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Training of Youthfulness

Kawaraban No. 10


by Kenji Shimizu

The idea that human being possess three kinds of ages was discussed in a recent magazine article.

I had already reflected on this issue and read the article with great interest. These three kinds of ages are the recorded age, the mental age, and the physical age. The recorded age cannot be changed, but mental and physical age could be changed depending on efforts spent, and the result could be a difference of about plus/minus 8 years between those two kinds of age and the recorded age.

Therefore between two persons with the same recorded age a maximum difference of 16 years could exist. And this matter actually could be experienced in daily life as well. There are people, whose face (outward appearance) looks quite juvenile, but whose physical strength is less than expected according to the recorded age, as well as vice versa. Human beings do not always correspond to their looks. In any case, in general it is considered better when the physical age is less than the recorded age. Everybody has the desire to keep youthfulness, but that is quite difficult.

Furthermore the following was reported in a magazine. A rich old man of over eighty years in a high social position would give up his money and his position and would start all over again if only he could feel 20-30 years younger. He talked about wishing to be young once again. Here we get a glance into the depths of the human heart, but finally it is an unreachable dream.

Recovering past months and years is as impossible as turning back the time; we are not able to change the recorded age, but there is the possibility to turn back the physical age depending on our efforts.

I think it is not necessary to reset the mental age by force. ‘Mental richness’ is indispensable in human life and it is an important key factor to reset the physical age.

Striving for mental perfection is comparable to something, which is bubbling over, and during this ‘kihaku (life energy) is shown. Precisely here the real human value will be decided, and, in fact, whether he possesses ‘ki’, which is able to use or not.

In developing such ‘ki’ Aikido proves to be extremely effective. In Aikido there is no specific age for starting to practice. Of course nothing is better than starting in your earlier years, but it is quite natural, that the way of living of every single human being is different. However, contrary to expectation there are many middle-aged people, who become aware of ‘lack of ki’. Even if you are aware of this and you are looking for something, it will not be easy to find it. If you only look for something amusing, you will find a lot of things in the world. But you will not really be satisfied.

The perfection of ki is independent of age. This is expressed by the following saying from the ‘Genshi Shiroku’ (four essays on language and will power), which occurs frequently in the speeches of the merited student of our Dojo, the professor emirate of Tokyo University , Kamata Shigeo:

“Those, who study in early days will achieve something.

Those, who study as adults, will keep their vitality to old age.

Those, who study in old age, will not pass away.“

That means, you should not stop learning or doing something, only because you are old. Everything has a beginning that starts with a first step, and it is absolutely necessary to proceed continuously.

Until begin of Showa period Budo was flourishing, but nowadays it shows a miserable existence. One reason that Budo nowadays has twisted to strange forms is also because of the change of the state of mind of the Japanese.

Aikido has become popular abroad, and perhaps foreigners today have a good understanding of the real nature of Budo. I think, we should not be driven by the delight of being a great economic power country. We should train our body and mind to become a great human power country, in which everybody lives a fulfilled spiritual life full of youthfulness.

© translated by Jennifer Reynolds and Peter Nawrot 04/2006