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Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part8)

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From Part 7

NM:
I guess Aoki Method was one of them. I don’t know how it was like before, but people who have been practicing Shintaido for years told me that it’s so special to be able to learn directly from you.


HA:
It’s nothing great. People are all equal. We can meditate together and meet each other… We treat everyone equally, whether it’s a major mass communications company executive, an elderly from town, or aunties in our neighborhoods. I am very sure about this, and I don’t have any doubts living this kind of lifestyle.

And speaking of my conclusion in terms of where I’m at right now, I am constantly evolving internally to the point where I don’t even know how to process everything myself. This means I’m shifting continuously, gaining new discoveries one after another, and always moving forward.

With teachers like Egami Sensei, Inoue Sensei, and Edgar Cacey alike, we must be humble and try to learn from these teachers that have what we don’t have. Just as water flows downhill, information also flows into one who is humble enough to place themselves lower, and to those with an open mind. So if you don’t lower your head and ask for their teachings, you will never know your teachers’ true value. It doesn’t matter what organization you belong to because there is absolutely no guarantee that you will definitely attain a great philosophy if you belong in a certain organization.

Our forerunners worked painstakingly with all their might and received incredible amount of inspiration, so us seekers of the Michi (Do, Tao, Way) must be humble and modest when learning, and express our gratitude to the teachings we receive. Then, something beyond our understanding will all flow into us naturally. The worst thing to do is to criticize other schools or speak ill of various masters ignorantly. My students’ success doesn’t depend on whether he/she is learning under me or not. It all depends on the individual.

NM:
Just as you are constantly evolving, I’m sure your students also have been evolving. Nevertheless, have you not felt somebody has gone beyond you yet?


HA:
I hope so, and it is their problem. Their learnings are for them to contemplate. I am hopeful but do not reply on them. But I must say they are really growing a lot. In my Tenshin Calligraphy School, there are 10 Instructors, and 5 of them already opened up their own schools. Those 5 are growing rapidly. And in Kenbu Tenshin Ryu, the Honbu General Instructors and other practitioners are progressing soundly too.

But I’m certain that nobody will be able to go beyond me. I am the greatest and nobody will go past me. What this means is, each one of us is the most unique and the greatest. Each person is the greatest and ONLY ONE.

What we all have to remember is that we all have to grow by ourselves. If we were a tree, I might look like the giant tree and my students the smaller trees around me, but we can all grow together into big trees. If my students try to learn from me 100% and copy me, one day, they will have grown big. And then another day, they will realize that they’ve gone beyond me. Just like in learning calligraphy, you must do Rinsho many many times in order to discover your authentic self, and I’m just one of those textbooks. And you don’t have to worry about being able to pass me anymore. If you really work hard, you will naturally encounter your new self.

*Rinsho:A calligraphy practice in which students look at the textbook closely and copy the form, brushwork, composition, and overall atmosphere or feelings of the writing.

Nobody can learn 100% from me and as a matter of fact, that’s not necessary. And yet, you have to try to learn 100% about your master. If you put your whole heart and soul into learning, one day, a new self will emerge. This is what practice is all about.

I learned this from the Rinsho learning method of calligraphy. I did Rinsho of 50 grand master calligraphers in Japanese and Chinese history over and over and over again. If we do Rinsho for years and years until we could write exactly like them as if copied with a printer, one day, you will find out that a brand new unique writing of yours is born.

Nobody could be a tree called Aoki Hiroyuki, but if you become a giant tree yourself and flourish, you will be able to offer your surroundings beautiful greens and delicious fruits. I think that’s really plenty. So if you want your tree to bloom its flowers, you must learn from your teachers how to make them bloom and try to copy them first. I’m sure all masters don’t expect their students to be the same as them, because they can’t. It would be weird if students exactly the same as their teachers were made like clones. What makes the world beautiful is diversity—the variety of different kinds of flowers blooming in the garden.

All the techniques I have acquired throughout my career will not be passed down the exactly the same as mine. But with each individual trying to learn and seeking them creates their own original styles respectively.

The same goes with this interview too. Because this interview gets printed in words, it could reach people’s hearts through your network of people, and it would be a great honor for me if it inspires their lives in positive ways. And I think that would be one way for me to repay what I received from Edgar Cacey, Egami Sensei, and Inoue Sensei.

NM:
And yet, we cannot fully understand our bodies by reading about it. There are so many things we need to actually experience for ourselves in order to truly understand it.


HA:
Yes, I totally agree with you. I have some advice for those who want to accomplish something engaging their bodies.

Firstly, you need to practice softening your body. And keep moving softly with your whole body loosened up.

Next you need to continue moving rhythmically and expansively. Jumping is good, running is good, shaking too, and you need to continue moving rhythmically like this for about 20 to 30 minutes.

It would also be good to repeat sprinting, fast walking, sprinting, and fast walking, in 3-minute intervals for about 40-50 minutes.

And you need to have a certain direction in your head at all times. When we run a marathon, we have a goal. When we are doing this training by ourselves, try to look infinitely far. When we run, we look down at the road, but in our heads we are focused on a goal far in the distance. Try to envision a goal several hundred kilometers ahead. Once we have a certain direction, our body will also focus in that direction naturally.

So to paraphrase myself, we need to relax and soften our bodies, move rhythmically, and have a certain direction. These three things are very important.

Also, we must never clench or stiffen our bodies or muscles. Especially the lower abdomen, we must not clench this area. We must definitely avoid negative thoughts too. Just believe in yourself strongly and live with a positive mind.

NM:
My friend Ms.S that introduced Aoki Method to me shared an interesting story from a retreat she attended before. She told me that everyone was jumping along in a squatting position on the beach, all the way to the lighthouse. But since she couldn’t do that jumping, she was trying to reach there by Shikko. Because of that, she reached the goal much later than the others, but halfway through, at one point, she started feeling a kind of blessing pouring into her from God, and by the time she reached the goal, she was crying with joy.


*Shikko
Moving forward on your knees.

HA:
That is a kind of jump called Kaikyaku Zenshin. Normally, if you jump in a squatting position, you will damage your knees, but Kaikyaku Zenshin is a method I developed that allows us to jump without straining our knees. We were practicing that on the beach.

Many of them that reached the lighthouse earlier were also crying too. Normally, their faces start shining brightly when they do Kaikyaku Zenshin. There was a 50 year old Asahi Shinbun reporter who was determined to jump 3 kilometers, and we were all cheering for him. In the end, we were all crying together, both the jumper and the cheerers.

Us humans can overcome adversities no matter how harsh they are, and by moving rhythmically, we can feel so liberated. Unfortunately, not many people know this. Or even if they know, they wouldn’t dare to try it out.

NM:
In a magazine interview, you mentioned that moving your body is a faster way than meditation to reach a kind of enlightenment. Does this mean we should move our bodies rather than sit in one place and meditate for several hours?


HA: That’s not always the case. However when we meditate, we often end up feeling self-satisfied when we finish.

When we do meditation, we don't have a certain direction. However, when we exercise or move our bodies, we might be competing or have some kind of a goal. We are determined to reach that lighthouse for example, so that’s why our energy doesn’t get stuck inwards.
And because our energy is flowing together with the outer energy, this exchange enables us to accept something like the Truth of Heavens and Earth more easily.

I’ve been teaching meditation classes for a long time as well, but we always do some warm-up exercise to soften our bodies first, and then start meditating. Because my students have become so used to it, now they could enter a deep meditative state in seconds.

To add a little more in closing, if you are engaging in a certain practice alone, you really have to take good care of your practice environment, room, tools, and friends that you could share your inner journey of Michi (Do, Tao, Way) with. If you are a Kenjutsu practitioner, cherish your katana, keikogi (practice uniform), and dojo.

If you practice calligraphy, cherish your brushes, sumi (ink), suzuri (ink stone), paper, and water. And before and after practice, always do rei (bow), and purify your surroundings to make it a sublime space. Then, your environment and tools will offer you numerous teachings. I really recommend you do this.

Furthermore, if your minds, hearts, and thoughts change, your martial arts techniques or calligraphy skills would also change completely. One who strives hard to be clean and sincere the best they can will naturally perform clean and pure techniques with a katana or calligraphy brush.

There is a great Chinese calligraphy master named Ryu Koken that existed around the Heian period in Japan. He was teaching a King named Bokuso who had extremely bad personality. One day, the King asked him how he could improve his calligraphy skills. Then he answered in a single phrase, “If your heart and mind is righteous, so is your writing”.

Of course, we can never be perfect. However, we could still try to be the best we can. Although I’m telling you all these things, I’m also not a perfect human being.

But what I can say is that if everybody aims to realize their ideals and goals enthusiastically, they will develop the capacity to perform beautiful techniques. So I strongly encourage everybody to believe in that, pursue your ideals, have faith in yourself, and keep moving forward with confidence.

*Ryu Koken:
http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%9F%B3%E5%85%AC%E6%A8%A9

Since we’re running out of time today, let’s set up another meeting for part 2 of our interview and take us even further deeper the next time.

