Monthly Archives: April 2015

Who are you when nobody is watching?

Chuusei - loyalty

Chuusei – loyalty

Loyalty is one of the highest virtues of a martial artist and thus all martial arts teachers search for it in their students.  It is one of those internal values that can’t be taught but can be learned.

What does it mean to be loyal?  Loyalty or chuusei is one of those personal virtues that doesn’t actually come into fruition until it is tested.  Anyone with half a brain can say the things that need to be said when they need to be said, but too few can actually put those words into action when push comes to shove.

Most teachers know that is human nature to assimilate to one’s surroundings and not a far stretch for someone to say what needs to be said just to fit in.  In Japanese the face one puts forth is called tatemae and the face that one hides or their true feelings is called honne.  Therefore most teachers are constantly searching for the littlest sign of the student’s honne which reveals the true nature in their hearts.  From these little snapshots a teacher determines if a student can be loyal and more importantly trusted when the time comes to be selfless or selfish.

In every student’s martial arts career their comes a time when that loyalty is tested.  What one does and how one acts becomes a testament to not only how they were trained but more importantly who they truly are in their hearts.  In order to stave off selfishness, Sensei admonished us to, “Always act as if the teacher is watching.”  This I believe is one of Sensei’s highest teachings because his death becomes the final lesson and only we will know if we have passed the test.

Will we choose loyalty over opportunity?  Only time will tell…


Ahhh, so true indeed

wingtsunethicsIt is said that at the highest level all martial arts converge.  As one can see from this graphic, it might be true.  The picture is said to be the code of conduct of Wing Chun Kung-fu.  Most, if not all, apply to us as Aikidoist.  Please take care in not only what you do, but what you say and think as well.



Thank you!

I appreciate everyone who came to the seminar and I am grateful that everyone trained hard and treated others with respect.  The seminar air was filled with much camaraderie and the spirit of trying to help each other improve.

I am also grateful for the people who came out to the 40th anniversary party.  I am humbled by everyone’s support and I can’t wait to celebrate 50!

“Counting other people’s sins, doesn’t make you a saint.” – unknown

mess-quoteLong ago Sensei showed me a rather harsh review of his book Kodo and something he said stuck with me all these years.  He said, “It takes a tremendous amount of courage to create something and very little courage to criticize it.”  Martial artists can be critical people, especially as beginners, but as one progress in their training humbleness ensues.  Humility and humbleness are the real indicators of one’s “true” ability.  The reason why is that the more one trains, the more they see how small they are compared to the bigger picture and how little they really “know.”

There is a saying in Buddhism, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  How can one be ready if all they do is criticize others and point out every little flaw?  I am a very judgmental person and I consistently work on it – it might even be my worst character flaw.  Here is something that I use regularly in my own practice to help keep me in the right perspective.

Like me, every person is good and only doing the best that they can.
Like me, every person is suffering and going through their own stuff.Like me, every person human and human beings make mistake.

Every person deserves kindness, compassion and forgiveness – just like me.

Life is too short to be unhappy.  Give people a break…they are doing the best that they can…me too.

The proper way to grab

tenouchi_toraguchiLately I have noticed that many of the students are not grabbing the opponents properly.  This could be due to the possibility that they are unaware of the correct way to grab in Aikido.  The proper way to grab is to use the tenouchiTenouchi (手の内) means the inside of the hand.  To grab using the tenouchi means that the emphasis is placed upon the pinky and ring fingers which form an imaginary circle with the thumb or more importantly the thenar eminence at the base of the thumb.  Now this doesn’t mean the middle finder and pointer fingers are not used – it just means they are “de-emphasized” as the primary grippers (In the West we tend to grab more with the pointer and middle fingers).  The tenouchi style is the same method for holding a sword but in Aikido we also emphasize the “connection” by keeping the palm in connection with the opponents wrist or arm.

How one grabs is important because the orientation of the grab will dictate how power will be not only generated but also used too and therefore creates the option for which technique is used.


Your attitude determines your altitude -John C. Maxwell

The one thing which cannot be taught is attitude. I read this and thought of you…

by: Charles Swindoll
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

Please take care in what and how you say things, do things and most importantly how you think because your attitude determines your altitude in not only the dojo but in life too.




Are you prepared?

“Victory favors neither the righteous nor the wicked. It favors the prepared.” – Unknown

Regardless of what martial art we do, the training gives us options.  If we don’t train regularly, how will we be able to take advantage of the options?  Humans are different from beasts in that the beast knows only one thing and only has basically one option – whatever is in its nature to do.  What differentiates us as humans is that we have a mind (consciousness) and thus have the ability to choose.  But, how can one choose from the plethora of better options if one doesn’t have any?  Before anyone can walk away, they have to know that they can.  In order to change, one has to be prepared to do so.


“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”

Last night I saw this piece Al Jazeera about the iemoto (hereditary succession) that was really done well.  The story follows a 30 year old  young man who is in college in Canada and who is in line to become the next head priest of his family’s temple.  He is line to become the 24th generation head priest of an 800 year old Buddhist temple in Kyoto.  The story deftly illustrates what it must be like for some to inherit such a huge responsibility (something I know a bit about).  I was struck by how supportive his siblings were toward his plight and how two of them were ready to step in if he ended up turning down the position.  The position of head priest or hereditary grandmaster comes with a heavy price.  A line from Shakespeare’s Henry the IV adequately describes this young man’s struggle, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”  I totally get it.

Watch the 25 minute documentary by following this link: