Sunday, May 22, 2016

Morning classes

Our Friday morning 6:30am class has been on hiatus due to the fact that Mark Tucker sensei(Taken 1990 Mark is first row, at the very end to the right) has been recovering from back surgery. Mark sensei is one of the dojo's most senior students and he has sent me an email announcement for me to post in this blog:

San Jose Aikido Community and friends. I would like to announce the restarting of Friday morning classes on May ?th. Everyone of all levels is welcome and invited to these energizing sessions. Better and longer-lasting  than a shot of Starbucks. The quick jolt is from 6:30 to 7:30 allowing for early exits to get to work.
For those of you that are not familiar with me. I have been training for 36 years at the San Jose Dojo. For about 30 of those years I have led a morning class. Aikido has been a long, fun, and wonderful journey which I will share with others for the rest of my life. Through our practice we will continue to work toward what is ahead and not be complacent about where we have been. We will evolve with an ever-changing world, work beyond our limits, and work on having a satisfying training experience that stays with us in our quest for peace and harmony for all. I look forward to train with and help all that choose to participate. Please contact ne with any questions at

Thank you,

Mark Tucker
Tucker Construction, Inc
1725-D Little Orchard St
San Jose Ca 95125

I am happy to see that this class is going to continue. Back in the eighties when I first took over the dojo I started this class. During my training period at the Shingu dojo in Japan the 6:30 to 7:30 am class ran Monday through Friday. It was always a challenge to make that early class, which I tried to do whenever possible. The evening class 7:30 to 9pm was much easier for me. But in the eighties my daughter came of school age and she needed to get to school early. So I started the early class to make sure I was up and ready to take her to school. At one time we had the class 3 weekdays a week, although I believe the Friday was the first and then it expanded to at its peak 3 days. For a period I would teach the class, drop my daughter off at school, Head over to San Jose State to teach Aikido there . Finish a little before noon. Head back to the dojo to teach noon. Then usually go to the fountain at the then 4th Street Pharmacy for a quick lunch. Usually tuna salad sandwich and coffee. Then pick my daughter up from school and either drive her to an activity or back to the dojo, where we lived. As you can see I was busy being a parent. I think by that time I was having other people teach children's classes, although I may have still taught some. And then I taught most evenings. So my schedule was quite full parenting and teaching, something my daughter is now experiencing being a working parent. Over a period of time the noon classes grew and the early mornings shrank. But Mark sensei has kept the Fridays going and I wish him luck and support in continuing them.

One story about my training in the early classes in Japan. During a hot period Hikitsuchi sensei would teach, so it could be great training. But the foreigners were expected to make pretty much every class. As a good friend once remarked, "Aikido maiasa", which translates as "Aikido every morning" but which could sound a lot like and sometimes feel like 'Aikido my a**". I remember vividly one morning(I had probably been out late drinking with Hikitsuchi sensei) I decided to sleep in, figuring he would probably also sleep in. The class ended at 7:30 am. To my surprise at about 7:35 there was a pounding on my dorm room door. I opened it and there was Hikitsuchi sensei. He was somewhat agitated that I had slept in because he had schedule a radio interview on All Prefecture radio at 8. So the true meaning of "Katsu Hayahi", that speed that transcends time and space, came into being. A very quick change into clothes. A drive across the Shingu river on the bridge that connected Wakayama and Mie Prefectures, which was usually, crowded and slow at that time. We made to to his house, rushed in to hear the phone call from the radio station. We both had to pretend we were calm and there waiting for the call. My Japanese was good at that time so I began the interview. I guess I was an oddity. An American of Japanese descent training in Japan in a traditional Japanese martial art. So the questions were pretty easy. Which Japanese foods did I like. Did I have a Japanese girl friend. How did I feel about the Japanese people. That sort of thing. But it began to get a little tiresome after awhile. So when they finally asked me why I was doing aikido, I started quoting Hikitsuchi sensei and his interpretation of Osensei's teachings. Well sensei immediately took the phone and began a lecture on Aikido, which the people at the radio station obviously found not interesting. So they quickly ended the interview. Which of course more than suited me.I think I was interviewed by the Shingu newspaper in a similar vein and I think I still have a copy of that. That was an example of my days in Shingu.
You had to constantly be ready for anything. Especially the unexpected. Which didn't prepare you but made the unexpected and the dealing with it hopefully a learning experience. The Japanese word is 'Shugyo' or special training. When Osensei meant 'training never ends' he didn't mean 'keiko'. He meant 'shugyo'....

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Osensei Revisited Overview

Last weekend was the 5th Osensei Revisited weekend, again led by Robert Nadeau shihan. It was well attended, with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday classes. I want to personally thank all those from my dojo(Aikido of San Jose) who attended and supported the event. Nadeau sensei's vision and leadership(He was a direct student of the Founder). Inspiring classes taught by Mary Heiny sensei and other instructors. So it was quite an event!

