Dan Kawakami on Past, Future, and the Present Mindset

November 13th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei, Words One Response
Dan Kawakami on Past, Future, and the Present Mindset

Kawakami sensei teaches Aikido and Zazen and if you’re around him for any length of time you’ll hear him talk about “being in the present” and he’ll tell you that your throw didn’t work because “your mind is in the future”.

After 18 years of Aikido I’m still deepening my practice of staying in the moment and I feel that Sensei’s thoughts on the matter can help encourage your practice.

In the video, Sensei explains how staying in the moment can make you more natural, live with less anxiety and fear, and be centered to live life fully.

Kawakami Sensei Seminar in South Carolina 2010

March 30th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei, Video No Responses
Kawakami Sensei Seminar in South Carolina 2010

Lecture on Aikido Randori by Dan Kawakami

January 30th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei, Video No Responses
Lecture on Aikido Randori by Dan Kawakami

Dan Kawakami talks about the proper attitude towards randori training. He discusses both the physical techniques to handle multiple attackers and also the relationship of randori training to daily life.

Kawakami sensei focuses on maintaining awareness, posture, and dealing with only one thing at a time. Not only by the techniques but also by our presence and our calmness we can help to keep the movement flowing and to keep ourselves safe.

The Nature of Aikido Training 3 Part Lecture by Dan Kawakami

January 17th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei, Video No Responses
The Nature of Aikido Training 3 Part Lecture by Dan Kawakami

Every January we have a special class where we spend most of the time cleaning the mats. After the mats have been cleaned, they need time to dry. During that time, Kawakami sensei gives us a lecture to remind us what we should be focusing on in our training. Some of the students have been there for many years while others have only been training for a few months. Regardless of the experience level of the student, sensei’s words always sound fresh and true.

In this years lecture sensei covers such topics as:

-the underlying mental state for good aikido training
-the relationship between zen training and aikido
-non-attachment
-living in the moment
-correct breathing
-correct posture
-and more

This lecture was filmed on 1.13.2010 at:

OCBC Aikido Club
909 S Dale Ave
Anaheim, Ca 92804

Who is Dan Kawakami?

January 14th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei No Responses
Who is Dan Kawakami?

Since 1979, Dan Kawakami, 6th dan, has been the chief instructor of the Orange County Buddhist Church (OCBC) Aikido Club in Anaheim, California. Kawakami Sensei also travels around the US and abroad many times a year to instruct seminars on the art of Aikido and also teaches a Zen meditation class at the Orange County Aikikai.

Kawakami Sensei teaches the principles of Aikido through an emphasis on breathing, posture, and the correct distribution of tension and relaxation in the body. He is often heard reminding students to relax their upper body, to stand up straight, and to pay attention to harmonizing with the attacker now, in the present.

To focus on throwing the attacker separates the mind and body, interfering with the effective execution of technique. When the mind and body are unified, the result is seemingly effortless techniques that are nonetheless effective and efficient. More importantly, mind-body unification will lead to calmness under stress, awareness and the ability to respond effectively and appropriately to the demands of everyday life.

Dan Kawakami started his training with Harry Ishisaka Sensei at the Orange County Aikikai in 1969 and trained under him until he passed away in 1978.

Harry Ishisaka (1929-1978)

He also worked closely with Rod Kobayashi Sensei during the 70′s who was starting and developing a Shin Shin Toitsu (Ki Society) Aikido program at California State University, Fullerton. Kobayashi later went on to form Seidokan Aikido, an independent Aikido organization.

Rod Kobayashi (1932-1995)

Another facet of Kawakami Sensei’s background is his Zen training under Tanouye Tenshin Roshi of the Daihonzan Chozen-ji International Zen Dojo in Honolulu, Hawaii. He started his Zen training in 1980 and feels that he has developed a deeper understanding of the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of Aikido and the martial arts in general. Kawakami Sensei has been certified as a lay teacher of Zen meditation and led Zen meditation classes at the Orange County Aikikai for many years.

