“When you train martial arts, it is interesting to find out how less control you have over your own body. When I first started Aikido training over 14 years ago, I had no control over my body movement. Sensei showed techniques and I thought I was imitating the technique pretty well, but reality is I was out of control.”
There exist four fine arts I have discovered during my Aikido physical training downtime, which have kept me from feeling out of the loop over the past couple years. They are Japanese sword customization, Rakuyaki pottery, woodworking, and acrylic and oil painting.
The first is indirect, but relevant nonetheless. Working with a sword maker to create and develop incredibly beautiful katana and wakizashi, has combined his creative and hands-on art with my creative mind. It has been a total joining together of my personally desired designs in custom sword crafting with his ability to create wonderful swords. I have been working with the veteran, American sword smith, David Goldberg.
Don’t look at the opponent’s eyes, or your mind will be drawn into his eyes. Don’t look at his sword, or you will be slain with his sword. Don’t look at him, or your spirit will be distracted. True budo is the cultivation of attraction with which to draw the whole opponent to you. All I have to do is keep standing this way. Morihei Ueshiba
I don’t think this can be in any way made any clearer.
A lot of good things are lost because of words. Words can reveal but they can equally conceal the intended meaning and communication.
Experience is vital but unconscious experience can also blind because of the element of fear.
Without experience, however, and real need, real emergency, the full measure of a skill cannot emerge. That’s why some try to eke it out by testing in the ring. Still, this is not really the real deal, not fully, so here too, it may or it may not evoke any measure of depth in understanding.
During my many years in Japan, one of the highlights I especially remember took place on October 29, 2001 when Morihiro Saito Sensei visited the home of Koichi Tohei Sensei after a hiatus of nearly 30 years. This meeting came about due to a request from Saito Sensei’s son, Hitohiro Sensei, who asked me to attempt to arrange the meeting because of the advanced age and health of these two aikido legends.
First, a little background. During my years of close association with Saito Sensei spanning the late 1970s through the 1990s, I often heard him mention with respect and nostalgia his “sempai,” Koichi Tohei. When Saito Sensei enrolled in the Ueshiba Dojo in 1946 at the age of 18, it was Tohei Sensei who was the standout figure at the Iwama Dojo. Everyone looked up to him, Saito Sensei being no exception. It was this early era that Saito Sensei most fondly remembered.
Their association was cut short in 1974 when Tohei Sensei resigned from the Aikikai organization. There was no particular animosity on either side because of this unfortunate event, but the normal occasions when they would meet such as demonstrations, meetings or parties no longer brought them together. Their relationship was simply one of the fallouts of the political problems that occurred at the Aikikai during those years.
As martial arts instructors we will all face the occasional student training injury and we should be at least somewhat versed in the management of such injuries. The focus and intent of this article is not to make every Sensei out there a physician or EMT. My intent will be to focus in on a logical approach to dealing with dojo-related injuries and a methodology that can be easily adopted by instructors. It is the same methodology that has served me well as a Flight Surgeon and health care professional for more than 25 years years. As we do this we will review some cases from the dojo experience and try to gather some teaching points from these real world occurrences. Useful dojo first aid can help mitigate an injury and reduce an emergency situation to an less urgent one that will literally help the student recover faster—and help to keep the dojo doors open!
As a practicing healthcare professional, I have certain biases to the approach, treatment, management, and response to an injured student that perhaps another instructor (with no medical background) may not consider. But therein lies a substantive reason for this article. As both a healthcare professional and an experienced martial arts instructor, I have significant experiences from both the treatment room and the dojo to draw upon. My further background in emergency medicine, military medicine and wilderness medicine will obviously render a perspective that many martial arts instructors may not normally be exposed to, and I hope this will provide a useful overview for dealing with Dojo training injuries.
We would like to call your attention to a our new website we have titled “Koichi Tohei Resources”. This fledgling site is devoted to preserving important documents and photos concerning, arguably, the important figure of the early years of aikido: Koichi Tohei, 10th dan. In its present form, it offers the following sections you may find of interest: Home/Blog, About, Chronology, Further reading, and Photos.
This adjunct to the main website is this editor’s modest effort to free himself from the need to continuously engage the services of a computer programmer for any substantial change to the site’s form and content. It uses the new WordPress 3.0 blogging software which has really come into its own as a CMS (Content Management System). Even non-programmers can get down and dirty!
We invite you to browse around and offer your suggestions. In particular, have a look at the “Chronology” and “Photo” sections. Please understand that this is merely a beginning, but it will give you an idea of our vision for expanding the Aikido Journal website to allow more efficient access to the vast resources we have gathered. With the passage of time, we plan to offer similar, focused sites for all of the important personalities and subjects relating to aikido.
We take this opportunity to once again remind you of the release of our brand-new DVD titled Koichi Tohei: Aikido with Ki which is proving to be a runaway bestseller!
“Beyond his extraordinary and internationally acclaimed Aikido, it is his great human qualities that leave an indelible mark on me. When I was close to him, I was able to see just how much he was able to pass on the true message of Aikido by his kind-hearted attitude.”
Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.
The article below on famous swordsman Yoshio Sugino has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.
The fierce gleam that once characterized his gaze has given way to a gentle, affectionate light as he watches over his young charges in the dojo. People have taken to describing him as “free of worldly desires and cares,” neither flattering others nor being swayed by their evaluations. At the age of 93, he is comfortable with himself to the point that his every movement and gesture is picture-perfect. His sword is filled with a graceful, elegant energy, his smile with an irresistible attraction.