“I am mind itself”10 Maruyama Koretoshi, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

I have been thinking about aikido as a martial art.

I do not view aikido as a martial art. Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba, not for the purpose of throwing other people and demonstrating your own power, but as a purifying practice for the purpose of ridding yourself of impurities (kegare) and returning to a pure and innocent baby-like state. In this practice, the only enemy is yourself. This is something that can be understood through aikido training.

In order to properly train in aikido, you must acknowledge the existence of ki. Ki refers to the vibration of the universe that underlies all of nature. The word ki made its way to Japan from ancient China and was referred to as kami (gods) in Japan from as early as the Jomon period. Ancient Japanese people believed that all things have gods, or to put it another way, all things are made up of the vibration of the universe.

This is where we encounter our first problem.

Originally, aikido was a secret art that was only practiced by Japanese people. At that stage, there was no problem, but for better or for worse, aikido spread to Westerners, who followed monotheistic religions.

Most Westerners believe that there is only one God. Several years ago, I was in Australia, and I was asked by a lady “why do we bow when we enter the dojo?” I replied, “Because the dojo has a god that protects it, and we bow to the god.” She said “That’s stupid. There is only one God” and even though she had trained for several years, she stopped practicing aikido.

I do not blame her. The people of each country have their own cultures, traditions, and identities, and therefore they have their own sensibilities.

If a person has grown up eating bread or potatoes, you can’t suddenly ask them to change their diet to rice.

Similarly, you can’t just tell people that believe God resides in heaven that gods reside in rocks by the side of the road.

You can’t tell Westerners that wish to learn aikido to believe in kami (ki).

That’s why I decided to change my way of teaching this year. Naturally, I will still explain ki. However, I have decided to teach aikido as a martial art, which is about absolute power, and which modern people seem to love so much, while still basing my aikido on the founder’s belief that “aikido is love.

”When training in a martial art, people deal with bare hands, tanto, swords, and jo, but when talking about absolute power, we are really dealing with pistols, machineguns, and bombs.

You think I’m joking, don’t you?

This is something that people who mistake training in martial arts for sports will never understand, even if they train for a thousand years.

In Japan, by the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, bushi trained with rifles and even cannons.

These days, in Japan, people that love budo are completely different from the pretend martial artists that become self-absorbed by training in this style or that.

I have gone on a bit, but I will state the true aim of my martial art. It can be summed up in this short phrase – “To increase people’s wisdom and ability to live their lives”

In order for a martial art to exist, there must be an enemy. This enemy is someone that attacks me and whose actions I cannot control.

It is important to find out how to handle yourself spiritually and physically through this other person that you cannot control, or in other words, to discover yourself.

Katsuaki Motegi, who I have chosen to be my successor as the head of Aikido Yuishinkai, has practiced surfing as a hobby for many years.

He understands how to reflect on himself and truly see himself, not through logic, but through instinct and experience, because when he surfs, he deals with the uncontrollable waves of nature.

No matter how much he says “I must succeed because I have practiced so much” or “I want to show my skill at surfing,” the big waves won’t listen.

All he can do is to look at the situation and circumstances he is in at that point in time.

In doing so, he builds a relationship with the waves and produces a resonance in his body and spirit. In other words, he creates kimusubi with the wave. This allows you to enter a totally relaxed mental state, where you become one with nature (one with the gods).

Waves are a good partner for forging your spirit. Martial arts are the same.

Through your training partner, you increase your wisdom and ability to live your life, which is said to be totally irrational, and become stronger. This is the true purpose of Aikido Yuishinkai.

Translated by Robin Boyd

What is freedom?

The word “freedom” originated in England. Freedom means that individuals have opinions and ideas based on their own thoughts, and that they are responsible for their own actions. As a result, an individual’s reputation, position, and even their life depends upon their actions.

The person that first sought to achieve this freedom was Thomas Arnold, who sought to implement John Locke’s theories of education in the English public school system in the 19th century. This was English “gentleman’s education,” which has a lot in common with Japanese bushido.

I think that freedom in the midst of privation builds character in people. Simply put, we work most of the week before having one or two days of rest. On these days, the feeling of freedom is unparalleled. However, people that live a totally unfettered lifestyle crave even more selfish stimulus, and end up acting stupidly to fulfil this craving.

“I die of thirst beside the fountain” is a line from Ballade by the 15th-century French poet François Villon.

My motto is to never drink that which is forbidden to me, even if it kills me.

In order to live fully, you must burn. In order to ignite a fire, you need fuel. Fuel is always dangerous. Whether the fuel is petrol, gas, or electricity, one misstep can start a fire that gets out of control and endangers your life. The fuel to live fully is also dangerous. It is privation and irrationality.

People seek stability and happiness. However, I think this is a reward that is only available to those that have experienced instability and unhappiness that that have the courage to overcome it. People that live a totally unfettered lifestyle and are protected by the adults and public institutions around them do not possess true courage.

An old poet said “leap before you look.”

The motto of Aikido Yuishinkai is “I take each step with single-minded determination.”

Brothers and sisters of Aikido Yuishinkai, I want you to just keep walking forward. There is no need for reason or logic. Allow yourself to be a bit crazy and just go forward.

Translated by Robin Boyd

Hello everyone. This is Koretoshi Maruyama. 

On January 31st 2019 I appointed Peter Kelly as international chief instructor and I wanted to take this opportunity to explain the roles of each type of instructor in the new structure of Aikido Yuishinkai.

The international chief instructor is at the top of the organizational structure. National chief instructors operate under the auspices of the international chief instructor. Below national chief instructors are the head instructors of each dojo. 

There is also an international instructor (Martijn van Hemmen), whose role is to assist the international chief instructor. 