NM:
Thank you so much for your time today, and for sharing such wonderful stories with me today. I hope to hear your stories about Cacey next time.


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Japanese Interview Page

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:18 | Interview

Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part7)

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From Part 6

NM:
Did Inoue Sensei appear in your dreams often to teach you techniques?


HA:
Whenever I was meditating, he often appeared and told me “That’s right.” Or “You should do it this way.” At that time, I was practicing under Egami Sensei’s instructions almost everyday, but in my meditations, Inoue Sensei would appear.

d0255328_12122356.jpgThere is a hilly park called Nogeyama Koen close to my house, and I would go there alone to practice in the middle of the night and stand under the tree in the Seigan posture with my Bokuto. How I did this was, I would take a position holding my Bokuto straight in front of me leveling the tip of the blade with my eyes and looking far ahead, for example 1 or 2 kilometers far into the distant city lights for about an hour, without moving at all. Then one day during this practice, I called Inoue Sensei to come teach me (in my illusion). Then, he really appeared. As I learned from him, he started saying he would introduce me to a better master, and then the next moment, Egami Sensei appeared. In other words, he was telling me that I should continue learning with Egami Sensei wholeheartedly and that I’m on the right track, encouraging me to pursue my practice even further.

This is another more recent story.

Last February (2013), I came out of the world of Mu. My master is 100% Egami Sensei, and everything is really thanks to this great master of mine. My feeling toward Egami Sensei is similar to my feeling toward my father, and I loved him deeply back then and still admire him today. Egami Sensei also took great care of me and cherished me. It was really like a son and father relationship, and I still feel the same way. All the foundations necessary for me to exist here today as a martial artist was laid by Egami Sensei. However, I never idolatrized him, and I hope you don’t misunderstand this part. Why? It’s because I was a devoted Christian and had also studied philosophy and Western literature very deeply back then, so I didn’t fall into worshiping or idolatrizing people. I understood that my master was also a father and a weak human being.

More than a disciple, my relationship to Egami Sensei was more of a visitor from another school that came for accommodation and food, and received the honor to learn from Sensei for a while. But I really studied the best I can under him and Egami Sensei highly appreciated me. Egami Sensei’s students told me I betrayed Egami Sensei, but in this sense, I had betrayed him from the very beginning. Egami Sensei himself always told me, “You are not my student. You came from elsewhere, and you will leave here again after learning under me”. He also often mentioned, “If my name were to be known in the future, that would be thanks to you”.

What was amazing about Egami Sensei was that he openly showed his weakness to me. He wasn’t ashamed to show me all his aspects— weeping, feeling down, everything. He was great in that way.

Since I had a love for literature and studied Western literature and various kinds of philosophy in great depth after I graduated from high school, I didn’t worship anyone. I wouldn’t worship any kind of human figure. I read works by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Dickens, Romain Rolland, and so forth, so no matter how arrogantly somebody preached something, I could read their minds easily. Even what Sensei said.

And because I also studied philosophy, I was able to compare Sensei’s philosophy to other ones I already knew, and had no problem understanding it without much effort. So I am not a worshiper of Egami Sensei. To me, Egami Sensei was like a father that let me seek greater techniques with all my might. Even if you respect your father, you wouldn’t also conclude that your father is the smartest and most talented person in the whole wide world, right? Similarly, Egami Sensei was that kind of father to me and that is why I still respect him today. He was the master of my Michi (Do, Tao, Way) and had nothing to do with politics.

I want to share this interesting story with you. Whenever I go through major transitions or have significant realizations in my practice, I go visit Egami Sensei’s grave. Sensei loved whiskey, but back then, he was poor and could only drink cheap bottled Suntory whiskey. He liked whiskey so much that he would shake an empty bottle again and again after it was all empty. I visited his grave with a bottle of whiskey when I started Kenbu Tenshin Ryu too, and also about 4-5 years ago when I had a big Satori.

I also went to Kamakurayama to report to my master first when I came out of the Mu world after 45 years, which was like attaining the “Henpongengen (Reaching the Source)” stage of the Ten Ox Herding Pictures. I brought a full bottle of French brandy XO and poured the whole thing around his gravestone. Then all of a sudden, smoke rose from the gravestone. First, I thought the brandy evaporated because the stone was heated by winter sunlight, but I saw it rising from the center of the gravestone to my left hand. Then, a figure appeared from the smoke. I thought, “Oh, it must be Sensei’s spirit!”. But it wasn’t. It was myself. It was me who came out of the smoke.

After that, Sensei’s smiling face appeared to my upper left and said, “Aoki, you treated me so kindly until today. Of course, I also know you sometimes spoke ill of me behind my back.” He continued, “You think I taught you many things, right? But actually it wasn’t me who taught you. It was yourself. You were learning from youself…”

I was shocked. He then said, “You believed you had always learned from Egami and Inoue, but in fact, you were learning from yourself. This means that if you curse at me, you are also cursing at yourself, which means you are the one that’s bad”. He laughed hard, and then faded out gradually.

I was so touched. Again, I was amazed at how great my Sensei is. He is truly brilliant. I thought to myself he was such a wonderful teacher and I will never be able to go beyond him.

*“Henpongengen” (Reaching the Source):The ninth picture of the “Ten Ox Herding Pictures”. It symbolizes return to the original beauty of nature. Satori lies in this kind of nature.

NM:
I could see that Egami Sensei is still looking after you. And maybe you come into your students’ dreams and meditations to teach them secretly too.


HA:
I actually think you’re right. Maybe they’re having nightmares (LOL)

There are so many important principles in martial arts, and one of them is that we can live life while being fully surrendered to death. We can also go beyond life and death, and even die for others anytime with love. Furthermore, our bodies can become natural once again. All of us are born 100% natural. However, although our bodies are still natural, our consciousness makes our bodies unnatural. This is why we want to release those parts.

We have to reawaken our bodies that have become unnatural over 20, 30, or 50 years, so that it regains its natural state that it once was and become one with nature. I call those parts that stop us from being one with nature “stiffness”, and “stiffness” equals ego.

When Christians accept Christ, if they are covered with sins all over their bodies, they will not be able to receive Christ 100%. This is a word by the Dominican, Meister Eckhart. If there are pebbles and stones in the bucket, you cannot pour all the water into it. We shouldn’t be carrying sins or even faith, love, devotion, prayers, obedience, or a single pebble in our hearts. We must be totally Mu (nothingness). There shouldn’t even be space for love. Then, the spirit of God will pour into us 100%. This is what Eckhart says, and I am very impressed by his words. I think they’re very important.

*Meister Eckhart


These are the teachings we can receive from martial arts, Shintaido, and Kenbu. I used the name “Shintaido” years ago, but now I also call it “Tenshintaido” and “Kenbu Tenshin Ryu”. I think names could change and disappear as long as it fulfills its mission to support, encourage, and give happiness to those who love and practice them. So now I use “Tenshintaido” and “Kenbu Tenshin Ryu” more often, but I am not attached to names at all. Even Christ didn’t say that the name of his teachings is called Christianity, and Buddha didn’t say his teachings are called Buddhism either. So names really don’t matter. We could just call it Aoki’s body practice.

NM:
Can I go back to your story about “Mu”? I wanted to know a little more about that. How does it feel like to be in Mu? Is it like you’re apathetic and don’t feel anything even if you’re looking at a beautiful view, or you’re not moved at all by an amazing painting? Like your emotions are flat?


HA:
It’s actually not like that. All existence disappears in your consciousness, and an infinite abyss spreads. Everything loses value too… Like you are left alone in the great darkness of vacuum space. And at the same time, it’s also a formidable liberation.

NM:
Even during that time, you were still teaching your students Shintaido, meeting people, communicating with people, giving lectures, traveling, and so forth, right?


HA:
In that way, yes, I was still leading an ordinary life.

NM:
I’ve experienced a couple times in my life where every morning when I woke up I felt, “Oh, I woke up again and I’m still alive today” and couldn’t help myself from feeling sad that I’m alive. Is yours similar to this?


HA:
Well, everything was still normal and nothing had really changed, but I just became completely vacuum, like living in the world of Mu. Even feelings and attitudes like love, faith, contemplating on how to live, or being sincere, were all gone.

There are so many things in life, right? Let’s say that God is at the very top of it. And God is said to be Light. According to Kabbala that has several thousand years of history, Light is “Being”. Because Being and Non-Being are one, this Being presupposes Non-Being. And behind this Non-Being is “Absolute Nothingness”. And there’s nothing behind Absolute Nothingness, because it’s literally just Absolute Nothingness. This is the ultimate state.

So even if we attain Absolute Nothingness, there is everything there. This, that, and you exist too…. They are all there, and yet it’s Mu. I’m sure it’s pretty hard to understand unless you experience it yourself.

NM:
Even if you’re amid Mu, are you still aware that you’re there in Mu, or can you only realize it once you come out of it and think, “Oh, that must have been Mu”?


HA:
When I entered Mu, I was totally aware of it. I felt, “Oh, I’ve entered a profound state.” In fact to be more precise, it’s more accurate to say, “coming out into the Mu world” than “entering Mu”.

