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Meeting with the Master

by Pascal Olivier

In the last days of 1983, when I had already spent nearly four years in Tokyo, training day after day at the Hombu Dojo, I came for the first time to the Tendokan.

I must say that I had been disappointed by the »Aikikai« since the first days I started there; but on the other hand many Dojos I visited did not bring me satisfaction at all. Indeed I had lost any hope of finding the true, authentic Aikido I had been seeking for years. It is said that »Perfection does not exist in our world«. That is not always true. Perfection exists in music, painting, sculpture, architecture, literature ... and Aikido? »Yes. It does exist in Aikido«! As I entered the Tendokan, I felt that something was happening in my mind. Yes, today's visit was a definitive step, as a Budo trainee as well as a human being.

What I saw in the Tendokan left no doubt that the man who was teaching there was the greatest expert I had ever seen.

He was not only a technical expert, not only a great teacher. He was more than that. He was a Master. That : is to say, a Guide. The deepness of Budo was expressed here in front of me, for the first time. Beauty of action, softness, combined with tremendous power, and all meanwhile managed by a gentle mind together with a very sharp, superb martial sense. Technical perfection, perfect timing, without space to slip even one hair between Uke's attack and Shite's reaction. Extremely interesting explanations about the spirit of Budo, the true meaning of practice ...

As I started again from the beginning under Shimizu Sensei's leadership, getting day after day the technical and philosophical answers to the questions I had been asking myself for ten years, I knew (and still know) that I know nothing.

And the way to understand the meaning of Life, leading us, some day in future, to the highest and non-physical level of existence (Tenno-Michi, or Tendo) is the most exciting experience one can have in a life-time.