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Celebrating Our 40th Anniversary
Welcome to the Daily Message. Ito Sensei writes articles for your information and enjoyment. The late Reverend Kensho Furuya started this Daily Message in the late 1990s. Our dojo celebrates its 40th year in 2014 and our monthly publication, The Aiki Dojo, is now it its 30th year.

Warning: When using this website, the Daily Message, and The Aiki Dojo monthly publication, please use caution: Information and Knowledge are not the same thing. You can get information from your computer and the Internet, but you can only get knowledge when you use your mind and your body. 

Protect with AI.

Grow with KI.

Never depart from DO.

Don’t do anything

In Aikido, we don’t practice these techniques to be able to “do” things to other people.  What we are “doing” is effecting change in ourselves.  Shifting our perspective on what it means to study Aikido is one of the hardest things to do.  Don’t try and do things to others, just do them to yourself.

Aikido like all physical activity is good for you!

Aikido, like all forms of movement, is good for us.  Studies have shown that those who make physical activity part of their daily lives feel better physically, emotionally and mentally.  Sensei said, “One must make Aikido training part of their daily lives like brushing their teeth.”  So, if we are thinking, “Should I go to class today?”  The obvious answer is “Yes,” because it is good for us.

 

brain-on-exercise-final

Old Kendo video from 1897

Here is an interesting video from 1897 that could be the first ever film of kendo.   It looks like a sort of controlled melee where different people are striking different opponents using long swords and short swords.  It even appears that one of the kendoist is using his sword in a European fencing manner.  I love the kid in the background beating the drum and the guy blowing the conch or is it a wine pouch?

 

The training makes us stronger

“What does not kill him, makes him stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Training in the martial arts is supposed to be hard.  There are no easy roads to the top.  The experience is as only as difficult as one chooses to see it that way.  For the best result, choose to see it as something that will make you stronger.

I recently watched a video documentary about the famous judo shiai (tournament) between the legendary Yasuhiro Yamashita and Hitoshi Saito.  The tournament was Yamashita’s swan song and his last competitive bout.  Prior to this match, Saito had never won against Yamashita and so he knew that this was his last chance to beat him.  In the match there was a controversial decision that did not go Saito’s way and from that point Yamashita ground him down to take a yusei or judge’s decision victory.  It was a crushing blow to Saito and he himself said that it is something he thinks about every day.

Three years later, Saito found himself in a rather tough bout in the gold medal match at the Seoul Olympics where, coincidentally, Yamashita was a broadcaster and sitting in the press box.  There was 20 seconds left and the match was a draw and Saito looked up into the stands and made eye contact with Yamashita and both men gave each other a nod.  In that moment, Saito realized that Yamashita had given him the fighting spirit he needed with all those losses over the years.  Saito went on to get the judge’s decision and the gold medal.

There is a saying in Japanese, “An apprentice near a temple will recite the scriptures untaught” which means that the environment is where our character is created.  So what Nietzsche says can be true, but we must first see it that way.  Generally this happens in hindsight, but our experience would be that much better if we could see it in the present moment.  After all, it is our choice.

Watch the whole video here:

 

 

 

The true battle is inside of you

519DdofjD5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“Fighting isn’t all there is to the Art of War. The men who think that way, and are satisfied to have food to eat and a place to sleep, are mere vagabonds. A serious student is much more concerned with training his mind and disciplining his spirit than with developing martial skills.”
– Miyamoto Musashi discussing the Way with his disciple Jotaro from the novel Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa

Although Eiji Yoshikawa’s book about Musashi is fictional, this quote is quite apropos.  It takes so long to get past the “fighting” to get to the real heart of the situation.  Inside of each of us is where the real battle takes place.  Any altercation before that is just a distraction.  Any fighting outside of that is just a waste of time.  Until we can realize that we are our enemy, the battle will never truly begin.

 

Today is a gift!

I came across this piece that newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck wrote in 1979.  As I read over the list I found myself nodding in agreement.  I hope you will too and join me as I try and learn from her “mistakes.”  What did Master Oogway say in Kung-Fu Panda?

“Yesterday is history,
tomorrow is a mystery,
and today is a gift…
that’s why they call it present”

This piece seems like something nice to read on a rainy day like today. Enjoy!

If I Had My Life to Live Over
By Erma Bombeck

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television … and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn’t show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.

 

A beautiful view

The Solitary Cherry Tree

The Solitary Cherry Tree

The Solitary Cherry Tree is located at the base of Mt. Iwate at the Koiwai Farm in Shizukuishi in Japan.  The sakura or cherry blossom tree blooms against the backdrop of the snow covered Mt. Iwate.  This tree was planted over 100 years ago and gets 750,000 visitors every year during hanami or cherry blossom viewing season.

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Where are you?

tai-no-henko-drawingThere are many mechanisms at varying levels that make each Aikido technique “work.”  Most mechanisms depend on the skill of the practitioner and their body type.  One of those variables is positioning.  Positioning can be defined as the place in reference to your opponent where one is supposed to be at the appropriate time.  One’s positioning will dictate what to do and how to do it.

How does one get into the proper position?  Footwork.  Footwork is the basis for all positioning.  Without footwork it would be impossible to get into the right position.

Be a good student

It is not enough to be physically strong or athletic when it comes to getting good at Aikido.  Those things will come to every person in time.  “Good” students all share the same traits.  Here are just some of the characteristics that make up a good Aikido student:

Listen:  Good students actively listen to what the teachers are saying.

Watch: Good students attentively watch what the teachers are doing.

Copy: Good students conscientiously copy what the teachers are teaching.

Work hard: Good students put in the time necessary to get good.

Be on time: Good students understand the value of time and thus show up early rather than late.

Persevere: Good students know that life is a marathon and not a sprint so diligence and determination are needed to get good.

Help: Good students help others get good.

Forgive: Good students know that they are not perfect nor are their teachers or classmates so they forgive themselves and their others because they are only human.