The international chief instructor may only visit a country to teach if invited by the national chief instructor of the country in question. The international chief instructor may not unilaterally decide to visit a country to teach. Also, if the international chief instructor has been invited to a country but is unable to visit for any reason, they may send the international instructor in their place. In addition, if a national chief instructor makes a direct request to the international instructor, the international instructor shall promptly inform the international chief instructor of such, and may teach in the country in question as a representative of the international chief instructor, having received the approval of the international chief instructor in advance. 

When visiting another country to teach, the international chief instructor and the international instructor may only give instruction regarding technique and spiritual teachings. They may not comment on matters such as the content of gradings unless asked to do so by the chief instructor of the country in question, just as I do not.

I hope this explanation helps you to understand the roles that Peter Kelly and Martijn van Hemmen currently hold.

If anything is unclear, please ask me about it directly. 

Koretoshi Maruyama
Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

“I Am Mind Itself 8” Koretoshi Maruyama, Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

Happy New Year everyone.

Every year, the chief abbot of Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto chooses a single character that encapsulates his impression of the previous year. For 2018, he chose the character for “disaster.”

For many years, public sentiment has indicated that Japanese government has comported itself poorly, and it has been said that the impurity (kegare) of this has reverberated throughout heaven and earth, causing both natural and man-made disasters.

The current emperor has taken responsibility and will abdicate. When that happens, the Japanese calendar will reset. Strangely, although the current emperor stepped down from his position last year, we must wait until May of this year to welcome the new emperor.

I pray that the New Year will be the start of a better age.

In my previous article, I said that aikido should aspire to ai-nuke as expressed by Sekiun Harigaya. The sword style that Sekiun studied is Shinkage-ryu, and the founder of Shinkage-ryu was Kamiizumi Isenokami Nobutsuna.

Kamiizumi learned Kage-ryu swordsmanship with Aisu Koshichiro, who was the son of Aisu Iko (1452-1538). After intense sword training, Iko secluded himself in a cave at Udo Jingu in Miyazaki, Kyushu, when he was in his late 30s, in order to gain deeper insight into swordsmanship.

The motivation for this was that, just like Sekiun, he had grown tired of survival of the fittest and when he wished to abandon the way of the sword, an old man made him realise that “the gods do not grant insight to those that blindly follow others, such as by forsaking pain and joy and refusing to seek only their own comfort. Rather the gods only show the way to those that follow a higher path.” Therefore, there is no easy option like retirement for a true Japanese budoka that is respectful of the gods (the universe) and seeks to become one with the gods. Morihei Ueshiba-sensei, never announced his retirement until he drew his final breath. As a result of 21 days of ascetic practice in the cave, Iko brought forth the following teachings: “Do not fear. Do not allow yourself to be startled. Do not doubt. Do not become confused. Observe nature and learn from it. This is how to become one with the gods.” “Remain calm and detached (mujushin). Just be, as if you were asleep.” These are the teachings that were passed on to Kamiizumi Isenokami and in time, to Harigaya Sekiun.

Sekiun said that “swordsmanship is simply a matter of raising and lowering the sword.”

I have also studied Shinkage-ryu, gained an understanding of the hanmi stance, and served Morihei Ueshiba sensei, who devoted himself to following the way of the gods day and night, which allowed me to observe a budoka that walks a higher path.

“The flame of evil burns the fuel of evil. If the fuel is removed the flame dies. A pure heart is infinite. To develop a pure heart is the way of the gods.” So said Sekiun Harigaya when teaching the concept of ai-nuke.

Translated by Robin Boyd

“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…

Many thanks to Ina for making these photos during the 2017 seminar with Maruyama Sensei in Kendal, UK.

8 July morning class:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/45gO21fT2qWiy9Ef1

8 July afternoon class:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/XnSNHDUF2NFRkAPn2

9 July morning class:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/lMcPnZ45LVeyhfjD3

9 July afternoon class:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/JVGnNvwO3iGV9QnJ3

10 July morning class:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/G7jWwFvUH3bb2EBx1

I have written this article because both Peter and Martijn have asked me to clarify the connection between Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, and Aikido Yuishinkai.

I worry that people from overseas, who have grown up in a different culture, with different customs, may not fully understand the meaning of “true Aikido,” which the founder held up as his ideal.

However, because I have been asked, I will write it, and if it seems at all foreign, please just take this as an insight into the Japanese mindset. In the past, when I have been teaching overseas, I have been told things like “I’ll strike from one step back,” when practicing shomen-uchi iriminage, or “I won’t do something stupid like training with the Jo until I’m worn out!” or “it’s enough for us white people to learn the form!” It makes things difficult for me.

I’ll now get into the substance of the piece.

In ancient Japan, bujutsu (martial arts), and religious festivities were considered to be the same thing. Politics was also considered to be the same as religious festivities. This is why in Japan, politics is also known as matsurigoto (festival business). The ancient ancestors of the Japanese people always lived alongside their gods. In ancient times, in Japan, bujutsu (martial arts) was thought of as a way to soothe the soul of another person. The Kojiki uses the words “kotomuke, yawashi” (lit. to direct words at and pacify) to mean to make another person submit. This is literally referring to eliminating the other person’s fighting mind through kotodama. The founder would always say “It’s kotodama. Aikido means to eliminate the fighting mind of the other person.”

This way of life was maintained for 10,000 years during the Jomon period, but in the Yayoi period immigrants came from the continent of Asia, and the bujutsu (martial arts) of right, that is to say the bujutsu of connection, transformed into the bujutsu (martial arts) of might. After the Second World War, the founder revived Aikido as a “martial art of connection.” The founder believed that conflict arose because of people forgetting their true state of being. In other words, what you gain through Aikido is not the ability to win fights, but the ability to transcend the world of fighting. Once a person does that, they return to their true, untroubled state of being. Today, there are many problems confronting the world. These problems arise due to the separation of body and soul.

