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It was the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration on 22 May 2010. Years ago Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei used to stand inside the entrance of the Budokan in an immaculate white suit greeting everyone with a big warm smile.
Then later on he used to do his demonstration. He did it at the same time as Masando Sasaki Sensei. As Watanabe Sensei got more and more into it and started throwing his ukes just by glaring at them Sasaki Sensei would hear the sounds of the crowd and would stop his own demonstration to watch. And applaud.
In the nineteen eighties in Japan there was a boom of interest in martial arts and especially in internal martial arts and ki. Kozo Nishino Sensei, a well-known ballet teacher and choreographer who had done aikido at the hombu dojo, became famous for his ki performances throwing numbers of his students without touching them. Also Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei appeared on a TV program called Do-sports doing no-touch aikido. Perhaps Yoshinobu Takeda Sensei didn't start demonstrating this style of aikido until more recently.
I have never met Nishino Sensei. Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba talked about Nishino Sensei's no-touch aikido when my teacher Kinjo Asoh Sensei and I called on him once. The Doshu remembered Nishino Sensei's orthodox aikido as having been strong and powerful - he had been about fifth dan in those days. But the Doshu merely mentioned his no-touch throws as just another approach - he was not critical.
I have known Yoshinobu Takeda Sensei for many
After training we say thank you to our teachers and to our partners and to our students.
In Japanese there are a few ways to say thank you. By the way often the u is omitted in writing Japanese into English - Tokyo is normal, not Toukyou, and of course so is judo, not juudou, but I have put it in to make the words easier to pronounce. Here are seven different ways to say thank you. It's no wonder we get confused. For budo you can usually forget the first five. And please say thank you the way your teacher tells you or you'll get me into trouble.
"Arigatou," is quite casual.
"Doumo," is even more casual.
"Doumo arigatou" is casual too but a little stronger.
"Arigatou gozaimasu" is "Thank you" in the present tense. So it has a kind of implied feeling of a continuing connection or relationship. And if you add Doumo at the beginning "Doumo arigatou gozaimasu" roughly means "Thank you very much."
"Arigatou gozaimashita" is "Thank you" in the past tense. So we use it for something that's finished or when a result has become clear. So in normal social interaction it is rarer than Arigatou gozaimasu. But it is the one that is appropriate for keiko. It was difficult for me to catch the nuance of difference between these two.
"Doumo arigatou gozaimashita" is a little more polite maybe and is only used to people (so not to the dojo) to say "Thank you very much" for something that is over.
In budo after training even though of course we do have ongoing connections b
Last week I left a book on a subway train in Tokyo. I was very disappointed because I was half-way through it and it was an old Penguin paperback that was probably irreplaceable.
But anyway the next day I went through the same station and I asked the man at the ticket barrier if a book had been handed in. He telephoned to a lost and found office and they had it there! I was so pleased. So thank you Tokyo Metro. But suddenly it reminded me of my teacher's lapis lazuli ring.
My first teacher Kinjo Asoh Sensei always wore a striking lapis ring. It was a little unusual - older Japanese men are normally quite conservative about jewellery. After Asoh Sensei died his wife gave it to me. It's a beautiful ring and the stone is vivid blue. I have often been complimented on it even by complete strangers. I don't really like to wear it too much because I don't want to lose it at training. So usually I leave it at home safe in a drawer.
Then one day I was burgled. The guy broke the balcony window to get in and even took his shoes off. He took some cash. And the ring. I was devastated. I should have worn it and taken my chances at the dojo. The only good thing to come out of it was I got to see the Japanese police at work taking fingerprints.
About a year later a detective came round. He smiled and he gave me the ring! They had caught the guy. The ring was clear evidence and he confessed to a number of robberies.
I still don't wear the ring every day. I'm still concerned t
I went to a sports doctor once for an elbow injury. He's a very good doctor. He looked at the x-ray carefully and then he asked me, "Do you do aikido?" "Wow," I thought to myself, "this guy is good!" Then he told me he had only seen bone spurs in an elbow like that once before. In an aikido teacher.
Let's be honest. Shiho nage is a dangerous technique. Done incorrectly by an inexperienced aikidoka who doesn't understand the technique it can put severe stress on the elbow joint. Done incorrectly by a more experienced aikidoka who is starting to understand the technique it can cause long-lasting damage. At the Aikikai hombu dojo I have seen people have to stop their training in the middle of the lesson after getting injured with an uncontrolled shiho nage.
So in fact I only teach it to experienced aikidoka. There's the paradox. If I only teach shiho nage to experienced aikidoka how do the inexperienced aikidoka get to be experienced aikidoka?
It's a kind of zen mondo or koan - an existential riddle of aikido.
So what's the answer?
Well if I told you that it wouldn't be a paradox any more, would it.