NM:
In my case, one day the whole world turned gray, and little by little, it started obtaining colors again. Is this somewhat similar to your experience?


HA:
Maybe it’s a little similar to that. To explain in one word, it’s a universal eternal abyss of void. And you are floating there alone all by yourself. As if you’re idling in a dusky deserted landscape all alone. The deserted landscape had always been there in front of me for 45 years…

NM:
Did God exist there too?


HA:
The Christian world shining with bright light and love had completely disappeared. Even God was not there. I was the only one left in the eternal void, the Absolute Mu universe.

NM:
Even so, there still is joy in everyday life, and you could see light during practices, right? I’m sure you also still felt a sense of achievement too. So does it mean that glimpses of light and joy still do exist, but in a broader sense, you were in darkness and Mu?


HA:
Yes, that’s right. In the world of Muso (no-form, formless). It’s more about your sense of values and understanding of the world.

NM:
Did something significant happen when you came out of that state?


HA:
Oh yes, of course. Something great happened. But if I went on to explain it, this article would be long like crazy (LOL).

Last February (2013), I went to Manza highlands in Gunma prefecture. I was staying at a hotel with nice hot springs on top of the mountain, and below were many 5,10 meter high hills all covered with snow. I was looking down at those hills from about 100 meters above.

All my life, I had the aspiration to reach the other side of the snow-covered Himalayas like a wind, or reach the other side of the icy Andes to open up a new world. But in reality, we can’t even climb a 5 or 10 meter high hill by foot if it was covered with 2 meters of snow. How small are we. Then I said to myself, from now on I won’t try to climb the huge Himalayas or Andes, but will do my best to climb over these 5 or 10 meter high hills with 2,3 meters of snow, with all my might. While I was pondering this as I watched the snow, something inside me started to change very softly. Gently and gently, something started to shift.

NM:
Was it like the fog clearing up before you?


HA:
In fact, there wasn’t even a fog because it was all Mu. I was in Mu where there was nothing, but the next moment I realized, I was embraced by millions of flowers—cherry, peach, and plum blossoms, all in full bloom. Above, below, right, and left—all filled with yellow flowers. It was purely yellow, no pink or red. I was astonished. It smelled so good, and my whole body started to smell good too.

NM:
That must have been like paradise.


HA:
Yes, exactly. And the full-bloomed flowers and breathtaking scent lasted for several months. Now, it doesn’t smell as strong, but it’s not gone. I’m still in that world. Because I thought the world of Mu is the final source all practitioners seeking the Michi (Do, Tao, Way) return to, first I didn’t know what was going on. I thought to myself, this is unbelievable… But in fact, it was depicted in the Ten Ox Herding Pictures. Normally, we would think Satori or Mu world to be the ultimate stage, but Kakuan, a Zen monk that lived a thousand years ago had already realized that there is still another stage beyond that. I was so impressed such a great monk existed back then.

d0255328_12112825.jpgSo since then, I became a person not in the Mu world, but in the flower world. I decided to commit myself to mingling with the people and sharing who I am and all I have realized, instead of renouncing the world.

Before, I used to go on TV or magazines very often. But I wanted to stop that, and in nearly 20 years, I felt a strong urge inside me to really mingle with the common people, business men, or aunties and grandmas—with ordinary people, as I hadn’t really done that for a long time…



To Part 8

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:12 | Interview

Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part6)

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From Part 5

NM:
In English, Budo is called “martial arts”, but what does the word “martial” mean?


HA:
It means “military”, or “soldier”. Hence, Budo is a military art.

NM:
Then, what does “Bu武” of “Budo武道” mean?


HA:
The “戈” character within “武” symbolizes a spear or a halberd. A halberd has another blade sticking out of the side of the spear to stab or strike the enemy. The origin of the word “武” means “to stop the spear, to stop the halberd”. From a broader perspective it means, “to rid of hatred against the enemy, be free of resentment, and fill our hearts with love.” Then, the secret of martial arts deriving from “to stop the halberd” is to wipe away all halberd-like intentions within us, desire to beat the enemy, as well as the enemy’s desire to knock us down. Love has the power to stop the halberd, and this is why Ueshiba Morihei Sensei taught, “Bu is Love.”

However, generally, the character “武” means to block the enemy’s attack and to counterattack.

NM:
And in terms of Shintaido, Shintaido is “武” and at the same time, aims to free and liberate ourselves….


HA:
Yes, I started seeing a new vision like that. 50 years ago, not many people insisted on “relaxing, releasing our Ki, harmonizing with nature, fully liberating ourselves, and becoming as free as possible”. At the time, many people laughed at me and put me down, but now, many people are saying these things.

The president of a famous company that specializes in DVD productions of martial arts and other fighting techniques once told me this laughing, “40 years ago, I thought you are a very interesting person with unique opinions, and no one else said anything like you. But nowadays, what you mentioned back then have become so common.” I think my thoughts have become more prevalent in the Japanese martial arts world. I’m sure that many people who teach the same things don’t even realize that those are what I first started teaching. In fact, words and phrases like “Reading Ki (or brain wave)” and “Toate (Distance attack)” were all started by me too.

NM:
Liberating ourselves and freeing our individualities are both the main purposes of practicing Shintaido, but can you tell me what can be attained by achieving those states? Edgar Cacey mentions about surrendering self before God (Lose self in Him). This “in Him” part is the most important, but is it something similar?


HA:
d0255328_11565575.jpgYes, it’s exactly the same. In Christian, it means to accept God 100%. In Zen, it means to get rid of all attachments. We often say that the more we release, the more we become full. If we could let go of our selfishness and egoistic thoughts, biases, and pride, the vibration of the universe and the great life force of nature will flow into us automatically.
Whenever I think about what God is, I think there is nothing more to say than that it is the life force of the universe that fills the entire Heavens and Earth. And what controls it, or the energy that controls it, is God. It has will and a certain direction, but as Dr.Laszlo I mentioned earlier also states, it is already proven in the world of quantum physics.

In the history of humankind, a significant figure sometimes appears to save humanity, and such typical figure is Edgar Cacey. I think Cacey was also no different from other ordinary people in his everyday life. I can see that just by looking at his face. He doesn’t look like a courageous hero type of person showing off God’s power to humankind. He looks like another Christian person of good will, just like other devoted Christians. However, once he shifts his channel and tunes his antenna into the spiritual world, he was able to receive messages from God and vibrations of the universe. That was his innate talent, so it’s not him that was great, but it was the spirit of God and the vibration of the great universe that was great.

NM:
Did you first find out about Cacey when you were still a Christian? Or when you were close to Mr. Uritani, former president of Tama publishing company?


HA:
In my late 30s, I read Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s book, and felt we have very much in common. But at that time, I was still a very serious Christian, and a part of me still could not accept other religions besides Christianity. I think I found out about Cacey after I became friends with Mr. Uritani, so I guess I was in my 40s. As Gina Serminara writes in great detail, I read the book “The Miracle Man Edgar Cacey” before that and was deeply impressed by the existence of such a great figure.

In the book, it introduced cases of a mentally ill person recovering from his symptoms by taking out his wisdom teeth since the sole cause was nerve compression, or about eating almonds everyday, and boosting your immunity by placing raw rabbit leather on the stomach, and they were interesting. I heard that Cacey was ridiculed by intellects when he was alive, but in modern medicine, these things are considered effective, isn’t it?

I think these people like Cacey are born every once in a hundred years or so to save the world.

NM:
I know you also have lots of mystical experiences like this though. For example, you received teachings in your dreams many times from a martial arts master you had only met twice in your life, or a dwarf appeared in your dream and started practicing martial arts, so you took notes and created a set of Kata, and etc….


HA:
Actually, that wasn’t a dwarf, but I was just dazing, and then I had an illusion of somebody carrying Bo (6 foot staff) coming to attack me. But the next moment, somebody else popped out of my body and threw that person down using techniques I had never seen before….

NM:
That was somebody from your illusionary world, not a reality, right?


HA:
Yes, it was just an illusion, but it was so visible to me. Those techniques were totally new even to a person like me, who knew most of the existing throwing techniques using Bo from all over the world. I thought, “I must record this” and drew illustrations of 75 kinds of Bo throwing techniques in a few weeks. I then started teaching them to my students, but 25 of them were too difficult, so I designated the remaining 50 kinds as official Shintaido Bojutsu techniques, and many of them are still practicing them today. So those techniques weren’t exactly my creation but what God presented to me spiritually.

Therefore, strictly speaking, I’m not the Founder, but an introducer of techniques I was shown by something great. I go by the name of Founder since it’s too complicated to explain each time, but to be honest, I never considered myself a Founder.

NM:
I believe God transmitted those techniques to you from the universe since He knew you could understand them. Your story of being taught in your dreams is very interesting too.


HA:
That must be about the story of Inoue Hoken Sensei. Inoue Sensei was my master’s master, but I had never learned directly from him before. In fact, I only met him in person twice in my life. The first time was when I was 25, and I visited a big dojo near Harajuku station where he used to teach.