The founder passed away part-way through his journey. I believe that it is the duty of Aikido Yuishinkai members to take on the mantle of the founder’s ideals and wishes, to receive the founder’s teachings through me, who sat by his deathbed, and to pass them on so that the next generation does not forget or mistake the “true Aikido” that was created by the founder, Morihei Ueshiba.

Koretoshi Maruyama
Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

From the Chief Instructor Aikido Yuishinkai Italy, Franco Bertossa, Simone Shrap Semprini, Marco Schiavi and dear friends from Aikido Yuishinkai in Bologna. Thank you very much for doing this interview with Sensei.

Here’s the interview with Maruyama Sensei who kindly answered to our questions during the last European seminar in Bologna, for the 20th anniversary of 合氣道唯心会 Aikido Yuishinkai.
Enjoy!

The Aikido Yuishinkai International founder, Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei, kindly accepted to be interviewed during the European seminar held by himself in Bologna and Modena, June 2016.

We are grateful to Sensei for his answers and details, permitting us a better comprehension of the aikido reality and of its apprentices, by the exclusive perspective of one of the last instructors directly formed under the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.

[03:16] – Talking about beginners in aikido: what are the steps that a beginner should follow in his practise of aikido?
[05:17] – Are there other practices and disciplines (such as meditation, sword schools, etc) that may be complementary to aikido practise, and can improve it?
[06:57] – Many years have passed since O Sensei founded aikido, many things have changed since then. Do you think that his original message is still comprehensible and applicable to the modern world?
[10:35] – Looking at the huge number of aikido schools teaching each from a different point of view, in your opinion is it possible to reach a common way of practise (or instead they will remain separated?)
[14:29] – What do you think Ueshiba Sensei had mastered in order to decide to establish aikido?
[17:08] – Concerning those who have practised aikido for a long time, what is the meaning of being a sensei?
[19:49] – Can you tell us some memories about you and your old mates of practice?
[32:07] – And lastly, what is the best memory of your aikido life?

I am mind itself.
The path I travel is long.
However, I must not walk it as if I will reach my goal someday.
Each step is the goal.
I devote all of my energy to each step.
I take each step with single-minded determination.
Majestically.
Taking each step with determination.
I go. With courage.

“I am mind itself 6” Maruyama Koretoshi, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

We have entered a new year with the commencement of 2017.

Looking back, the beginning of last year saw the resignation of Okajima-sensei from his role as my successor, and many dojos from Europe and Australia left the organisation through the year.

In Okajima-sensei’s case, he decided not to succeed me for personal reasons and he is still a member of the organisation.

In the case of the European and Australian dojos, there are many complex factors at play, but one of the main reasons is was summed up by the founder of aikido Morihei Ueshiba-sensei when I was alone with him at his sickbed and he whispered his final words to me as his last student. He said “I wonder if people understand what I tell them. I don’t think they do.”

99% of the people who train in aikido do so as a way of fighting or a form of jujutsu, and instructors teach it in this way.

This is why people end up thinking that aikido is all about coming up with ideas for how to throw or pin someone who attacks them. Actually, even I thought this way in the past.

Now, I am 80 years old, and what I have discovered through my own research and reflecting on my memories of O-sensei is that O-sensei did not think in this way at all. I now understand that O-sensei wanted to teach people a way to live their lives through aikido.

When I travel to overseas dojos, I often see an explanation of the meaning of aikido on the wall, which goes like this: “合 (ai) = meet,” “氣 (ki) = universal energy,” and “道 (do) = way.” This is totally wrong.

In Japanese, “to meet” is written with the character “会.” “合” means to become one with something, or “oneness.” This is why the word “会合 (kaigo)” means to meet each other and come together as one.

“氣 (ki)” means exactly what everyone thinks it means. Therefore, “合氣 (aiki)” means to take the energy of the universe into your body, to become one with it, and to use it.

The character “道 (do)” comes from China, and it was originally read as “michi” in Japanese. The two syllables in “michi” can be equated to the characters “身 (body)” and “血 (blood).” A “body” often refers to a corpse. The original reason for reading “道” as “michi” is because it indicates how a human being is able to live. In places where people don’t live, there are no “michi” (roads or tracks), although animals make animal tracks when they search for the necessary items for their survival. Anyway, “道 (michi)” tells us how we should live as a person.

So, in short, “aikido” means to take the energy of the universe into your body, become one with it, and figure out how to live your life as a human being.

Many years ago, a man named Abe-no-Seimei created a belief system called Onmyodo. This system also taught people to use the ki of heaven and earth to live correctly and peacefully.

Onmyodo referred to “ki” as “odo.” According to the teachings of Onmyodo, the odo of someone with a bright, pure spirit is a bright blue, orange, or other clear colour. In English, this is known as a person’s “aura.”

However, if a person holds a grudge or attacks someone else, their odo (ki) instantly turns black and threatens the other person. This is known as “kegare (impurity).” Kegare is written as “汚れ”; however, the characters, “氣枯れ,” which means “withering ki” can also be used. This is because what originally had a beautiful colour has withered away.

The “true aikido” that O-sensei taught was a way of getting rid of this “impure” ki and filling up with true beautiful ki.

Getting rid of someone’s impure ki and replacing it with fresh and beautiful ki is what we call “nage (throwing),” and having our impure ki removed and replaced with new beautiful ki is what we call “uke (receiving).”

In order to take in fresh and beautiful odo, it is necessary to have an extremely high level of integration of body and mind. It is not something that can be achieved overnight. Furthermore, if you focus on throwing or hurting the other person, your odo will become jet black and your training becomes a fight between two people who are equally stupid. From the perspective of a high-level practitioner of Onmyodo, I’m sure that it would look like a raging storm of jet black odo.

