April 13, 2017

Do Not Seek a Cure-all

Recently I have noticed that the information around us here in Japan has taken on some strange tendency.

People only say “Do this and you will become that,” without explaining the reason why, or examining carefully to see, “Is it really so?”.

For example, when after someone says “Natto is good for health” on TV program, natto is immediately sold out from every supermarket. This kind of tendency is very common in Japan.  Actually, depending on certain health conditions, there are some people who should not eat natto at all. But it seems that people do not care about it.

This is similar to the idea of seeking for cure-all.  This cannot exist in the real world, but people still want to believe there might be some all-purpose cure somewhere.

Let’s relate this same idea to the question of our posture.

Natural posture is not the same for each person. There is no such thing as an “ultimate posture”, because we all have different shapes, muscles, and body conditions. This is why learning to feel our natural posture is very important.

In Shinshintoitsu Aikido (Ki-Aikido) we define our “natural posture” by the following 3 points:

The Posture in which you feel most comfortable
The Posture which you can keep longest
The Posture in which you can be most stable

When you have all those 3, this is the “natural posture” we teach.

If it is “The Posture in which you feel most comfortable,” it is different from what you do when you put tension in your body. The posture in which you feel tired is not correct.

If it is “The Posture which you can keep longest”, you must be able to maintain this after long hours without effort. If you have a posture of dead relaxation, you might feel relaxed for a while, however, you cannot continue it because it is not natural.

If it is “The Posture in which you can be most stable”, then it is a naturally balanced posture which can be checked by Ki Tests. If you cannot keep this posture while being tested, it is not natural.

By checking those 3 points, it is possible to find the natural posture for each person.

I have had the opportunity to teach many athletes. I often hear from them that some coaches force them to learn the “ultimate posture” which they believe to be correct. If it luckily fits that particular player, it could work, but if it does not fit, their performance could get worse.

In reality, it might not be easy for the coaches to give made to order advice to each athlete. To do this, coaches are required to spend much time and effort. Maybe sometimes they have to teach many athletes at one time, and so they need to show the greatest common form as an example.

If this is the case, then this is just an example, and not the “ultimate posture”. Each player can find their own natural posture, and therefore their best form, by learning the 3 points I explained.

This is the same in Ki-Aikido practice. Those 3 points are important for “Natural Posture” as well as “Natural Movement” and “Natural Breathing”. I hope you will learn well in the daily practice based on those 3 points.

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March 07, 2017

Pressure

Imagine a time when you are facing important tasks.

Many people may have experienced that they could not perform to the best of their ability, because of the pressure.

Actually, pressure is not always bad.

Some amount of pressure can help with the focusing of one’s attention. Feeling more pressure towards performing an important action, means that the human body naturally becomes ready for intense concentration.

Speaking for myself, when I was very young, it was easy to respond to pressure by getting nervous, and this nervousness was very stressful for me.

Even now, after 20 years of a career as an instructor, I still feel pressure. For example, before teaching the first day at the Dodgers team, or just before showing up at the NHK live broadcast, I felt a huge pressure.

I had an experience a few years ago, when I did not feel any pressure before a seminar, even though the gathering was a large Medical Congress.

I was too arrogant and I thought, “I have finally learned this calmness!” And then, right after I stood on the platform, I went blank and could not remember what to talk about.

I had never experienced something like this before. Fortunately, I was able to get back to my own self, and just managed to complete the workshop.

When I think back on this, I got completely used to teaching big seminars in those days, and forgot to focus on each audience. Because of this, I could not get to the necessary condition of pressure.

Unfortunately, I forgot the basic fact that each seminar is different, with distinctive changes, and new encounters. From that day onward, I always feel the pressure helpfully no matter how small the group is or how familiar I am with the members.

On the other hand, there are some people who become really tense because of pressure. In this case the pressure works negatively, because they perceive pressure in a wrong way.

The worst way is to lie to oneself like, “I am not wound up,” even though they feel pressure. If people try to ignore the pressure, they will chase after calmness endlessly.

It is important to welcome the pressure, allow it to be a part of oneself and accept it, and welcome it!

Sometimes, giving voice about your pressure can be a great help. This doesn’t mean saying negative things, but it can be a great help in recognizing one’s situation calmly.

Instantly after accepting the pressure, mind and body will adapt/adjust. I suggest, “Become one with the pressure.”  If we can do this, then the pressure itself increases our concentration, and we will be able to perform at our highest level.

