When I was a young shodan in 1976, I trained at the Korindo dojo in Shizuoka, they did clapping before the training started. I did also, of course totally wrong. One of the deshi came afterwards to me and he said : if you don't understand, don't do it because it makes a fool of you.
Today we just bow and no clapping, because I still don't understand :-)
Do you ever miss Shizuoka?
I do. Sometimes more than others.
Mochizuki Sensei was there, of course, and he had a shrine at the head of the dojo. We always bowed and clapped toward that at the beginning, with Sensei facing the kamiza. Then he would turn around and bow toward us as we bowed toward him (no clapping at that point).
He told a great story along these lines, though.
When he was young, living in Tokyo, training in judo, having already been uchi deshi to Kyuzo Mifune, he and his friends used to pass a Shinto shrine. The priest was an old man who was the last headmaster of a jujutsu ryu. He called Mochizuki and his friends to stop and told them about his art, called gyokushin ryu. So these young judoka began to train with him, but they found it very boring because it was all kata and they were used to a lot of randori.
Eventually, all these guys quit except Mochizuki, who kept going for some reason. To encourage him, this priest fed Mochizuki the cakes and things that had been offered to the kami at his Shinto shrine. Sensei said he would eat all this up while the old priest talked to him, but when he finished eating he would make a getaway. He earned about shodan or nidan, then quit. The old priest said, "From this point on, the art has a lot of sutemi waza. It gets very interesting." But Sensei was very busy then and he didn't see any future in the training, so he just stopped going.
Years later, after the old man died and Sensei had been through Ueshiba's Hell Gym, trained in katori shinto ryu, trained with Gichin Funakoshi in karate, went through the war and was living in France, he saw professional wrestlers doing sacrifice throws and he started thinking back on the old priest and his gyokushin ryu jujutsu. He started feeling very bad for how he had treated the old priest, and was embarrassed to realize that he, himself, had allowed an very old koryu art to vanish from Japan. At his dojo, in the early 1990s, he showed me a large collection of books, a set of the complete registry of all the bujutusu ryu of Japan, and he showed me the listing for gyokushin ryu, and the name of his old teacher, the last in the line. He felt very bad that he had let this art slip through his hands. So ever since he lived in France, he had spent incredible effort and time reconstructing what he could of the gyokushin ryu. Though he never even saw the sutemi waza of gyokushin ryu, he created a broad repertoire of very unique stuemi waza and incorporated them into his yoseikan budo. Later, when he gave out the menkyo kaiden to twenty of his longest-standing students, he listed "yoseikan gyokushin ryu" among the elements each man had mastered. However, this was all just surmise since he had never actually seen any of the gyokushin ryu sutemi waza. And gyokushin ryu did not continue in the registry of bujutsu ryu past Teruo Ohshima, his old teacher.
But maybe Sensei did carry the real spirit of the school. He knew the old man well and he had heard much of what he had to tell him. And he had eaten the food that had been blessed for the kami in the shrine. Maybe that had a deeper effect on his spirit than he imagined. Maybe that was why he felt so haunted, years later, by the old man's request that he learn the art, and by the memory of his own escape from that learning.
Myself, I often feel a sort of haunting from Mochizuki Sensei. I don't mind at all. I do miss him a lot and I think back on his yoseikan budo as a sort of "ghost ryu" because it has pretty well vanished from the earth. The menkyo holders call his art "Seifukai" now and the yoseikan budo of Hiroo Mochizuki is a very different thing. The closest thing is Patrick Auge's yoseikan budo, but even that has been fully renovated by Auge's western thinking, life and students in the US and Canada.
At the end of classes, Sensei would lead us in recitation of "Seikun," a little essay by an emperor, I believe, possibly Meiji, which began, "Seikun, fubo ni kou ni, keitei ni yu ni, fuufu ai washi, ho yu ai shinji..."
"Be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters; as husbands and wives be harmonious, as friends be true..."
I can still hear his gravelly old voice reciting that statement. I still hear the clapping of the hands and I feel the slap in my own hands. I feel the bow. I'm sure those things will never leave me.
That's why I say, "If you don't like the tea, you don't have to drink it. But I won't add sugar to it and I won't use Lipton instead of o cha."
Best to all.