June 21, 2017

How to Become Good at Public Speaking

When I was an Uchideshi of Koichi Tohei Sensei, I asked him how I might become good at public speaking. He told me “Go to Yose.” (This is a place in Japan where you watch Japanese comedy)

Luckily, I was in Tokyo to otomo Tohei Sensei, so I could easily access Shinjuku Suehirotei, the “Yose”.

One day I was able to go, but I could only watch the last half of the show, because of my work schedule. Every comedian I saw on that evening was an expert, and I enjoyed the show very much with the other audience members. I felt the time passed by like a flash.

Next week, Koichi Tohei Sensei asked me, “I heard you have been to Yose. How was it?” and I answered “Yes, I have been there. It was really fun!”

I saw his face and recognized my answer was beyond the mark.

“It was good that you enjoyed it, but I would like to hear what interested you the most, and why you thought it was fun.” As he asked me this, I noticed that I had perhaps forgotten the purpose of his recommending this adventure to me.

“I will visit there again.” I told him and then he gave me another bit of advice, “Ok, when you go there, you better watch from the beginning to the end.”

I visited Yose again next week. This time, I was there from the beginning. There were very few audience members this time. In fact, it was almost empty.

The comedians came on stage one at a time. All were very young, but some of them were very good entertainers, and some were inexperienced.

At first, I did not know what the differences were. However, while I was watching them carefully, I found the huge differences were in their state of mind before coming up on stage, their facial expression, their breathing, and “Ma”, which means “the moment of each movements and words.” In English this is called “their timing.”

The later the show went on, the better the comedian who came on stage, the more audience filled in the hall, and the more laughter, and the more to learn. I studied all the people around me and I tried to observe the whole atmosphere.

I decided to get permission from Koichi Tohei Sensei for me to visit Yose every week. While practicing uchideshi training, we do not earn much money, and I spent most of what I earned to visit there. It was an investment for my future.

Not only money was spent, but time was also invested. It takes about 4 hours if you stay at Yose from the beginning to the end. I do not remember how many times I have been there!

Live shows are very “perishable,” and you can never receive the full impact of by watching the same kind of information through internet screen or just listening to someone’s feedback. This is why Koichi Tohei Sensei did not teach me how but told me “Go to Yose”.

“You often visit Yose recently, right?” He asked me. “Yes! Last week I noticed that….”

I could never forget his happy face when he listened to my reports of what I have learned.

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May 31, 2017

Driving a Car

When I was an uchideshi of Koichi Tohei Sensei, I was a driver for him every day. Once a week, I drove him between Tokyo and Tochigi which took about 3 hours, since the highway was not that efficient at that time.

When I drove for only a short time, it was easy to keep calm. But during the 3 hour drive I could not control my bad driving habits.  In the beginning, when I first started driving as an uchideshi, Koichi Tohei Sensei sat on the backseat and did not fall sleep. I now know that this was because he did not trust my driving skills.

“Driving shows the state of your mind.”

One day, he talked to me and explained to me kindly regarding my driving until I understand the meaning. I would like to share two of them today.

The first one is the timing of pressing the brake pedal. Before the traffic lights or stop signs, when cars ahead of you stop, of course you need to press the brake pedal. He told me that my timing was not always the same. It depended on the day. Sometimes I pressed the brake on time, and sometimes I pressed it a little later.

As a driver, I noticed the traffic lights or movement of cars around me and I knew that I was going to press the brake pedal very soon. However, fellow passengers could not necessarily see this and so might afraid, “Is he recognizing this situation or not?”. This would give others unnecessary nervousness.

I found myself not respecting the state of others mind.

I had this selfish mind, and did not do “Put yourself in your opponent's place” on five principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido. When I did not have this in mind, my technique did not work on the mats either.

The second tip Tohei Sensei gave me was what happens when the traffic lights turn yellow.

According to the “Road Traffic Act” in Japan, if the lights turn yellow while you have already passed into an intersection, you may carefully keep going to avoid stopping there.

On the other hand, if the lights turn yellow before you arrive at an intersection, you basically need to slow down and stop, waiting at the stop line.  (The only exception to this would be if a car behind you comes up at a dangerous speed.) I did not follow this rule sometimes, and speeded up when I saw yellow lights to go through an intersection.

He scolded me once, and twice, in the car but I did not correct this habit. Finally, he decided to talk to me.

“Do you really understand why it is wrong?” Tohei Sensei said to me.

Honestly speaking, at that time I did not know what was wrong with my habit. I had speeded up after lights turned yellow many times, but had never been ticketed for this, nor had any accidents occurred.

Again, Tohei Sensei admonished me, “You only recognize what can be seen, don’t you?”

He started explaining about unseen “possibility of accidents.” Maybe at this moment you do not see any trouble, but the habit of speeding up on yellow lights, must increase the risks of a future accident.

If you have higher risks in your life, when some bad timing happens, you might cause an accident. The habit of slowing down at yellow lights could lower risks. You cannot make risks zero percent, but you can make them as small as possible.

Since you cannot see risk, I thought “I do not have any problem now and I will not have any problem in the future.” My attitude was “If you cannot see, it does not exist.”

If I kept this attitude in daily life, I could meet troubles not only while driving but also in other things. Koichi Tohei Sensei scolded me about my attitude of not believing what I could not see, and not only about yellow lights.

“Mind moves body” and driving shows the state of your mind. You can see the state of mind through driving.

After I became someone who could drive calmly all the time, Koichi Tohei Sensei always slept on the backseat. I now understand that every time he checked my state of my mind. This is what I experienced in my Uchideshi training.

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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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«Happy New Year 2016