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August 17, 2005

Learn principles from different angles

I play piano.

My piano teacher is a student of Koichi Tohei sensei and also one of the famous pianists in Japan. On the other hand, I was not such a brilliant piano student :) However, what she taught me is very effective now. She allowed me to realize many things. I would like to tell you two things that I learned from my piano teacher.

One is to know my own state of mind before playing piano. Though I play piano the same as usual, the sounds of the piano are changed by the state of my mind. Therefore, before I play piano, I check the state of my mind, and then I start to play the piano. “Mind moves body”. So, state of mind is reflected in the sound of the piano.

I apply this realization to Ki-Aikido. Even though I do Ki-Aikido techniques the same as usual, the technique will be changed by my state of mind. Therefore, before doing a technique, I check the state of my mind and only then do techniques. The state of mind is reflected in all techniques. I practiced it thoroughly. And after that, my Ki-Aikido techniques became completely different from the past.

Another realization is to relax correctly. When I touch the keys with relaxation, the sound of piano is very clear and beyond expression. When I touch keys with muscles or losing Ki, the sound of the piano becomes unclear. When I play piano at a contest in a large hall, clear sounds reach to every corner of the hall. Unclear sounds cannot reach as far.

I apply this to my Ki-Aikido now. When I do techniques with relaxation, there is a natural rhythm, and the movement looks large. When I do techniques with strength or losing Ki, there is no rhythm and the movement looks small. Ki-Aikido and piano are very different, but they have a lot in common.

About ten years ago, Tohei sensei was interviewed by an overseas newspaper company. The newsperson asked Tohei sensei why Tohei sensei let his successor learn to play the piano. Tohei sensei just said, “To let him master oneness of mind and body”. You cannot master Ki-Aikido if you only practice the movement of the technique. When you master oneness of mind and body, you can do techniques. Learning piano was to understand oneness of mind and body.

Tohei sensei let me learn piano because I was interested in playing piano. So, if I was interested in something else, he might have let me do something else. Fortunately, I could meet the best piano teacher. And I was taught oneness of mind and body through piano from a different angle. At that time, I also learned Sado (the way of tea) and Nihon-buyo (Japanese dance) besides Ki-Aikido. And I played in the yard vigorously. All of those experiences became my foundation of oneness of mind and body.

Let's study principles together.

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