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‚Hakushi‘ and the Beginners

Kawaraban No. 90


by Tendokan Head of Dojo Shimizu Kenta

The phrase „Kokoro wo hakushi ni suru“ („Your heart/spirit should be as a blank paper“) we can hear very often.

These words help us to control our self so that we do not forget beginner’s mind. But isn’t it a big misunderstanding wanting to achieve the mental state of ‘hakushi’ only by working out intensively and by training the body only mechanically? Surely we should not rack our brain too much, and I think it is enough if we just face each other during practice with an open heart …

About three months after joining normally a beginner is practicing daily enthusiastically. At the same time dan degree holders are practicing, too. But the respective progress is probably bigger in the case of the beginner. The reason is that there is much more to learn for students, who start with Aikido. They remember the new techniques, they become acquainted with various people, and they are able to make new friends. Although it is about the same three months this period will be much more useful for the beginners.

The Freshness of the beginner’s mind. We want to learn the techniques fast! We want to make Aikido our own! Every slightest movement of the trainer or the elder students is watched carefully. The wish to learn something new together with a fresh lively feeling results in continuous progress.

Shouldn’t we keep this attitude continuously for 5 years, for 10 years? The phrase ‘hakushi’ is an important element to obtain the feeling of satisfaction and enrichment as in the days of beginning as well after many years. I do not consider intensive bodily practice as hundred percent wrong, but you should not go on continuously with the same method of training for 20 or 30 years. I am not quite sure where and when to find hints for the personal progress. These hints can be found in beginner’s mind. For example, if somebody is thinking “I know this technique!” and keeps this as prejudice, then it will be difficult to change.

‚Hakushi‘ means beginner’s eyes, beginner’s mind. That is difficult, and therefore I will strive for a training in which I always look out for new discoveries.

As usual now I have been in Wladiwostok in Russia from May 8th to 13th. I remember that I travelled to Russia as companion of Shimizu Sensei for the first time in 2002, and I felt somewhat uneasy. Now after 12 years every year many students from Russia visit Japan for practice and by now there is a seminar in Wladiwostok two times a year. There have been various incidents and always new experiences.

Continuing with an open heart means in Aikido practice the same as ‘hakushi’, and I learned that it is the same as in case of human relationships. And it is very important that this does not take place at an official level but instead it is a relationship from person to person.

© translated by Ichiro Murata and Peter Nawrot 08/2014