marți, 24 mai 2011

On the Passing of My Teacher — Soshu, Koichi Tohei Sensei , by David Shaner

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On the Passing of My Teacher — Soshu, Koichi Tohei Sensei , by David Shaner

Two days ago (May 19 at 9:14am [Japan time]) the Founder of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and Ki no Kenkyukai (Ki Society) passed away at the age of 91. Tohei Sensei was the first to bring the Art of Aikido out of Japan in 1953. I do not have words to describe Tohei Sensei’s influence on my life. His positive impact upon so many around the world is due to his genius at helping people to think and perform to the best of their ability. The learning process is experiential (not mystical); it requires patience, discipline and a commitment tantamount to true spiritual development.

One of the most important teachings of Tohei Sensei is simply to “Be Positive and Grateful”. It is a simple universal principle. If you can learn to choose your mindset and become both positive (in your outlook each day) and grateful in your heart (for simply being blessed with the opportunity to live another day), then you can experience your original connection to the universe itself.

Sounds mystic? It is not. Let’s consider an example. How would Tohei Sensei want his direct students to think and feel at the time of his passing? I can only speak for myself, but I would say that Tohei Sensei would want us to “practice what we preach”. He always said, “you must be able to do it, not just say it”.

Therefore, instead of feeling an emptiness and sadness at his passing, we can choose to be filled with gratitude for the genius of Tohei Sensei’s teaching methodology (pedagogy) that is the direct result of his gratitude to his three teachers. From his first teacher Tetsuju Ogura Sensei he learned how to train (with all your heart as if it were a matter of life and death), from his second teacher O-Sensei (Morihei Ueshiba) he learned how to relax, and from Nakamura Tempu Sensei he learned “mind leads body”.

We can practice today by being grateful to Tohei Sensei who dedicated his life to helping people around the world to “be the best they can be”. His genius, among other things, was his ability to teach and lead people from the exact place of where ever they are in their life. This is also a great life lesson in non-conflict; learning to lead positively without force, tension, coercion and brute strength.

If you are a manager and business leader, imagine the possibilities of turning a work environment into a positive, productive place where each person can flourish. In this way, you can actually see “work” as a kind of training dojo for practicing positive personal development, and even spiritual development. More importantly, Tohei Sensei was able to do this (and even teach others how to do this) by leading people from the best of all possible starting points; that is, the exact place where people are at present in their life.

Just imagine if you were surrounded by people who always think positively! This is exactly Tohei Sensei’s message in his most famous and widely read book entitled - - “Ki in Daily Life”. Being positive is something we can all do if we simply choose to see the best in others and rid ourselves of the tendency (mindset) of blaming, judging, and criticizing both people and the events occurring around you. Tohei Sensei was an infinite optimist and always taught to let go of past hardships and instead strive to live your life positively. To be positive and grateful in daily life was a main message of his lifelong teaching.

Read more:

vineri, 20 mai 2011

Ki in Aikido: A Sampler of Ki Exercises

Ki in Aikido: A Sampler of Ki Exercises

The book:

A Review of the Book by C M Shifflett

I know it's hard to review books written by your friends --- made even stranger when the reviewer sees familiar faces and names scattered throughout --- but even without my personal bias, I'd recommend this book.

Since leaving the Virginia Ki Society area (hundreds of miles of distance make it hard to attend class), I've held dear a list of little Ki tricks and tips that I compiled at class. C. M. Shifflett's book is very much like that list, except more concise, explanatory, experimental, and philosophical.

Though I think the book starts off a little too defensively about the more esoteric and metaphysical aspects of Ki, it quickly rolls up its sleeves and gets to work, wading into a series of exercises. Not just "Do This" exercises, but class "experiments" --- "Try this and see what happens. Then try this and compare results." The answers are not usually given (though they're often obvious), and the reader is invited to explore just what Ki can do in casual, simple situations. As Ed Keith wrote: " is an excellent book if for no other reason than that to the best of my knowledge many of these exercises have never been written down before." The many simple and elegant illustrations help considerably --- and if you've met people at Virginia Ki Society, you might recognize a good number of the illustrated figures! The one disadvantage to the exercises, aside from the need for a partner for most of them, is their progression (arguably a good thing) and lack of individual introduction. This simply means that, to get the most out of these, one should really read the book from beginning to end, instead of just picking out a random exercise. These exercises follow and demonstrate themes that are developed through the book, and missing the theme may mean missing half the point.

What kind of themes? The author's selection of quotes (and there are a great many priceless, wonderful quotes on most pages) quickly gives one an idea of the philosophy behind the book, a philosophy built upon and demonstrated over and over, and finally spelled out in detail. It is the familiar underlying principles of Aikido: relaxation, focus, mind-over-matter --- and it is also a welcome look at the themes of benevolence and attitude. Though many other books on Aikido have stressed the importance of benevolence and looking upon others positively, few have gone so far as to outline the experiments by which one can demonstrate the reality of how one's very thoughts can affect not only oneself, but everyone around one. Thus, it can be said that the book offers an often neglected look at the spiritual side, the spiritual philosophy and the spiritual implications of Aikido. For some, as the author notes, the implications may even be too much to take.

I think this text will prove to be invaluable to all sorts of people who are interested in Aikido: beginners, advanced students, teachers (who are students in their own way!), and everyone in between. It is also my hope that it will bring a bit of Aikido's spirit to those who are not involved in Aikido. And of course, I am personally looking forward to trying out these techniques with my fellow Aikidoka friends.

You may contact the author, C M Shifflett, at: There is now also a web site with more on the book: Round Earth Publishing.

The book: