A paragraph from “Living Together” by Shihan Shigenobu Okumura

The following article is from, Okumura, (1981). Living Together. The Aikido, 18 No. 4, 2.

(This paragraph is from Aikido’s Honbu Dojo’s The Aikido and is especially pertinent in these times. The full article from which this paragraph is taken was written by Okumura Shihan, my first aikido teacher at Honbu Dojo’s beginning class in 1975–Okumura Sensei was a fine and healthy man and I was pleased to begin my training under his tutelage. Please enjoy this unique view from 1981 on the giving and taking within our aikido training.)

When it comes to our practice it is not just for the sake of throwing someone down and pinning them. The spirit of the art as explained by the master has to  become an ever present influence on our training. In our everyday workouts we have no free fighting or competitive matches. Rather, we train in basic patterns, repeating them over and over again. Sometimes we throw, sometimes we are thrown; sometimes we pin, then in turn we are pinned. This time I win and the next turn I lose. Since we do this day after day we rarely give the actual method of training any thought but there is a very deep significance in this form of practice. I remember some trainees who used to only throw but I don’t think this type of practice reflects any understanding of the spirit of Aikido. When we take breakfalls for other people we become the stage on which they perform, we become tools for their use. When we, as human beings, become a tool of another only then do we really come to be an independent person, only then do we gain the ability to act freely. We should not forget that any person, all people, were born to serve others in a mutually reciprocating way.

The Aikido

The following article is from, Ueshiba, M. (1981). Memorandum. The Aikido, 18 No. 1, 3.

Aikido World Headquarters Newsletter

Memorandum

Morihei Ueshiba

This world of ours is because human beings are here to govern it. It is the realm (heaven and earth) of human existence.

If we close our eyes it all ceases to be; at the same time the “heaven and earth” of the future is ours for the taking. Overcome, selfishness and thoughts of desire and the whole universe becomes your own.

Aiki is to develop oneself by uniting this sort of spiritual and physical paths. Aiki is to draw in the things of this world as they actually are and harmonize them through love, and thus to reach accord with anything that may arise. It is necessary for us to adapt and to assimilate all the people in the real world through a surpassing virtue and love. If we encounter hatred we reconcile it. We often hear the warrior spoken of as a “samurai” but this word means submission to the way of Love, not a blindly indiscriminate rush into battle. So, I think we should all train our bodies and spirits to become “pillars of the nation” and progress in the interactions of the virtue of Love.

Since ancient times, Budo has flourished but those who are in error have not disappeared and the tendency has been toward struggle. On the contrary, Aiki is for the benefit of all humanity. Specifically, the prevention of human suffering is the Road of Aiki. In this regard I, too, am respectfully pursuing my search. Though I have yet to get very far, I hope that we can, all together, singlemindedly aim at manifesting this great spirit of loving protection of all things and brotherly love. The zenith of such “technique” is Aiki. To win without the battle is Aiki; to attack and gain victory in our mission to realize the “True Victory of Self Mastery” (Masakatsu Agatsu) is Aiki. It is to pursue the true path mindful of the meaning of gratitude for past kindnesses.