Los Angeles, January 2002
We are less than four months away from the Aiki Expo, and I would like to express again my support for Mr. Stanley Pranin's efforts. You were diligent to register early and thus give him some foundation to start. However, it seems that some among you are still hesitant.
I know that the September 11 events have discouraged many people from getting on a plane. As Budo practitioners, we have learned to perceive beyond the appearance of phenomena, and I believe that we have a responsibility to set an example. By canceling one's plans and refusing to travel, one reinforces the terrorists' conviction that they succeeded. Thus, one creates a precedent and encourages a greater number of individuals to perpetrate similar acts in the name of all kinds of causes. That is where most of our responsibility lies. For this reason, we have not canceled any of our events. More than ever, traveling has become an opportunity to practice our zanshin. Think about it well!
The Aiki Expo is an important event in regard to the development of Aikido, especially due to the fact that it has been organized out of Japan. Here is a rare opportunity to get exposure to a variety of teachings and teachers that have been carefully selected by Mr. Pranin on the basis of their sincerity and the professional image that they project. This is also a chance to meet and practice with aikido students from different groups. I have not been in favor of exposing beginners to different styles, due to the potential resulting confusion. However, when one has a solid foundation after three or four years of study under a serious teacher, one can only benefit from such an event. Otherwise to quote one of Mochizuki Kancho Sensei's favorite comments, "one runs the risk of becoming like frogs in a well."
Therefore, I recommend that you consult with your teacher and sign up promptly if he agrees. If there is a will, there is a way.
Sign up for all seminars in order to meet with all the teachers. I also suggest that you book your hotel room as soon as possible so as to be able to concentrate on the objective of your trip. Do not plan other activities for the three days in order to stay available in case of any program changes or the occurrence of unexpected events as is frequently the case.
I would also advise students of blue belt level and over to acquire a hakama out of respect for teachers who prefer that attire. It would also be wise to practice with your hakama beforehand in order to become familiar with its use.
During the seminars, look for partners outside of your group. Keep your eyes and ears wide open. We are all there to learn.
I have known Mr. Pranin for nearly twenty years. He is a man of principle, integrity, and loyalty. I totally trust his sincerity. He has been doing a lot for the development of Aikido, and we must support him. By supporting him and the Aiki Expo we apply the principle of Mutual Welfare and Prosperity.
Thank you for your trust and support.