Akira Tohei
8th Dan, Shihan
Chief Instructor of Midwest Aikido Center (1972-1999)

Aikido Training and Introspection - Part 2

by Akira Tohei, 8th Dan, Shihan

Editors note: This article has been reprinted from the United States Aikido Federation News, volume 3, Fall 1977.

All people posess "ki" and "kokoro". As human beings, however, to always extend these correctly and to utilize them correctly are requirements for us. Searching and aspiring for these, we discipline ourselves in Aikido. Because Aikido follows the ideology of non-dissention, those who study Aikido must be aware that a contesting "kokoro" and conflict itself are a disgrace.

In Aikido, rather than strong or weak, the problem is one of correct or wrong. From correct "kokoro" and correct thought, movements for correct techniques come naturally. According to the doctrine that the mind controls the body, it will be reasoned that training is the path leading to human perfection.

If one has "kokoro" for introspection, then a cooperative nature arises. Without ego, without selfish feelings, and with resultant harmony, it is possible to progress towards the goal of human perfection.

Egoism encompasses many things - the one-sided reprimanding in being strongly self-opinionated; feeling only one's thoughts are correct and thinking others are completely evil; placing blame for one's own failure on others ; the tendency to punish others by denouncing them; disliking roundabout ways and heading straight towards one's goal, thereby omitting valid middle steps; the tendency to not be satisfied until matters are not clearly settled; a distrust of human beings; a weakness for words of a mystical sort and putting sentiment before reason. Perhaps people with strong tendencies of this nature may stand at an advantage over others, but ultimately one's own shortcomings - the assertion of one's own ego and the one-sided inability to accomodate others- results in a fatal wound which is one's own doing. This is a solemn rule which must always be followed.

This is not to say one should hold fewer dreams, but it does seem wiser to lower the level of towering psychological demands that reach only for the mountain summit. Ultimately, this is what ties together introspection and personal happiness applies to individuals as well as nations.

It can be said that commercial pursuits are clever and smart, depending on the methods used, but just each person's environment, lifestyle, and a way of thinking are different, so one's reasons, capabilities, practical applications and methods for pursuing "ki" may differ. But forthe sake of what we are training in, for the sake of what Nidai Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba acceded to through legitimate routes after the death of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and lest we lose all price of preserving true Aikido, shouldn't we persevere in the quest of correct Aikido.

I recall the words spoken by the founder when he was well on in years. He said, "Even though I have reached this age, I am still not perfect; I must do more and more research in things young people do not know." I believe this to be a golden maxim, of one who, having chosen the path of training, has gone through much introspection with true humility.

The path of training and discipline is strict and also long. By not feeling satisfied with small ambitions and by not stopping half-way, we can hold on to high hopes. But an even better recourse is repeated self-examination which will allow us to lead lives without regret, consistent with a correct lifestyle and with our role as trainees. Our lives cannot be lived over again. We should not rush about to no purpose even for one instant, and we should be steadfast in purpose so as not to waste precious moments. It should be deeply impressed our minds that to arouse "kokoro" for introspection and to redeem our humanity is invaluable for us in training.