Archive - July 2010

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The Evolution of Aikido
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Spirit Purification in The Snow
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Morihei Ueshiba Osensei #1
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Morihei Ueshiba Osensei #2
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Morihei Ueshiba Osensei #3
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Koichi Tohei Soshu – Intoku

The Evolution of Aikido

This footage, taken towards the end of Osensei’s life, shows just how much it had evolved over the many decades. It has obviously reached a stage of complete mastery of timing, distance, unification of mind and body and the utter ability to lead others’ Ki . Of course, the philosophy of love and protection is[…]

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Spirit Purification in The Snow

Check  out this little video I made when I went with my family to Mt. Buller, one of Victoria’s skifields in August 2008. It has taken me a long time for me to get it on to my site, so sorry if you were waiting all this time to see me shirtless!It is just a sample of misogi practice in the cold.I started out by doing toitsu no in or “The Seal of Unification”. This is one of the mudra or a hand posture, which are associated with Mikkyo Buddhism. You do not need to be a Buddhist or religious at all to benefit from this hand posture, just as you do not need to have any religious beliefs to gain benefits from yoga positions.When done properly, this is a great tool for immediately and deeply unifying mind and body – especially for beginners, who may not know how to do Ki breathing or Ki meditation. It is important to think positive, healthy thoughts while doing this seal.

The second part of my misogi practice was kokyu ho or “Ki breathing”. The state of our mind is reflected in the quality of our breathing. By calming the breath, we calm our mind and vice versa. Thus, instead of becoming distracted by the brisk air around us and worrying about how cold it is, we focus on deep, full breaths. When our mind is in this state, there is no shivering.

Usually, these two practices are done in the comfort of our homes or the dojo, but I wanted to try some “old school” discipline and do them without a top on in the snow in a setting of natural beauty. I have heard stories of Osensei and his students practising this way and indeed, Tohei Sensei and Shin Shin Toitsu students do cold water misogi on New Year’s day in Japan, where they crack the ice off the top of a dedicated lake and enter the freezing water up to their chests.

I did not do it formally when over in Japan, but I have done it in icy rivers (see photo gallery) and in the crystal clear rainforest water of Mossman Gorge in Far North Queensland at dawn, one summer’s morning before my black belt exam. (What?! That can’t be cold, surely.) Oh yes, it is. Those waters flow down from the high, pristine mountains under the deep shade of the rainforest canopy. Without unifying mind and body, it is cold enough to take your breath away!

All this may sound like self inflicted torture, but on the contrary, it is a superb way to bring our mind into the Present and be in the body. The uninitiated will seek to brace themselves against the cold and tense up. Done properly however, we learn to totally relax under the adverse conditions and to truly extend Ki. (What else can you do? Haha.)

When we finish misogi, we actually feel invigorated, extremely calm and powerful.

I would like to take some of my students to the snow in the future for a holiday and to show them more of these practices.

Morihei Ueshiba Osensei #1

“Always practise Aikido in a vibrant and joyful manner.”   One of the great things about Ki Aikido (in particular) is this attitude of light-heartedness. Tohei Sensei’s dojo in Tokyo was always very lively and full of good humour. The instructors all had great senses of comic timing and would often have the class laughing.[…]

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Morihei Ueshiba Osensei #2

“One does not need buildings, money, power or status to practise Aikido. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.” Too often in life we wait for the circumstances to be just right before we do something. However, the golden time for which we are hoping often fails to[…]

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Morihei Ueshiba Osensei #3

“Day after day Train your heart out, Refining your technique. Use the One to strike the Many! That is the discipline of a Warrior.” Just what exactly did Osensei mean when he said ‘train your heart out?’ From my experience with high level masters, it means to me an intensity in the moment. That intensity[…]

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Koichi Tohei Soshu – Intoku

“Just as the number One can never be reduced to Zero, once we act or speak, our action or speech is never completely erased. An old Oriental saying tells us, “Sow good, and the harvest will be good. Sow evil and reap evil.” We must understand that everything we do comes back to ourselves. Therefore[…]

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