February 10, 2018

Facing with our full attention

People sometimes feel a “bump” when practicing Aikido techniques.

When you think “Let’s throw him this way” or “Let’s move her that way”, you already have your goal inside yourself, and with that state of mind you easily go “bump”.  Once this happens you cannot lead nor throw your partner.

To avoid this happening, calm your mind first and try to feel and understand the condition of your partner. Then you will be able to lead and throw your partner without a “bump”.

By learning this on the mat, many people find out for themselves how much they “bump” with others in daily life.

In the past, I have been one of them.

I used to develop many Uchideshi all the time. (Now we changed the system and I do not have any Uchideshi around me for resent years.)

They were to live at HQ because they wished to learn, however their learning mind had not been set and they could not act as I taught. I was irritated everyday although I had great patience for them.

One day, Koichi Tohei Sensei came to talk to me.

“All the problems will be solved if you face them with your full attention.”

I could understand his words, but I could not get the real meaning of it.

I noticed what he meant during the next Aikido class.

When I was teaching “Katatedori Tenkan Kokyunage”, one of the students could not do well and bumped, because of the way she let her partner hold her wrist. I found that she put her wrist out based on the premise of “Tenkan”.

I told her “Please do not have the goal of “Tenkan” movement when you let your wrist be held, but let it be held so that you understand your partner’s intention.” She could do well once she understood this advice.

My own eyes were opened at the same time.

When I taught the Uchideshi, I had as my goal, “You should follow this way,” and expected similar results.  However, the same “expectation bump” was happening here, as in Aikido techniques, and, as a result, I was not leading the Uchideshi well.

I woke up to the fact that I had not been facing them fully. I saw them every day but I had never given my full attention to them.

Facing and giving full attention to people is the basis of understanding others.

I also noticed myself that in daily conversation or in negotiations at work, I always had my goals. That may cause a “bump” and/or make things go bumpy.

Since then, “facing and giving my full attention” became one of the most important themes for me. I started to make a true effort when developing the Uchideshi.

Even now, sometimes my old habit comes out. However, just like in Aikido techniques, I keep one point and a calm mind when I meet people, and face them fully and give my full attention to the person, and things go much easier.

In education, they say it is important to be there together. I know this is not easy. We need to face and give our full attention to the student and then we can fully be there together.

Koichi Tohei Sensei taught Ki-Aikido as “Aikido in daily life”. The purpose of your practice is to actively use what you learn on the mat in daily life.

Let’s continue practicing together.


January 20, 2018

Dealing with “Stuck Ki”

When we want to fulfill our missions in life, it is important to want this very strongly. However, in reality, sometimes things do not go as we like, for instance when we are fumbling with the buttons.

There are some people who think, “I am desiring this so strongly, so why can’t I achieve this?”

I saw two men on the Shinkansen the other day, one was like a boss who looked fierce, and the other one was like his young employee who cared diligently. However, it seemed like there was some miscommunication and he bought the wrong bento (lunch box) for his boss.

The boss messed his clothes with that bento and shouted, “Oh, my! You know who bought this messy bento? Bring me water!”

The young man seemed like he felt rushed and said “I will be right back!”, but he did not come back for a while. The boss was very irritated while he waited, and meanwhile the mess seeped further into his clothing.

“I am back!” the employee breathlessly handed his boss a bottle of water.

I knew that the boss wanted some wet paper towel or a wet cloth as soon as possible to wipe the spot off, not a bottle of water.

I think that was the boss’ fault that he did not provide the correct request, but the young man thought “I made a mistake again!” and was frightened out of his mind, and he could not understand what his boss needed the water for.

If we cannot make the correct decision, it may be because of “stuck Ki”. We want to do our best, but we easily fall into a state of “stuck Ki” without noticing it.

When we are stuck in one thing, we cannot see the whole picture. Our mind loses flexibility and falls into a state of partial optimization, instead of total optimization.

The important thing is always to keep the flow of Ki moving, and not stuck. When Ki flows, we can use our mind freely. This is the most important understanding regarding the relationship between Ki and mind. When we adhere rigidly to something, this is “stuck Ki,” so this is always the big challenge in our life.

The problem is, we are often not aware of our “stuck Ki”. If we cannot realize it, we can never change for the better. And so, it is good to recognize both the feelings of “Ki flowing” and “Ki is stuck”.

“Ki flowing” is natural and there are not necessarily any special feelings. For instance, when we are in good health, we do not feel it specifically. However, we know when we feel that “food is delicious” or we are “cheerful and happy”.

We can also know the feelings when “Ki flows”, for example, when we can feel our surroundings.

When “Ki is stuck”, we have a narrow view and cannot feel our surroundings.

Another example is when we can feel “the whole body”. When “Ki flows”, we can select the best choice from the whole picture. When we can only feel part of the whole picture, “Ki is stuck”.

Speaking of our body, when we use the whole body and feel “at one”, then “Ki flows”. When we only use the part of our body, like moving from arm, then “Ki is stuck”.

Through Ki-Aikido training, we can realize both feelings of “Ki is flowing” and “Ki is stuck”, and we will be able to repeat the good one. Many top athletes visit us at Shinshin Toitsu Aikido Kai to learn this.

