A conversation between Kisshomaru Ueshiba and a Kendo practitioner. (Part 2)
Translation of Magazine Aikido Tankyu Vol.13 1997 p24-29
武道の心・日本の心 The Heart of Budo, The Heart of Japan! Mr. Watanabe: When I think about the future development of aikido, I think it is troubling that people from organizations that are not directly under the guidance of the head office are trying to make aikido look like this aikido. It is good that people are interested in aikido and spreading the word about it.
It is also essential that we are recognized as the leading organization and we are the source of Aikido. Therefore, when I talk to people who attend morning Aikido training, I tell them that I attend 本家 the original school. I think it is good to learn from the source 本家 for everything (laughs). Kisshomaru Doshu: Well, I am not saying that I am the head family or a branch family, but I am very grateful. Mr. Watanabe: Therefore, I think that those of us who are around you need to say such things actively. Kisshomaru Doshu: Anyway, martial arts are "bodywork," and I believe that each time we devote ourselves to it day by day, it becomes ingrained in us in a way that is like a kind of enlightenment. There are martial arts study groups, but martial arts are practiced with the body, so if we are just doing things in our minds, we will never be able to see the true nature of aikido. I feel that there are some similarities, but I think we have to carefully consider whether this is the position of a martial arts practitioner or a martial arts researcher. My father used to say, "An organization is good as long as it is well connected vertically. However, when I think about development in the world, I think it is better if everyone gets along with each other in a round circle rather than being connected vertically or horizontally. That said, there is a certain harshness at the center of it all... Mr. Watanabe:
Aikido is now developing internationally, but when you look at judo, it is almost as if the main dojo has been taken over. I feel that if they compromise too much in order to make the organization bigger, Japanese judo will lose its identity. If this happens to aikido as well, I am concerned that the internationalization of aikido will lose its meaning. Kisshomaru Doshu: That is certainly a concern. Mr. Watanabe: No matter how large the organization grows, I believe that the connection with the head family本家 must remain important. Kisshomaru Doshu: The true essence of budo, or the spirit and heart of the martial arts, must be firmly established in order for an organization to be successful. When an organization becomes large, some people tend to be more concerned about tweaking the organization than about daily devotion and training. How about kendo? Mr. Watanabe: Kendo is not yet as internationalized as aikido, but I think it should at least not be an official Olympic sport. Judo has adopted a weight division system that was never supposed to be in a martial art. It's a complete admission that it has become a sport. If that were adopted for kendo, I would strongly be opposed that it becomes an Olympic sport. Kisshomaru Doshu:
Judo is recognized around the world as an international sport. This is not a bad thing. However, we need to pull out a little more from Kano Jigoro Sensei's view that Judo is an extension of Japanese Budo, and if the Japanese spirit is lost, it cannot be called Judo. When Aikido first began to spread overseas, people overseas were interested in the fact that the opponent would be thrown away without putting any effort into it at first. However, interest alone is not enough to keep practicing aikido for a long time. I believe that the Japanese spirit and spirituality at the heart of Aikido have been the driving force behind its development overseas. I am grateful that people overseas are interested in the spirituality of aikido and want to learn it. Therefore, I believe that we must keep that spirituality and its essence alive at all cost. Mr. Watanabe: Aikido is the only international martial art that will grow globally. You mentioned the spirit. When I listen to the stories of foreign people who attend aikido morning practice, I get the impression that they are not just in it for the fun of it, but that they are truly devoted to aikido. Aikido is a martial art with an international flavor. Kisshomaru Doshu: The more you practice Aikido, the deeper you go and the more contradictions are emerging, which must be overcome. It is an element of a certain Eastern philosophy. Mr. Watanabe: And it is still very rational. My brother had started aikido just a little before I did. I didn't start aikido because he recommended it to me. When I told my brother that I was thinking of taking up aikido, he said, "Well, I was taking up aikido. Siblings think about the same things at the same time (laughs). My brother used to say, "Aikido is a rational way of thinking. I heard that footwork and such are written in books. That kind of thing did not exist in kendo. He said, "You are in a good place." Kisshomaru Doshu: In terms of rationality, I feel that it is a martial art where reason prevails. In kendo, the phrase "生死一如: life and death are one and the same, life and death are the two faces of the same coin " is often used.
In the case of aikido, it is "心身一如:mind-body unity, there is no death. Today, there is a lot of attention paid to the issue of "death," but in the case of Aikido, my father used to say, "In Aikido, you have to go one step further and rejoice in a higher state of being where mind and body are united. When you do that, tears of joy will come out." If I used the word “heaven”, it could be misunderstood, but that is what my father said he was working toward. This is a unique way of thinking about aikido, and I think it is a goal of devotion that I can teach to you as the feelings of the founder. Mr. Watanabe: I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet Founder, even if it was only for three years. However, it is not easy to understand what the founder said. I think Aikido has spread so much thanks to the way Kisshomaru Doshu interpreted what he said so that everyone could understand it. I always think that the work that Doshu has done is amazing. Kisshomaru Doshu: I am very grateful to the many people who tell me so, but I think I need to work on my own interpretation, which is a step beyond that.
To be continued....