His students trying to attack him would be knocked down, just by Sensei walking across the dojo diagonally. It looked like magic. I was shocked and awed by his presence. I told one of my seniors, “Wow, he’s amazing. It looks like he’s using superhuman techniques”, and he replied, “not really, I’m sure your students will also think the same way at you too. It’s just about your level. If you get a little more used to it, you will be able to see the various techniques he is using”.

I practiced hard for many years later, so little by little, I was able to understand what Inoue Sensei was doing at the time when it seemed like everyone was just being blown by him.

However, Inoue Sensei is a real great master and I’m saying this not because I’m a student of his student.

And his uncle Ueshiba Morihei is also a great master. To our eyes, what Inoue Hoken Sensei and Ueshiba Morihei Sensei did might seem very similar, but for them, they would insist they are totally different, and that’s inevitable because the very person that did that would know the exact differences. Although it might take a very similar physical form, it could be different philosophically. Either way, in the world of Budo, Inoue Sensei and Ueshiba Sensei are both categorized in the same Aiki Jutsu system of practice.

Using philosophy as a metaphor, the works of 100 philosophers are all called philosophy, but each philosopher has their own philosophies respectively. It goes the same with musicians and painters. In this sense, the two of them are the same and yet different. It’s similar to the differences between classical painters and impressionists in visual arts. There is the Bujutsu category within body practice, and open-handed fighting techniques and Taijutsu within the Bujutsu category, and both of them were teaching Aiki Jutsu within that category. Thus, to the general public, it would certainly be regarded as something very similar.

Lately, I have been using the katana a lot through Iai-Battojutsu (Kenbu Tenshin Ryu) practice, since the katana teaches me a great deal of things. Nonetheless, the basic movements are all the same in Shintaido, Aikijutsu, Bojutsu, and present Kenjutsu.

To Part 7

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:06

Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part5)

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From Part 4

NM:
d0255328_11425712.jpgIn preparing for this interview, I was reading your books and various magazine articles you were featured in before. I can totally imagine how popular you must have been when you were young. You still look great today but those pictures from when you were young are amazingly good looking! Like this picture here makes me fall in love with you. I’m sure many women were attracted to you and that must have been what started those rumors. Plus, I guess it was also because many people were jealous of you too.

Also, in the books and magazines, I saw the practitioners wearing pure white hakama, which reminded me of the Essenes of the primitive Christianity. I was thinking their trainings might have been something similar.


HA:
In fact, one of the Shintaido of America members told me once that he had a reading consultation one time and the psychic told him, “the Founder of Shintaido that you are practicing now is a reincarnation of the Essenes”.

NM:
Really? According to Edgar Cayce, the Essenes were a special spiritual group that devoted themselves to spiritual practices over generations to help bring Savior Jesus Christ back to this world. They trained themselves to fully purify their body and soul in order to nurture a mother that can conceive such holy savior, and a body that could receive the savior’s soul. In this sense, it would totally make sense to me if you actually were one of the Essenes back then.


HA:
The reason why I chose that white keikogi (practice uniform) was because it is said that Christ’s apostles once asked him, “Who are you, really?” Then, his face turned gold, his clothes shined bright white and ascended to heaven, and rested next to God. In other martial arts schools, only the Founder wears white keikogi, but in Shintaido, we had the idea that each practitioner is the Founder, so we all wore white keikogi with gold colored embroidery written 新体道. So the idea of wearing white keikogi came purely from the bible.

In Kenbu now, students wear black and brown hakama, but it is my strong hope that one day, all practitioners will shine bright white both body and mind.

I’ve heard that many people have been told by Edgar Cacey, “You were working very close to Christ before” in their consultations. I think many people often reincarnate to give back, receive back, or apologize to those who helped them in their past lives. So I think those people who were close to Edgar Cacey back then gathered around him again in this life.

Even with you and me, I didn’t know you until just recently, but if Cacey was here, he might say, “You were together a hundred years ago”, because souls attract one another.

Doctor Laszlo who received the Nobel Prize in Quantum Physics mentions something very similar to this. In the quantum world, everything is interconnected beyond of time. So what you think now is linked to every single person, animal, plant, and matter. It doesn’t matter whether it is a human or a tree because everything that exists in this world is made up of either one of the 112 elements. Hence, ultimately it’s all the same. In the quantum world, even memory and love are connected beyond time, so everything from 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, and 10,000 years ago, and the future, are all connected. If a butterfly fluttered its wings here, on the other side of the earth, maybe there is a typhoon. This is considered quite normal in the world of quantum physics.

So even if we didn’t know each other until recently in this life, maybe we were lovers, enemies, or in some other kind of relationship a couple lifetimes back.

NM:
I would be very honored if I were your lover even in my past life.


HA:
Here’s another story I want to share with you. One time, I was crossing an intersection in a quiet rural town in Texas. As I was crossing, I was just so strongly attracted to this person crossing from the other side. After a while, I turned back to see this person, and then this person was also looking at me. Then later, I looked back again, and saw that person looking at me again in the far distance. When I passed this person at the intersection, for a moment, I felt as if I had known that person very intimately many many years ago.

In an underground pathway at Tokyo station, there was a foreign man approaching me, so I was staring at him for a while. The next moment, he was asking something to a lady who was walking close to me, but she didn’t understand anything since it was all in English. The next moment, I was shocked to see that the foreign man and the Japanese lady looked so much alike. How can a foreign man and Japanese woman resemble each other so much?! Although they didn’t realize it themselves, I clearly saw that because I could see them from a distance. I thought to myself, these two must have had a very close relationship in their past lives, but in this life, they are just passing by one another.

Sometimes when we travel overseas, we meet people that we intuitively feel a strong connection to from a relatively recent past life, even if we’d never been in that country before.

NM:
I guess many of your students from Rakutenkai and Shintaido, and your present students from Tenshinkai all had some kind of deep connection with you in their past lives, and that’s why they were attracted to you again in this life.


HA:
Yes, maybe.

The reason why I created Rakutenkai was because my master always told me that after years of intense training in Karate, despite his faith in the great power of Karate, he came to realize that Karate techniques are not as effective as he believed it to be. Hence, he wanted to create a Karate practice that is truly strong and effective.

Here is something I would like to ask Okinawan Karate practitioners as well as other Karate practitioners: “Can you beat someone with 3 layers of floor pillow on their stomach with your Tsuki?” Or even someone with just one floor pillow? If the answer is “No”, my opinion is that that is not true Karate. Of course, if you kick somebody directly in the stomach, that would be effective. However, we can’t get the same results with a Tsuki. Furthermore, if it was a well-built stomach, I assume it wouldn’t be possible to strike them down even without a floor pillow.

What my master wanted was a kind of Karate that could knock the enemy down even in such circumstances. I dedicated myself to practicing hard and doing much research to realize his vision, and the result of this pursuit for the fastest and most effective Tsuki was what we were practicing in Rakutenkai. And with this practice, many other unprecedented practices were born from Rakutenkai.

We were also living as a community, like living together on a commune at the time. We were so close to each other that we even thought about putting all our bones together in the same grave. We ate together and slept together… It was a wonderful young life filled with big dreams. We made such a good team together.

NM:
I heard that your students all commuted from your house and worked during the day, came back to your place at night after work, practiced intensely under your instructions, and then took a short nap and went to work again day after day…


HA:
Yes, since we only had 2 to 4 hours of sleep per day, we were so sleepy at work. And when we started working harder to save up to build our own Dojo, we started selling flowers and etc., and gradually, the group members started to separate. I guess we were also starting to get tired because many days had passed and we worked so hard, but we still couldn’t save up that much.

If only I had more talent in business and economics, I would’ve been capable of establishing a solid organization with jobs for Rakutenkai members to make a living while continuing with their practice. However, many of them couldn’t stand being with me anymore, and eventually left. 40 years has passed since then, but it still hurts my feelings even today whenever I think about that. The only thing I could do now is to express my sincere apologies to them.

NM:
You had dedicated yourself to fulfilling your position as Founder and to help your students grow since you were in your 20s—you were still a youth yourself at the time. At such a young age, you had already taken responsibility for many of your students’ lives.


HA:
Yes, that may be so, considering how most of them were living at my house since I was 25 or so. We were just so dedicated and committed to developing soft and effective techniques that have good flow of Ki. Then, we came to realize that a volleyball serve is stronger than any strike in Karate. When we hit the ball in volleyball, all the weight goes on the ball. If we took pictures of the volleyball with a high-speed camera, that hard ball would look like a crescent moon. Similarly, when someone is about to dive into water, there is several hundred kilograms of weight on their fingertips. However, in Karate, we cannot create that much force, and that was why we were struggling so hard.

So my suggestion to all Karate practitioners is, don’t let your forerunners or the tradition of your school stop you from developing a Karate practice that uses true effective force. I want all practitioners to be free of the regulations of their schools or organizations and have the courage to develop a new Karate practice with much creativity. In fact, I think this is the best way to repay what your masters have taught you. If you really love Karate, it is crucial to reexamine the Karate techniques itself with pure, unbiased eyes.

