would call out to me to remind me to switch off the light and it would mean that I had to do it immediately. He expected me to do it right away, not later.

I was not a wise son, so I repeatedly made the same mistake. However my father would remind me constantly without giving up or even raising his voice. It was after a countless number of these reminders that I finally was able to get into a habit of switching off the lights.

Also there was the habit of aligning my footwear after I take them off. I was only able to cultivate this habit after a countless number of reminders from my father.

There were also times when I had to read my Japanese language textbooks from school aloud in front of my father.

To read out loud correctly was the most important point, and if I read in my own careless way, he would correct me to change into the accurate way. When I pronounced the words slightly wrong, even though the meaning of the words was correct, he would still make me correct my reading with much advice and pointers.

As a result of reading aloud many times, I was able to cultivate a good habit of reading and pronouncing everything correctly. It did not matter how I felt about the text, but he was strict in the way I read and understood the correct meaning from the text.

The same applied to tidying up and organizing my things.

My father’s belongings were always very tidy and well-organized. He always knew and could remember where he placed everything. It was not only easy for him to find what he needed but also not difficult for others to find things. Everything was always placed correctly in their respective places.

Sometimes I would borrow his things but I would forget to put it back where it belonged. Every time he would remind me to make sure I put things back correctly in its original position. It did not matter what item I took, he was always able to figure it out almost immediately.

“Could I do it later?” or “I will return it later on,” those reasons were never acceptable to my father. I had to do it on the spot and put the item back in its original location. As a result of this practice, tidiness has become a part of my habit.

As an instructor now, I have been helped greatly by these habits that I have cultivated.

“Turning off the light” is looking back on what I have done in the past. He did not want me to be a person who would leave something half-done, or who could not conclude one’s affairs. This is one of the most important skills for an instructor who influences many people.

“Reading correctly” is seeing things as they are. He did not want me to understand what I see only from my own perspective. This is the basic of learning anything.

“To be organized” also means that I am able to keep affairs regarding daily life straightforward and clear. It makes things easy to understand not only for me but also for everyone else. Thus, it helps me find out various problems that I can prevent before they occur.

I had many other routines learned from him, I noticed that I have practiced cultivating good habits in daily life subconsciously.

The lessons my father have taught me and the practice that I have put into these lessons, even though he may not be around anymore, will always be instilled in me. I realized this as a real education in life.

I would also like to follow the same way and teach students.

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March 08, 2013

Our Manner

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Our Manner

Our Manner is an Expression or Sign of Our State of Mind

The lack of good manners demonstrated on the Osaka transportation system has been a well known fact for a long time, but recently Tokyo has also started showing the same signs.

People cross the roads regardless of the crosswalks or pedestrians crossings. Some people do use the crosswalks, but often when the signal is red, if they see no car coming. Sometimes parents cross in crosswalks with their young children, but also against a red light. It worries me to think what kind of adults these children might grow up to be if they are being shown these kinds of examples now.

Just as good manners are lacking in the younger generation, poor traffic manners are also lacking in the elderly generation. This seems to show that there is no relation to the age of the person when it comes to bad manners.

There are many reasons and causes that contribute to bad manners. One of the main reasons is “not being able to wait” (being impatient.) This is a reflection of us being very self-centered or selfish, as we are only thinking of ourselves. Of course there may be situations that require that we move quickly, but many people often rush without any reason, just out of habit.

“Our state of mind” is usually reflected “in the state our body portrays”. Therefore it is possible to know the state of one’s mind through the actions of the body. The action of being impatient “in a hurry” shows us that our mind is actually disturbed and not calm.

When we are impatient and “not able to wait”, we tend to make a faulty decisions. This will also lead us to make unnecessarily careless mistakes in daily life. If you are a leader or an instructor, a person who is in a position to lead staff or students, it is necessary to notice your state of mind from your own actions every day.

Not being able to listen to others talking and cutting in on the conversation, rushing into the train at the last minute, or urgently pressing the close button for the elevator door, this is all essentially the same thing. What do you all think?

In addition to “not being able to wait”, this often comes together with being “irresponsible” and “inattentive”.

I have often seen pedestrians with earphones in their ears crossing the street without checking whether any cars are coming or not. It seems like they are leaving their own personal safety in the hands of others. Also some people start crossing the road irresponsibly even when they see a car coming. This is because they think “the car must and will stop for me”.

