A question my master often asked me is: “Do you see?” I was always very embarrassed to answer this question. Knowing my master as my master and myself as his student, I knew that what I saw was not what he saw and this difference made him my master and me his student. So each time he asked me that question, I saw the gap between our visions of Aikido. Of course, I also saw the movement he was showing me. Of course, I had in time developed a body able to see the movement. Obviously, my body could sense what he was aiming at. But still, he was ahead of me and, as when I am in the mountains, the one ahead and/or above sees something the one behind cannot see.
So what does one see in this picture? Lichen on a twig? Collaboration and sharing of light? Fighting for light? An ivy bed keeping the earth warm for Spring? In the same manner, there are many sights within our eyes reach.
Maybe, my master was inviting me to take a further step to share his vision. Noro Masamichi sensei had a life long fight to promote Aikido as an art. He felt that Aikido as a sport or a fighting technique was a failure. I thought that Aikido as a personal development activity was also a failure. I believe everyone can understand Aikido as a physical activity, as a leisure, as a sport, as a defence technique. I deeply think that the master acts, feels, thinks differently from the rest of us and he is the one who can best speak for his mastery. I deeply think that it is given to all to move toward mastery but that not all are fit to attain mastery or interested in it. I also think it takes time for one to access to a deeper understanding. Because I have hope in a possible access to mastery, I think that those who are still to set on the journey, those who are on the path, those who are not satisfied with their insights, the students and students to be should listen and keep the word of the master. For when Noro Masamichi sensei testifies that the art he witnessed as the Otomo, serving disciple, of Ueshiba Morihei sensei, is an art, we should know that when we will attain mastery, we will discover an art passed down since the founder of Aikido.
Should we set aside this vision, we would loose the direction to mastery. This is why I say that Aikido is an art for it is the vision Noro sensei passed onto us as testimony for the art of Ueshiba sensei. We may not understand it yet, still we should stay on this path and, through our efforts, our feet will keep it open for the coming generations. The “Noble Art of Aikido” is how Noro sensei introduced his teaching to Europe and to Africa in the 60’s on behalf of his master.
See you at the next Ringenkai Aikido Workshop at John Luijten’s dojo in Brunssum, Netherlands, May 13th and 14th.