September 25, 2018

“Make Up Your Mind!”

Koichi Tohei Sensei was both my teacher and my father.

After our relationship became “teacher and student”, we had to stop thinking of each other as “father and son” and I never called him “Dad” again since then. My thoughts rest happily on our good memories when we were parent and child.

Recently I happened to remember one thing.

My father always said, “Make up your mind”. If I start something without making up my mind, I can easily debate with myself, whether or not to do it. When I want to reach a goal, I need to make up my mind first.

Before 10 years old, I was a weak child.  For instance, once I had to be in bed for 3 months because of a high fever of unknown origins. My father gave me this advice: “Pour cold water over yourself first thing every morning in the bath.” He asked me to start this in the summer and continue for at least 1 year.

I was 10 years old when I decided to try it. It was refreshing and enjoyable when I started it in summer season, but the feelings changed come Autumn. In winter time, I was very nervous in bed every morning.

My father then told me how powerful it is to make up one’s mind. When I had the choice to “pour water” or “not to pour water”, I would suffer because my mind was divided between “to pour and not to pour.” If I could make up my mind, I could just pour water over myself!

At first, I wondered if he was just asking me to show some guts. But then I found out that when I thought about managing somehow to avoid it, everything became painful.  For example, getting undressed made me freeze, and the water felt icy.

Then I was surprised to notice that when I threw away the choice to “not pour water”, I could only choose to “pour water” and it was not that painful. My mind was already made up the night before.

I understood the difference through the experience, and continued it positively.   This way I learned the meaning of “Make up your mind”.

By the following summer, “Make up my mind” had become my good habit, and I did not want to stop it. Actually, I continued it for another 2 years until I went on to junior high school.

This experience of “Making up my mind” became my basic attitude. In my case, it was “pouring water over myself,” but it can be anything for you. The purpose is to have a good habit of “Making up your mind”.

Learning to “Make up your mind!” could be the key to going out into the world.

When you start working as an adult, you need to immediately forget about other choices, and make up your mind. There are many people who cannot throw away the other choices. They tend to wonder when they meet some difficulty, “Is it OK for me to continue this?” or “I might have better choices”. When this happens, they might not be able to overcome difficulties.

After you do your best and try everything, and if you feel that the way is not for you, then you can choose the other way. This is also “Making up your mind”. 


June 28, 2018

What is the problem?

Today, I would like to talk about Ki in the business world.

Recently, many representative companies of Japan have asked us for the Ki seminars to educate their executives. More than 20 years ago, most companies that requested Ki seminars of us did so just because it’s unique. But now, companies have a clear vision, and so they are seeking specific results.

To ride on the big waves of change, in today’s world, it is necessary to focus on something which has no shape, and not on something that is graspable. This idea will be a big help for you when you think about this kind of effort.

For instance, when there is a “problem,” and even though you try everything you can think of, the problem is not solved. What would you think the biggest reason may be?

Many people might answer that they feel they lack like “knowledge”, “skills”, or “experiences” to succeed. This may be some part of why they cannot solve the problem, but the biggest thing is they do not understand what the nature of the problem is.

When you do not recognize “What is the problem?” correctly, no matter how much effort you make, the problem won’t be solved. What you must discover, is that the real problem is not something graspable, like data, but it is something which has no shape, like Ki.

For example, when your people do not understand what you say to them, of course, there might be something to be improved in “what to tell them” and “how you speak to them”.  However, the biggest reason is always “Ki”, whether it is connected or disconnected.

In this case, it may be easy to think “Ki connection” equals a “trust relationship”.  But when this “trust relationship” is not solid enough, or is even cracked, then this means that “Ki is not connected”.  At this point, there is no meaning in whatever you say. It simply will not reach to them.
When Ki is connected and there is a trust relationship, you will be able to send the right message. The point is, you need to consider how you can connect Ki and create a trust relationship, before you think of “what to tell” and “how to talk”.

If your head is filled up with the ideas of “what to tell” and “how to talk”, you might forget to see whether Ki is connected or not.  As a result, you may fail in your efforts,  and feel that what you told them might have been wrong, or the way you talked to them was not right.

However, these are not the real problems. You are not finding the solution because you do not know the real “what is the problem?”. That is why you repeat the same kind of problems over and over.

First of all, let’s always have this framework of “Ki is connected” and “Ki is disconnected”. And then, to perceive this correctly, you must practice keeping one point. If you do, you will be able to recognize the state of “Ki is connected” and “Ki is disconnected”.

There is also another consideration: We must also judge well when it is the correct time to speak. In communication and negotiation, we need to know the timing.

In Ki Aikido training, we can move with the correct timing, because our mind is calm and we can feel the opponents movement. If you try to “figure out” when the right timing is, you will fail.

In “Zen” teachings, there is the word “Sottakudoji”. “Sotu” means the sound of the baby bird just before hatching, when he is pecking the egg-shell from inside. “Taku” means the sounds of the parent birds noticing the timing of hatching and pecking the egg-shell from the outside. This pecking from the inside and the outside of the egg needs to be done at the same timing (“doji”) so that the baby bird can be hatched smoothly. If either is too early or too late, then both are not good. This is the word to explain seeing well and catching the right timing.

To do so, we need to have “Ki is connected” as the base. If you are a leader or a manager of a group, this training is absolutely essential. This is why many companies request Ki seminars for their executive education.


April 07, 2018

Never Freeze

I have been teaching University students for over 20 years.  Lately, I have noticed some changes in their feelings, their way of thinking, and their views.

However, I do not want to talk about “Things getting worse compared to the students 20 years ago…”  There are some better things and some worse things, compared to the students in earlier years.

The important thing, is to recognize the differences and lead them accordingly.

For instance, I have found that, in recent years, more students freeze when they face something which they have not been expecting.  Particularly when they get a strong warning, or when they are corrected, or scolded, by others, they freeze and fail to respond. They might know that they are wrong, but they are so immobile that they cannot even apologize.

In most cases, they simply do not know what to answer and so freeze.  Unfortunately, some see this as an attitude of indecisiveness or even defiant behavior. This tends to make people frustrated and things get worse.

The reasons why students freeze may come from sickness or trauma, but other than that, the reason is the stuckness of Ki movement, as a result of being confronted by an unexpected situation. Daily training in the dojo can be very helpful for this.

Please imagine you are training Ki Aikido on the mat, and your partner suddenly comes to attack you.  When you consider how you should move, your movement stops and you freeze. You cannot say “Wait!” in real life, if someone attacks you. You have to do something to guard yourself immediately.

If you have the idea of “when someone attacks this way, throw this way” in your mind, then when your opponent attacks you with an unexpected movement, you may not be able to react, because this “thinking what to do next” causes a stuckness in your Ki movement.

So, calm your mind, open to all possibilities, feel your opponent, and then you can move promptly without this stuckness of Ki.

Children who tend to freeze up when something unexpected occurs, can also improve their behavior by training on the mat. It will be very important for them to protect themselves.

Let’s return to the topic of communication.

The reason why the students freeze when facing an unexpected situation, is because they are trying to think “How should I react? What is the right answer for me now?” As soon as they start this kind of thinking, Ki movement is stuck.

The more they think “I do not want to be scolded”, or “I am afraid to embarrass myself”, the more they freeze.

In this case, you need to practice how to move Ki in the dojo, and try to change your  way of thinking.

There are some who are unable to react when other people take an action, and this habit may cause them to freeze in emergencies.

Those who do not respond to others or who only react on their own timing, may need some training.

“Never freeze” is one of our important themes of practicing at dojo. I would like to continue training with our members together in this way.


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.


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.