Osensei Memorial Training
Sunday April 26th we hosted our annual Osensei memorial training. It has become an annual event at ASJ. This year, however, was the 40th anniversary to the day of his passing. So an already special day was made even more special. Due to a scheduling conflict Nadeau sensei was not able to join us. However, in his place Betsy Hill and Robert Noha senseis, both with strong ties to Nadeau sensei and the early aikido history of this area, taught. Of course Linda Holiday sensei joined me and the other two instructors for what I thought was a memorable day of training.
My heartfelt thanks to all those who joined us. This will be an annual event at our dojo, hopefully, for years and years yet to come.
Aikido's relationship to its Founder is perhaps different than that of other arts. Most new students these days obviously bond much more strongly to their own instructor and to the members of their dojo than to the figure of the founder. Much of what he represents to most these days is a historical and even an archetypal being. And yet 40 years after his passing the reality is that he is still unmatched and likely to remain so. I feel it is important for all aikido instructors to come into accord with his history, teachings, and his message, and to work hard on a daily basis to be an example of these important things and to awaken an appreciation of them in their students.
What does he represent to me? Maybe initially he represented the ultimate warrior, who overcame merely human limitations and even aging by connecting to a vast source of mysterious power that made him victorious in all things. But I can't tell you why his message connected to me so deeply that I pursued this path and not more education and not a more conventional career in business. It seemed that this is what I should be doing. Other things just fell by the wayside and didn't seem that important by comparison. In many ways that is still the case.
In some way I felt it was important that I started the very year that he passed on, so, again, the 40th anniversary of his passing is also my 40th year in aikido. What have gained in those 40 years? Maybe an appreciation of the incredible depth of this path. Outwardly it is a system of self-defense and exercise that is based through the body. Less obvious is that it is also a compass to guide one through the ups and downs and the often treacherous winds and turns that life can take. My sense is that Osensei felt that everything is training. In fact he was a kind of living training. How many times have I slid down that lofty mountain only to get back up and climb again. His message that everything comes from love, that true victory is victory over the I(self), that aikido is creation itself are things that I hope are being passed on to students by their teachers and to future students by future teachers.
Did everything start from Osensei? He did not create the Daito-ryu and other arts he studied. Nor did he create the philosophies of Omoto-kyo and the teachings of Onisaburo Deguchi. Yet somehow his search for truth took him to the very beginning or source of things and from there he gave new meaning to the concept of "bu" or martial. I feel his quest is also our own quest for deeper meaning, for what is truly important in life. For an understanding of the universe and who we truly are in that universe. So after 40 years I think I have come to a fuller appreciation of him. He was not a cold distant being with immense power. He also had a human side, according to Robert Frager an incredible sense of humor, and according to Robert Nadeau really appreciated questions. So now I feel that he was a being in constant transformation, brave enough to stand at the cutting edge of creation on what he called "Ame no Uki Hashi" or the floating bridge of heaven. The vast powers he possessed or channeled are now secondary to the brilliance and sheer light of his being.
When I completed the chanting(which I shared with Linda Holiday sensei) on Sunday I prayed that we all can complete our Divine Missions and that we can all transform to the point of being able to stand on Ame no Uki Hashi along with him. He might like some company after all these years.
I have posted another Osensei in slow motion video. It is short enough to be watched several times. Notice how Osensei and his uke both seem to be in an energy field of harmony, that the contact between them, as with 2 connected points in a field, starts way before the physical contact. There is no way the attacker is being cued to this or that.