When people can calm the mind and face reality, even though it may be at a crucial stage, they can adapt/adjust.

In Japan, in April, there are many people who are starting in new work surroundings. I know there is a lot of pressure, but please remember my advice and try to accustom yourself. This is an important training in life.

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February 08, 2017

Training In Daily Life

My mission is to teach and spread Shinshintoitsu Aikido (Ki-Aikido), and to train our instructors. I spend most of my time engaged in this throughout the year. I also write books, am interviewed for magazines, TV, or newspaper, and teach Ki seminars for companies and athletes to attract more people.

Of course, at the same time, I have to study and train for myself as well.  To accomplish all of this in a day, I would need to have more than 24 hours. In other words, it is really important for me to spend my time efficiently.

Actually it is difficult for me to have any extra time for studying and training myself outside of Dojo. Therefore, I set my mind to view everything I see or touch as my training. For example, at work I need to make telephone calls many times a day. Depending on the subject of discussion, I decide how long the phone call should take. Then I ask at the beginning, “May I have --– minutes?” This way I let the person know how long the phone call might take.

By doing this, I achieve the following two things.

First of all, in order to make the person understand within that time limit, I need to order my thoughts better. Sometimes it depends upon how much the person grasps the situation, and so I also need to know the person better. If I cannot finish within the expected time, I know that my method of communication, or my expectation of the minutes required, was not enough. In any case, I always learn from this and get feedback for my next call. By continuing to experience this “trial and error”, I learn to see others more carefully and it becomes a good training of “How to talk intelligible to make others understand easier”.

Secondly, it helps me to get the feeling of “time passing”.

When I decide a call should take 3 minutes, and when I am actually able to do that, then I do not need a clock because I can naturally feel the passing of time. This feeling of “time passing” helps me a lot when I teach seminars. After 3 minutes, I feel it and I notice that my speech might get too long and I can recover at that point. Sometimes it is not 3 minutes that I need. Recently I always set 2 minutes as a basis with a maximum of 3 minutes. I even set 1 minute as a basis when I talk face to face.

When we call someone, we need to know that the person is going to be willing to give time for us. We should never waste others’ time. If I am not ready and not keeping my thoughts in order when I call, the person may take more time to understand. If I am too strict about it, it may be stealing others’ time. I know some topics need to be discussed without worrying about a time limit. In this case, it is important to make the situation free from restraint.

We cannot set a time limit when we listen to others. I hope you do not get confused about this.

If you can set your purpose clearly, a telephone call will become an important training. If you just call without having a target or aim for the thousands of calls in your life, you cannot be trained.

Walking, climbing, holding, carrying, talking and every little thing in daily life can be a training. I am training like this in my life. Then I can train even though I do not have extra time. I am training right now at this moment while I am writing this article.

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January 25, 2017

Great Nature and Ki

In Japan, when someone talks about “Ki”, many people would think “shady”. I was not an exception.

Since I studied science at the University, I could not believe anything if there was not a scientific proof. When I was taught Ki principles, I could not just start from a presumption that Ki exists.

I was able to learn Ki Principles because Koichi Tohei Sensei taught me this: “If it is right, then everyone can do it, again and again. ”

He also taught me, when I learn deeply that Ki does not have shape, I need to see whether everyone can really do this, again and again, or not.

And so, I decided to practice Ki Principles all by myself at first, and test these principles on myself. I did not just believe what I was taught, but I doubted first. Then I tested the principles Tohei Sensei was teaching me on myself, continuously.

Now I understand for myself and truly believe how much “Ki Principles” are important to our life.

“Ki connection” and “Ki dis-connection” are a perfect example to study in daily life.

By our fundamental nature, we always have “Ki connection” with great nature, the outside world around us.  But when once we fail in the natural way of using our mind and body, Ki automatically dis-connects from others. While we have feelings of “Ki dis-connection,” we easily become frustrated in the condition of our human relationships.

We tend to lose this Ki connection especially when we become selfish. In such a condition Ki does not move, and we are not able to look outside of ourselves clearly. Then we can not discover what needs to be done at that moment.

At this point we always need to have a solution for this “Ki dis-connection”, and I think practicing Ki-Aikido and Ki breathing would be a great help.

In addition, I have met a person who knows another solution for “Ki dis-connection”. Mr. Hiroshi Yamada suggests borrowing the power of the great nature. Mr. Yamada used to work in the business world and then he learned the method of “Couching.” and Now he has become a professional Couch who gives workshops in the forest.

