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The Power of Nature

Kawaraban No. 58


by Kenji Shimizu

When I explain a technique I frequently use the words „be natural “. It is because I think, when you have accomplished the basis for the aikido techniques and move with self-confidence, the techniques will develop naturally. Naturalness means to let go the unnecessary self (an artificially made self).

I assume this is what you call ‘mushin’ in zen. Mushin (empty heart in the meaning of pure heart) does not mean having no heart, but a heart that is boundless and filled with ki.  Hence an infinite number of variations and movements will develop.

4 - 5 years ago, on the occasion of our traditional kagamibiraki party I explained the relationship between body and mind in my announcement of the ceremonial demonstration with the words “the mind controls the body”. Later during the reception party the former captain of a whaling ship of the investigation department of the Fishery Authority approached me saying: “What you said a little while ago is totally in accordance with our feelings during a thunderstorm on sea. It would result in a disaster, if we would not be able to keep calm.” And he emphasized:” You definitely will end up even deeper in a mess, when you anxiously squirm in the middle of a storm and act against nature. As you cannot win resisting against the powers of nature, the mate will adapt to the rough waves, become a unity with the ship, and wait for the weather to clear up. That is the best. It is also the secret of aikido.”

In aikido we do not resist against the attack of our partner or fight against him, instead we connect ourselves to our partner by the power of ki and absorb him. Obviously this is not an easy task; therefore continuous repetition of the techniques is necessary. Thus you will learn how to make use of the power of nature and the strength of your opponent.

Strength and brilliance will develop, when the powers of nature are flowing vividly. However it is extremely difficult to act naturally in every situation; for example, when you are confronted with a dangerous situation in front of your very eye, the flow of strength will slow down and your body will become stiff. That is to say, courage and readiness are necessary. As everybody cares for himself you will tend not to accomplish an action, which you are afraid of. However, if you care about yourself, and have accumulated discipline and experience by training for a long time, arms and legs as well as the body will move freely. When the heart is no longer attached to anything, spontaneous (natural) movements, which are not restricted by anything, will become possible. Thus it will become possible to apply whatever technique with a free heart. To us this means: “Be natural”!

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 07/2004