Growth as our duty

pinsolitairePhotography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2016

The king has one duty which is to expand. This is what was expected from a warrior king in Ancient India. This is what can be seen when one has the opportunity to see a martial art master practise. A master practising his art will seem to grow before our eyes. Those who are small seem to double their size. This is due to perfect position, smooth movement and unity with the breath.

In Ringenkai Aikido, we choose to further along the path opened by Noro Masamichi sensei, which path was the one Ueshiba sensei opened for his close student. Yet we do not grow alone. We grow with others, meeting others in the movement. This is the teaching passed onto us.

At a time when teachers and dojos promote efficiency, I choose to promote growth without and within, outside and inside. It is my duty, the one I choose freely and the one passed freely onto me.

I was born in a country at war. Many who were most efficient, most efficiently came to a quick death. There is more to martial arts than a top of the list deadly technique. We must not discard efficiency for it is an important ingredient of our arts. But we must not be confused, the means is not the aim. We have the duty to grow and through efficiency we may do so. I really mean “through”. I stress the point that “through” we enter, we persist and we exit. There is more to efficiency than efficiency itself.

Noro Masamichi sensei established Aikido in Europe through his efficiency. He convinced strong Judo back belts, strong grappling fighters. It was his way to introduce Aikido to a new continent. It worked very well. Yet this quality he developed was not to satisfy him. He felt that he had gone too far to convince new students and that he was betraying the teaching he had received from his sensei, Ueshiba Morihei sensei.

When I was in Noro Masamichi sensei’s dojo, he used to tell us: “Do not look for efficiency!” And then he would add, “Grow!” Of course, this teaching needs to be understood in the dojo, with the example of the sensei. I had the chance that one day Noro sensei told me: “Let me grab your arm with 2 hands, lets do Katate Ryote Dori.” I could feel his energy growing and flowing through his arms and hands. I answered him. We had some kind of exchange. This is to say that understanding words in martial arts means one has to experiment. That day, he showed me one aspect of the duty of growth. This is one lesson we cultivate in Ringenkai Aikido. This is one strong expectation Noro sensei passed on to his students.

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