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April 25, 2011

Vocal Expression

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Vocal Expression

I recently went to the theatre and watched a show called “Rokudenashi Takuboku (good-for-nothing Takuboku),” played by leading stage actor Mr. Tatsuya Fujiwara. Mr. Fujiwara's voice was reaching every corner of the hall very clearly. You can only be impressed to see how he was able to project his voice.

Under some circumstances, I do not use a microphone, even when giving a lecture for 100 people or more. Sometimes, as in a seminar or workshop, my lectures may last 8 hours or more. Hence, some students ask me why this doesn't affect my voice.

I don't have any knowledge or professional experience in voice training because I am not a professional singer, actor or announcer. However, I have great personal experience in utilizing Ki with my voice. Here are two important methods I would like to introduce:

“Breathing”

When you extend your voice, you always are exhaling. Therefore, the nature of your exhaling will change the nature of the voice.

If you practice Ki breathing, weak breathing will be changed to the calm breathing of keeping one point in the lower abdomen. If you try to project your voice with weak breathing it won’t reach your audience. Whereas the voice emitted by calm breathing easily reaches the audience.

People think that a loud voice travels far, but that is not necessarily true. Even a small voice can be projected over a distance. This is because, even with the same expression and the same words, the voice is strongly affected by the quality of the breath.

Many singers and actors learn Ki breathing, and as a result, their style of speaking and the quality of their expression changes.

Therefore, don’t you think it is an important thing to train your breathing in relation to vocal expression, since usually, perhaps second only to the physical impression, it is the voice that strongly decides a person's impression?

“Ki extends through a calm and deep breath”

Of course there are physical limits, but generally speaking, how far a voice projects depends upon how far Ki extends. Therefore, during a lecture to a large audience, in order to transmit the voice clearly to every corner, it is necessary and important to send Ki to every corner of the room. When I give a lecture in a big auditorium, I send Ki to every part of the auditorium and so I am able to reach all listeners in the audience. If the Ki extends to the whole, then the whole audience becomes one during the lecture.

During a lecture, someone who is interested to listen will have a tendency to sit in the front. Therefore, the front row tends to have a good reaction. However, with someone who is inexperienced in giving a lecture, his or her Ki may stop in the first few rows, and doesn't reach the back rows, causing people in the back rows to lose interest.

The same situation occurs even with someone who uses a microphone. A loud voice is not necessary when using a microphone but what is important is sending Ki to everyone in the audience.  Even if the lecturer uses a microphone, the audience still won’t be able to understand the lecture if the lecturer's Ki is not extended throughout the audience. It is even the same case when you are talking to someone close to you, and you do not send Ki through your voice.  In this case it is doubtful that the person will understand you.

The quality of a voice is important but it is also important to extend Ki.

Someone who has weight upper side has tension in his voice. Especially if this person is not using a microphone, and delivers an 8 hour lecture, he or she will end with a sore throat. So when you relax completely and breathe calmly the fatigue in your voice is minimal.

Please try to practice Ki breathing and use the Ki method in expressing your voice.

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April 06, 2011

Listen to the Advice

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to apply the Ki principle (mind moves the body) which is the fundamental of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido to our daily life.

It is not enough just to read, but it is important to positively practice the subject given each month. Learning through practice will be your lifelong asset.


Listen to the Advice

Nobody is perfect. Therefore, it is important to have an attitude to accept with gratitude the advice you have received when you make a mistake. Your life will change if you have this kind of attitude.

However, there are those who take advice negatively, as if their personalities are being denied when their mistakes are pointed out. Sometimes they cut off the relationship with the person who pointed out the mistake and, consider him or her to be an enemy. Those people tend to have a relationship with the ones who say only preferable words towards them. As a result, no one will want to point out their mistakes, and they will not improve as their thoughts and actions continue to be in error.

A few years ago, I dealt with a certain student. During Shinshin Toitsu Aikido training, when I taught the correct techniques to him as his motion was not correct, his facial expression got sad and finally began to cry. I reviewed whether my teaching was not good, however, the other students whom I taught in the same way looked fine and happy. So I asked him,

“You look unwell. Is your health condition not good?”

“My health condition is fine, just I got sad when I was taught.”

I taught him because his motion in the technique was wrong, but it appeared that he had considered his personality was denied. I explained that I did not mean to deny his personality but taught so that he would improve. Finally he became happy. It was a surprising experience for me. For your information he was a man, not a woman.

Because I wanted to know why he tended to think in such a way, I asked his personal background.

He was the youngest one of three brothers and was brought up with tremendous care. He did not have the experience of having been scolded by his parents. Even when he made some trouble in his elementary school and his parents were called to come to the school, the parents told the teacher “The problem is not because of him!”

Also he did not have the experience of having his mistakes pointed out by his friends. He never would attempt to build a relationship with those who pointed out his mistakes. He lived in a closed world in which he never got hurt, since he had surrounded himself with this kind of environment.

Later on, he was job hunting, but due to the recession, he could not get a job. Of course nobody will be happy when being unable to get a job. However in his case, he got extraordinarily depressed and finally he gave up his job hunting altogether. Probably he felt that his personality was denied since he was not taken by any company. After that he even stopped training Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and I do not know what he is doing now.

I have another story from a university professor whom I know. When he pointed out the insufficiency in the dissertation of post-graduate student, the student thought his personality was being denied and he never returned to school since then. The professor was simply offering advice regarding the student’s dissertation itself, and could not understand why the student considered this as his personality being denied.

Of course an advisor needs to be careful when he is advising people. He needs to have a relationship of trust with those who listen to his advice. Otherwise they will not be able to accept his advice. However, a weak mind that cannot accept the advice of another is also a problem.

Usually those who come to the dojos for training are OK, but outside dojos, there are many who close their minds when their mistakes are pointed out. They sometimes cut off the relationship with the person who gives the advice, get negatively aggressive, and speak bad words to the one who give advice, and even explode.

There are parents who cannot advise their children because they do not want to be disliked.

There are teachers who cannot advise their students because they do not want to be disliked.  There are bosses who cannot advise their men because they do not want to be disliked.

These days in Japan, there is an unfortunate tendency in which people consider those who say only good words as good people. This is a big problem in Japan. Nowadays the reputation of Japanese students who study abroad is getting worse. I think the people’s tendency not to listen to the advice of others in this way is the main reason.

That is why training to accept advice and training to strengthen our mind is necessary. I think Budo can play an important role in this subject in Japanese society today.

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