Kokyu Dosa by Dan Kawakami

January 14th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei 2 Responses
Kokyu Dosa by Dan Kawakami

Kokyu dosa is a basic hara or ki development exercise. It is training in the proper use of your hara or one point in controlling the push or resistance of your partner. There are a number of ways to do this exercise. Other instructors may teach it in a way that is different from what is described in the following, but the critical factor is that the exercise is done according to the four principles of mind-body unification. These principles are well known and need not be repeated here except to remind the reader that they are different aspects of the same experience. If you have one, you have them all; if you lack one, you lack them all. It is also important to keep in mind that these principles are formless and can be expressed in different situations and different ways.

To begin, nage and uke sit in seiza, facing each other. Both are centered and balanced with ki extended. Using the minimum amount of muscular energy, nage raises his arms to offer his wrists to the uke. It is best to think of raising the elbows so that the whole arm rises as one. There is a natural bend at the elbows, and except for the effort in holding up the arms, the upper body is relaxed. There is no change in the nage’s upper body when uke grabs his wrists. (See fig. 1) He remains centered and relaxed. Nage’s response will depend on how he is being held.

If the uke holds tightly and/or pushes, the nage keeps his arms unbendable, absorbs the force and moves his center forward by initially bowing at the waist and continuing the movement by rising to his knees. Because of the tension in holding tightly, the uke has lost his center and will take the force in his shoulders and be easily toppled. (See fig. 2) If the nage tenses and begins pushing with his arms and shoulders, he has given the uke something to resist and turned this exercise into a contest of muscular strength.

Fig. 1: Nage raises his arms with no extra muscular effort. Uke is holding tightly or pushing.

Fig 2: While uke holds tightly and/or pushes, nage bows with his hara and continues his forward movement by rising to his knees.

The most effective way to hold the nage’s wrist is to hold with a light but firm touch. (See fig 3) The uke maintains his center (ki extended) and resists any effort by the nage to move the point of contact or to execute a throw. The correct approach entails the nage giving up the intention of moving or throwing the uke and focusing totally on his own movement and finding the space where he can move freely while still being in contact with the uke. Nage again begins his movement by bowing at the waist but rather than keeping his arms unbendable, he unlocks his elbows and allows them to drop to accommodate his forward movement. (See fig 4) To accomplish this movement, it is helpful to think in terms of placing your elbows under your hands. Again, there is no thought or intention of winning or losing or throwing the uke, but the nage’s focus is on the process of placing himself in a position where the uke’s center is taken and his balance disrupted. As the uke’s balance is broken, the nage continues his forward movement by sliding his knees to the side, executes the throw (See fig 5), and ends up sitting seiza right next to the uke. Nage then lightly places his right hand on the uke’s left shoulder and his left hand on uke’s right wrist. To test the nage’s centeredness, uke grabs a hold of nage’s forearm and pushes toward his shoulder as he tries to get up. (See fig 6) If the uke is able to break nage’s balance, nage must re-establish his centeredness by checking his posture, breath, and the right distribution of tension and relaxation in his body.

Fig 3: Nage raises his arms with no extra muscular effort. Uke holds with ki.

Fig 4: Nage places his elbows under his wrists without moving the point of contact at the wrists.

Fig 5: Nage continues his forward movement, slides his knee to the side and executes the throw.

Fig 6: Nage sits seiza next to uke.Uke tests nage by pushing up from nage's wrists.

The final phase of the exercise involves returning to the original position. Nage offers his wrist to the uke and pivots on his knees to the right, pulling the uke up, not with his arms and shoulders but with the movement of his whole body. The uke pushes on the nage as he comes up. This is an excellent exercise in experiencing the effects of ki extension and flow. If the uke is able to push the nage over, it is an indication that the nage has lost his center and his ki has stopped flowing. Nage makes the necessary adjustments to re-establish his center, and with repeated practice, develops his ability to move with his center and his ki constantly flowing. Practice at this stage becomes a continuous flow of ki and movement.

Kokyu dosa is essentially seiza in motion with the added constraint of someone holding on to your wrists. Because seiza provides a stable foundation upon which to be centered, it is an effective means of exploring the effects of mind body unification. Done correctly, the nage experiences the exercise as a flowing and near effortless movement. There is no push or pull, and the pressure at the point of contact remains relatively constant. The uke feels carried along in the movement by an irresistible force. It is irresistible because there is nothing to resist. This is an example of nage and uke becoming one. Kokyu dosa is training in ki or hara development which leads to becoming one within oneself and one with others. Gains from this exercise can be directly applied to standing techniques with the same effects of relatively free and irresistible movement.

