Monthly Archives: December 2014

Thank you all very much

o sensei bowThank you to all the people who came to last night’s Osame Keiko or last practice of the year.  I think everyone had a joyful practice and did their best to sweat out 2014.  I appreciate everyone’s efforts in making our dojo into a first class dojo.  My only desire for the New Year is for everyone to put forth the same energy and enthusiasm  as they did in 2014.  Our dojo is not wealth or well known but we have good students and I think that is more than we can ask for.  Please continue to train hard.

Thank you,
David Ito

Koyasan Temple in Little Tokyo to hold New Year’s Day services

Koyasan Temple holds the Goma fire ritual ceremony on New Year’s Day every year according to the Esoteric tradition of Buddhism.

Bishop Taisen Miyata of the Koyasan Temple will officiate the Hatsu-Goma (first fire rite) at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan 1, 2015 by chanting mantras and throwing tiny sticks into afire.

From January 1 to 3, the Koyasan Temple will be open for visitors from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. for Hatsu-mode (first offering).

Omikuji (fortune telling slips), Hama-ya (good luck arrows), Oma-mori (amulets), Ema (picture tablets) and consecrated Ofuda (charms) will be available to sell for three days.

December 31 is called O-misoka day. The last day of each month is called Misoka day, so that people came to call the last day of the year O-misoka.

The last night of the year on O-misoka day is called Jo-ya night. Jo-ya night means “the night to remove last years’ evil.”

On the lunisolar calendar, a new day started with sunset, so that people thought Jo-ya night was the beginning of a new year.

At temple in Japan , bells to ring out the old year are rung at midnight on O-misoka day . The bells are rung 108times from midnight to morning of New Year’s day.

Koyasan Temple holds a Jo-ya service on Dec. 31 at 4:00 p.m.

Koyasan Buddhist Temple is located at 342 E. First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, (213) 624-1267,

Mini Shinto Shrine comes to Little Tokyo on Jan. 1

jinjaIn conjunction with the Japanese-style New Year’s celebration event “Oshogatsu in Little Tokyo” by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, Shusse Inari Jinja Shinto shrine from Izumo region of Shimane prefecture will set up a mini Jinja shrine on the Weller Street on January 1, 2015, from 11:15 a.m. through 4:00 p.m.

Saitan Sai, a Shinto ceremony for celebration of the New Year as well as praying for good luck, happiness, and great harvests, will be performed from 11:15 a.m. through 11:45 a.m.

In a temporary mini shrine, ceremonial items such as good luck charms, bamboo rakes, and decorative arrows will be available to purchase. Sales will begin promptly after the Saitan Sai ceremony.

Shusse Inari Jinja is located north of Hiroshima and faces the Sea of Japan. The shrine has been respected by the feudal lords of Matsue and the local people since the 12th century.

The main deity enshrined is Uka-no-mitama-no-Kami, who is the deity of productiveness and business. Also enshrined are Hondawake-no-Mikoto, to whom samurai paid respect, as well as the deity of water and the deity of health.

Shusse Inari Jinja is known for having power for good luck, business and careers, recovery from illnesses, good marriage and good connections, good catches of fish, great harvests and successful studies.

Lately, Shusse Inari Jinja has become popular as a shrine that brings good luck in the lottery.

According to people of Shusse Inari Jinja, Shinto is the basis of Japanese culture and customs. From ancient times, Japanese people believed that deities are existing in all environment, and Jinja (Shinto shrines) are homes of deities.


The price of integrity

Sensei was always lonely around the holidays.  I thought that it might be nice to post one of his post Christmas thoughts in homage to him.  Enjoy!

Originally posted to the Daily Message by Sensei on December 26, 2002.

Now that Christmas [is over], I guess we can get back to fighting and hating each other and doing bad things to each other.  No! I am just kidding – but sometimes it works out this way doesn’t it?

We always start out with the best intentions and hopes, but they soon fall by the wayside in the face of reality, so we think.

It takes a great deal of courage and patience to stand by our beliefs and hold to our ideals, we fortify ourselves though our practice.

Today, it is simpler to take the easy way out, it is easier to make the compromise, it is easier to sell out and blame others.

As noble as it is to stick to one’s ideals, you must know that you will be labeled as “hard-headed” and “incorrigible,” and everyone will run away from you and you will be alone. Not an easy price to pay. Is it worth it at this price?  Only you can decide.

Thank you!

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who came and helped out for the year end clean up.  It is really nice to see that people value their training space and that everyone worked together to get the job done.  I love the fact that we were able to end on time!  Now we can go into 2015 with a clean dojo and leave the dust of 2014 behind.

The dojo is dirty, please help clean it up on Saturday

The Golden Rules For Living

If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you move it, put it back.
If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.

Most of these rules are common sense, but I am sure we are not all surprised at how many people are really unable to comply with them.

