Through the gate of despair

CANON-FT-QL029.WebProgress is to be found among tremendous hardship. Photography by Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2016

When Noro san entered Ueshiba Morihei sensei’s dojo, Tamura Nobuyoshi san acted as his sempai, elder student. They soon became best friends. This I have written earlier.

Tamura san was the son of a sword master, maybe a kendo master, I do not recall. When Tamura san and Noro san had a friendly bout, Tamura san with a bokken and Noro san with a jo, Tamura san would win.

As Noro san had turned to the wooden staff at the recommendation of Ueshiba Morohei sensei, he worked hard and harder at perfecting his technique. One day, the unexpected happened. Tamura san took his favorite stance with his bokken while Noro san took a Chudan stance with the jo. The two friends were facing one another, motionless. Noro san remembers: “The jo in my hands just moved forward as I entered the distance between the two of us. It struck Tamura sensei to the eyebrow. This brought the bout to an end. From time to time, Tamura sensei would have a headache starting at this eyebrow. I wonder if he remembers my strike that day.” This brought their bouts to an end.

At one time, Noro sensei would come to a feeling of self-dissatisfaction. He had the feeling of not being able to improve his Aikido. In the evening, he discussed the matter with his master. He thought it was useless for him to go on practising, he felt at a dead end. Ueshiba sensei looked onto to his student with no surprise as he knew him well and had seen the discontent grow, day after day. He told him to do from now on Ikkyo. It lasted at least one year. Noro sensei was doing only Ikkyo when others studied all the other movements. He even earned Ikkyo as a nickname. He would tell us how he appreciated the help of Kobayashi Hirokasu sensei who acted as Uke for him during that entire year. Morning, Ikkyo. Afternoon, Ikkyo. Evening, Ikkyo. This unabled Noro sensei to get through the gate of despair which awaits all serious martial artists at one time.

Later while in Paris, he would study Shiho Nage for one year. His students were to become known for their Shiho Nage. He did loose many students that year, through boredom. He also studied Irimi Nage for a long period of time, questioning the Irimi Nage he had felt in the hands of Ueshiba Morihei sensei. He would recall that one day as he was greatly injured by a car accident, he brought together all his energy to step on the tatami and do Irimi Nage. Amidst terrible weakness, he awoke to Irimi Nage as he had felt it when he was Uke to Ueshiba Morihei sensei. “It was the movement of a lifetime”, said he.”It was it.” I guess his Uke was Asai Katsuaki sensei but I am not sure.

Noro sensei has always kept open the flow of teaching coming down from Ueshiba Morihei sensei. It is studied by my students and I within Ringenkai Aikido. It is also studied by Asai Katsuaki sensei and his students and, of course, by Noro Masamichi sensei’s successor and son, Noro Takeharu sensei. Some of us keep open the path of our master. Please feel free to join the dojos close to your home.

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