As the person who had the privilege of hearing O-sensei’s last words, I would like to bequeath “true aikido” to the world while I am still alive.

It doesn’t matter what I say to those who won’t understand and prefer jet black, malicious odo, because it won’t sink in.

This year, it is my aim to only focus on teaching those who seek to learn true aikido, irrespective of how many people decide to leave.

Luckily, I have many students in Japan, who are devoted to understanding “true aikido” and spreading it to others, including Katsuaki Motegi, whom I have appointed my successor, as well as Peter Kelly from Australia and Martijn Van Hemmen from the Netherlands, whom I have appointed global instructors.

I believe that this year will be a year in which the odo (ki) of Aikido Yuishinkai glows a beautiful rose colour.

Translated by Robin Boyd

 

“I am mind itself 5” Koretoshi Maruyama sensei, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Aikido Yuishinkai, we held a gathering of instructors from Australia, England, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands to commemorate the occasion. In February this year, I named Peter Kelly from Australia, and Martijn van Hemmen from the Netherlands as International Instructors. Naturally, these 2 came to Japan to attend the commemorative party, which gave me the opportunity to strengthen the bonds between us through the modern-day equivalent of the oath of the peach garden from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (an ancient Chinese legend). This oath establishes the 3 of us as sworn brothers, and we swore to face whatever adversity comes our way together, and never to betray each other for the rest of our lives.

During my speech I said the following: “From now on, I will use my position as a long-time disciple of the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, who tended to him at his sickbed without sleep, and stood with him as he passed away, to spread true aikido around the world as the founder wished. True aikido is true budo, not merely powerful budo.”

Around the world, it is said that the founder was a disciple of Sokaku Takeda and that Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu was the precursor of aikido. It is also said that he was a devout follower of the Omoto religion. These are all lies.

I heard this directly from the founder, and I confirmed it by reading through a number of different materials.

Firstly, the founder said “the gods taught me my budo.” This is the truth. Also, the techniques that the founder liked to study more than any others were those of the Kuki fleet (in short, they were pirates), which was based in Wakayama prefecture. Their style became known as Kukami Shinryu, and they worshiped the guardian deity of the Kuki clan, known as Amenomurakumokukisamuhararyuo. The last 2 characters (ryuo) mean dragon king. Dragons move freely throughout the water, so this is clearly appropriate for a naval fleet. By the way, Ayabe, which is the capital of the Omoto religion is within the territory of the Kuki clan, and the Omoto religion and the Kuki clan use the same 9-starred crest.

Also, the Iwama shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture, which was built by the founder, honours Amenomurakumokukisamuhararyuo, and the first custodian of the shrine was a nobleman of the Kuki clan.

 

Morihei Ueshiba and a nobleman of the Kuki clan

 

The Kojiki is a manuscript written in 702 AD by the shaman Hieda no Are who served the emperor, Tenmu, in the imperial court. This text records the truth behind mythology. Although some people say that this text focuses on the emperor in order to maintain his legitimacy, I have no time for people with such an extremely narrow minded point of view.

Firstly, the Kojiki tells us that the Japanese characters “武” (martiality) and “舞” (dance) have the same meaning. Both of them are offerings to the gods. The audience at traditional Shinto dances is the gods. In Kyoto, there is a temple called Kiyomizu Temple, and the audience for the Kiyomizu Stage, which juts out over an embankment comprises only the Eleven-faced Kannon Bosatsu, which is the deity worshipped at the temple.

What true budo does, is it removes our impurities (kegare) and returns our spirits to a state of innocence, like when we were newborn babies. According to the Kojiki, all things began when Lord Izanagi escaped from the netherworld, and purified himself (performed misogi harai) in the waters of the Tsukushi no Himuka no Tachibana no Odo no Awagihara river. When Izanagi washed his left eye, the sun goddess, Amaterasu, was born. The moon god, Tsukiyomi, was born from Izanagi’s right eye, and Susanoo was born from his nose. Izanagi threw away his impurities.

Western martial arts involve kicking and punching, but Japanese martial arts focus on “throwing.” This comes from Izanagi’s actions. When we are thrown, our impurities die for a moment. This rids us of our impurities (kegare wo harahi kiyomeru). In Japanese, words have hidden meanings behind their sounds. Although much of the meaning is lost in English, I will go through the hidden meanings behind “kegare,” “harahi,” and “kiyomeru,” below. Kegare refers to “withering ki.” The “ha” in “harahi” means either “mother” or “leaf.” Mothers give life, and leaves take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. The “ra” indicates the plural form of a word in Japanese, and in this instance it means plenty. The “hi” refers to the soul, and is sometimes read as “i.” In short, “harahi” means life. “Kiyomeru” means “to summon ki.” In other words, we are creating new life and summoning fresh ki. In aikido, we are thrown. By taking ukemi, we are stripped of our imperfections, and when we stand up, we become like an innocent baby, or to put it another way, we become like the gods.

“Fighting mind” is merely ego, and it is an impurity. This is why the founder said “you must take ukemi” and during training he reprimanded people who resisted and tried not to be thrown. The reprimand was his way of saying “you are impure. I want you to remove those impurities and return your spirit to an innocent state.” This is why the founder always said that “aikido is love.”

In today’s world, people have great egos, and spend all their time fighting. They want to win. They love to compete. At the Olympic Games, athletes will do anything to win, even resorting to doping. Top-class athletes even become involved with gambling.

At the extreme end of the spectrum, there are even parents who mercilessly kill their own children for being too noisy. There are even children who kill their parents. These are cases of one impurity piled upon another. Now, more than ever, we need the founder’s ideal of martial arts that bring people together (musubi no bujutsu). Aikido is a system that allows people to do what they need to do in order to live and grow in a righteous manner.

