“I am mind itself 7” Maruyama Koretoshi, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai
About 400 years ago, in the 1590s, at the end of the Sengoku period, there lived a martial artist named Sekiun Harigaya. He was 180 cm tall, which is not that rare in this day and age, but was considered incredibly large at the time.
When he was in battle, he was said to have relied on his physical prowess to kill many opponents at once, even though he deliberately blunted the blade on his sword. He was a great swordsman who, in addition to the battles that he fought, is said to have fought 52 live-blade duels during his lifetime and won them all.
However, he worried about the principles behind such zero-sum swordsmanship, saying “in swordsmanship, the strong defeat the weak and the weak are defeated the strong. If both swordsmen are at the same level, they end up killing each other.” Because of this, he started studying Zen, and undertook many forms of spiritual training.
These days, we live in a world where people are skilled at many different sports, but people will never know the spiritual concerns of warriors from ages gone by.
Budo is for the purpose of living, but to put it another way, “losing” equals “death.” Therefore, even the slightest technical mistake can result in death. This is the origin of the Japanese word “shinken” (真剣) which is often translated as “serious,” but which literally means real sword. It refers to an attitude of treating every situation as though it were a battlefield and “always doing your best as though there were an opponent standing before you with a real sword. Mistakes are unacceptable as they mean death.”
This attitude was the attitude of Japanese people until the end of the Second World War in 1945.
Anyway, the solution that was found as the result of deep introspection was “ainuke” (mutual escape).
When great swordsmen duel, there is no sense of rivalry, where one party seeks to defeat or kill the other. There is no malice. Morihei Ueshiba-sensei always said that “malice is a form of kegare (impurity).”
Ainuke refers to a state of affairs where, even though the participants swing their swords at each other, the other person is not there and the swords only cut air.
In terms of aikido, this refers to a situation where, when you try to throw the other person, they have already taken ukemi, and the technique only cuts the air.
Morihei Ueshiba-sensei always told his students to take ukemi during training. This was to make the other person cut the air, as well as to develop the ability to sense the movements of the other person ahead of time and move with them. This is what is known as kimusubi.
The path of aikido is solely for the purpose of self-development. It is not about winning or losing.
Realising the goal of the founder, Morihei Ueshiba-sensei, through the senior members of Aikido Yuishinkai will not have a big impact on the world, where even the climate is turning against us these days. However, it is an attempt to light a beacon of peace in certain sections of the global community.
Live the true spirit of aikido…