Monthly Archives: August 2017

Anything is possible.

What makes a piece of calligraphy good or bad? It is hard to say. I am a novice, but when I look at calligraphy I judge it by how it moves me inside.

This an interesting piece of calligraphy. I liked the calligraphy before I knew its meaning. The characters brushed are 光明 (komyo) or “Ray of light.” Of course it is metaphoric. It can mean a myriad of things. Its meaning depends on how we look at it. A ray of light could symbolize “hope” or it could mean “to look on the brighter side” of things. Or it could mean anything else depending on one’s perspective at the time.

What is interesting is when I happen to read the caption about the artist who brushed it. Her name is Shoko Kanazawa and she has down syndrome. Apparently, at the age of five she began to study shodo and showed great talent.

It is quite captivating and the strokes look like someone who has a high level of mastery. What interested me as a shodo student was the hane stroke at the end of the first character 光. To do a hane correctly one slowly releases the pressure on the brush as the stroke very gradually becomes thin. But in this case it shows how gently she released the pressure while still maintaining the proper spacing to create that line. Additionally her two main vertical kado or corner lines in the character 明 display her “balance” as one has a lot of ki power and the other shows a tremendous amount of gentleness. Truly wonderful calligraphy!

It just goes to show, no matter what our circumstance may be, anything is possible.


Be A Stone Warrior

Last week we put an interesting scroll in the tokonoma which reads 力以石武 which means “the power of the stone warrior.

What this scroll alludes to is a teaching in swordsmanship in which a true warrior is one that has attained an equanimous mind.

The rock in this sense is the mind, but don’t think of it as a stationary rock. The mind should be in a free flowing state like a rock rolling down a hill. Along the way, the rolling rock may touch or run into things, but it just calmly and effortlessly moves around the impediment. It could, theoretically, keep on rolling forever.

One of the goals in Aikido training is to develop an unaffectable mind which is always calm and free flowing. In swordsmanship, this is referred to as having an immovable mind or an non-abiding mind.

When a person engages us, if we react to their advances then we are mindless. If we have  equanimity then we can be mindful and thus choose the appropriate course of action.

This kind of mindfulness is necessary in Aikido based on O’Sensei’s philosophy of non-violence. Furuya Sensei explained it:

Aikido has the effectiveness to throw the opponent but, we have decided that in order for it to be real Aikido, it must express a goodness, respect and nobility for life that does not allow us to use excessive violence or a “by any means necessary” attitude.

Being very aware of what we do, we become aware of the consequences and seek to achieve a higher level of existence in this world and within our lives to become good human begins, we are then practicing Aikido as a “do.”

The power thus comes from being a stone warrior who’s mindfully aware and who always acts with appropriate action. This what we strive for and this is one of the true secrets of Aikido training.







Go out and slay that Monday!

Gouma (降魔) in Japanese means “To conquer the devil.” Mondays really do feel like that sometimes, don’t they?


The devil in this sense is the devil which exists inside all of us.

One of the hardest things to realize is that our life is our own. Other people, things or events can influence our lives but they don’t control them. Those things merely inform our decisions.

Our greatest gift is that we have the power to choose. At any given time we can choose our perspective and our actions. Exercising choice means taking control.

Life’s journey is supposed to be arduous. Nothing good comes easy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be torturous either. The easiest way to make an arduous path more sufferable is to change the way we see it. We cannot know with any amount of certainty where the path of our lives will take us nor do we know how this will factor into our future. Therefore, because of this uncertainty, we can choose to see it any way we want. Choosing to see something in a more positive light enables us to create alignment with it and with who we are and where our lives are going.

In Aikido, one of the main tenets is to create alignment with not only our opponent’s energy but also with their perspective. It is easier to give them compassion when we can see what they see and where they are coming from.

To conquer the devil, is to align, redirect and use our devil’s power to our advantage and reach our greatest heights.

Have a great Monday!