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Thankful for the Reward

Kawaraban No. 19


by Kenji Shimizu

This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Tendokan Dojo. When I look back to that beginning period I remember how lonely I actually was during my departure. During my Uchi-deshi time I grew tired by the mess within the Aikikai, I was balancing between giving up Aikido or becoming independent. At that time a friend of mine asked: “Is it right to be dropping off so suddenly like a cherry blossom? Don’t you want to try to communicate Aikido to the world?” I was not interested in such words, but perhaps they expressed a belief in me and were meant to inspire me with the wish for independence.

When it came to the point of my becoming independent it would have been necessary to clarify countless conditions and to make preparations carefully. But there was no time for careful deliberation. It was as if I would have started rowing quickly out into the Pacific Ocean in a small boat. Thinking back now it was an extremely dangerous adventure, I am impressed and think to myself “Well done for starting this thing so bravely”.

In those days, whenever I experienced backbiting, or when the people around me showed disbelief and I was close to breaking point, I remembered my chosen path and conquered the difficulties using my own strength. Although it may seem absurd, I experienced that by patiently bearing these stresses and strains and by careful contemplation, you are able to let all your experiences become part of yourself, giving you strength.

Looking back, I see that I have annoyed many people with my differences of opinion. But, thanks to all of you, by doing so I managed to survive as an Aikidoka. On top of this, I seem to have had luck on my side. Seeing that I was able to focus fully on the spreading of Aikido, I ask myself, whether perhaps the gods have helped me to this reward. Otherwise it would be totally unimaginable for me to lead a pure Budo-Dojo in Japan today.

Various problems piled up and I was very lucky to be able to continue with Aikido. Now Aikido is a welcome sport both in Japan and around the world. Moreover it is a martial art, which can be practised by young and old, by women and men.

Some years ago I travelled through Europe with my wife to hold a workshop. After practise a women approached me and asked with a serious face: “What is your main profession?” I answered: “Why do you ask? My profession is Aikido”. I remember my wife telling me afterwards how this woman’s face lit up with happiness in response. When I am teaching in foreign countries I am aware that many people teach in addition to their own work. Obviously people in the East as in the West are looking for specialists in techniques and martial arts. Thanks to Aikido I made many friends in various European countries, and in return an increasing number of Europeans are becoming interested in Japan through Aikido.

By teaching Aikido I also communicate a Japanese way of being. Because of this many foreigners long to visit Japan, but unfortunately it is quite expensive for them. Even though the Japanese economy is very strong, the standard of living is of much less importance. I hope that the exchange between us and foreigners will become much easier. Then the Japanese would probably rediscover the true value of their country.

Let us use this 25th anniversary as a new starting point to return once again to the beginner’s spirit and to strengthen the Ki. My intention is to teach the whole world first class Aikido.

© translated by Mimi Hansmann, Dan McGarry and Peter Nawrot 03/2005