Translated by Robin Boyd

Dear Aikido Yuishinkai national Chief Instructors and dojo Head Instructors,

I’m deeply grateful for your daily efforts to help Aikido Yuishinkai to transmit the techniques and spirit of true aikido as handed down directly by Morihei Ueshiba sensei.

I would like to take this opportunity to name Australia’s Peter Kelly and The Netherlands’ Martijn van Hemmen as Aikido Yuishinkai International Instructors, effective as of 1 February, 2016. Please do not hesitate to invite either of them to teach in your country. Both of them have received instruction from me for many years and I guarantee that they have the ability to transmit the techniques and spirit of true aikido. That is to say that learning from them is equivalent to learning from me. You may contact either of them directly, and there is no need to ask me for permission.

I will also be available to teach internationally if circumstances allow it.

Koretoshi Maruyama
Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

“I am mind itself 4” Maruyama Koretoshi sensei, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

In May of this year (2015), the World Friendship Seminar was held in Matsuzaka City in Mie Prefecture by Minoru Oshima sensei, who is the president of Kodokai Aikido International, and Yoshitake Hashimoto sensei, who is the president of Junshinkai Aikido. I was invited to teach and I was allocated half of the time during the 5 days over which the seminar was held. The seminar was attended by the head of Aikido Yuishinkai Russia, Mikhail Orlov, and some of his students.

At the seminar, I talked about the concept of ‘centre pole’, and I know that Mikhail has already posted what I said on Facebook, which has since been shared by Julian from Argentina and others, so this will be familiar to many of you. Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts in my own words.

Ancient Japanese people believed that the gods descended through large trees that pierced the heavens. Japanese gods are what modern physics describes as ‘cosmic energy’, which the ancient people felt in their souls. The people experienced the energy of nature in everything and felt that the gods resided in all phenomena.

In particular, they believed that great energy (gods) descended from the heavens through large trees and they built their settlements around these trees. These trees were called “goshinboku” or divine trees.

As I’m sure you are aware, the living part of trees is on the outside, near the bark. The trunk dies in the centre and becomes hard, forming growth rings. In this way, the hard, dead trunk supports the living part of the tree as it reaches for the heavens. Ancient Japanese people knew this and believed that the reason they were alive was because of support of the spirits of their deceased ancestors, which is why they valued the graves of the deceased so highly and gave prayers of thanks every day.

Ancient Japanese people called these large, hard trees where the gods resided “hashira” (pillars). This is why when spiritual people in Japan count the gods, they use the counter “hashira”. They continue to believe that the spiritual power that gives life lies in a vertical line down the centre.

Because of this, the most important pillar of old houses was always placed in the centre. This pillar was called the “daikokubashira”. Japanese people held the view that in any given space, there is always a centre point.

Japanese shrines, temples, and castles always had a symbolic central pillar. This is called the “shinbashira” (centre pole). Because old Japanese buildings had a shinbashira or a daikokubashira, they were able to survive for hundreds or even thousands of years, even in a country that is as prone to earthquakes as Japan.

As you know, the earth orbits the sun. The earth also spins on its own axis. The universe is comprised of objects that spin and orbit each other. When an object spins, it develops an axis. This axis is the shinbashira (centre pole). The human body has been called a miniature universe, and it is believed that it is home to the ‘gods’ (energy).

This is why the movement of aikido uses the human body as an axis and draws circles around it.

This year, I developed ‘centre pole training’ to help my students to internally master and gain a physical awareness of the ‘centre pole’. Japanese Yuishinkai members have been practicing the ‘Aikido Yuishinkai kata’ and ‘centre pole training’ at home each morning and evening.

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei, said that “aikido is love”. I feel it is my role as one of his last remaining direct students of to dedicate myself to his spirit through ‘the gods’, or in other words, through ‘love’.

The document with the Ki taiso and Aikido Yuishinkai Kata has been updated.

The counting has been written out completely and minor additions to the explanation of the exercises.

Click on the resources page.

“What is Budo?” Maruyama Koretoshi, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

 

Before writing about the nature of ‘budo,’ I should first write about the difference between ‘budo’ and ‘sport.’ This is because even the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology does not properly differentiate between the two.

 

If we were to properly delve into the nature of ‘sport’ we ought to begin with Baron de Coubertin, who is known as the father of the modern Olympic movement, although to do his works justice would require far more paper than I have at my disposal. So, please allow me to briefly summarise the differences between ‘sport’ and ‘budo’ instead.

 

There are three essential elements to ‘sport.’

 

Firstly, the purpose of sport is to compete in order to determine a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser.’ This is why the purpose of athletes who compete at the Olympic Games, which are considered to be the global pinnacle of sporting achievement, is to get a ‘gold medal.’ In other words, it is to ‘win.’

 

Secondly, in order to ‘win,’ there must be ‘rules.’ If there were no rules, we would end up with fights to the death, such as those fought between slaves in the ancient roman coliseums.

 

Thirdly, there must be umpires to enforce the ‘rules.’

 

An activity must fulfil these three elements to be a ‘sport.’

 

So, what about ‘budo’?

 

Budo does not include any of these three elements. Naturally everyone wants to win, but that is not the end goal of budo. I’m sure that you have read phrases such as “I will strike a blow, even if it costs me my life” and “at least I will take him with me” in novels etc. about duels between warriors (bushi).

 

Also, did you know that duels (to the death) between bushi began the moment the time of the duel was decided? This is why once the time of the famous duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro on Ganryu Island was decided, Miyamoto Musashi immediately went into hiding. Many bushi were assassinated in the period between the duel being announced and the date on which it was to occur.