NM:
Aoki Sensei, when you were teaching Rakutenkai, you were a Christian and also liked to draw, right? My question is, did you have any kind of inner conflict between being a Christian learning how to love others including your neighbors, and practicing martial arts that is intended to defeat people?


HA:
d0255328_11475811.jpgActually, no. Of course, all Budo techniques are intended to knock down, kill, or hurt the enemy. However, there is no one practicing with such intention now in this modern age. I know that some Christian groups led by foreign leaders ban Budo practice, but Western people are often surprised that Japanese people aim to attain a high religious and spiritual level through Bujutsu that originally was a killing technique.

In Japan, a great Kenjutsu mastser called Kamiizumi Isenokami Nobutsuna had already elevated the art of war to a “Michi (Do, Tao, Way)” 500 years ago. Some of his famous words include: “No cutting, no killing, no winning, no losing.” “The Art of War should be constantly revised. Otherwise it becomes obsolete and useless on the battlefield.” I could see he had a very open mind and consciousness for a person living in that age.

In the latter half of the Nara period, people cultivated land to expand their territories. All land were owned by the Imperial court, so people rented land from them and paid taxes. Those who worked hard or utilized their resources to harvest lots of crops expanded their land and it eventually became shoen (manors). When plague attacked, people invaded the shoen to steel crops, and the Imperial court also interfered with them.

So the shoen owners started hiring security guards to protect their shoen, and those guards were the beginning of Bushi (samurai). Similarly, the Imperial court also hired security guards to manage the shoen. These guards gradually increased in number from 5, 10, and so forth, to create a security troop. Shoen owners first became their leaders, then became local rulers, and then finally grew into feudal domains. Heike and Genji also come from the same background and it continued until the age of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

However, as many feudal domains equally strong came into power, war began, and people constantly faced death. In such an age of war, people always had to be ready to die. This naturally led people to create a philosophy that accepted death, and strengthened a sense of impermanence and ephemerality to accept their ever-changing lives. I think that such sense of impermanence and influences of Buddhism mutually developed the act of cutting or being cut with a katana into something beyond life and death. In this perspective, Budo ultimately becomes a religion.

Before his death, Oda Nobunaga chanted this Noh song by Atsumori, before running into the enemy line.

『思へばこの世は常(永遠)の住み家にあらず。人間(*じんかん、人の世)50年、下天のうちを比ぶれば夢幻の如くなり。ひとたび生を受け、滅せぬ者のあるべきか』

Of course, nobody actually saw it and even if someone did, he must have been killed by the Akechi Mitsuhide troops, but anyway, everybody in this world dies, so death is nothing to fear. Martial artists and samurais had this kind of understanding of impermanence and mortal life.

For one who has accepted such sense of impermanence, it is easy to find the weaknesses of people who are controlled by greed, terrified by life and death, or disturbed by delusions. When our heart or spirit level rises, we could see the weaknesses or faults of those with lower heart or spiritual levels more clearly. Cutting into that part allows our techniques to reach deeper in.

In Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s “Hagakure” he writes, “Bushido is to die”. For someone who is ready to die, all fear disappears, and one becomes free of other people’s actions. From that point of view, any fear or stiffness in the enemy becomes clearly visible. I think this kind of state is what developed martial arts into a spiritual or religious practice. Furthermore, we could say that ultimately, “to live” is the profound essence of our existence of life— that we “exist here in the now”. “Bushido is to die” attempts to transcend life through death, in order to sublimate existence itself.

The more your practice progresses, your techniques also change according to your spiritual level. For instance, your techniques are more effective when relaxed instead of stiff. However, those truly effective techniques cannot be achieved unless we are truly calm, relaxed, and our body is in a natural state. The more you are religious and spiritual inside, the more effectively you could use the techniques. Through martial arts practice, you will develop the capacity to be prepared for anything, transcend death, read others, and expand your sense of freedom and openness. In relation to that, your techniques would advance even more.

Noh Song by Atsumori (full verse)
『敦盛』全文
思へばこの世は常の住み家にあらず。         
草葉に置く白露、水に宿る月よりなほあやし。     
きんこくに花を詠じ、栄花は先つて無常の風に誘はるる。
南楼の月を弄ぶ輩も月に先つて有為の雲にかくれり。  
人間五十年、下天のうちを比ぶれば夢幻の如くなり。  
一度生を享け、滅せぬもののあるべきか。     
  

NM:
Dying instantly is okay, but don’t you think dying with pain is awful?


HA:
Of course, it’s painful. Even a great master who has fully accepted his/her death will scream “Ouch!” if somebody pinches his/her pinky with a pincer. This one time, an American lady who practiced yoga came to me and said, “I’m not afraid of death at all”. During the practice, we did push-and-shove together as group warm-up, where she fell down on the ground and got pushed down to the very bottom of the pile. Then she screamed out, “Help! Help!” furiously. After the practice she told me, “I was so scared, I thought I was going to die”, so I said, “But you said you’re not afraid to die at all because you practice yoga”. Then she replied, “Well, it was so scary, and I will never say I’m not afraid to die anymore.”

Going back to what I was talking about, martial arts is connected to Zen philosophy. Sen no Rikyu was training for years in Daitokuji (Zen), but it is said that he also had much in common with Christian teachings.

Before attacking, by saying to myself from the bottom of my heart, “You lack love, so try to love others like Christ did”, I could overcome my own fear against my opponent and see my opponent more clearly.

When I was teaching Karate at a university, one female student was afraid of doing Kumite (partner practice) with one of the male students. So I told her, try to love your opponent as you love yourself, like Christ taught, and you will be able to see your opponent very clearly. She was very happy because she overcame her fear of doing Kumite with people.

In other words, in Budo, by confronting death, we can transcend life and death. This is the significance of Japanese culture.

To Part 6

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:04 | Interview

Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part4)

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From Part 3

NM:
I’m sure that if we met each of them in person, they are wonderful people but…


HA:
They still won’t be worshiped, right? I’m just saying that we must become martial artists worthy of being worshiped, as a goal. And of course, I’m also imposing this on myself too, while insisting that we must also create such kind of martial arts. Japanese people aren’t very good at creating things. Japan is one of the leading countries in the amount of patents, and our country has created many great things that have gained international recognition thanks to for example, the hard works of factory workers in Ota district. However, the nation as a whole is not a very creative climate.

I created Shintaido, something that never existed in the world before. And now, I am teaching Kenbu Tenshin Ryu very passionately, which is a practice of Iai-Batto Kenjutsu based in Shintaido. Even so, people in the world respect the 20th or 30th grand master of a traditional style over my creativity, right? You can see that with the audience cheering joyfully whenever a Kabuki performer comes in. Of course, Kabuki performers also work hard to pass down their tradition, and that requires a lot of work. However, that is handing down of traditions, not creating something new to replace Kabuki. People who have created and developed something new do not become intangible cultural heritage. Only ones who hand down traditions do.

This is what I want to say to Judo, Karate, and Kenjutsu practitioners. It’s not good to be criticizing other schools all the time, and stop arguing about which schools are fake and insisting your school is the best.

Because people respect tradition, masters of Sado (Tea Ceremony) and Kabuki alike have gained so much respect from people, and people pay a lot to see ceremonies and performances. But nobody pays this much to come see us. And this is because the Japanese culture is not used to accepting new things. Tradition is honored more than creation, whereas in the United States and Europe, I feel very welcomed since people are open to new cultures while respecting tradition.

In Japan today, there are a number of highly advanced inventions in electronics, as well as edgy Anime and fashion that opens people up to new and innovative styles. Furthermore, I believe that many women coming to the forefront will help create a brand new culture for us.

So as I explained, I burned out between 39 and 40, and traveled around Central and South America for a year in my early 40s. Thanks to this trip, my heart, mind, and body had recovered, and I was able to teach Shintaido for another 10 years after coming back to Japan. I had also completed creating the Bojutsu practice system while traveling.

However, after I turned 50, I started having symptoms of severe back pain. As Budo training involves learning the Kata (forms) by imitating the master’s movement, I strongly felt I should not let my students copy me with this back pain. This is why I decided to retire when I was 51, handing everything over to the second master. After retirement, I was meditating a lot and studying ancient healing arts and therapies, and about 10 years flew by.

NM:
51 years old, that’s just about my age now. I cannot imagine a grand master like you who have dedicated yourself so fully to master this great art of martial arts retiring from that world.


HA:
I found out I have a strained spinal column crushing parts of my spinal nerves. I had a surgery at Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital when I was 66 and was able to cure that back pain.

d0255328_12234322.jpgWhen I turned 60, although I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it, I started practicing Shodo (calligraphy) since I didn’t want to just sit down and do nothing. There are many schools of Shodo too, and I decided to pursue Chinese Shodo, the origin of Kanji, since Japanese writing includes Hiragana and Katana that have both originated from Kanji. Just then, I saw an advertisement in the train of a new school opening at Chugoku Shoho Gakuin (Chinese Calligraphy Institute), and became a member of the inaugural class.