Not only pedestrians are irresponsible in their manner, but also drivers. There are many drivers that are irresponsible and careless. Especially careless are the drivers that talk on the phone or send mail on their smart phones while driving. These actions cause us to be unable to see clearly the situation on the road, as well as pedestrians that are crossing the streets. We should not leave our own safety in the hands of others.

Even the behavior of crossing the street is a reflection of our mind. By being aware of each action, it is possible to train the mind to be calm. Especially during bad weather or when a part of a large crowd, there are many pedestrians who are not able to keep their awareness and attention on others.

To calm one’s mind before going out is an important training.

I practice this every day.

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January 16, 2013

The Value of Strictness

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


The Value of Strictness

In teaching and instructing rigor and strictness is essential.

However, in recent years it has been thought that the person who is nice and gentle would be a good instructor. Being nice and gentle is a good thing for sure, however what if the purpose of it becomes to avoid being hated or disliked by others.

This tendency not only happens in schools but also in professional sports, so what is the point of having instructors and teachers then? By always saying pleasant and nice things only cannot be a good instruction.

There must be a strong relationship between the one who teaches and the one who learns.

Instructors need to be trusted not only because of skills and achievement, but also because of strong principles, dignity, and personality. When students really trust, they follow all the instructions.

Students can be trusted when they show a strong learning attitude and enthusiasm. Of course in the case of a professional, talent and ability is also needed. When instructors really trust, they truly want to grow their students.

Once there is a trust relationship developed, the instructor is able to communicate freely with the student even though it may be slightly blunt or strict.  With this trust, such instruction can be accepted by the student. If an instructor is not able to be frank and open with his/her students it may be because there is no trust relationship built, which means there is something missing between them.

Let’s think about what the rigorous/strictness in instructing really means. It does not mean that one needs to be strict at all times. In the English language “instructing” means “teaching” and also it means “correcting”. One should do “teaching” gently, and “correcting” strictly.

Of course in the case of a beginner who just started learning, it would not be appropriate to be strict, as they are in the process of trying to learn the basics. If at this stage they are being taught strictly or too rigorously, the learning process for most people could be hindered or even discouraged. According to principles in instructing beginners it would be good to teach them gently with patience.

On the other hand, if the student goes against the principles and basics, the instructor needs to be really strict until the student alters the bad habit. There should not be any compromise. This strictness positively leads the student to their goal.

Once an instructor is able to understand correctly the difference between “teaching” and “correcting”, then it is possible for him/her to be able to be appropriately strict when it is required.

The challenges Japan is facing in trying to build up the recovery, economy and education standards abound. It is important that everyone performs to the best of their ability and overcome all obstacles together. The role of instructors and educators is to help nurture and bring out these abilities.

I will do my best and make every effort with you.

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August 15, 2012

Attitude of Learning

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves body) which is the fundamental principle of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Attitude of Learning

To have an “attitude of learning” is the foundation of all learning and studying.

In most homes and school environments, we do not get the chance to be taught an “attitude of learning”, so usually it depends on ourselves.

This “attitude of learning” can often be compared to an example of a “bowl.”

When water is poured into a bowl that already has a crack at the bottom, no matter how much water is poured in, the water will continue to leak out of it. Most of us, except someone who has developed in a specialized environment, have some cracks in our bowls. To stop the water from leaking out of the bowl, first we must seal up the crack in the bowl and then pour water into it. This is an example that relates to the “attitude of learning.”

Additionally, to pour new water into the bowl which is already filled with old water is not possible. In order to pour fresh new water into the bowl, we need to discard the old water first. Our past experiences and knowledge sometimes restrict the process of learning new things. By setting aside one’s own opinions and past knowledge, new things can be obtained and learned.

In a small size bowl, we can only pour a small amount of water. In a bigger size bowl, we can pour more water. To use the example of “the bowl” to apply to human beings, we can grow our “bowl” infinitely larger with willpower and effort. This also refers back to the “attitude of learning.”

Here is an example I would like to share.

The very first thing I learned while I was an Uchideshi, was the “attitude of learning.” Shortly after becoming Uchideshi, I was given the opportunity to accompany Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei giving a lecture. I thought I had succeeded and done very well with this “Otomo” task.

A few days later, there was a request from an elementary school for an instructor to conduct a seminar. Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei told me that I should be the one to go and conduct the seminar. I told him that I would not be able to do it as I have had no experience teaching at seminars, his reply was, “What are you talking about? I showed you how to do it the other day.”