He explains that just by staying in the forest for a few days, most people can recover the feelings of connection with the outside.

Many Japanese people in the city have a kind of “dim anxiety,” because they forget their connection with great nature, and as a result, feel alone and lonely. Mr. Yamada says the forest can help you feel this connection once again. Also, people can learn the difference between instinctual fear and imaginary anxiety while being in the forest.

He believes, “We can leave ourselves behind while in the forest. If we can leave ourselves behind more, we can receive more. The forest will not ask you for anything in return, but just hold you in its embrace. This is the great nature.”

On the 11th of February, I will teach a seminar called “Ki Forum” in Tokyo. We will invite Mr. Yamada as a guest speaker and we will talk about “Great Nature and Ki” on stage.

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September 09, 2016

Shinichi Tohei Sensei will be featured on NHK

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The NHK Television program will be called [Help Me Master!]

The program is scheduled to be aired on
September 10, 2016 (Saturday) 9:30AM, it will be re-broadcasted on Thursday, 11.05AM.
Both times for the program are according to Japan Local Time.

This program will be featured on NHK World Premium (For Overseas Broadcasting).
It is also scheduled to be aired on
September 10, 2016 (Saturday).
However, since the time zone of the broadcast may be different from Japan Local Time,
Please visit NHK World Premium Website for more details
on broadcasting times.

http://nhkworldpremium.com/program/detail_e.aspx?d=20160910113500&ssl=false&

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May 22, 2016

Inter – Universities Joint Aikido Training at Ki Society Tochigi HQ

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On Sunday 22nd of May, Ki Society Tochigi HQ hosted an Aikido training session for Universities in Japan at Tenshinkan Dojo. This joint Aikido training session is held annually for the purpose of University Aikido groups to come socialize and train together.

Aikido Groups from schools in the Tokyo Metropolitan area: Keio University, International Christian University, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Nihon University and Waseda University took part in this training session.

Students from Furman University (South Carolina USA), who were already training and staying at Ki Society Tochigi HQ, joined in the training session as well. The total number of participants for the seminar was 110 including 15 students from Furman University.

It was a great international exchange experience for all students.

Furman University has a department which studies Oriental Philosophy, part of their studies program also includes Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, which is why their professor (Ph.D) decided to organize a training camp program at Ki Society Tochigi HQ.

I, Tohei Shinichi, and HQ Instructors Otsuka Yutaka, Kataoka Taketoshi and Kobori Tomonori taught during the seminar. Students were able to practice care freely during the seminar in Tenshinkan Dojo (A dojo with 520 Tatami). After the training session, there was a party for all students to gather together and socialize.

Training Camp sessions for Inter Universities in previous years were taught over 2 days, however from this year we decided to have 1 day of training seminar. Next year’s training session has been decided with same schedule.

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February 11, 2016

Ki Forum 2016 - Seminar

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Ki Forum 2016 was held on February 11, 2016 in Arcadia Ichigaya (Tokyo). Around 160 participants from all over Japan came to attend the seminar.

Ki Forum an event that is held only once a year, covers topics that are the basics of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido – Ki Principles: Mind moves Body, and how to apply these principles in our daily lives. Every year, we invite guest speakers who are at the fore front of their chosen careers and are members that practice Shinshin Toitsu Aikido to come and share with us their experiences and how they apply Ki Principles in their daily lives.

This year, we invited MMA fighter Minowa Ikuhisa (Minowaman) to speak on the theme of: Shinshin Toitsu Aikido in daily life. During the first half of the seminar, basic topics such as – Posture (with mind and body coordinated), Keeping One Point, The Conscious and Sub- Conscious Mind were covered with participants through easy to understand applications. During the second half of the seminar, I held a Talk Session with Minowa San.

During the talk session with Minowa San, we talked about his practice of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and what he feels he learns and achieves from these classes as he applies it to his daily life, methods and ways of how he applies what he learns in classes to his daily life were the main topics and questions covered during the talk session. Minowa San’s interesting way of relating his training methods in daily life as well as his examples and actions of how he applies what he learns into his daily life, captivated and drew laughter and excited responses from the participants.

After the Ki Forum Seminar, many participants who have been training and practicing Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and Ki principles gave me the impression that they felt they did not put in enough effort and practice of what they learn during classes into their daily lives, especially after listening to how Minowa San - a top athlete, trains and tries to apply what he learns from classes to his daily life and his attitude of valuing what he learns and taking it seriously. They all felt motivated and were going to continue their training in classes as well as during daily life.