-Dan Kawakami, May 2004

Seiza by Dan Kawakami

January 14th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei No Responses
Seiza by Dan Kawakami

Seiza is a basic and formal way of sitting in the Japanese culture. It is an integral part of training in the martial arts in general and in Aikido in particular. We sit in seiza and bow to open and close class and while the sensei is instructing. We also sit in seiza when we do misogi chanting and breathing. On a more dynamic level, we do kokyu dosa, suwari waza, and hamni handachi from seiza. Because of its triangular base, formed by the knees in front and convergence of the big toes in back, seiza provides the most stable foundation upon which to build a balanced and centered posture. It may be said that seiza most effectively sets the conditions under which centeredness and mind-body unification can be experienced and developed. Despite its importance, there generally is little attention given to teaching how to sit seiza correctly and having the students maintain their posture during class. Since posture is an expression of the inner state of mind, having the students sit in an erect position with backs straight will add to the focus, energy, and alertness of the class. This article will cover the following topics: (1) sitting; (2) bowing; and (3) testing for centeredness and mind-body unification. Articles on the more dynamic exercises based on seiza, i.e. shikko (samurai walk), kokyu dosa, suwari waza, and hamni handachi will follow in coming issues of the Communicator.

The knees are too wide. (Fig 1) The knees are too close. (Fig 2) This is about right. (Fig 3)

Sitting To sit seiza from a standing position, step back slightly with your left feet and lower your left knee to the mat, keeping your back straight. Then place your right knee on the mat and lower your body until it softly comes in contact with your heels. Allow yourself to ease into seiza rather than abruptly dropping into it. Your big toes may overlap, right over the left, or lay next to each other side by side. Your knees should be two to three fists apart. Spreading them too widely will throw your weight to the front while bringing your knees together will move your weight to the rear. You will have to find the most stable alignment on your own through a process of trial and error. Having established your base, you must now set your posture. Keeping a straight back, align your body so that it is perpendicular to the horizontal plane. It is of particular importance to pay attention to the placement of your neck and head. To make the correct alignment, tilt your head backward, gazing at the ceiling, and gradually lower your chin until your gaze falls to about three feet in front of you. Do not focus your sight on any one spot but be aware of your surrounding by using your peripheral vision. Your hands rest lightly on your lap, slightly behind your knees, with fingers pointed inward. When your posture is right, your breathing becomes right, and the tension in your upper body is released. Under this condition, your center of gravity falls to a point (tanden) two inches below your navel, and keeping your mind there keeps you in a centered and balanced state.

To stand from seiza, slide your right foot out and get on your left knee. If the sitting has been long and there is numbness in your feet, stay in that position until some feeling return. Try to wriggle your toes to make sure that you have sufficient feeling and control of your feet before standing. Once standing, walk as normally as you can despite the pain you may still to feel. You will find that you will recover sooner than if you favored the pain and limped along.

Bowing (Rei) At a behavioral level, rei means to bow. As a noun, it means courtesy or etiquette. At an attitudinal level, it means respect and gratitude. At the beginning and at the end of class, we bow to the shomen, and then the sensei and students bow to each other as a way of acknowledging all the elements that go into making the class possible and expressing respect and gratitude to each. Because it sets the tone for the training to follow, it is important to bow in a mindful and sincere manner.

To bow properly from seiza, keep your back straight and start you movement from your one-point so your body moves as one unit. Starting your movement with your head or shoulders will separate your upper from your lower body. As your weight shifts to the front, place your left hand, then your right on the mat with your thumb and index finger barely touching. Exhale as you bow to release the tension from your upper body. Remain bowed for a second or two and rise up (again as one unit) and place your hands back on your thighs, right hand first and then the left. Maintain relaxation in the upper body and slight tension in the hara or lower abdomen. You have now returned to a balanced and centered position.

Testing from the back. (Fig 4) Testing from the front. (Fig 5) Testing from the side. (Fig 6)

Testing Testing for balance and centeredness is not a matter of passing or failing or a win-lose, competitive situation. It is a way for the students to work in a collaborative relationship and help each other experience and develop mind-body unification. To find what is correct, it is often helpful to experience what is incorrect so feel free to experiment as you go through these exercises.