I finally realized that my own “attitude of learning” was wrong. I wanted to be an instructor, however on that day, I did not watch him and observe carefully for myself from the position of the one giving the lecture. I was lacking the view of “If I were him this is how I would do it.”

Since then, I started to be aware and observe the whole lecture, where to stand, the posture, where to face, where to look and direct attention with the eyes, the speed, the pause, the sequence of the talk, the volume of voice, how to respond to questions and all the other small details.

If I did not realize the “attitude of learning” at that time, I would not learn much from the hundreds of chances of being “Otomo” afterwards. From that experience onwards, I always teach this “attitude of learning” at the very beginning, especially to children and school students.

So what do all of you think about your own “attitude of learning”?

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July 29, 2012

Not Cutting Ki Flow

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves body) which is the fundamental principle of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Not Cutting Ki Flow

In the Japanese language there is a saying “Ki is cut off”.

Amongst Ki Society members, there is a member who is a world-famous mountain climber.

He says that while climbing mountains most climbers tend to cut Ki flow when they reach the summit. And it leads to accidents when they start their descent. He says it is necessary not to cut Ki flow till safely coming back to the start point. He added that is also necessary to maintain the Ki flow even after the climb is over.

This also applies to everyday life and business as well. So in which situation do we usually cut the flow of Ki?

When going back to work or school after a few days of leave or holiday, we tend to cut the flow of Ki. If we are only caught up thinking about how to spend the holiday break, the flow of Ki is stopped and it will take a great effort of energy to return back to everyday working/ studying life. However, if we only “try not to cut the flow of Ki” and constantly think about work and school, we can not really rest or enjoy our holiday.

 

The point is to confirm the first thing we will do when we come back to work or school after the holidays, which means to check the status of the flow, and then forget about it. With this little check, we can keep the state of “Not cutting the Ki flow” and it will become easier to comeback to work or school even after a refreshing holiday break.

It is important to plan ahead with our mind, and not to cut the Ki flow.

Just as in climbing a mountain, after achieving a major goal, there is a moment where Ki flow is easily cut off. Similarly, when students gain entry into their preferred University, and begin life as a college student, and if they have no clear goals for the future, this is when Ki flow is cut off. If they enter school in April, it often happens in May.

When Ki flow is being cut, the feeling of wanting to complete tasks or work diminishes. For instance, this year we have the Olympics in Great Britain. After earning a medal, sometimes an athlete burns out for the same reason.

   

In order to avoid this, it is important to set correct goals and think ahead, so that the flow of Ki will not be cut. It is very important especially to instructors to lead students to always be aware that Ki flow is never cut.

In the case of leaders who accomplish big goals and success after big events, it is important to be able to lead and make sure that project members’ flow of Ki is not cut after each event or project.

Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei experienced this during World War II.

Upon receiving news of the defeat of Japan during the war, the Japanese troops were shocked and many abandoned themselves to despair. However, Tohei Sensei (the captain) thought, even though the war is technically over, the Japanese soldiers were still under combat conditions in the locations where they were, and it was crucial for them not to cut Ki flow.

From that evening, night patrol was conducted by the captain himself, because everyone else was affected by the news of the defeat, which made them unable to extend Ki and patrol properly.

After a few days, when things started to calm down, some members found out themselves that they had been cutting the flow of Ki and offered to take over for the captain in his night patrols.

The moments when Ki flow was easily cut were actually the most dangerous.

Even after the war, when Tohei Sensei returned home, he was very careful not to slacken the flow of Ki.

He knew that coming back from the battle field where everyday lives were compromised, a safe environment moved people to unconsciously cut Ki flow and so, on the day he arrived back home, he decided to help with the farming.

His parents asked him, “Since you have returned from the war and have been through a tough experience on the battlefield, why don’t you take some time to rest and recover?  But he continued the farming without any day off for the next few weeks.

The influence on the physical body seems to be huge, by cutting off Ki right after being released from a difficult period of time of hard situations. Unfortunately, some soldiers immediately started to become very weak and passed away without any known illness even though they were already in a safe environment.

To cut Ki flow without being aware is very serious. It is important to always be aware and realize in which circumstances you tend to cut the flow of Ki, and try to think ahead and extend Ki at each time.

Let us all train and practice not to cut the Ki flow.

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