Interview with Mr. Masao Yamazaki
Off Time Nr. 11
by Kenta Shimizu
In this interview ‚Off time’ talks to Mr. Masao Yamazaki, who is the No. One regarding the number of weekly training hours at the Tendokan! Since his retirement he started with Aikido, and for five years he is attending nearly all daily classes. He tells us a lot about the source of his energy, about the fascination of Aikido, and how he communicates with the children during practice. And that comes along with Mr. Yamazaki’s cheerful personality. (April 2010)
To start with, could you please tell us your motive for joining the Tendokan?
In the beginning I only wanted to raise my grandchild solidly, and because there was an Aikido Dojo in the neighborhood, I thought it would be a good idea to take him along for watching. But because the child in question said that it did not want to begin, I myself decided to join first (laughing). I remember that I then formally joined. Anyhow, my grandchild still was in the 2nd-3rd class of the primary school (later luckily he joint). Regarding Aikido I knew the name, and I was interested to learn what it was all about. I thought, it couldn’t be bad starting at my age with Aikido, because wanted to have some exercise.
Since you joined, you appear for training daily, how do you profit by coming to the Dojo?
What could that be – first of all it is a refreshing feeling after practice, and of course it is also the feeling of achievement, but I do like the face of Shimizu Sensei! (laughing) During practice he shows a severe face, but when I am leaving the Dojo his face softens and he smiles. That I like very much.
What is fascinating about Aikido?
It is the pleasure. Every time after practice I think: “Ah, that was very pleasant”. Because all are nice people, I do not have any objection to go for practice. In any case I am very happy when I attend the class.
Aren’t there sometimes any pains during daily practice?
There are no pains. For example, luckily the joints became a little more flexible. At first when I started with Aikido my target was to hold out until the age of 75, but as only one more year is left, I intend to continue until the age of 80 after passing 75 years.
What was your profession?
I graduated from university in the year Showa 35 (1960), and that was exactly the time of scarcity of employment. By the recommendation of a senior university colleague I entered the automobile company Nissan. I worked 7-8 years in the business area, then the concerned colleague change to the automobile company Mitsubishi, and he took me with him. Then I stayed with Mitsubishi until retirement. Comparing those days with today, somehow it was a time with a shortage of many things, and therefore I worked very hard.
Words like “Nowadays young people ...“ can be overheard frequently. How do you, Mr. Yamazaki, see the change of attitude of today’s people compared to past times based upon your experience?
There is no big difference regarding the so-called ‚childish’ behavior of the first half of my twenties and the present youth in their twenties. But as we are talking about the already above mentioned post-war years, we experienced a time of material shortages, and there was a lack of many things. Today you can buy nearly everything for money, and in this regard I am asking myself, whether we were somehow spiritually more independent. Anyhow, when we were young, we ignored the ways of the world, and that makes us not so much different compared to today’s young people.
Compared to today’s students you have much more physical strength!
What might be the reason for that ... (laughing)
Every week you help with the children and youth classes; what do you want to teach he children?
I have the impression that today’s parents, who think of their children’s future, first of all consider them going to a university and therefore let them visit a private school additionally. Of course studies are important, but looking from my standpoint, we should as well foster strength and courage for own decisions. Those things become important, when the children will be dismissed into the adult society. I am thinking like that just because I have left many years behind and have reached my actual age, but this fact might not make so many other parents change their mind.
I hope that the children in future will be able to use positively the experiences gained when practicing Aikido. For example, there is the ‘greeting’. It happened just last week. When I was on my way to the Dojo the boys of the children class greeted me with cheerful voices “Hallo!” That gave me an extremely pleasant feeling. Normally during children and youth classes the etiquette will be practiced. But even if they learned the etiquette during practice successfully, it is quite difficult to act accordingly outside the Dojo, isn’t it? Therefore I hope the children will become like those, who greeted me with a fresh feeling.
And at school they should listen as carefully to their teachers as they are doing it during Aikido practice. That way they will graduate successfully and they will succeed in Aikido as well.
What are you doing for your health besides Aikido?
I go early to bed and I get up early. Regarding food I am not choosy, and I just enjoy eating. Furthermore, there are no bad thoughts accumulating in my heart. Nothing piles up. Yes, of course, if bad words are used, something remains in my heart, but after 2 or 3 days I have forgotten everything. This I experienced since my younger days. All in good time.
That’s true. It might be an important hint not to accumulate anything in your heart.
Could you please finally give us a message for all those people, who would like to start with Aikido?
Just starting with Aikido is pleasant, and it is good for your health as well. I would like to suggest practicing Aikido to older people, because it will influence their health positively, even if they cannot move very intensively during practice.
Of course this is valid for men and women. Aikido is extremely joyful. The Tendokan is a Dojo, where you can practice joyfully. This is a very important part of my experience.
Thank you very much for today!
Mr. Yamazaki, who gave us today’s interview, has on the other hand asked us a lot about Aikido techniques, and by doing so demonstrated his strong ambition to progress in Aikido. Presently his grandchild comes to the Dojo with him.
I had the feeling that starting with Aikido training has added a new color to Mr. Yamazaki’s life.
Mr Yamazaki is obviously healthy in a way that we ask our self how this can be possible and he should get tired during practice a little at least. And I thought by myself that we should take him as role model to prevent falling behind.
© translated by Ichiro Murata and Peter Nawrot, June 2010