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Hanami

sakura001.Web.sqHanami is 花見 flower viewing. Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2017

I live in an area where many cherry trees bloom. It has even given a name to a cherry good for alcohol and cakes, the Montmorency Cherry Tree. As a martial artist, I walk among these trees and think about Japanese taste for these flowers. Much has been said about them as the symbol of the samurai.

The samurais I know of are my masters. I have had the chance to witness their last blossom. I saw their first too, for some of them. There has been adventure between both and I have learnt much.

Yet I recall the last blossom and readily, reach out to my training gear and start practising, under the cherry blossom.

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Walking throw door and bramble

porte-verger-2Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2018

Noro Masamichi sensei: “How does the movement travel from toe to finger? This is mystery.”

I understood his words as an invitation to look onto Noro sensei as he repeated what he had witnessed within the movement of his own master, Ueshiba Morihei sensei. Others thought “This is Noro’s technique” while, at the same time, I was looking at Ueshiba sensei through the body and mind of my master, impersonating a magnifying lens. His invitation to mystery was like a door open onto a thicket of brumble and beyond a tower, a princess and a dragon. I believe our study is limited by our expectations. We have to foster dreams and then work our way through the thicket and never forget “There is a door.”

To extend knowledge to the utmost

欲誠其意者,先致其知,致知在格物。物格而後知至,知至而後意誠,意誠而後心正

Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things. Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere.

Daxue

To extend one’s knowledge to the utmost is to go to all extents of knowledge, reaching out to all parts, gathering even the crumbs fallen from the table. It is examining what is cast aside. It means knowing every element so to understand the proportion of each in the building of knowledge. This is the meaning of the wheel as symbol of knowledge, each segment at equal distance from the centre.

The lost teaching within Aikido, part 3

Next: Soon online

Being faithful

物有本末
事有終始
知所先後
則近道矣

Things have their root and their branches.
Affairs have their end and their beginning.
To know what is first and what is last
will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning.

Da Xue, the Great Learning

This summer I was listening to Anne Cheng on French radio, France Culture. I then heard of the Da Xue, The Great learning. What I heard was a mirror to my understanding and to my study of martial arts. We carry within ourselves the cultural inheritance of our fathers, in blood and in spirit. That is how I see the continuity inside Noro sensei’s teaching and in my own study. We have a spiritual backbone. We have to study to unveil what we carry, unknowingly. This is “being faithfull to the master and to the student”.

An introduction to Ringenkai Aikido, part 5

Next: The will to build a dojo

One midsummer afternoon

“(When I was 12 years old), I saw Kote Gaeshi. I knew immediately it was something different. I said to myself : This is what I want to do later.”

I always listen to what others say with extreme attention. They really mean what they say or they really need to conceal what they think. The path to their mind winds through their words and silences.

There is often a lack of consideration for what a child sees and says, sometimes even to the child one was. Yet when I recall my own words and dreams, I wonder at the amount I have achieved. I am a martial art teacher. I have been the student of great masters. I have entered an ancient sword school, sleeping at the Grand Master’s house. I have had hundreds of students. And what is more, I am still studying!

All these deeds have their root in a child’s dreams, insights and questions. I had to dispel greed, growing interest for new objects, immersion into social life, friendships that last the time of a sight. I had to stick to those questions as to how does a weak boy become a strong man, how does a man use his strength going by his intelligence, how does a kid grow to stand up to what he believes in, how does a woman look into a man’s eyes saying “No” with calm and composure. All this has grown into a dojo, a life dedicated to studying and, after, to teaching.

It has been done with the trust of my masters, of my friends, of my students. It has been done with my own trust that what worked for my masters would work for me.

Then, sitting in my dojo, I go back to the hour I witnessed Kote Gaeshi for the first time.

An introduction to Ringenkai Aikido, part 4

Next: Being faithful