Los Angeles, May 15 2002
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Pranin, Aiki News staff, and 2002 Aiki Expo participants:
A little over a week has passed since our return from the Aiki Expo and Fifth Friendship Demonstration. My students and I would like to express our gratitude to all of you for making that event a success. This gathering has been an inspiration to all of us.
We offer many thanks to Mr. Pranin for sharing his vision of applying O'Sensei's teachings and for bringing all of us aikido practitioners together under one roof. We likewise offer our thanks to Yoshiko-san for her relentless and kind support of her husband's aikido mission. We also appreciate the presence and efforts of Ikuko Kimura-san, who came all the way from Japan to cover the event; thank you for listening patiently to our stories. The Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Francis Takahashi, also deserves our gratitude for honoring his commitment with deep thought and humor – in spite of the great physical pain he has been enduring.
And, of course, many thanks to all of the participants and fellow budoka, teachers and students alike, many who traveled a long way, for generously sharing your teachings, experience, and insights with everyone under the same roof.
As a seminar teacher at this event, I wanted to emphasize specific aspects of Yoseikan Aikido, Mochizuki Minoru Sensei’s budo, which shows an early link between Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu and modern aikido. At a previous Friendship Demonstration in 1986, my teacher, Mochizuki Sensei, and my senpai had demonstrated Ken Tai Ichi no Kata (Kata of Sword and Body as One), which shows the step by step progression of kenjutsu into taijutsu as explained by Ueshiba Sensei. (The videotape is available from Aikido Journal.) I too wanted to show connections between martial practices, traditional and modern. So I decided to concentrate on the five Tai Sabaki (Body Shifts) which Mochizuki Sensei extracted from his prewar studies; these movements serve as templates for Yoseikan techniques and their continued development. At the Friendship Demonstration, my students and I also presented Tai Sabaki no Kata (Kata of Body Shifts) and some of the Sutemi Waza (Sacrifice Techniques) developed by Mochizuki Sensei and his students.
In my classes, I also explained and stressed the importance of Jita Kyoei (Mutual Welfare and Prosperity) which leads to Awareness, and Ju Yoku Go O Seisu (Flexibility overcoming Stiffness) which leads to the development of Concentration. Both principles, when applied with balance, constitute the pillars of budo study. They are interconnected and inseparable: training in one reinforces the other. When we understand that, we can apply and practice the principles learned in the dojo to daily life. Most people can go to the dojo only a few times a week, but this way it is possible to practice aikido everyday. This can be done by all of us, regardless of styles.
My goal was to inform and educate the participants and give them a few pointers that might help them improve the quality of their training. I hope that I have achieved this goal with all the students who graced my classes and those who shared ideas with me.
We are looking forward to participating in the next Aiki Expo. Thank you again for your continued trust and support.