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The Master of the traditional Bujutsu, Shihan Kenji Shimizu, comes to Novisad

Kawaraban No. 64 (Extract)


Recently the editors of the Kawaraban obtained a newspaper article from Serbia-Montenegro (former Yugoslavia) that reported on a seminar, which Shimizu Sensei had held there last summer. It is not unusual that foreign media deal with Shimizu Sensei’s seminars and Milan F. (26 years, 2. Dan), who translated the piece, commented that “this is a very good article, which can be easily understood”. We publish this article here, because it is extremely instructive and includes an interview with Shimizu Sensei about his thoughts ranging from Japanese Budo to training conditions, which were affected by the civil war.

Recently an international Aikido seminar was supported by the Tendoryu Club Novisad, which took place over several days. Aikidoka from the twelve Tendoryu Clubs from all over Serbia-Montenegro met in Novisad. This year Shimizu Sensei led the seminar from Japan, who is one of the masters of this traditional Budo art. The Yugoslavian Tendoryu Association organized this year ’ s seminar just as they did the year before last. Each of the approximately 70 Aikidoka in the gym of the Sports University Novisad, who came from all over the country, showed a strong interest in Aikido. Shimizu Sensei started with a demonstration of techniques and mixed this with advice, being a master of traditional Japanese wisdom. He not only explained the movements of Aikido but also the way of thinking which an Aikidoka should demonstrate.

Aikido is an art of Budo whose early forms developed in Japan during the infancy of the Samurai era. It goes without saying that Aikido, whose early forms originated from those times and is still developing today, has become an exceptional part of Japanese culture. The person who merged several martial arts (which were developed until the end of World War II) into one single art of Budo and named her Aikido, was called by the name Morihei Ueshiba.

Morihei Ueshiba is the founder of Aikido. It is said that he was the last Budoka who possessed the wisdom of Bujutsu. Shimizu Sensei is the last and the most respected Uchi-Deshi of the founder Ueshiba.

Understanding is intensified by age

Shimizu: “Moving the body is not only affected by physical strength but also by Ki. After the age of sixty the body is filled with the most Ki, I will never forget how O-Sensei said these words repeatedly. I pass on what O-Sensi said to my students. When I was younger, I was rarely able to understand what O-Sensei meant, but now it slowly starts to make sense. Because in Aikido Ki moves the body, you are able to continue with Aikido even if you become older and have less physical strength. The reason for this is that Ki, and possibly will power as well, is infinite.”

Since 1970 Shimizu Sensei has been teaching Aikido in a traditional manner to his local and foreign students in his Tendoryu Dojo. It seems as though nowadays such traditional Dojos like the Tendokan are hard to find. Shimizu Sensei says that because Aikido is an art of Budo, which is based upon repetition during practice and which does not know competition, continuous hard-working (and yet relaxed) training is the first level. Through many years of such training the power of continuity and mental power can be strengthened.

I do not worry about Serbias future

In Aikido mental strength is the most important element. However much physical strength someone may possess, unfortunately it will prove to be useless if they lack mental power. The two elements readiness and courage are also of extreme importance and it seems that most progress happens with natural movement. Shimizu Sensei tells us that we have to practice eagerly with much patience, until we will be able to move naturally. Because some dangerous techniques exist within Aikido, which were applied by the former Samurai, there is no competition in Aikido. How far an Aikidoka has advanced can be noticed by his humanity and the exactness of his techniques. Until 1989 Shimizu Sensei often held seminars in Europe and in former Yugoslavia. And he thinks that it is noticeable how, during the period of nine years of civil war and the years thereafter, the level of the Aikido has decreased in Yugoslavia.

Shimizu: “It can be seen that due to the war the living conditions in this country as well as the Aikido have unfortunately worsened. However, people in this region possess a stronger willpower than the other people of Europe, and I sense a fresh open-mindedness. Therefore I believe that you do not have to worry about Aikido in future in this country.”

© translated by Peter Nawrot 06/2006