 

I’m sure this would be difficult to understand for modern people who have been brainwashed into the sporting mindset. Also, Musashi arrived at Ganryu Island three or four hours after the time the duel was scheduled to commence in order to unnerve his opponent. On the other hand, at the duel at Ichijoji Sagarimatsu, in spite of it being a duel, several hundred bushi planned to conceal themselves with bows and muskets to ambush Musashi, but he arrived a few hours early and slayed his opponent with a single cut before fleeing.

 

Dr Todo Akiyasu, who is a Chinese linguistic scholar, says that the character “武” (the ‘bu’ in budo) is a combination of ‘戈’ (halberd) and ‘止’ (which nowadays means ‘stop,’ but in ancient times referred to legs). Thus, the character ‘武’ originally meant to ‘hold your halberd (weapon) and keep going.’ Apparently the modern interpretation of ‘stopping the halberd (weapon)’ originated with the medieval Chinese Confucian scholar Zuo.

The essence of bujutsu is ‘don’t withdraw, don’t retreat, and don’t hesitate,’ or in other words, ‘courage.’ In a modern context, it is fair to interpret this to mean ‘no matter what difficult circumstances you are faced with, don’t stop, and keep persevering.’

 

There is one important aspect to learning the techniques of budo. That is ‘kata.’ By practicing ‘kata’ thousands or even millions of times, we can get rid of the bad habits our bodies have developed since we were born, and return to our true selves.

 

Tsukahara Bokuden, Kamiizumi Isenokami, Ito Ittosai, Yagyu Sekishusai and many others fought on hundreds of battlefields against hoards of enemies, and also fought in tens of duels against other swordsmen, but never sustained even the slightest scratch. This is because, unlike modern training, which involves competition, they just repeatedly practiced ‘kata’ tens of thousands of times.

 

By repeatedly practicing ‘kata,’ we can train our ‘ki.’ Repeatedly practicing kata also helps to sharpen our ‘intuition.’ Then, we are able to judge an opponent’s power without fighting. This is something that I have experienced, myself, so I am absolutely confident that it is correct. I will tell you about the time I had such an experience

 

I was walking through the city at lunch time, and I was approached by a middle-aged man. As we approached each other, our eyes met, and I thought ‘he knows what he’s doing!’ He must have thought the same thing about me. We both kept walking without pausing, maintaining our maai while passing each other as though slowly drawing a circle on the ground. At that time, I felt a trickle of cold sweat down my back. The headquarters of a certain school of karate was nearby, and I think the man was the shihan of that dojo.

The ‘kata’ of Aikido Yuishinkai is what we used to call ‘aiki taiso.’ Both I and the instructors in Tokyo practice this kata at least twice each morning and each night. In this way, we train our bodies to perform correct aikido movements, so that we can send our ‘ki’ to our opponents and harmonise with them.

 

The founder of aikido, Ueshiba Morihei sensei said “aikido is love.” When facing an opponent, first shine your ‘spirit,’ which is behind your heart, towards your opponent’s chest. We do not use the word ‘enemy.’ We say ‘opponent’ (aite). We blend with our opponent, and the light of our spirit brings them into harmony. Billions of years ago, a single life form arose in the ocean. It divided and evolved to form all life on earth, including us. Therefore, we are all descended from a common ancestor. If your opponent makes a wrong decision, use the power of your ki to correct their course. I think that is the role of budo in the modern age. ‘Words’ are mere symbols. By silently and sincerely practicing ‘kata,’ you can develop “the power to move mountains and the ki to encompass the world” and “silence like thunder.”

 

This is the role of budo in the modern age.

 

Translated by Robin Boyd

“I am mind itself 3” Koretoshi Maruyama sensei, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

 

A new tendency to call martial arts and other types of physical activities which imply pair work “sports” has appeared recently.

And I was asked recently: “What kind of sport  is Aikido?”

 

It is necessary to explain clearly the difference between the terms of “sport” and “martial art” (Budo).

First of all, the term “sport” implies three conditions which should be followed.

 

First, the main aim is to win.

Let’s say an aim to take part in the Olympic Games is to get a medal.

 

Second, to win or to lose is judged on the basis of strict rules.

So, even a victory can be considered a defeat if it is won by breaking the rules.

 

Third, to follow these strict rules impartial and unbiassed judges are needed.

All these three conditions are necessary for any kinds of any sports where there is a competetion against an opponent. Moreover, if these conditions are not followed, such activity cannot be called “sport”.

 

Recently the Ministry of Education and Science of Japan has declared that martial arts such as judo and kendo should be taught at preliminary and secondary schools in order to cultivate the basics of etiquette in schoolboys and schoolgirls.

However, if to speak only about the task to teach etiquette, an impression could be made that children who play basketball or football behave themselves much more politely than other children.

Judo and kendo are being taught as “martial arts”. But don’t they (as they are today) correspond to the three mentioned above criteria of sports?

I have heard that in judo a double leg takedown called morote-gari is prohibited nowadays.

In kendo cut strikes on the carotid artery are prohibited.

It turns out that there are rules, which means that we deal with sports.

 

What is “a martial art” then?

None of the listed above conditions can be applied to the martial arts.

Appoximately 500 years ago when the Warring States period (the Sengoku period) was coming to an end, Zen master Takuan Soho wrote his work The Unfettered Mind (Fudochi Shinmyo Roku) for Yagyu Munenori Tajima-no-kami who was an instructor for the Tokugawa shogunate those days. Takuan also attached to his work the writings under the title Chronicles of the Sword of Taia (Taia-Ki) in which he wrote: “In the end a man is called a strategist irrespective of whether he starts fighting or not and irrespective of his strength or weakness”.