Next year, we will hold Ki Forum 2017 – participants who were unable to come this time, we look forward to seeing you next year.

Below is a link for a video on YouTube for Minowa Ikuhisa (Minowaman) and some highlights of his fights as an MMA fighter.

https://youtu.be/Hi7_c0w0X80

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January 10, 2016

Ki Society HQ – Kagami Biraki 2016

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We have celebrated and welcomed in the New Year. I wonder how the New Year has been and what this year will bring for everyone.

On January 10 (Sunday) 2016, HQ held the annual Kagami Biraki at Ki Society HQ Tochigi. Kagami Biraki is one of the most important event and seminars of Shinshin Toitsu Aikidokai. Instructors and members from all over Japan, came together to participate in this event. There were a total of 93 participants this year.

Early in the morning with temperatures of -1 degrees, participants started with Senshin no Gyo (a practice of pouring water on oneself), followed with Sokushin no Gyo (a practice of swinging the bell and breathing out in one breath at the same time.) The Dan Recommendations for 2016 was also formally announced, after which I taught the first Aikido training session for 2016.

All seminars and camps for 2016 officially starts for Shinshin Toitsu Aikidokai.

We look forward to meeting and practicing with all members again this year, Yoroshiku Onegai Itashimasu.

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January 01, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

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Living life, is to always be extending Ki
- Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei

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December 01, 2015

Continuing Forward While Moving Back

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In everything that happens, if there is a beginning there will always be an ending.

When we begin something, we are usually very positive and extending Ki to move forward. When we near the end of doing or accomplishing something, we tend to look or think back and in that process pull our Ki back. Ending or completing something is always more difficult than beginning or starting something.

Especially for leaders, it is particularly difficult assessing and knowing the time to quit. For example, knowing the time to retire or step down from the role as a leader. As well as realizing the time to pull out or retire from a role in a company or business.

If we pull our Ki back at such a crucial time, it can impair our ability to make correct decisions. Even though retiring or pulling out of an important role, we always need to continue to extend Ki forward.

Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei realized this during his time in the war.

When advancing forward, it is easy to extend Ki continuously. As Ki is extending forward, it is easy to perceive and avoid a dangerous situation.

When withdrawing, it is easy to pull Ki back. As Ki is pulled back (inwards), dangerous signs become unnoticeable, thus making dangerous situations unavoidable.

This was learned by Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei the hard way, he realized while withdrawing to never pull Ki back, it should not be thought of as ‘withdrawing or falling back’ but ‘proceeding and continuing back’. This helped him avoid many dangerous situations.

Even in Shinshin Toitsu Aikido training and practices, Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei always taught in this way.

An example is: two people line up side by side at one side of the Dojo, both facing backwards away from the other end of the Dojo. They then both start to run at full speed (backwards) to the other end of the Dojo.

One person extends Ki forwards (even while running backwards). As Ki is extending, he is aware of his surroundings and is able to feel calm and confident while running.

The other person runs while pulling Ki inwards (still running backwards). As Ki is not extending, he is not able to feel his surroundings and therefore feels less confident and calm while running.

Beginners, who take part in this exercise for the first time, are surprised by the big difference in result just by the direction of Ki projection. This experience also showed that even while moving back, Ki continues to move forward.

During the [Ki Business Talk Session] seminar with Mr. Takeo Hori, we talked about knowing the right time to step down as a leader.

Mr. Hori retired at the age of 51 as president of Hori Production. At that time, not only his company, Hori Production – but every talent agency in Japan, looked like a business that would not be able to continue on to the next generation, Mr. Hori’s purpose then was to make Hori Production into a public company that could continue regardless of whether the new president was related to the Hori family or not.

Even then deciding to retire at the age of 51 still seemed very early, I asked Mr. Hori how he came to that decision. 

Convinced that the next President of the Hori Pro Company would protect and continue the progress of the company, Mr. Hori decided for himself that he wanted to continue to try new things.

After retiring, Mr. Hori was able to continue forward and take risks which he was previously unable to take while being the president of the company, which led to all his business decisions and ventures becoming successful.

Indeed, a president retiring should not just retire and step down, but should think of stepping down as a continuation and progression forward.

Even being 83 years old, he is always still continuing forward.

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