While the student sits seiza (fig. 4, 5, 6) the trainer applies steadily increasing pressure to the shoulder of the student. If the student tenses or shifts his mind to the point of pressure or begins to worry about passing or failing, he will soon lose his balance. The training here is to maintain the calm and relaxed state of being, keeping one-point, and absorbing the pressure being applied without any change in the upper body. The same test is repeated from the back and the side to insure that the student is in balance to pressure from all directions.

Testing by lifting the hands. (Fig 7) Testing by lifting the knee. (Fig 8 )

In fig. 7, the trainer is attempting to lift the students hand. If mind and body are unified, the body becomes one unit so trying to lift the hand would be like trying to lift the whole body. If the hand is easily lifted, the student must check his posture, breath, and the focus of his attention and make any necessary adjustment to return to a state of mind-body unification. In fig. 8, pressure is being applied at the knees. If the student is sitting correctly, there will be no space for the pressure to enter and unbalance the student.

(Fig 9) Pushing with two hands.

In fig. 9, the trainer is increasing the level of difficulty by pushing on the student’s shoulders with two hands. The student raises his hands to touch the trainer’s elbows just as his hands come in contact with the shoulders. This touch directs the force from the trainer’s push to the one-point and stabilizes the students posture. A key to this exercise is keeping the spine extended by pulling up on the nape of the neck.

Concluding Remarks Seiza is an integral part of Aikido training. It is not just a customary way of sitting to fill in the time between physical activity. It is first and foremost a way to develop mind-body unification. Each moment on the mat can be training if you sit mindfully whenever not engaged in physical activity. The heightened state of alertness and focus will also make you a more efficient learner.

The stability of balance gained in seiza is offset by a loss in mobility. However, the more dynamic exercises based on seiza are also effective ways of developing your center and balance because you cannot move efficiently without correct posture. Your gains from this type of practice will transfer directly to your standing practice. As mentioned earlier, these topics will be covered in subsequent articles. There are many different exercises and ways in Aikido to develop your center and balance, and seiza and seiza-related activities are basic to this development.

-Dan Kawakami, Feb 2004

Masakatsu Agatsu by Dan Kawakami

January 14th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei One Response

Masakatsu agatsu, true victory is victory over oneself, is commonly interpreted as being in control of oneself. It is said that one must have control over oneself before one can control others. While this interpretation appeals to common sense, closer analysis seems to raise more questions than it answers. Is there a battle between a “self in control” and a “self out of control”? If the “self in control” is victorious, by what process and strategy was the victory achieved? What happens to the “out of control” self? And most importantly, what is the nature of the “self”? Because of the vagueness surrounding the concept of self, it may have limited value as an explanatory principle for optimal functioning in a situation of self defense and, by extension, in all of life.

As human beings, we have the unique ability to develop words and concepts to bring order to the complex reality in which we exist. In the course of our socialization, we learn or acquire concepts of ourselves and the world around us, which for the most part define our reality. Words and concepts, however, are abstractions of reality and are limited in reflecting reality as it really is. They refer only to the most salient aspects of a situation and also stop or freeze a process which is dynamic, flowing, and ever changing. Moreover, words and concepts are based on a dualistic mode of thinking and further narrow our vision by sensitizing us to look for differences and overlooking the commonality we all share. For example, we categorize people according to race but tend to forget the commonality we share as human beings far exceeds the differences in skin color.

Words and concepts are also limiting in that we tend to act within the bounds of what we think our capabilities are and seldom test the limits of our potentialities. Because perceptions are filtered through our concepts of reality, we tend to see things and react in ways that are consistent with our pre-existing conceptions. Moreover, concepts of ourselves as separate entities lead us to view things from a self-centered perspective and can elicit emotionally charged responses. It may be that “out of control” behavior is more the result of not seeing a situation for what it is, making self-centered judgments, and responding in inappropriate ways rather than an “out of control” self acting out. The issue then becomes one of transcending our concepts of reality and developing a state of consciousness where we are directly aware of what is happening here and now, moment by moment, and being able to freely draw on our skills, knowledge, and strength to effectively and appropriately deal with the demands or needs of the situation. In Zen, this state of transcendence is called mushin which translates to “no mind” or a mind empty of concepts and words. Because “self” is a concept, it may also be interpreted as a state of selflessness.

