Noro Masamichi sensei was famed for his efficiency. It was through his efficiency that he brought public interest to Aikido in the 60’s and 70’s. Yet he taught me not to seek efficiency. He told us how relieved he was when he didn’t have to fight every day for Aikido’s efficiency. What is the meaning of this contradiction?
My opinion is that efficiency is a means to catch the public eye. It is a skin to Aikido. It is something easily understood. For the student, for the one who truly commits himself to the teaching of the master, there is what waits beyond first sight. As taught by masters of old, what truly is operational is unseen, unfelt, in the realm of seeds and vows.
Noro Masamichi sensei, after catching the public eye, had to quit the world of fame and skin. He had to invite his students to dig deep into the flesh and onto the bones, right to the marrow. This is a layer of teaching beyond efficiency, beyond public attention, into the shadow of our consciousness, be it body, mind or heart consciousness.
Asking Noro Masamichi sensei to teach efficiency again and again was asking him to halt on the path of Aikido at a time when he invited his students to walk further and farther. Of course, when well directed, the student is efficient, relatively efficient. I do not know of anyone who is absolutely efficient. This is a dream for men who deny limits to their own power. This is entering a land of dreams, phantasm and self-deception.
Noro Masamichi sensei wished his students to be strong enough to accept their limited power and unleash unlimited efforts to improve their skills and understanding. This is how I understand his teaching:
Within limited abilities, aim at an unlimited study.
The lost teaching within Aikido, part 2