In other words a man becomes a warrior not due to his victories or his physical power.

It means that Budo is the search for an answer for the question: “What must a man do and what kind of a person must he be to live as a man should live?”

That is the meaning of martial arts.

This high and spiritual teaching already existed during the Warring States period when the blood was washed away with another blood.

And today in the modern constitutional state where any gun or any manslaughter is prohibited, while speaking about Japanese sword shouldn’t we think about the meaning of “Budo”?

 

In Aikido Yuishinkai we tend to do true Budo the aim of which is to perfect ourselves as human beings and to understand why the energy of our Universe (which is called in Japan “kami”) gave us birth.

A lot of billions of years ago on one island in the primeval ocean the first oxygen molecula was released from cyanides; it took several tens of millions of years for that ocean to be filled with oxygen and then, some millions of years later, there was a life born in that ocean and the evolution which led to the appearance of living creatures existing today began. Isn’t that the manifestation of Heaven’s will created by kami (because in Japan Heaven (天, ama) means the same as神 (kami))?

The words “Heaven’s will” (天の意, ama-no i) in Japanese can be read as ai (天意) which is consonant to the word “love” (愛) and the same concept can be called as “spiritual will” (意の霊, i-no ti) which is consonant to the word “life” (命) .

One life due to the cells devision turned into two lives, into yin and yang, into male and female and gave birth to us.

All these are kami’s will and the ancestor is one.

Which means that we all are brothers and sisters.

We all are one family.

 

So do we need to fight against each other?

 

The aim of Aikido Yuishinkai as of true Budo consists in learning how a man should live, to understand it through the practice of a technique (waza) and forms (kata).

The essential aim of it is Harmony. Love. Light.

Then – to achieve a state of “unshakeable myself” (jettai-ni fudo-no jibun).

For this one should learn to be aware of and to use three centers of tanden (upper, middle and lower levels).

To do this it is necessary to learn to relax completely.

Only when there is harmony and no tense it is possible to apply a true technique (art) .

The forms and techniques (arts) in our school perfect the spirit of those who practice them.

 

Some people watching the form of my students’ moves say different critical words but to understand the true meaning of this practice can only be possible with an open and calm mind.

To understand something one should himself try to climb the mountain peak.

So, if you have an opportunity, do this practice of harmony and ki energy together with me.

 

They say: “It is better to see once, then to hear hundred times; it is better to feel once, than to see hundred times; it is better to understand once, than to feel hundred times”.

 

I put all my soul into reitai (spiritual body) – the highest technique (art) created by me.

Click here for the anouncement of the Aikido Friendship Seminar in Matsusaka Japan 2015.

Two documents “Taiso and Aikido Yuishinkai Kata” and “Additional notes to test guideline” are now online, click on the resources page.

Click here for a report from Martijn van Hemmen of his trip to Japan with the latest teachings of Koretoshi Maruyama sensei.

Koretoshi Maruyama sensei created new test guidelines, click on the resources page.

“I am mind itself 2” by Koretoshi Maruyama sensei, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

 

There is a science called ‘quantum physics’.

This science teaches that in the microcosm the object under observation definitely experiences the observer’s thoughts or that the result of the experiment depends on a scientist.

For us who made their decision to practice martial arts this is essential.

Microcosm is a world of elementary particles and waves.

The world of waves equals the world of Ki (life energy).

 

With the naked eye we perceive objects by means of light; however, the fact that these objects depending on the light can be greatly distorted has been already proved in physics.

Whether we see by means of light only or perceive by touching with our fingers –this makes all of us significantly different from each other.

That means that the world in which we decided: “It must be like this”, is a world created by ourselves, the world which each of us has identified by himself by seeing, feeling, hearing.

Two worlds which are the same do not exist.

So that is the essence.

 

When a child sees his mother, hugs her, talks to her, this is a woman-mother in front of him who gets the energy of this child’s thoughts.

When a child’s father sees his wife, hugs her and talks to her, this is a woman-wife in front of him who gets the energy of her husband’s thoughts.

That is why if a child and his father have an argument about the child’s mother, they will never come to an agreement.

 

The only thing that is true is that “a man exists as a living soul”.

Now let’s come back to aikido: in 1971 I was a member of Aikikai.

According to the instruction given by my teacher Tohei Koichi I was sent to Hawaii as a deputy of Sensei.

In 1952 in Hawaii Tohei Sensei introduced aikido for the first time and since then all students got accustomed to Sensei.

And there I came, a young man, completely unknown, which of course aroused everybody’s protest.

Later on I got to know that those who already had got their levels agreed behind me not to do ukemi in any way.

 

On the first day of classes, though I do not already remember, they say we practiced usirotori kokyunage.

 

The first person grabbed my body from behind.

I thought that he had pressed too hard but I was sure that he would certainly do ukemi.

Turning slightly my hips I made the throw easily.

The next one grabbed me strongly and I made the throw smiling.

And then I threw one more person and again and again, perhaps 5 or 6 people more.

 

It was in Honolulu Dojo.

 

They say that after that at the same day the instruction: “This is a true teacher! Everybody should listen to what Maruyama Sensei says!” was spread all over the dojos on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai.

 

When the other day I read the definition of quantum physics I thought: “So that’s what it is!” Then in Hawaii I had no doubts that my partners would do ukemi.

Those thoughts were transmitted to them and by intuition they did ukemi nevertheless.

 

Once a well-known samurai Miyamoto Musashi, called God of Sword, fought 60 duels and defeated all of them.

I think he defeated because he believed: “I’ll defeat”, he had no doubts and “ki” (waves) was transmitted to his opponents.

 

And Musashi was not the only one.

The founder of Shinkage-ryu, a school of swordmanship, Kamiizumi Nobutsuna.

