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At the Beginning of the 25th Foundation Anniversary

Kawaraban No. 17


by Kenji Shimizu

Together with the New Year`s greetings I am asking you this year again wholeheartedly for your support and help.

Now, this year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of our Tendōkan aikidō dōjō and I am very proud that the Tendōkan exists already as a pure budō dōjō continuosly for a quarter of a century. Thinking back I owe this to the very support of many people. Especially in the beginning when I went into business for myself the foundation of a dōjō was an extremely dangerous challenge, comparable with crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a tiny boat.

It is said, that until the Meiji period budō was alive in the hearts of the people as well as in their daily lives. Nowadays, however, the understanding of budō is in low gear. I even have the feeling, that the perception of budō is rather preceded by a bad image. Empty forms, bluffs, and an atmosphere full of brutality. Especially in case of budō disciplines, which have become mere sports and where winning or loosing is the main objective, you can notice a drift towards the lack of self control.

We are in a situation where the real intention of budō cannot be recognized anymore. Yet that is neither the mistake of the athletes nor the mistake of the trainers - shouldn’t we look for the reason in the revolution of the Japanese culture ?

One of the special features in Japanese culture is Bushidō, the way of the warrior. But what actually does that mean? With the aid of the sayings of Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933), an expert for agriculture, thinker and educator, from his work called ‘Bushidō’ I will talk somewhat about this issue.

Normally when talking about the Bushidō mind there are misunderstandings. Bushidō has never been only about self-sacrifice, and people have not been stiff and arrogant. People, who sacrificed their own conscience for the caprices, quirks, and ideas of their lords, were subject to strict judgment in Bushidō. Furthermore there is no cost-benefit calculation in Bushidō. It is quoted at first hand as follows: “The warrior benefits from his striving for honor, which ranks among the virtues of a warrior, and in case of doubt he will rather choose death than live in disgrace.”

The human drive for aggression is all embracing and natural, and by a certain meaning it could be called male gallantry. But that is not the whole human nature, which is based upon a more sublime drive, the drive for love. In short words, the basis of a fight has to be love.

Bushidō does not rank behind the symbol of Japan, the cherry blossom. Bushidō is rooted in the Japanese ground, a peculiar Japanese flower, that unfolds its blossoms.

Well, coincidentally Nitobe Inazo is displayed on the 5000-Yen bank note. Of course the 5000-Yen bank note is important, but it is realized only by a minority, that Nitobe is telling us something more important. Now at the beginning of the 25th anniversary of the Tendōkan I inwardly have resolved to contribute that the culture of our country, which has a long tradition, will be highly esteemed again, will advance and will be handed down to the next generations, as well as the values, which our ancestors left behind as a heritage.

Though it is a private matter, I feel a close relationship to Nitobe Inazo, as he was the marriage broker of my wife’s grandparents.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 07/2003