1. Aikido and health and happiness.
A student of aikido told me once that they were not doing Aikido because it is healthy and further went on to even claim that the practice of Aikido is not healthy at all. I spent a considerablly long time overcoming my astonishment at this declaration and required many meditation sessions to accept what the person had said.
Indeed, with injuries, and countless cases of senseis passing away, God forgive, I started to have doubts myself if aikido really is a healthy practice. I came to my senses finally after re-reading the book "Kodo - Ancient Ways" by Kensho Furuya, which was recommended to me by Ze'ev san. Towards the end of this book, there is an excellent exerpt about health and modern day attitudes to health and, I quote from the article, Furuya sensei mentions "Isn't happiness the missing ingredient in our desire for true health?".
I had the pleasure and honour to practice with Yamashima sensei over many occassions this past summer (Geneva, Bath, Hamburg and The Hague and concluding in his own home dojo in Japan). Yamashima sensei has mastered a true way to healthy living and healthy training. It makes his aikido a great pleasure for all and he eminates a true wisdom of continuous repetition of the basic practice. There is no show or spectacle in his practice, he simply expresses in his movement a peace of mind which we are all striving. That, together with true happiness are what comes from my impression of Yamashima sensei's practice.
An honest practice of Aikido which prevents physical and emotional injury to oneself and to others will cultivate hapiness and, from there, will arise good health. Therefore, please let's get back in touch with our spiritual insights which have been somewhat washed away with modern day trends and total dependence on modern medicine and adopt a healthy way of living with the dependence more on our own personal happiness (with the inclusion of aikido training)! You can see the happiness eminated on this sample clip of a training session that took place towards the end of September this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j79TOgCFqLY
2. Fujita Sensei corner. Kokkyu-ho.
Fujita Sensei taught often variations of kokkyu-ho, a training for the centre and letting go of the desire to fight or contest. In his training method, he had a very well-defined approach:
1. Za-gi kokyu ho (seated breath power exercise).
2. Tachi waza kokyu ho (standing breath power exercise).
Remember Following points:
1. Avoid a foolish contest of strength with your training partner.
2. Move your body in a circular way and your hand in a twisting motion so as not to be hindered by your opponent’s power.
3. Use the power of your whole body and do not attempt to be clever by only using concentrated spurts of power.
These exercises, performed both standing and sitting, enable one to learn the correct means of using and projecting one’s concentrated body strength and using one’s power in a properly coordinated manner.
When your eyes engage those of another person, greet him or her with a smile and they will smile back. This is one of the essential techniques of the Art of Peace.