The famous swordman from Kashima-Shinryu school Tsukahara Bokuden.

A lot of other swordmen who practiced hard also gained firm confidence in their victory, so that attitude of mind was transmitted to their opponents.

Based on this experience whatever country I would go to I always make my mind: “My partner will do ukemi”.

It is not me who makes the throw. It is my partner who tunes in to the wave of my thinking (ki) does ukemi.

This is a true “spirit of aiki” and “love”.

 

Ueshiba Sensei who stated that “Aikido is love” once told me that when he faced his partner he already saw him doing ukemi.

In the Bible Jesus Christ said: “He who believes will be saved”.

If little by little but faithfully one moves forward on his way in which he believes, without looking back and with a sincere heart, persistently, without falling into illusions or trivial thoughts, then ahead a bright future will certainly open up.

“I am mind itself” by Koretoshi Maruyama sensei, the Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

 

The motto of Aikido Yuishinkai members starts with the words “I am mind itself”. I think that you visit this page because first you simply thought that you should “visit it”.

We even unconsciously turn into action what we have been thinking about in our heart. Even a word, before it is said, at first is a thought which later becomes a word. We often say “happiness”, “unhappiness” – but all this is defined by our thought.

 

Many people can often say that they want money, but money can be given another name – currency (the money in circulation). In Japanese language the word “currency” is in keeping with the word “passing away”. But it is doubtful that somebody would like to pass away owning a vast fortune (millions of dollars)

In fact if we have money, we can buy what we like.

We can travel abroad.

Thus money is a means of getting joy in our heart.

 

However “money” does not come down to our purses, and besides you do nothing yourself.

If you make people happy, if people start feeling happy and they think: “this is worth paying” – that is enough for the money to come to you by itself.

But in this case no fraud is acceptable.

Because then if one day money comes to you it won’t last long.

Besides it is possible to incur people’s hatred. And this hatred is ten times, hundred times more dangerous than a mere mortal can imagine.

Eventually one who makes troubles for others will inevitably meet with some “disease”, some “accident” and the end of him will be sad.

I have been living in this world for 77 years and I have seen the end of such people.

 

We often say “destiny”, but it would be more correct to say “the cause and effect”.

 

There is “a cause”, therefore there is “an effect”.

And this “cause” is not only my own self but also my parents, their parents and parents of parents’ parents and so on infinitely. Their “thoughts”, i.e. “causes”, are in our genes.

 

But the only “cause” (seed) can not make the flower blossom, or make a fruit set.

A “connection” is needed.

For plants it is soil, water, nutrients, sunlight, for a human being – it is parents, brothers and sisters, family, relatives, friends and acquaintances, teachers, colleagues, bosses and other people around us in our daily life. Moreover, it includes an environmental area, upbringing and education, various influences which we are exposed to in our course of life.

As a result, “mind” = “thoughts” is formed; in a different way the flower begins to blossom, the fruit (life) is set.

And that is an effect.

 

How to treat his thoughts, what the soul is – that is essential for a human being to learn in his life.

 

While treating any thing it is important to have “love” and “gratitude”.

The modern Japanese character “love” (愛) was borrowed from China, but originally the concept of “love” for Japanese people was written like “the will of Heaven”. “Heaven” means “God”, that is the will of great universe that created us.

 

Hundreds of millions years ago from the sea of the hydrocyanic acid after Earth creation a drop of oxygen was formed which after tens of millions of years turned into the oxygen sea which in its turn brought a microscopic life to life, that microscopic life developed and then mankind appeared and now we exist.

Isn’t it “the will of Heaven”, that is love?

To feel the value of life given by God, to appreciate it – this is gratitude.

It is “the will of Heaven and gratitude” that we should refer to as the most essential in our life.

I was not the only one who was given a life by God. Everybody was given.

We are all created in God’s image.

Life is a universal energy circulating within us.

We were all given life from the same source.

The energy of the universe consists in the Supreme Power.

The Supreme Power is thoughts=mind.

That is what “I am mind itself” means.

Heaven is God.

God is in all things.

God exists being our mind, being our body, being the universal energy.

God gave us everything, and above all is “life”.

That is why we should also bestow each other “love and gratitude”.

“Let us bestow each other and prosper together!” – say these words several tens of times a day.

Joy will appear naturally.

And amazingly money will also appear in our purses.

If to say “I have no money” – the will of Heaven never comes to you.

Heaven will think: “If one has no money, then one doesn’t need it”.

 

To the best of your abilities you must do everything “transient” (passing) as much as possible.

If to increase its fluidity, “money”, due to this fact, will appear on its own in your purse. However money, as far as possible, should be used to make other people happy.

If to spend money only on your own satisfaction, it will only make some dealers happy but other people will never feel your good will and will never be grateful to you.

Thus if you do not get “gratitude”, your money will never come back.

To become a man who is given thanks: “he is worth the money spent”, in other words, you must become a man who has “the will of Heaven = love” within himself.

 

Next time I will write how to become such a man.

Click here for the video interview with Koretoshi Maruyama sensei during the seminar in Bologna in 2012.

Click here for the report of the presentation given by Koretoshi Maruyama sensei on the subject of Aikido during the Gendai Reiki Network International 2012 in Kyoto.

Dutch national tv program Hart van Nederland interviews Koretoshi Maruyama sensei during the national seminar in The Netherlands on July 6th 2009. Click here to see the video of the interview.

Click here for the interview “The Joyous Path” with Koretoshi Maruyama sensei by Antonietta Ferrari & Federico Gobbo during the seminar in Bologna in 2005.

Click here for the interview with Koretoshi Maruyama sensei by Clement Choo that took place on September 1st, 2003, during a seminar conducted in Singapore by Koretoshi Maruyama sensei.