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Training at Every Location

Kawaraban No. 63


by the Leader of the Tendokan, Shimizu Kenji

In Aikido the Dojo is the only location for training. In every situation of daily life, the fortification of ki may be practiced. The following story happened at a certain duty-free shop at a European airport. While I was waiting in line at the crowded cash point, a man casually pushed himself into the line in front of me. He pretended not to attract any attention as he suddenly pushed himself into the line. He should not get away so easily. Spontaneously I tapped his shoulder from behind and said in Japanese: “We are all queuing here!” whereon he hastily walked to the end of the line. He was not only aware of his bad behavior, but he easily would have gotten away with an innocent look as if nothing had happened. I am an Asian and perhaps I appeared to him as a reflection of a humble Japanese man.

That is only a minor episode, but it is absolutely necessary to react to such a behavior immediately, as it is a good opportunity to extend ki.

Sometimes by chance we meet inconsiderate groups of people, who among other things speak loudly in restaurants by talking loudly on their cell phone. They do not care about the other customers, and this really goes so far that food will not taste good any more. If you get up and complain, they will be probably quiet. Not in a single case has a dispute developed or have I encountered any resistance.

This is valid as well in the case of people, who stretch out their legs into the walkway of crowded trains. It is wrong to hesitate to say something and instead to have various things come to mind. Just as in applying a technique, it is extremely important to act spontaneously (i.e. to start an action) just before unnecessary thoughts cross your mind.

When I tell such stories I hear as if one voice: “You as sensei are able to act like that, but in our case things seem different!” That is an excuse, which is due to a great misunderstanding. The concerned person will feel guilty, because it is a matter of inconsideration, which is due to a lack of manners, and he will withdraw. We do not fall into the trap of the principle of peace-at-any-price. Of course, addressing other people about their bad manners will be differ from case to case, and in Budo it is an inviolable rule to read the thoughts of an opponent. Furthermore it should be especially added, that a dispute that literally degenerates into a fight is the worst.

I would like to give you another example. It happened last year during my flight back from Europe. Around midnight as all the passengers in the cabin were happily sleeping, some European students were chatting extremely noisily. That became clear when I got up to use the toilette. The passengers at the nearby seats were mostly Japanese, who showed their discomfort with half-open eyes. Still nobody dared to warningly ask for silence. Because my seat was located further ahead, the noise wasn’t loud enough to reach my seat, but with a “Silence, please!” (spoken in Japanese – note by translator) I put a finger to my lips. Immediately after came the excuse in Japanese “Sumimasen” by the most annoying man. Perhaps the students were on their way to a home stay in Japan.

Japan has joined the group of developed countries, but when compared with Europe and other countries, I have the feeling that is still underdeveloped with regard to individuality. There are only a few people who are able to argue clearly. Courage is necessary to extend ki, and that is something which I want to develop by training. If only the technique becomes strong, it will be useless. If in the case of such people the ki power will not be exceptionally improved, then the techniques as well will not be full of life.

© translated by Jennifer Reynolds and Peter Nawrot 11/2005