Saturday, September 10, 2011

911 re-examined

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of 911. It is definitely the day the world changed. I remember waking up in the Santa Cruz mountains. I was living there at the time in a cabin in the outskirts of Felton. From a personal perspective I was waking up to a radio alarm. It was set to catch Mike Krukow on KNBR and I did catch him, but he was not talking about the Giants. At the time they were in a race for a playoff spot and Barry Bonds was chasing the home run record which he would get later. But all that was being talked about was the tragedy of the Twin Towers in New York City. It was quite a wake up. Remember Steve Mariucci was then coach of the 49ers and after a few years of being bad by their standards they were once again a playoff team. And I remember him putting things in perspective by saying that even though football games were sometimes metaphorically referred to as "war", they were definitely not........

War is tragic and when personal loss is suffered it is personal.....Often times aikido is referred to as the art of peace. We must remember that peace is not a concept, but a reality that takes much evolution and transformation to achieve and we are not yet there as a species. My feeling is that Ueshiba Osensei created the art of aikido to help us evolve to where things could be settled without war. In the book "The Heart of Aikido" he mentions he was given what he considered a divine edict to stop the war. When he could not he moved to Northern Japan, built the Aiki Shrine, and trained further so that he would have something to offer the world after the war had ended. He also mentions in that book that he forsaw the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the time of fire. Even though I personally don't know this, I get the feeling he may have experienced up North what it was like in that holocaust. In the NHK documentary "The King of Aikido" it is said he had the reputation of being able to feel what it was like to be frost on the ground. So my sense is that he probably experienced much of the destruction and loss of life that took place then. Just a hunch. So he was not a detached otherworldly mystic, but rather an evolved being at home and a part of both this human world and a much more divine order.

I remember visiting Japan November of that year with Linda Holiday sensei. We went to visit Anno sensei. And the 3 of us went to pay our respects to Hikitsuchi sensei, who at that time was still alive but no longer training on the mat. When asked how the world at that time could be fixed and healed, he said the most important thing was for aikido's spirit of "mamorisodateru kimochi" which I would interpret to be the spirit of loving protection to be brought more into the world. On this 10th anniversary of 911 I couldn't agree more. Tomorrow we will hold a World Peace training at the dojo from 4pm to 5pm. Demonstrations at 5. Refreshments after.

It was quite an event to visit Shingu so close to 911. I remember people being so supportive. I remember visiting Tanabe and Osensei's grave with Anno sensei and Linda sensei. We were told in the early '70's that training in aikido was for the sake of the world(sekai no tame ni) meaning we were being trained to bring that spirit of loving protection into the world. Somehow it was fitting to visit the Shingu dojo at that time. And it seems also fitting to have the training tomorrow.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Shingu & Anno sensei Update and More

Some of you may have heard that the Kii Peninsula in Southern Japan where Shingu is located has been hit by a very powerful Typhoon/storm. The Shingu River has overflowed its banks and flooded much of the town. The dojo itself experienced some flooding but apparently the mat area inside is okay. Anno sensei and his wife are said to be fine. They live in Mie Prefecture and have several houses on their property. Their main house was flooded but they have moved into one of their houses on higher ground. Hopefully the dojo and the people of Shingu will do fine through this. In my time there there was nothing to compare to this recent event.

As you are probably aware the 911 event in Ben Lomond has been postponed. But we are having our own event on September 11. No charge. Just donations for food and drink requested. 4pm training which I will teach. 5 pm demos. After that food and refreshment which we will send out for once we get a count. My friend Dianna and Vladi will be there and we will do a new version of 'Blade Horn and Wolf' as a part of the demo.

With all that is happening in the Shingu area I thought I would put on another video from my early time there. This is some footage of Tojima sensei that has not yet appeared on youtube. It makes me sad because after this and a little bit more there will be no more new videos. Here is some footage of irimi nage counters with yours truly as uke. Notice how natural he is. This is not rehearsed at all. Not refined or staged. Just like a Chet Baker solo played entirely in the moment. That is definitely a reflection of the training there at that time. I included a photo above of Anno sensei and myself at Tojima sensei's grave in Mie Prefecture. This was taken during the 2006 trip to Japan.

Of course I have a vivid imagination. But I often wonder what he is up to on the other side. I have a definite feeling he is with Osensei and probably quite active with whatever Osensei is involved in on the other side. I do not get that either of them are non-existent or inactive. As you can tell I had quite a time during the filming of this. The rest of the dojo was upstairs watching some recently shot videos, many of which have appeared on my youtube channel. So Tojima sensei felt relatively unrestrained and put on quite a show. Now let's take a trip back in time to 1973...........