Since the school was accredited by Shanghai University, I became a master of calligraphy certified by Shanghai University. I graduated in 3 and a half years, and studied Shodo theory like crazy after I graduated.

All the teachers at Chugoku Shoho Gakuin were all Chinese, so they couldn’t teach Shodo theory in Japanese that well. So I read a tremendous amount of books on Shodo covering 10 different types of writings starting from Kokutsubun (Oracle bone script), the very origin of Kanji from 3,500-3,600 B.C., to Seidokibun, Sekkobun, Tensho, Reisho, Mokuchikukan, Shoso, Sosho, Gyosho, and Kaisho, as well as books on Shodo theory written by Ko Yui avidly.

NM:
So did you learn Chinese Shodo mainly?


HA:
d0255328_11354748.jpg Yes. But I also learned a lot from Japanese calligraphy teachers. This is how I created my own Tenshin Shoho Juku (Tenshin Calligraphy School) based on all the things I learned from various teachers and books, including Shodo theory. I already had a solid background in Art History, so I combined Chinese Shodo, Japanese Shodo, and Art History. And since I’ve taught martial arts for many years, I applied that teaching method and integrated other more modern learning systems into my teaching style as well.

The core philosophy of Tenshin Shoho Juku integrates and blends together my studies of Art History and Chinese Shodo History, what I have established in my Shintaido career, and spiritual teachings of Christianity, Shinto, and Buddhism.

I am deeply impressed by my students that learn so fast whenever I teach them based in this philosophy. Many of my students have received grand prizes and awards (more than 260 in total) in International Calligraphy Exhibitions held in China.

The common thread that ties together everything I teach including Shintaido, Kenbu Tenshin Ryu (modern Iai-Batto Jutsu), and Tenshin Shoho Juku is the Tenshin Philosophy based in “Heaven, Earth, People, and Self are One (unity)”. This means to pay respect to the fundamental life force of the whole universe, the very source of all living things. It is to love and take care of the earth, its soil, and all of nature that has been created by this life force. It is to honor all life and love our neighbors from the bottom of our hearts. It is to be a healthy, bright, and free person with a liberated mind, and to praise our lives fully. This is most important.

NM:
I am very impressed the way such a wonderful philosophy lies at the root of learning Shodo. I know your Tenshin Shoho Juku students have their works displayed in the Promenade Exhibition at Shinjuku Station West Exit occasionally, and I believe it’s actually on now. I would definitely like to stop by later.


HA:
Yes, it would be great if you could stop by. We also have our annual exhibition at Nicchu Yuko Kaikan in Iidabashi. It’s amazing how much my students improve their skills every year.

When I was 24, I had gathered a group of practitioners to create a brand new martial arts for the modern age. I named the group “Rakutenkai”, and we practiced together intensely for about 5 years. However, most of the members who practiced painstakingly at that time left the group afterwards, as they initially thought I was a great teacher but they figured I’m a pretty chaotic person, and they ran out of patience with me. I’m sure each member had his/her own reasons for leaving, and many people say my students just could not stand the hard training anymore, but my opinion is different. The truth of the matter is, we had entered a new age. Just as a new culture is born, grows, matures, and decays, at the dawn of a new age, people from the previous generation could not adapt to the change and chose to leave instead.

Mitsuda san, let’s think about your friends for example. Your close friends from elementary school might have left you in junior high school, but then you must have made new friends in high school. But then maybe you didn’t see any of them anymore after graduating from high school even if you were so close to them at the time. It could also be the same at your workplace. But this is a natural thing because even a very close coworker, or anyone you had an intimate relationship with before changes overtime, including yourself.

And of course, not all my old students left me afterwards. For instance, Okada Mitsuru Sensei (martial artist) and Shinma Kayoko Sensei (calligrapher) have been practicing with me for over 50 years. Including overseas members, there are about 20-30 practitioners who have been practicing with me for over 40 years. So it’s just an excuse to put all the blame on me, and it’s a natural process that people are also renewed when a new culture arrives. A palanquin bearer cannot be a rickshaw-puller, and a rickshaw-puller cannot be an automobile driver. When a new thing is invented, new people are in charge. Therefore, when a culture or age changes, people inevitably change as well.

And with the changes of people, the culture and age also transitions. This means that the Rakutenkai members completed their Rakutenkai age. When I was 29 years old, I opened a new office under the name “Sogo Budo Renmei” with the hope to spread Shintaido more widely, but many members from Rakutenkai could not keep up with the pace already at that time. A bulldozer with tanks to level out the barren field must be replaced by cars once the roads are made. If you still drove tanks on the paved roads, it would be all ruined. In the same way, the reformers and people who maintain what has been made have different roles and characteristics.

NM:
I’m sure the Rakutenkai members were elite practitioners that had overcome intense training… On the surface, it might have seemed like just a change of name and office, but it seems that it sparked further change and development of Shintaido.


HA:
Both the culture and age had changed. Many people accused me for being too strict, chaotic, or fake, but I actually wasn’t that bad. Rumors say I dated many women overseas and made a few children here and there, but please take that as just a part of my hero myths or something.

To Part 5

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:03 | Interview

Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part3)

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From Part 2

(continuation)
However, later, I started to suffer thinking that if I pass through this state even further, the only thing left for me to do would just be to renounce the world and enter the world of the Buddha and Gods. I suffered for about 2 months, not being able to come up with any ideas for martial arts, calligraphy, and work. Then one day, I started thinking, “wait a minute”. I reconfirmed to myself the commitment I had made before. Rather than to pray to Christ in front of the cross, worship Buddha statues in a temple, or send prayers to Amaterasu Omikami at a Shinto shrine, I had decided to carry all of them with me and yet turn back again, to live with the people. When I reconfirmed this, everything cleared up again as if my spiritual world opened up widely. I could see everything around me more vividly than ever. This happened very recently, around Fall 2013.

I found out soon after that this stage of one’s spiritual journey is depicted in the eighth picture of Jugyuzu (Ten Ox Herding Pictures), “Ningyugubo (Both Bull and Self Transcended”. This is the world of Mu, where both the Bull and Self have disappeared. Nothing remains… And after that comes “Henpon Kigen (Reaching the Source)” with only flowers in full bloom, symbolizing pure nature. And in the final tenth picture, a young ox-herd boy is talking with the Hotei (a god with a potbelly who is one of the seven Gods of good luck). My guess is that this picture has 2 meanings: “To become a Hotei” and “To go and be with the people as you have become a Hotei”.

In other words, to renounce the world or to return to society to join the common people. When I thought in the beginning that my only option is to renounce the world, I couldn’t bear the pain, and couldn’t see anything at all. However, when I chose not to look up at the altar but instead decided to pick up the altar, cross, and Buddha statue on my back and turned back, I saw the common people very clearly. I knew this is the path for me to take from now. So now, I’m in this tenth stage, mingling with the people. And just for your information, this Jugyuzu was illustrated by a Zen monk named Kakuan about one thousand years ago. I’m impressed such a noble monk existed at the time.

What I want everyone to know is that even if you are not enlightened, if you can mingle with the people, live with the people, and help the people, you are just the same as one who has attained profound enlightenment.

*From Wikipedia: Ten Bulls or Ten Ox Herding Pictures

Eight Picture: “Jingyugubo” (Both Bull and Self Transcended) – Everything is now forgotten and gone back to Mu (nothingness). Even the enlightened practitioner is not a special being but realizes who he really is by nature.

Ninth Picture: “Henpongengen” (Reaching the Source) – The original beauty of nature manifests. True Satori lies in such primordial nature.

d0255328_1125114.jpgTenth Picture: “Nittensuishu” (Return to Society) – Into town…the practitioner (the boy has become a Hotei) who has attained enlightenment goes back to town, plays with the children, and guides the common people.


When I was young, I entered, or in other words, came out into the stage depicted in the eighth picture. I could clearly notice my change myself at the time, as my techniques totally changed all of a sudden and many strange things started to happen. For example, even when I blocked my students’ attacks very lightly, they would get bruises, or just a slight touch of my hands tore their keikogi (practice uniform). At other times, when I reached my hands on a branch, many leaves fell from the tree all at once. These are all stories from many years ago though.

I was shocked by the world of Mu. In the beginning, I even felt I had entered the wrong place and was struggling to come out of it. These were things I had never been taught in Christianity before. However, I found out that in Zen, they did teach these kinds of stages of a practitioners’ progression. Rinzai Shu (Linji school) had already established a well-organized system like a school curriculum, illustrating the spiritual progression of a practitioner. In fact, if you read Mr. Suguru Arai’s “Evangelium according to Thomas” carefully, you will find it written there too.

I was 31 years old when I entered this world of Mu, and then 76 when I transposed into another world from there, into a beautiful world filled with full-blown flowers. After that, I made the decision to go back to the streets and mingle with the people when I was 77.5 years old.

Interestingly, every time I enter a new stage, my techniques would also change. Many strange techniques were born. Yes, our techniques change when our hearts and minds change.