Let’s enjoy practicing Ki-Aikido together and learn how to deal with “stuck Ki”.


October 13, 2017

Today’s result, Tomorrow’s result

We completed this year’s Taigi Competition on the 24th of September.

The purpose of this Taigi Competition is never based upon technique only, but on the depth of mind and body coordination of each participant. This competition is to test how much of yourself you are able to use.

Someone might ask “But why does Shinshintoitsu Aikido need to do competition? Isn’t it a peaceful martial art?”

Let me compare the difference between competing and fighting.

A mind that is truly competing is a mind that always has respect for the opponent. Opponents can develop each other if and when their Ki is connected. In this way, they can accept their opponent.

A fighting mind does not have respect. In a fighting mind, Ki is disconnected, because there are some feelings of condescention, scorn, denial, and a desire to win over the opponent.

When you make effort alone, there can be limits to growth potential.  However, when you have a nice opponent, you may be able to push those limits.

In the Ki Sayings book, written by Koichi Tohei Sensei, you may find “The Principle of Non-Dissension”. This tells you not to have a fighting mind, but it does not refuse competing.

Recently in Japan, some people think competing is wrong. If you refuse to compete, it means you resign from growing. This might be one of the reasons why Japanese National power is falling lately.

I was one of the players in our Taigi Competition more than 20 years ago.

Before the competition, I practiced the same techniques again and again and it was really hard. I sometimes thought “Why do I need to practice this hard?”

I found the answer on the Taigi Competition day.  I found that there is no meaning if you cannot be the most of yourself on a real stage, no matter how much you have ability and techniques.

The most important thing is how much you can use your ability when facing an important situation. I noticed that I have learned “Keep One Point” “Relax Completely” “Keep Weight Underside” “Extend Ki” through daily practicing to be the most of myself.

During my performances, there were some parts that I could use my full ability, and then there were some parts that I could not. I learned from both parts well.

Everyone does their best, but since it is a competition, there is a ranking. Ranking is important, of course, but more important is what you learn from it.

The one who can achieve the desired result must know that it is the “result for today” and it may not be the “result for tomorrow”. Tomorrow, you need to do your best again. That is daily practicing.

The one who is not able to achieve the desired result must also know that it is the “result for today” and it may not be the “result for tomorrow”. You need to practice how to be the most of yourself through daily practicing.

I would like everyone who has attended this years’s Taigi Competition and practiced for it for many hours, to learn well from this experience and use it in your life later.


July 16, 2017

Why is greeting important?

A few weeks ago, I saw a child dressed in a dogi. When other adults, also dressed in dogi, said “Hello!” to him, he glanced at them and ran away without returning the greeting .  As a result, the adults shared a bitter laugh together.

You might say that this child was just too shy, or that he might have been in a hurry,.  But I would not like to say that he is learning a martial art if he cannot give others a greeting. To tell you the truth, this situation occurred at one of our Dojo.

I spoke with the Head Instructor of the dojo, right afterwards, and found out that the boy had started training Aikido just recently, and that he had not been taught about greeting others. The instructor apologized.

Greeting is the basis of human relationship. In Japanese, we call greeting, “Aisatsu.” This word comes from Zen teachings.

A greeting based on “Ki” is meant to recognize the others’ presence. The reason why we feel sad or upset when we don’t receive a greeting, is because it basically means the same as “ignoring one’s presence”.  A greeting can make Ki connection. On the other hand, no greeting can disconnect Ki.

In Japan, in some cities, parents teach children not to greet a stranger. In the world these days, this might seem reasonable, but it might cause even more trouble not to greet a stranger.  By showing “I recognize your presence”, it may prevent a dangerous act against you. I would think that greeting should be defined differently. Instead of “Do not talk with a stranger,” we could say “Do not accompany a stranger”.

If you are learning Ki Aikido, let’s begin by learning to greet others in daily life. If you cannot greet others freely, your dojo training becomes as nothing. I would like to share the importance of greeting to our members in the world.

By the way, “greeting” and “response” is not the same.  Saying “Hello” is greeting, and answering “Hello” is a response.

Greeting is your willing action of recognizing others’ presence, and to answer it is only a reply.  Many people misunderstand that a response is same as a greeting.

Some people find it difficult to greet others. For example, when you make a mistake in your work and feel down, Ki is not flowing and it is difficult to extend Ki from your heart. In this state you become narrow minded and wait to have others greet you. This stops the flow of Ki and can result in a vicious cycle.

If greeting is something special and takes a big effort for you to do, you will not be able to do it all the time.  Instead, make it as an ordinary matter on a routine basis. This will help you to greet others at any time naturally.

When I teach young instructors, I sometimes need to scold them severely. Some of them are not able to greet me next time they see me after being scolded. At the same time, some others are able to come to greet me more often, after being scolded.

If you consider this fact, based on Ki Principles, it is easy to guess which of these instructors grow more.

Greeting is one of the most powerful practices for you to extend “Ki” much more strongly.


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.


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.


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.


March 07, 2017


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.


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.


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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