“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