This weekend we are having Osoji or the year end clean up.  It is our responsibility as students to help out especially since rule #8 is, “If you make a mess, clean it up.”  However it is more than that.  Cleaning is part of our training and the cleaning itself isn’t what we learning.  We are trying to teach ourselves a concept of a higher calling – compassion.  Think of this idea of ukemi where we are giving ourselves to others for their benefit.  Every great religion in the world preaches this idea of altruism, selflessness and compassion.  Ukemi is the practice of selflessness and compassion in action and cleaning is an extension of that selflessness.  We are deepening our understanding of that compassionate act when we clean.  Sure nobody wants to train in a dirty dojo but it’s more than just cleaning.  We clean for the other people who train, for the art of Aikido, for the dojo, for our teachers, for Sensei, for O Sensei and ultimately for ourselves because if we can clean out of respect for others then we have a chance to have respect for ourselves.

The true indicator of a good student is that they do the right thing at the right time.  When they see a piece of paper on the ground, they pick it up without being asked and without the desire for recognition or reward.  The dojo is dirty, please help clean it up on Saturday.  After all it is part of your training.

Osoji: Saturday, December 20th 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.


We should take care in not only what we say and do but also in what we think

Shizen nitaisuru sensai na kanjusei.
Sensitivity to the delicacy of nature.

Many years ago I saw a documentary called What the Bleep Do We Know that changed my life.  One of the segments in the documentary really stuck with me over these 10 years.  The segment was on the research being done by Dr. Masaru Emoto in the field of human consciousness and how our intentions can influence nature.  In this segment, Dr. Emoto showed how the molecular structure of a water molecule could be influenced by how we interacted with the water.  He wrote phrases like, “I love you” and “I hate you” on bottles of water and showed how those intentions affected the structure of the water molecules.  It was incredible how pristine the molecule looked with the words, “I love you” printed on it and how distorted the water looked when he printed, “I hate you” on it. (Below is a video about Dr. Emoto’s work).

That research made me really think about how not only my intentions but the things I wear affect my mood and body.  Sensei must have knew this too.  Whenever we would wear some outlandish outfit he would give us a hard time about it.  Once a student wore a top adorned with the logo of a popular surf wear company called B.U.M and Sensei told him he couldn’t wear that anymore unless he, “Wanted to be a bum.”  Quizzically we all scratched our heads but maybe Sensei knew something we all didn’t.  Here is a quote that is often and possibly erroneously attributed to the Dhammapada that may help to shine some light on what Sensei might have known and was possibly trying to teach us.

The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings.
As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.

We should all take care of how we interact with not only nature and others but ourselves as well.  If Dr. Emoto’s research is even 5% true then we have a tremendous amount of power and as Voltaire wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

This year the creators of What the Bleep Do We Know celebrates their 10th anniversary.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it is worth a look and the DVD has four or five more hours of information.

Year end clean up this Saturday

Osoji: Year end clean-up

Saturday, December 20th
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM





Why do we clean?  The dojo is a sacred place because it represents our inner world.  To clean the dojo is to set things right and remove the dust from ourselves.  Therefore every day, the dojo is cleaned in some way by the seniors before practice begins and ends with it being cleaning by everyone.

This Saturday is Osoji or year end clean-up where we take apart and clean the entire dojo top to bottom.  In Japan, a lot of preparation is required to meet the coming New Year properly.  Superstitiously, the Japanese believe that the spirits of their deceased relatives and the gods of luck and fortune visit them around the time of the end of the year.  Your ancestors, like the gods and spirits, bring blessing of happiness and prosperity when they are venerated with cleanliness, order and offerings.  To be prepared, Japanese people, “get their houses in order” by cleaning and arranging and setting out traditional symbols like shimenawa, kadomatsu and kagami mochi.

Lets all work together to rid the dojo and ourselves of the dust we have accumulated over the year so that we can have a fresh start and enjoy all the happiness and prosperity of 2015.




Change the way you see

fallOur weaknesses and our failures are our greatest teachers.

As a human being, I want to be liked and absolutely never want anyone to hate me.  However as a teacher, it is my job to point out the weak points in the student’s technique and this can yield a strong response.  The more experienced you become or proficient you become yields more (for lack of a better word) criticism.  Pointing out the shortcomings usually comes at a risk because the criticism usually comes up against the ego.  For me, I think that if I point out something that the student may or may not be aware of then they can work towards fixing it.  Sometimes to the student, they feel like I am picking on them or accidentally take it personally.

In the martial arts there is actually no victory or defeat nor is there right or wrong or good or bad.  There is only a lesson to be learned.  Every time something happens to me welcome or unwelcome, I try and see the bigger picture and how this lesson fits into my life.  I know that if I can be willing and open to the lesson then I can learn and eventually become better.

There is a description of a scroll in Tea Life, Tea Mind that reads:
Be rebuked,
Stand corrected
and learn

I find this to be incredibly true.  Don’t take it personal, but take action to personally overcome your weaknesses.  This is the crux of martial arts training.   The only true defeat is in giving up.

A slip is not a slip but a chance to get to know the floor a little better.  All it takes is a change in your perspective.