Anecdotal accounts of ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds under extraordinary conditions may be illustrative of actions taken under this state of transcendence. An example would be that of a person who comes across another person in an emergency or life threatening situation and without any thought of personal safety or possible rewards, shows uncommon courage, strength and endurance in saving that person. When asked subsequently about the high risk taken, the rescuer will matter-of-factly say that the person needed help, and he was there to provide it. The impression is that of an action free of ego involvement. These incidents are sometimes called “selfless” acts of heroism. The may also be called “selfless” acts of compassion for risking one’s own safety to save another is truly an act of compassion. It may be that at a deep level human beings do feel bonded to each other, and it is their nature to save and protect when another is in need.

An incident related by an Israeli Aikidoka, who is an army officer in a Special Forces unit provides another example of what could be interpreted as a selfless act of compassion. His unit was ordered to take into custody a potential bomber. They went to his home shortly after midnight, got him out of bed, and took him outside to wait for transportation back to the base. He asked two of his soldiers to stand guard while he left the area to attend to some business. It was a bitterly cold morning, and the prisoner was dressed only in his pajamas. The prisoner, joined by his neighbors and relatives, shouted out a steady stream of invectives at the soldiers. The hate and anger expressed made it an extremely volatile situation. The officer, having completed his business decided to remain in the distance to observe how the soldiers would react. They were not aware that he was watching them. To his wonderment, one of the soldiers took his jacket off and placed it on the prisoner. Although they were still being cursed, it was only after the prisoner was placed in a warm vehicle that the soldier took his jacket back. The officer stated the act was so spontaneous and genuine that he did not want to detract from its wondrous quality by questioning the soldier about his motivation. To see the situation for what is was, the soldier had to transcend the duality of Israeli soldier – Arab terrorist. He was not seeing himself as Israeli and the other as Arab, he as a soldier and the other as a terrorist, he as superior and the other as inferior, or he as good and the other as evil. What he saw was a freezing human being, and he did the appropriate thing by providing him warmth. The fact that he did not know he was being watched, and the spontaneity with which it was done suggests that there was little deliberation regarding reward or punishment in taking the action.

While these examples occurred under extraordinary conditions, O-Sensei believed that it was possible to cultivate a consciousness, which transcends conceptual reality through training in Aikido. It may be that masa katsu agatsu was O-Sensei’s way of characterizing the end of training, which is developing a consciousness that transcends all duality. Thus, true victory is achieving a selfless state of being; it is not an event where self in control wins over a self out of control. Dogen, the founder of Zen in Japan, describes Zen philosophy and training along similar lines. He states, “To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barriers between one’s self and others.” Although Zen and Aikido differ in their methods, they seem to have the common goal of awakening to the truth that everything in the universe emanates from the same source and is interconnected. It is this realization that led O-Sensei to say that Aikido is based on love, and the loving protection of all things is not an injunction from a higher authority but an expression of the basic nature of human beings.

-Dan Kawakami, 2003

Tenchi Nage by Dan Kawakami

January 14th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei No Responses

There are two guidelines I emphasize in my teaching of any Aikido technique. The first refers to balance and centeredness, which are based on our posture, breath, and the right distribution of tension and relaxation in our bodies. The second relates to the process of executing the techniques. The sequence is as follows: 1) Defend yourself, 2) get into position, and finally, 3) apply the technique. The focus is on the movement rather than the throw; on what you are doing moment by moment rather than on the outcome.

Tenchi Nage Irimi

To begin, nage stands with his feet about shoulder width apart and raises his whole arm to offer his wrists to the uke, using no more muscular effort than is necessary to hold his arms up. His elbows should be comfortably away from his body. When the uke grabs nage’s wrists, there should be no change in his upper body (as shown in Figure 1).

Nage then slides his right foot to the side of the uke, pivots 90o, bends his knees, and drop his left elbow, the back of his left hand touching the uke’s forearm. His right arm drops naturally to the side, his elbow still away from his body (as shown in Figure 2). His bodily alignment now is such that he has created space that both nage and uke can move in opposite directions and not collide.

