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.

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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.

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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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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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December 01, 2015

Continuing Forward While Moving Back

Ki_business_1

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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November 09, 2015

November Combined Camp 2015 with Members from Australia, Tahiti and Malaysia

Workshop_1
Tochigi HQ had a Combined Camp with members from branch dojos in Australia, Tahiti and Malaysia. The camp was held from 3, November (Tuesday) – 12, November (Thursday).

I taught 3 days of seminars held on 7, November (Saturday) – 9, November (Monday).

In the evenings during gatherings, we enjoyed talking and getting to know all members. Other Seminars during the camp were also taught by HQ Instructors, Taketoshi Kataoka Sensei and Tomonori Kobori Sensei.

This year instead of having World Camp, we decided to hold seminars and camps for branch Ki Societies and Federations. During this November Combined Camp, we were able to combine smaller groups from different Ki Societies and Dojos to come and train together at HQ.

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November 02, 2015

Holding with Ki

Baseball_1

I have had more opportunities recently to teach both professional baseball players and coaches.

Through teaching these players and coaches, it has also helped my own understanding deepen.

An example of this deepening of my own understanding is what I call “The Holding of Things.”

To hold or carry something, is actually one of the most basic movements or actions that human beings do all the time, while at the same time being probably one of the most complex or ‘‘high level’’ actions or movements that we all take for granted.

When a player in good form or condition holds a bat, his hold is supported by his whole body as one. Even by applying Ki Testing by pushing the bat, the player does not get affected.

A player, who is not in good form or condition, usually holds the bat only with his hands. By applying Ki test and pushing the bat, not only does his bat move, but his whole posture also waivers.

Human beings are fortunate in the way that our wrists function and move. Technically just by moving our wrists we can swing a bat, which as the Japanese phrase “Kote Saki” implies, literally means moving only with wrists.

Ki Testing is first applied to check if the posture of the player is stable and calm, then it is applied again to check the player’s posture when he holds a bat. The stability of a player’s posture should always be calm and stable regardless of whether he is holding or not holding a bat, this is an important part of training which is practiced continuously.

By repeating this practice continuously, the player can understand the difference through feeling.

The same thing also applies when practicing Shinshin Toitsu Aikido.

When we practice Aikido techniques, we use our hands to perform the throw or techniques. If our throw feels incomplete or it doesn’t feel correct, it usually means that we are only just using our hands to throw. In Japanese this is called “Kote Saki”.

This is why it is very important to always practice checking of the stability of our posture, to make sure that it is always calm and stable with our mind and body being unified as one. This feeling should be applied when we perform Aikido Techniques. We should not be practicing ‘throwing just with our hands’ but we should always practice ‘throwing and moving with our whole body as one.’

Let us return back to the topic of: The Holding of Something.

When we hold something tightly (like grabbing or squeezing) this puts unnecessary tension and strain into our whole body resulting in our reaction and performance being less efficient than we actually think.

On the contrary, to just hold something lightly and loosely means we will not be able to apply and exert the correct amount of force when using or holding something. We should always hold with Ki extending and flowing, therefore, ‘Holding with Ki’ is a very important.

In Shinshin Toitsu Aikido training, we often practice with the holding of bokken. One of the purposes of this practice is for our bodies to be able to feel and get used to ‘holding with Ki’.

When we try hard to hold things, our Ki has already stopped flowing. In this case, by applying Ki Testing to check our posture, we can see that our posture is less stable and disturbed easily.

By continuously practicing holding the Bokken lightly with Ki flowing to the tip, we can catch the feeling naturally and our posture starts to become stable and calm even when holding a bokken.

Once we get the correct feeling with continuous training and practice, we can apply it to the holding of a bat, or the holding of a golf club, or even holding a brush when practicing Calligraphy.

Improvement in performance can be seen for baseball players, when they hit with their bat they will have more strikes, for golfers, they will have better scores during their games, and a calligrapher will be able to write characters with more Ki flow present in their work.

‘Holding with Ki’ means that Ki should always be flowing continuously throughout, with whatever we hold.

 

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