Whenever a decision is made to educate and train for a substantial subject, it is necessary to be acquainted with the history of the issue and its source to be able to understand that subject and to achieve the goal.
To start to work on all the arts of war (the arts of discipline) originating in Japan, which is BUDO, begins with learning about and understanding their origins. Methods to be applied to achieve the aim are hidden in the concepts of East(orient) and West(occident).
If one has difficulty in understanding these concepts, the avenue will be far-off and tough for those who start or want to start Aikido or Budo, and for those who love it and want to master it by scrutinizing. Maybe, despite all the efforts they devoted, they cannot attain the goal.
Aikido is currently developing, and the number of people who are either practicing or saying that he/she is practicing Aikido is increasing. In this regard, careful attention must be paid to educator and trainer selection, especially in the past couple of years, and to the subject of educator and trainer, which you frequently call them “MASTER-TEACHER” or “SENSEI.” Before going into technical details, let yourself revert to the time you started AIKIDO. Imagine that you are beginning AIKIDO today.
What is the first thing to do?
At first, the thing is to find a real educator and trainer, namely the master. After, it is to endeavor to sit on the master’s feet, and to develop master-disciple relationships. The important thing is to get a foot in the door and go through the door. Sometimes this door may open, and sometimes may not. It may never be possible for you to go through the door. Please note that as you have freedom of choice, so the teacher has the same freedom. If you made a mistake at first, your way would become harder and harder as time goes on.
Then, how should we search for a realist teacher? Which criteria should we look for?
The first point we are going to pay attention to is the SENSEI’s personality, his/her character as AIKIDO affects body and mind. If the SENSEI is spotlessly pure, unassuming, happy, leading light, and whole-hearted, then the education and training that he/she gives will fall into line with his/her personality. What is a matter of importance is not just technical beauty, providing beautiful explanations, or that about situations which can occur during a fight or talking perfectly. All of these are concomitants that occur as the heart is beautiful and peaceful.
The second point is that sensei’s devotion to Budo, and his or her being a person who gained ground in this path. In other words, sensei must be a person who has not slacked off in regular training for techniques and morale, but a person who practices more day by day.
The third point means that such a SENSEI has a great ability and power for educating and training. He/she is a person who pays attention to everything and every subject, who is true, reverential and warm-hearted to his/her students, and who values everybody and thinks of the students’ success and future.
The fourth point, which is a far more critical subject than others, is that sensei starts over from scratch to train every day without losing strength or power, that is to say, considers him or herself a beginner in Aikido every day, and trains on the tatami. This means that he or she is a person who finds the inner strength to start over from scratch.
“The great master, the great SENSEI”, who thinks him or herself a great master, who stops the training on the tatami, who has suppressed learning and knowledge, and who says s/he knows everything, who imposes bans on the students, and who needs nobody… It is vital to leave THAT GREAT MASTER who spends time uttering threats and on words immediately. It is better to stop before starting Aikido. This must be avoided directly.
A young teacher is whose experience has not completed and whose knowledge of educating and training has not perfected yet, but who practices on the tatami continuously and who endeavors with might and main to gain ground. I believe this young teacher is a personage who is respected and worthy of AIKIDO, and it is possible to gain ground in the path of BUDO with him or her.
Especially when making choices, do not limit yourself by making certain decisions. Avoid financial facilities, such as “The training hall here is very nice and modern.”, “its snack bar is delicious,” “the environment is enjoyable,” “The price is not so high here,” “it is near to my house,”… If they are measurements of your life, in other words, if you are living for this material and shallow qualities, then it is better for you to stop before starting to walk the BUDO path. To walk the Aikido path stalwartly, that is necessary to have a strong will and be trained in the BUDO manner.
What does it mean to be trained in the BUDO manner? What should be done?
Before anything else, you should agree to practice with courage, belief, effort, perseverance, and humility, but without ulterior motives or profits, seeking dan levels, and with sticking to principles of kindness.
Firstly, what you need to learn to start will be that until your knee’s skin is peeled, and your hands are ripped off, you need to overcome the greatest of the four dangers in your continuous training that you work yourself into a sweat:
KYÔ – SURPRISE
GHI – DOUBT
WAKU – CONFUSION
KÛ – FEAR
All of these are vital in BUDO and crucial in the lives we live in. After curing yourself of these mistakes, failings, you must acquire and gain the four essential virtues:
The first is REI – KINDNESS: It is the art of treating everyone with the best and the kindest behavior both in and out of the dojo.
The second is CHOKU – STRENGTH: It is the energy that the mind and body generate by combining to fight against the hardships of life.
The third is SEI – PEACE: It is to be self-possessed in a balanced, calm, peaceful, and decisive manner.
The fourth is SOKU – SPEED: It is one’s judgment speed, the ability to be awake to never being mistaken, and to respond in the best way instantly whatever the situation.