The nage now stands upright, pivots 90o, positions his right foot so he can step to the side of the uke and lower his body to complete the technique (Figures 3-6) The nage’s upper body, including his hands and arms, remain relaxed throughout the process. The power of the throw comes from the centered movement of the whole body rather than the strength of the arms and shoulder. The arms and fingers serve the function of directing the flow of energy or ki.

(Note: Photos taken at 2002 Summer Camp, with Jake McKee as uke.)

Figure 1: Presenting wrists. Figure 2: Initial step off the line Figure 3: Begin stepping in.
Figure 4: Stepping up. Figure 5: Stepping down. Figure 6: Zanshin.

Tenchi Nage, Tenkan

The initial movements for tenchi nage, tenkan are exactly the same as in irimi up to Figure 3. Instead of standing upright and entering as in Figures 3 and 4, nage pivots on his right foot 180o, reverses the pivot on his left foot 90o, and draws his right foot to assume a fully upright posture (see Figures 7 and 8).

The circular movement of tenkan creates a powerful flow of energy, and it is important not to stop this flow in executing this technique. Any attempt to throw before fully in position will lead to imbalance and tension in the upper body and interrupt the flow. The power of this technique comes not from the pulling or pushing of the arms but the drawing of the feet. When nage’s posture and positioning is correct, uke’s upper and lower body separate. His lower body continues to move while his upper body stops because he is holding on to nage’s wrists. Uke in effect throws himself. If uke stops, nage steps in, as in irimi, and lowers his center and completes the throw.

Figure 7: Turning after initial blend. Figure 8: Rising up. Figure 9. Zanshin.

Final Comments

Correctly executed, the technique is experienced as flowing and effortless. There is little or no increase in pressure at the point of contact (wrist), complete freedom of movement, and no sense of overpowering the uke. The nage is completely one within himself and with the uke, and the sense of self disappears. Consciousness is completely focused in the present, moment by moment by moment. This is the state of Masakatsu Agatsu. There is no self (nage) so there is no other (uke). The barrier that separates nage and uke is transcended, and there is only Aiki (Oneness). The basis for this state of being is balance and centeredness, which brings us back to the importance of attending to posture, breath, and right distribution of tension and relaxation in our practice.

Mind & Body, Principles & Techniques by Dan Kawakami

January 14th, 2010 by twistingwrists Categories: Kawakami sensei No Responses

Aikido training focuses on both techniques and principles. Techniques are bodily movements designed to defend against and control physical attack. Typically, an instructor demonstrates a technique of self defense against a specified attack, and the student learns by imitating the instructor’s movements. Further refinements are made under the guidance of the instructor, and the movements become established with repetitive practice with a partner.

Teaching of principles is somewhat more problematic. O-Sensei stated that the principles of Aikido come from nature. Nature is presumed to be an infinite field of energy (ki), constantly flowing and changing, and like water, essentially formless. It is also presumed to be more of a process than an entity, and the principles refer to consitent patterns within this formless process. It may also be said that reality at this level is beyond our ordinary senses, and principles are identified, not through direct perception, but by experiencing their effects.

Despite their differing nature, techniques and principles are intricately related. Principles without techniques cannot be expressed. Techniques without principles tend to be mechanical, insensitive, and lacking creativity. The capacity to adapt to changing conditions is diminished, and without humane values and principles to guide their expression, techniques can become potentially dangerous and destructive. Moreover, techniques in and of themselves have limited applicability in the sense that they are generally appropriate only to situations of combat of on the Aikido mat.

Principles, on the other hand, have unlimited applicability. However, because they are formless, they need a means to be expressed. In a circumscribed field of activity, such as Aikido, techniques provide the means of expression. Like a bowl gives shape to water, techniques give form to the formless principles of nature. When techniques and principles are one, as demonstrated in old film clips of O-Sensei’s performances, the execution of techniques become spontaneous, flowing, effortless, and yet very powerful, even magical. O-Sensei attained this level of development after many years of intense training in the martial arts and various religious practices, and his declaration “I am the Universe,” following his enlightenment provides the defining statement for Aikido, the art he created. O-Sensei had indeed unified mind and body (principles and technique) and realized the oneness of the universe. It is from this realization that the ethic of nourishing life and promoting peace which characterizes Aikido emerged.

By Dan Kawakami, March 1998