Memories of 2nd Doshu
I first met 2nd Doshu in 1962 but in all of those years, we rarely spoke directly to each other. When I was with him, I only remember, "Good morning," or "Thank you, " or "Please do this. . . ." or "Please do that. . . ." Not much more, unless his was scolding me. Most of the time, I stood behind him, carrying his bag or doing some errand, not saying much to him at all.
I remember each "scolding" very well, even to this day. However, over the years, thinking of his words, which were always so few and far between, I have reaped invaluable and precious lessons that have so influenced and molded me as an Aikido teacher today. For this, I am always grateful. None of what I have learned from him, are mind-boggling revelations or anything that has great to-do with the Aikido world at large. What I remember most was his Aikido which I have always admired and tried to emulate and secondly and, most profoundly, his deep sense of respect and caring which was always very subtle and quietly modest.
During the time between the passing of O'Sensei in 1969 and the eventual split of one teacher from Hombu in 1972, there was much chaos and bad feelings going around. Someone spread a bad joke demeaning to Doshu and we all thought that it was very insulting. Doshu said nothing and ignored it. We all discussed this over and over and many of us were very offended and thought that Doshu should say something about all that was going on. Finally, I went to Doshu and complained. He looked at me and scolded me severely, "Aikido people to not say bad things about others!" and walked away. I always remember this.
On our way to Iwama and the Aikikai Jinja once, we had a car accident on the freeway. I was sitting in the front seat with another teacher who was driving and Doshu was sitting in the back seat. The driver kept turing to Doshu and talking excitedly and Doshu kept warning him to pay attention to the road when, "boom," we rear-ended the car in front of us. You must understand that we rarely get such private time with Doshu as to be in the same car with him at that time so it was no wonder we all excitedly wanted to talk with him so eagerly.
Doshu was so mad. Doshu personally exited the car to apologize to the other party and I think they were shocked that such a VIP was so humble and caring of this accident. We went to Iwama and spent a week there. I only remember doing the cleaning and cooking and practicing with Saito Sensei. At that time, there were no students there so it was just Saito Sensei and me, one on one. Such training! - I only remember seeing stars each time I was thrown but that is another story. . . . . ! On our return to Hombu Dojo, Doshu insisted that we make a detour to visit the home of the accident party and Doshu personally made another apology to them. I think I waited in the car about 45 minutes to an hour while he was visiting with them. I think that these people were so honored and impressed that such a person took so much time and trouble to make sure that everything was ok for them. At the time, the other teacher and myself did not understand why we had to take so much time for all of this trouble for such a minor bump, but, now I think that this was just the personality of Doshu to be thoughtful and ever conscious of his position as the Head of Aikido.
At that time, there were seminars going on at the Budokan and all of the traditional Japanese martial arts were represented there and these demonstrations were only performed for other great masters of the arts and not open to the public. Doshu had to attend these seminars as President of this association and I was lucky to attend him carrying his bag and uniform. I remember sitting together next to Tomiki Sensei and Shioda Sensei along with Doshu. I was alway impressed with how politely Doshu bowed to each of the other teachers of every art and how he used such polite and highly proper Japanese in addressing them. Although Aikido was only at our 2nd generation Head Master with Doshu, many of these other schools came from long lineages from the the Muromachi Period and there were 22nd, 25th, generation Head Masters there, far senior to Doshu and our Aikido, yet great respect was always shown to Doshu. I think this experience taught me the importance of respect in the martial arts. Today, all of this protocol is largely simplified or ignored. Among the very top teachers, I can say, these manners were still very strictly observed and adhered to. I thought that this was so beautiful to see and experience at the time.
I think this is why I am still such a stickler for reigi saho in the dojo today. . . . . . . Just a few personal memories of Doshu, I thought to share with you. . . .