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.

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