Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Apr 2002
Thank you for all of your comments. First of all I really dread doing these interviews for these cable programs but I would like to point out the they come to us because we are one of the most recommendated dojos in the area by other martial arts which recognize us and think very highly of us and always refer them to us. We do not solicite these shows. And I am quite sure, as you clearly state, there are many, many more qualified Aikidoists than me to do this work. I think I am not well-known or popular in the Aikido community today because I generally stay very much to myself in my dojo - quite a long time ago, I decided to divorce myself from all of the politics and intrigues which unfortunately plague Aikido and for this reason stay very quiet and very much to myself. Also, my own students in the dojo are as about as much as I can handle. This is all I have to say about this. I do have a great deal of contact with other martial arts and martial arts teachers and thru my humble efforts have given them the understanding that Aikido is an extremely effective martial arts. I have also worked as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department Civilian Martial Arts Advisory Council and thru them have had contact with the top martial artists in the country and we have discussed and shared special seminars with other martial arts demonstrating and teaching Aikido and clearly showing the effectiveness of Aikido. This may be why they seem to pick my tiny dojo and we are often recommended. (When I see discussions in the website questioning the effectiveness of Aikido - and I always quite puzzled and wonder what kind of training they have undergone.) Getting back to the point, I reluctantly consent to do these programs because I always believe that Aikido should have more press and more exposure to the general public- it is a worthy art. These shows always tend to emphasize the so-called spectacular and popular arts and never fail to feature such arts as ninjutsu and Shao Lin Kung fu and many eclectic, modern martial arts today. Aikido is always sadly missing. I only do these for this reason and receive no compensation whatever, I might add. I should like to let you know that I have received hundreds of emails and letters from the general public all over the country and the world who have watched these shows and immediately looked up and joined their local Aikido school. This is what makes me very happy and the only reason I might continue to do them.
These cable units come in the dojo with their cameras and lights and take all day. We have to be so careful they do not dirty or damage the mats and lay carpets and boards everywhere. It is a lot of trouble for my students. I sit there in the hot lights for hours being interviewed and one must always be very careful what one says. They always manage, without fail, to edit out anything important you might say and leave in anything stupid that inadvertently slipped out of your mouth. The interviewer generally has no concept of martial arts or Aikido and usually has the same popular notions and misconceptions of martial arts as the general public. At the same time you are being interviewed, you are also trying to educate the interviewer about what martial arts and Aikido really is. Once you are interviewed for hours, they only use a few seconds or minutes of the entire taping, you have no control of whatever is put into the show once the interview is finished. You never see the show until it is aired. They always add in their own views and interpretations and I am always, always disappointed how easily they get all of the facts mixed up. I apologize very deeply that they made some mis-statements about Aikido. I try so very hard to prevent this. . . . Everything is up to them and as much as they say they want to produce a serious and accurate show, ultimately, it boils down to what sells and what is flashy and spectacular and what they think the audience wants to see.
Age, old injuries, weak knees from too much suwari waza in my younger days, a bad back from a terrible auto accident, too much time trying to make a go of the dojo and keeping the rent paid and my own inner inclination to be lazy all contribute to my being out of shape and have no excuse for this. I am very sorry this offends you. And I apologize that my physical appearance offends you. Being born Japanese and in this country several years after the WWII, I am used to having my appearance offend people who didn't like the Japanese or as I was referred to, "Jap." My mother also suffered a great deal of discrimination as well. She wanted to raise me so I would be more easily able to assimilate into this culture but somehow I only become more interested in my roots and heritage. I have always hoped that in this day and age, we have moved away from such notions as judging people by their personal appearance. It was the death sentence to even appear to be Jewish during the war in Europe and the Blacks have suffered so much throughout our history here. Japanese before and after the war have also suffered very silently. Although much progress has been made and I thought there was more understanding in regards to this, I am dismayed to find it here in the Aikiweb and among fellow Aikidoists today. I guess we, as human beings, still need much more work here. I suppose this is human nature that we must always put down the other person. I have not met many of you here in this website and because I stopped travelling and doing seminars about 20 years ago, I suppose I am not a familiar face in the Aikido community. But although I haven't met you, Mr. Miranda, I pray for you and your lovely wife for the very best that Life has to offer and you have my compassion and understanding and my friendship - always in Aikido.
To address another question, I started my Kendo traning at 8 yrs old. And soon after started Iaido training under my teacher, Yoshinobu Takiguchi. I have continued Iaido training under many various teachers who have been few and hard to find. I first met 2nd Doshu in 1962 and trained at Hombu Dojo in 1969. I slept in the Instructors Room and took every class each day and attended specials for some of the younger instructors, all 5th Dan and above. I have studied under many teachers but the late 2nd Doshu, the late Kisaburo Ohsawa Sensei, the late Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei, Sadateru Arikawa Sensei and Mitsunari Kanai Sensei are my great inspirations and influences in Aikido and in my life. I was ordained as a Zen monk in 1988 and spoke at the United Nations regarding Aikido in 1989. I am the author of a video series on Aikido and a book. Three more books are in the works and I was author of long running column in a martial arts magazine in which I tried to promote Aikido and its understanding. I do have legitimate certificates of rank in Aikido and Iaido and actually quite a few other martial arts. I hope this answers your questions and comments. I will still continue to promote Aikido as best as I can with my less than adequate talents and if I continute to offend you, please ignore me. I would be very, very grateful for that. Btw, I showed a very gentle, flowing Aikido in that particular segment because I wanted to emphasize a contrast to other martial arts which emphasize more flashy kicking and yelling and punching as you well know and always see. Generally, my dojo is known as a more hardcore dojo where the training is much more strict than usual for today. After 45 years in Aikido, I can do Aikido at many different levels and in many different styles with emphasis on many different aspects of the art in a very broad scope. I fear your views on Aikido might be a little too narrow-minded. One common point in my training however is that all attacks are real and made with intent to make contact. Finally, in these cable segments, no Aikido was rehearsed or planned, everything was taped in one shot (take) spontaneously. Finally, my intent was to introduce Aikido to the general public and encourage those who have never seen Aikido before, not to practicing Aikidoists and Aikido experts - you people do not need someone like me. I am afraid my second crime outside of my physical appearance may have been to be too simplistic and superficial in my explanations. Thank you for bearing with me and having patience with me. May God bless you and O'Sensei's Great Spirit always protect and guide you. In Gassho, Rev. Kensho Furuya