Although the Ten Ox Herding Pictures end here, my opinion is that there is another eleventh stage after this, which is breaking out into another realm, or attaining a kind of super-consciousness, and these states also have stages of development in itself.

Let’s go back to talking about techniques and trainings. As you know, there is a word called “Tongo (sudden enlightenment)”. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I was always thinking that there must be a way for people to develop themselves both spiritually and physically, cleanse and relax themselves internally and externally, and be in a sublime state or achieve enlightenment in just a second through Shintaido. I was wondering if there is a way to achieve such state of awareness in an instant, without having to train for years.

*Tongo: A Buddhist term. Achieving enlightenment suddenly without training for years.

With this in mind, one day, while I was doing Kumite (partner practice), receiving my partner’s attacks and throwing him again and again, my partner started moving at a furious speed. When the intensity of his movement reached the climax, it ended all of a sudden, and he entered a totally liberated state. All his movements had stopped, leaving him in a state of pure ecstasy and euphoria. Whenever my partner enters such a state, I would just let them lie down and rest, and their faces usually shine beautifully like a Buddha.

Do you remember that in the black and white video, we were doing this practice on the beach? I would let them lie down like that after they reach the height of the practice, do it with another student, and then let that student lie down afterwards too. Then, they would eventually fall asleep on the beach so pleasantly. I guess they break free from their straitjackets. And of course, even if it’s not Budo training, with any other exercise, if you lay down with both hands wide open on the beach after intense training, you will enter a very similar state.

Us humans tend to achieve a very liberated state all of a sudden when we reach the peak of a particular movement. And if we repeat it many many times, we will be able to reach that height instantly. So advanced practitioners are usually able to reach that state in 20 to 30 seconds or so, whereas not-so-advanced practitioners or those who are stubborn are never able to reach that state no matter how hard I try to guide them.

The human body is very interesting. Whether it be “runner’s high” or intense martial arts training, there is a certain point where you enter a liberated state of awareness. I created an exercise called “Meiso Kumite (Meditation Partner Practice)” for people to experience this state more easily through simple movement.

NM:
Is it “Wakame Taiso (Seaweed Exercise) ”?


HA:
Yes, it’s “Wakame Taiso (Seaweed Exercise)” and “Hikari Taiso (Light Exercise)”. It works better if your partner also initiates movements actively rather than just receiving in “Wakame Taiso”, so this combination of “Wakame Taiso” and “Hikari Taiso” works very well. Your partner tries to follow your movement actively in “Hikari Taiso” (you pull), and just fully receives in “Wakame Taiso” (you push). The pushing and pulling are polar opposites and therefore good to do both to create balance.

*Wakame Taiso (Seaweed Exercise)


One time, when I was 39, I was doing “Wakame Taiso” and “Hikari Taiso” with a British lady. And in a moment, she reached the height of the Kumite and entered a highly enlightened state. It was just about 20 or 30 seconds after we had started. I didn’t know what had happened to her, but the same thing happened to the next lady I did Kumite with again. And at that moment, I realized I had completed creating what I had been working on for over 10, 20 years. And at the same time, everything had finished. Everything I had been building and accumulating collapsed all of a sudden, and I totally burned out. This was right after I turned 39.

It was as if a woman that was impossible to get told you, “Okay, I will marry you” all of a sudden, but you fell out of love as soon as she accepted you (LOL). In other words, I was totally burnt out after I reached the goal I was seeking for years, just as a person who had only been dreaming of climbing Mt. Everest all his life reaching the summit. The writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa writes about a similar situation in his novel “Imogayu (Potato gruel)”.

I can speak normally like this now, but at that time, I couldn’t even show my face whenever the order-taker came to me. That is how much my heart was exhausted, and I didn’t know what had happened to me. Now, I know we call it burnout syndrome, but at that time, these syndromes weren’t as common as they are today. So I was suffering from burnout for many years, not being able to feel any self-confidence nor able to socialize with people.

NM:
So this is when you were already teaching as Founder of Shintaido?


HA:
Yes, of course. So I went to San Francisco to take a rest, after organizing the training program and telling my students what to practice. Since there was a Shintaido group in San Francisco already, all the students welcomed me with much respect and gathered around me all the time. However, I could not stand being surrounded by people although they were my beloved students, and decided to go to Los Angeles instead. But even there, I had many students coming to me, and finally decided to run away to Mexico.

Before I left Japan, I told my wife I will be back in about a month and a half to 3 months. But since I realized I don’t speak any Spanish, I started going to a Spanish Language School for a short term while in Mexico, and then went to visit Guatemala. Before taking off though, I got very ill in Mexico and lost 12kg. Becoming skin and bones, I was thinking whether I would be dying today or tomorrow, but in fact, I didn’t die that easily. So I decided why not die while traveling then, and started traveling around Central America without any plans.

After traveling in Central America for about 3 months and when I was about go back to Japan, people were excited with the news on Panama Canal handover. So I decided to go visit the Panama Canal before going back, and found out that just across the canal is South America. South America seemed vigorous and attractive, so I decided to fly to Colombia by plane. And this is how my long journey began. I visited Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and stayed in Brazil for 4 months. I had many friends in Brazil from when I was teaching Karate, so I started teaching Shintaido to Brazilians there, and even went on TV. As time passed, little by little, my heart, mind, and body started to recover and I was finally ready to go home.

NM:
Did you also teach Shintaido while you were traveling in Central and South America?


HA:
Not really. I was just traveling around because my spirit was totally weak and wanted to run away. This is strange, but at the time, I thought that martial arts is not a very nice thing to practice. You pretend to pull but push, pretend to move right and attack from the left, or thrust into the opponents’ unguarded area, and so forth. There’s so much deceiving in martial arts. Nothing is more odious than practicing how to deceive each other in martial arts (LOL). You find someone’s weak part and try to cut into that area. Normally, you would offer help to the weak, right? But in martial arts, you try to attack the weak unguarded areas, or deceive your opponent in order to attack. So I thought I have done so much bad in my life…just kidding. However, around this time, I was creating a system of practice for Bojutsu (Stick Fighting) based in Shintaido.

My opinion is, and I also say this to myself, that martial artists must be more worthy of gaining respect. As you know, chief priests and temple masters of big temples are highly respected, and people join their hands in prayer naturally toward somebody who has completed a 1000-day Circumambulation. In China, there is a Calligraphers Association run by professional calligraphers in every province, and the Director is highly respected and worshiped by the people.

However, even with years of severe training, martial artists are rarely respected in the same way. Even if a Judo medalist, Olympics medalist, or Karate World Champion walks on the street, who would clasp their hands together in prayer towards them? Nobody would. Why? I think us martial artists should take this more seriously. All the bad news we’ve been hearing on the news concerning the Judo world between last year and this year has been very disappointing.


To Part 4

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:02 | Interview

Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part2)

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From Part 1

NM:
Would you say that if you practiced Shintaido hard, you will be able to develop such kind of body, or in other words, that the main purpose of Shintaido is to develop such kind of body? I can’t fully define “such kind of body” I’m mentioning here but…


HA:
Yes, you could define “such kind of body” in many different ways, but the most important thing is “to be such kind of body”. For that, we need to continue to flex our body on a regular basis and train it softly. We all have a self-defense instinct that tries to protect ourselves reflexively by stiffening and hardening against things that are foreign to us. But when we harden our bodies, our techniques become ineffective both in martial arts and sports. On the other hand, when we keep our bodies soft, our bodies respond more freely and produce more effective techniques.

As you know, shells, crabs and other crustacean animals have hard shells to protect themselves, and this is a kind of evidence that we need a hard body to defend ourselves from our enemies. However, stretched, expansive movements are lost when we stiffen our bodies. Even athletes, singers, and actors often stretch their bodies or meditate and release all tensions before they do their work, right? They know that they will perform better if their body is soft and relaxed.

NM:
Does this mean that we need to soften our muscles surrounding our bones?


HA:
That's right. We need to soften our muscles. However, only softening our muscles is not enough. Please touch my arm. It's soft, right? We also need to be as hard as steel if necessary. But normally, my body is soft as a konnyaku or a marshmallow! Even when I’m doing Kenbu, my muscles are in a marshmallow state.

When we carry heavy objects, of course our muscles tighten. However, when you get used to keeping your body soft, you will be able to lift up heavy objects while still keeping your body and muscles in a soft state.

NM:
Really? Is that true? I cannot imagine that soft muscles could really lift up something heavy.


HA:
Do you know Yokozuna Taiho? Some Sumo wrestlers that have fought with him mention that his body was incredibly soft, and that no matter what part of his body they pushed, they couldn't find any tight or strained parts. And because his body was always so soft and relaxed, they felt that they didn't have any chance to win against him no matter how hard they pushed. Taiho was the master of the masters of Sumo.

He had a very soft body free of stiffness. We must train our bodied as hard as possible, but at the same time, we must train it so that it becomes very soft and relaxed. In addition to developing a soft, relaxed body through warm-up exercises, we also need to have a soft and flexible mind to truly relax our muscles from the core. We really have to make ourselves extreeeeeeemely soft.

