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Awareness of other peoples` pain

Kawaraban No. 26


by Kenji Shimizu

This year’s winter season was extremely strong worldwide. Germany occasionally had days with temperatures below minus 20 degrees late at night. This time however I, who should be used to such temperatures, felt the cold creeping from my toes up to my knees in the middle of the class, and the pain in my knees returned. Temporarily I thought about interrupting the class, but considering the seminar’s students, who gathered from various locations and whom I didn’t want to let down, I changed my mind and held out with all my might.

The pain didn`t stop, but I managed it as far as Berlin, the last seminar location. However, in the end my ki tired somehow and the pain in my knees became so strong that `seiza`(sitting on your knees, rem. translator) became difficult. The situation was extremely unpleasant, because also in Europe it is custom to bow before and after training in a kneeling position.

Many aikido practitioners came from afar, from Munich or from even more distant places, some of them by airplane. Many of them already knew all the time that my knee was not all right. Unfortunately that couldn’t be helped.

However, in all respects, by words and behavior, the German people expressed their feeling `Shimizu is suppressing his pain and is teaching us` and showed heartfelt care. Furthermore, the atmosphere in the dojo during the seminar was pleasant.

Obviously the Germans have learnt this by normal practice, and I had the feeling, that I caught a glimpse of the so-called bushido spirit among them. By nature the Germans feel misfortune of others like their own and act accordingly. Every person is happy about help, when he is in trouble.

Well, in aikido there is no competition. The students train their own self, what goes far beyond winning or loosing. It is budo, where the partner is not considered as an opponent, where no pain is inflicted during practice, or anybody is finished off. By continuously repeating a technique stamina is trained and the ability of goodwill, love and respect will be adopted.

As I mentioned earlier, I was able to teach a class to satisfaction for everybody, because everybody cared for me so warmly.

These were painful experiences, but I do believe that they are meaningful and I have to make use of them.

Although countries are different, the basic principles of human beings are the same. Having come back from Europe and now standing in front of you in the Tendokan I feel happy again.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein 09/2002