By exercising all of these, and doing techniques every day, you will bring the body and the mind in harmony. Then BUDO will illuminate your life, and you will find freedom. The techniques will arise simply and fully enlightened. You will understand that winning and losing are the same; thereby, you will leave your EGO, selfishness. Slowly, the level of being “a complete person in every aspect” will be reached.
There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.
We should know the meanings of the words used in BUDO; if we do not know, we should learn them. One of them, which we often heard about, is “SENSEI” in Turkey AIKIDO Community. It is good to give some explanations on this subject.
SENSEI: It is a word formed of two Japanese kanji(SEN and SEI). In a literary sense, it is formed of two words.
SEN: Prior, former, precedence, future, the place to go, direction, top, first rank, strength, wit.
SEI: Life, live, keep (someone/something) alive, use, carry a child, to be born, clean.
In light of the paragraph above, if its meaning in BUDO is translated into English, it means didactic, master. What is important is to understand the underlying significance of these words. For those who are not unconscious, but aware and have grown up in BUDO discipline, it is not an ordinary word. It is a title that is respected and honorary. It represents someone vanguard, leading, under the guidance of knowledge, modest, a person of character, whole-hearted, guiding light, and who has attained a high level of human values and freed him or herself of his/her ego. It is one of the greatest titles in BUDO that can be received. To bow down to someone like that and to be his/her disciple is the greatest value. For that reason, I chose Nobuyoshi TAMURA Sensei and had been following him for 35 years to be his disciple in the path he has been leading. For those who train BUDO, you do not bow your head for everybody. If you do, then that means you have chosen slavery. Since every man for himself, it is a decision that you make whether to call someone SENSEI. If you do not want to be a slave, I recommend you to read the paragraph above again.
As I wrote and said earlier, one of the most important factors for a community to develop is that everyone should “know their places.” A student to be a student, a teacher to be a student, a president to be a president.
According to the fact that AIKIDO society is a micro example of a community, we have to attach great importance to these topics. The reason for aiki chaos in our country is this: Not to know one’s place. If a primary school teacher who does not know his/her place tries to give lectures in a university and calls him or herself professor, then the anarchy of ignorance arises, and it leads that community into disequilibrium. However, this does not mean that we should not show love and respect to the primary school teacher.
We should know our “OBJECTIVE” to have success. Where we want to get, what things we should do, what milieu we should leave ones who come after us. We should analyze all these subjects one by one. Aimless communities are the anarchist communities that wander like stray herds, and these communities are bound to be slaves.
Look at history, examine it. It is full of examples. It does not mean everything is done that the aim is set. After that, to achieve this aim, there must be organizations and plans of ours to be made. We should assign capable and hardworking people that we need. Without fear, we must walk together with a strong will in this path.
Everyone should do their part. It is out of the question to defer everything to others. The door that is opening is the door of BUDO. Try to enter full steam ahead through the door. We need to understand the importance of the time well. Avoid gossip like “so-and-so says so, so-and-so does so; the other knows me well, another one uses vulgarities; another teacher threatens the students,” and avoid the people who tattle like that, and who create such an atmosphere. These are not of importance. These cases only show the status of those who say and do so. There are little people in every community. If we do not want to be like them, we need to beat “the path from the head to heart.” It is a duty for every person in our organization to do it. If you are having difficulty doing it, then it is better for you to leave our organization before joining. Otherwise, it is impossible for us to walk the same path because you cannot see the best techniques even if your eyes are open. Once METSUKE, which is the look with the heart, is lacked, any technique you are to do will go just rough and common but cannot go further, which means your BUDO education is to stop. Past events are not for living in; they merely serve as a model. We must not be mistaken about or falter in our objective. Our objective is clear:
“A major Turkish AIKIDO world” that nations accept and show respect.
We are going to fulfill this by carrying out courteous and high-valued AIKIDO. No one can frustrate us in this path; whatever the difficulties, this aim is going to be attained. I believe it because there are plenty of capable, hardworking, and cultured people around us who do and want to do AIKIDO. Our plans are working. Our organizations have started to come to fruition.
Look, and you will see that in the “AIKIDO AND BUDO FEDERATION,” AIKIDOKAS in 15 countries from CUBA to TURKMENISTAN, the greatest groups are collaborating with us. Our organization is a big and official foundation that connects Europe to Asia. The backbone of this organization is YOU. We are in contact with the world’s biggest official AIKIDO foundations. What everybody should know is that we are playing in the big leagues now too. The required settings are created for the AIKIDOKAS in our organization to practice abroad with the greatest and historical Senseis.
We are not finished with the things to do yet, and we are not going to be finished. It is the supreme duty for us to give our best, and to demonstrate the best for the Turkish World. We can have no hesitation in this since the path we chose is the path of BUDO.
Aikido and Budo Federation
( The Turkish version of this article was first published in http://abf.org.tr/ and translated into English by
Çağdaş Kılıç from METU Aikido Society )