Skip navigation

The Rediscovery of Female Strength

Kawaraban No. 27


by Kenji Shimizu

Recently the number of students practicing very eagerly in the Tendōkan has increased. Among those about six to seven students practice exceptionally eagerly, and four, five of them are women. This fact only can be called admirable. Common practice is fun, but it also can be painful when you practice regularly in the mornings and in the evenings. A training that involves pain shows, that aikido actually is a study that you pursue not only for fun. With an ordinary mindset the pain and anguish cannot not be repressed, and you cannot not bear the practice for longer than a year. I do admire such kind of people. Well, sometimes even I doubt, and ask myself “Am I doing right as a teacher?...”. Every day teaches me something new.

Now to something different. The coach Mr. Ōmatsu, who brought the Japanese Volleyball Women team of Nichibō Kaizuka during the Olympic Games in Tōkyō (1964) to the gold medal, expressed himself as follows, what I still remember clearly: “If the athletes would have been men, I could not have trained them in such a way.” Women trust completely in the once chosen way, they show great perseverance and it’s not possible to dissuade them from doing what they have once decided. On the other hand they certainly are doubtful in some areas, but they show strength, not innate to men.

Somebody worded it as: “The Japan of today only exists because of the strength and endurance of the Japanese women.” That might be rather true. My mother was like that, too. She bore the long, bitter days following my father’s business breakdown and raised us.

Although I cannot be considered a humanist I feel as follows: Men are saying brilliant things, but aren’t they like careless animals? Their words and actions are far too ambiguous. Let’s have a look at today’s politicians. What kind of gentlemen are they? I do not see anybody with courage and determination.

As most of you probably know, the success of the professional baseball player Mr. Nomura as well as the success of the champion Ochiai from the Yomiuri Giants is to a great extend due to the strength of their women.

The author Raymond Chandler, however, writes in one of his novels following excellent paragraph: “Men who are not strong, cannot survive. But if they are not kindhearted, they have no right to live.” This you cannot apply to the youngsters of today’s Japan. From early days they have not received any education. Therefore body and mind have been weakened. With regard to Japanese education nowadays it is often said, that cramming knowledge comes first and that cultivation is not fostered. I think, it is a big mistake to believe, that by imparting knowledge you convey cultivation at the same time.

To conclude I would like to tell you about what happened to me and my child. It was last Sunday. I was heading home with my son (12 years at that time) after practice. In the train a young couple was flirting with each other intensely and uninhibitedly for the entire world to see showing bad manners (please excuse my awkward description). I felt even uneasier, as this happened directly in front of my son’s eyes. When we were leaving the train I asked my son, what he was thinking watching something like that. “Well, such incidents happens quite often”, he answered. I was relieved hearing that he was thinking like myself. What would have been if the answer possibly had been “There is nothing to it”? My parental soul thought that the training in aikidō already is showing some results.

Japan belongs to the 18 most advanced nations. Therefore our manners also should be excellent. I want to preserve the good old Japanese culture in the Tendōkan and pass it on.

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein and Peter Nawrot 01/2003