Dojo: Enighet Malmo Sweden
Join Date: May 2005
Re: It Had To Be Felt #14: Nishio Shoji: White Gold
Oh, how those words make me reminisce! Nishio sensei was indeed apart from the general aikido curriculum, although he insisted that what he did was no "Nishio ryu" but simply aikido. He wanted aikido to progress and he insisted that we get experiences not only from other aikido teachers, but from all kinds of martial arts.
A noble man, indeed. During the many times I was fortunate to spend with him, on and off the tatami, he never showed any sign of chauvinism. None. And he was so polite I was repeatedly embarrassed. That's not always the case...
On the tatami, his speed was the first thing to amaze us all. It took us years to see what he was doing. But by time, other things grew to impress me even more. I've said it elsewhere on this wonderful website: Now, several years after his passing, I marvel the most at the fact that he never pushed or pulled. There was no excess muscular force applied. He just entered to very sophisticated superior positions, made tegatana hand moves, and there you fell, as if gushed away by the wind and nothing else. Genius break-balance.
Another thing that sticks to my memory is how he initially received the attack, when it was a grip: He extended his arm towards you, thereby immediately creating ma-ai, making you sort of bounce back. I try to teach my students that, mainly to keep on practicing it myself. I find it a splendid way of accepting the attack without at all giving in to it. It's a way of expressing one's kamae, as an attitude towards any situation, life, everything: So, you do that, well fine, let's go on from here.
In his sword art, he gave me the impression of presenting clues to ko-ryu, not just 20th century ideas of it. Through his teaching, I finally got some kind of grasp of kesagiri, among many other things. Kesagiri is not a peripheral matter, especially not in aikido application. He had his own sword school, the Aikido Toho, but when we talked about it we agreed completely on iaido being at its core. That means suburi, learning to cut (which takes about a lifetime), no matter what forms are exercised.
The only time I found him slightly losing his cool, was when his katana was temporarily lost in the airline transport. He had signed papers to get it out of Japan, since it was quite a remarkable blade, so he couldn't dream of returning home without it. The day after his arrival, the sword came, and we went to pick it up at the customs service. Nishio sensei was impatient to get his sword, but the customs officer was curious and asked if he could have a look at it. "You can," I said, knowing that it would take much longer if we refused, "but I advice you not to touch the blade." He heeded my advice. Nishio sensei's obvious anxiety was a good argument.
The sword art was definitely at the core of Nishio sensei's aikido. Still, he was no admirer of the samurai. He often told us that the samurai ideal was one of murderers, but aikido was to preserve life. So, his sword exercises had repeated positions where you showed the attacker the error of his way, by entering a position where you could strike him - but not doing it. The attacker got a chance to reconsider. Then another chance, then another. But of course there was, in some of his exercises, a limit to that patience.
Still, his aikido carried the ideal not only in words, but in action. When he threw you around or pinned you firmly to the ground, you were definitely beaten but never hurt. Again, that's not always the case...
I miss him, but I try to make sure I carry his teaching with me, as far as I understand it. I'm sure I always will, because at keiko I'm constantly reminded of what he taught us - and his solutions do their thing, even in the feeble version my body musters.