Osensei passed away on April 26 1969. So this workshop falls close enough to that date that this workshop can be seen as honoring him and his teachings. I taught the Saturday 7am class, which was focused on staff work. At the end I chanted Amatsu Norito and Kami Goto, which are Shinto chants of purification that Osensei practiced and was said to be fond of. The actual day of his passing was also honored with Norito and Kami Goto at the end of the noon class at my own dojo.

Nadeau sensei has made his life's work taking the things that were personally passed onto him by the Founder and fitting them into an experiential process hopefully mirroring Osensei's own process. Those who have not attended this event please consider doing so next year. It will be virtually the same weekend, April 23, 24, and 25. Teachers and schedule will be announced as the date draws closer, and this year I will try to keep updates a regular feature of the Osensei Revisited Facebook page.

So what were the takeaways from this year's event?

1,Nadeau sensei feels Osensei's spiritual direction is quite different from what is usually stressed. He views the normal as being very much an upper or awareness based system. Visualize a point as a starting place. Then put an expanding series of half circles above the point. And the space between the half circles can be finer dimensions or astral planes. Heaven is oftentimes seen as an attainment and one ascends there.

2. Now visualize the same point and make a series of half circles downward. In contrast to the upper awareness style, this is often missed. The downward direction represents more an experience/feel unfolding,
which takes us more towards not a finer, but a deeper, more original sense of who we are....Carl Jung once said that any tree wishing to grown to heaven must have roots reaching the other direction. We are not talking about heaven being less than the other place, but more that the journey must balance light/dark and leads to an individuation as opposed to a perfection based on finer to finer.

3. So now see the diagram as a series of concentric circles radiating outward from the central point and ideally balancing the upper finer with the deeper more original. So finer must be equal to deeper. Instead of heaven as an end journey, it represents an original state that is both beginning and 'end'.

4. Now let's take the whole sense of things expanding outward and say there is an equal and opposite movement back towards the core point. So just as the upper finer is balanced on the outward as deeper, so there is movement back, Osensei's 'echo' where the outer heaven returns to itself in the core point. Osensei is quoted as saying " Heaven is right where you stand and that is the place to train.(oneself)".

5. The movement outward becomes a dimensional process. There is a small circle around that point that is aware and feels itself to a certain level of identity. The next larger circle has and even deeper and finer sense of itself as an identity. Most of us are trapped or walled in to that first level. Various processes taught at the workshop such as center/circle, fire/water, chanting(sound vibration/silence) are to help you turn the walls of those first levels into membranes that can be passed through. If you haven't made any of the  Osensei Revisiteds this alone is worth the trip.The center/circle, fire/water, and chanting techniques were passed onto to Nadeau sensei directly from Osensei.  A lot of this is alluded to in Osensei's lectures and writings, but they seem to be obscured by the Shinto that is everywhere.

6. Osensei oftentimes expressed the importance of 'Ame no Uki Hashi', ie the Floating Bridge of Heaven.
Using this model one can theorize what he that. Another revealing Osensei quote:'' Unite yourself to the cosmos, and the thought of transcendence will disappear. Transcendence belongs to the profane world. When all trace of transcendence vanishes, the true person.....the divine manifest. Empty yourself and let the divine function."......

7. So why does Osensei come down so hard on transcendence? Perhaps it's because going finer even if one goes deeper as well perhaps one can lose one's way. The universe is after all a vast place. But if the universe is a vast tree( used in some mythologies) then the original point is it's seed. So uniting with the cosmos probably means an inner one. So that first or beginning circle, a core or fundamental being place, possible not as exciting as the finer planes of the universe, would contain all the finer. This is what Nadeau sensei understands as the bridge. In a world of no sight, one sees. And that bridge extends all the way out, but also returns to itself..

8.Osensei loved the Kojiki, the Japanese book of creation. There there was an original heavely brine. A type of chaos that was all things , ie infinite possibilities, all oxxuring infinitely. And it congealed into an infinitely dense point, Ame no Minakanushi no Okam, and expanded spherically outward in the sound Suuuuuu.
One way to look at this is that there was an original Source, Unnameable, Unknowable, God, whatever, that created itself as an original Soul, which then entered a universe or creation(also coming out of source) to find itself but also to return to itself. This is the echo. And at any point in the journey, there is the here and now of the bridge connecting yourself to both the beginning and the ultimate of yourself. Completing that journey heaven would be where ever you chose to stand.

Hope you enjoyed the summary. Hope to see you all back next year. And in case you're wondering, yes, there was time for some very good aikido training in the event as well........