NM:
Do you ever have stiff shoulders?


HA:
Basically no. I sometimes do, but generally no, even at this age (78 years old/as of October, 2014). Here, touch my arm.

NM:
(Mr. Aoki puts his arm out for me to touch. Then I touch his arm muscles.)
Wow!!! So soft! Really soft like a marshmallow! How on earth can you have muscles like marshmallows even though you are a karate master?! My arm is so skinny, but mine is much harder than yours.


HA:
The person I’m receiving Shiatsu from now is in his 70s and is a great Shiatsu master, and he also said he has never touched such a soft, relaxed body in his experience. So even when he massaged me with deep or hard strokes or stepped on me as part of the massage, I didn't feel any pain.

NM:
Can I touch your stomach area too?


A:
My stomach area is also soft, but if I clench my stomach muscles, it turns like steel. However, as soon as I release it, it becomes soft and marshmallow, like a baby's body. My ideal body is one that could move truly soft with marshmallow muscles!

NM:
I read your books and magazine articles to learn more about you before this interview. From your teenage years you have been involved in very hard training, challenging the limits of your physical and spiritual capacities. It’s incredible how you could still maintain such marshmallow softness despite mastering such hard training that went on for hours every time.


HA: I’m sure everyone imagines that my body would be muscular and hard like steel after 60 years of martial arts practice. But no! It’s the exact opposite! I have been aiming for a soft, relaxed body for decades.

Snakes have an extremely soft, loose body. Do you know the python snake? They kill their prey by wrapping their body around animals and suffocating them. I experienced that when I visited a country in Southeast Asia and wrapped a python snake around my body too. It was like steel, and the snake didn't move at all, not even a millimeter. There was no way I could get it off of me. However, it could start moving soft the next minute. My ideal body is just like that. I want to be able to choose how I use my body—sometimes I need the marshmallow body and sometimes the hard steel body.

I also want to add here that in martial arts, students are often taught, “gather all your energy in the lower abdomen!” But this is really wrong. It’s just a worldwide superstition to believe it’s effective to gather energy in your lower abdomen and watch your opponent vigilantly. The fact that all players with martial arts background get knocked out easily proves how ineffective it is.

NM:
By the way, I heard that the reason why you started practicing martial arts was for theater, to develop your body to become an actor.


HA:
Yes, that’s right. However, while practicing both theater and martial arts, I realized I like drawing the most. Let’s say martial arts gives me 70 – 80 % satisfaction and theater 90 %. But drawing gives me 100% satisfaction. I was so happy whenever I drew. So at that time, I was thinking of becoming a painter and debating whether to work at the National Museum or Tokyo Museum.

Here are the 3 pillars I want everyone to be aware of in understanding who I am and where I’m coming from. First, I had strong faith in Christianity even before becoming a university student. Also, I was strongly drawn to art, such as theater and visual arts. So it would be difficult to understand me wholly unless you understand these 3 pillars of mine: Christianity, Karate, and Art.

What happened though was that I was recommended for the highest rank in my Karate school that I had joined to develop my body for theater. After that, my master asked me to be apprenticed to him to serve him for 1 year as assistant after I graduate from university, and I did for a year. To be honest, I wanted to study visual arts right after graduating from university, but I couldn’t say no seeing my own master making a deep bow to me. I think my master was willing to teach me a bit more, but I ended up being his assistant for 7 years. I had married right after graduating from university, but throughout the 7 years, I worked to the fullest for my master. I declined the offer to receive the highest rank with all due gratitude though.

Then finally when I was ready to concentrate on drawing, I realized that there exists a world that is Art, Martial Arts, and Faith, in and of itself, even without the actual “doing” of it—a world beyond drawing, beyond Christianity, and beyond martial arts.

You don’t necessarily have to go to church to get baptized or attend Sunday mass. By going beyond that, we can just “be with” God in our “being”, as wild flowers in the fields and birds in the sky. Similarly, in terms of martial arts, I was then able to knock down the attacker without striking or kicking them with a scary face, but by just using the same movements I would when reaching out to grab something. In terms of visual arts, if I were to think of my body as a piece of art, I came to an understanding that just the existence, presence, or “being” of it can become beauty and nature itself.
I had transcended Art, Religion, and Martial Arts, and entered the world of Ku (emptiness). I was 31 years old then. I had already gone to 3 different art schools before reaching such state of consciousness. I practiced nude drawing very hard too. Since I didn’t have much time to practice drawing, I tried to draw whenever I could, like drawing people practicing in the dojo, sketching rough drafts of passengers on the train, and so forth.
For theater training, I was a member of the inaugural class at the Volksbühne Theater Institute in Yokohama created by Mamoru Kato Sensei from Haiyuza Theater. To fulfill my responsibility as leader of my Karate group, I practiced Karate day and night uncompromisingly. And as for Christianity, I belonged to the KGK, a protestant student association.

At the same time though, I had passed through and gone beyond Art, Christianity, and Martial Arts already. I literally passed through all of them and there was nothing more.

Speaking from an arts perspective, the ultimate frame to set your painting must be a frame you made by yourself, like Rouault. The wall to hang that frame must be a wall you made. That wall has to be a part of your house. That house must be a house built totally in harmony with the rest of the town. And the town must be this and that and…you can keep on going like this. But of course, this is impossible, right?

That’s when I started to realize that it doesn’t have to be a frame I made, a wall I made, or a house I made. Just placing it here is already good as it is.

At that time, I used to go fishing a lot in Kenzaki in Miura Peninsula. Just watching the waves there was absolutely stunning. Waves too beautiful to draw, just coming and disappearing in an instant. Like that, nature generously creates and destructs, and continues to do so. Sunsets are so beautiful too, and that beauty can’t fully be expressed with paint. I really have no chance against nature. Nature has the world of beauty and a world that touches us deeply, just by its very own existence. And yet, nature ungrudgingly wipes off even the most beautiful things. When I realized this, my persistence towards art started to fade. I started thinking there must be life that is art in and of itself, just by living it.

Speaking about faith, it’s not about going to mass every week, reading the old & new testament, memorizing which phrases are written in which volume and chapter of the bible, and etc. What’s more important is to realize that God, the creator of all life, heavens, and the whole universe, is everywhere in the bible, and just to become one with God, praising and thanking the Lord, and living a happy life to our fullest. In Christianity, things that get in the way of realizing such happy life is called a sin, but we can simply get rid of them and invite the spirit of God to enter us.

What we must be careful of though is that people tend to create sects according to their beliefs, like what teaching, what religion, and what sect. As you know, currently, Muslim people are fighting against each other. In Christianity, Catholics and Protestants had a big war against each other too. However, the secret lies in how to get rid of our egos and selfish minds called sin, and simply receive the life force of this great universe and love of God. Then, we wouldn’t have to go to church or read the bible anymore out of obligation or guilt, and be able to go beyond separations of sects and religions.

We sometimes strike each other intensively in martial arts training. On the other hand, even in our daily lives, whenever we reach out to grab something, if there happened to be someone standing there, we might hit him/her hard to the point where he/she falls unconscious. It also hurts so much when you accidentally hit your elbow somewhere. If there was someone behind you then and your elbow hits that person’s face, he/she would fall on the floor. This proves how much power our bodies could generate, and this is why I realized that we can just move naturally, and be who we are.

Then, all “---ism” in art disappears, as well as all sects and religions. In terms of martial arts, whether the techniques are effective or not and even how to create force also disappears, as the opponent would be knocked down lying on the floor just by reaching my hands out. Art had disappeared, religion had disappeared, and martial arts had disappeared, leaving nothing left behind. I had entered a world of absolute Mu (nothingness).

In the beginning when I entered such world of absolute Mu, I was wondering what had happened to me. It was as if I’d entered a horrifying abyss. Yet gradually, I came to realize that this is the world of Muso (no-form, formless) and Ku (emptiness) as taught in Zen. This state continued for a very long time. I refer to this state as Zero-ka (becoming Zero), and it lasted for more than 45 years.”

NM:
45 years!?


HA:
Yes, 45 years, until last February. I was in the world of absolute Mu for 45 years. However, when I was meditating in a snowy mountain last year, the “Mu” disappeared all of a sudden. It doesn’t even make linguistic sense to say “Mu (nothingness) disappeared” since it contradicts itself, but I entered a state where I was completely covered with full-blown cherry, plum, and peach blossoms all over and everywhere around me. I could even smell the scent of flowers flowing out of me both inside and outside.

The flowers were stunning bright yellow, and I was all covered with those bright yellow flowers in a gorgeous flower garden. After being in the world of absolute Mu for 45 years, I had come out of that world and had entered a world filled with nature, with full-blown flowers. Before then, I had thought that the state of absolute Mu is the ultimate state in the walk of our Michi (Do, Tao, Way), so I was totally flabbergasted. It was really so purely beautiful and sweet.


To Part 3

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:01 | Interview

Interview with Mr.Hiroyuki Aoki (Part1)

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There are so many important principles in martial arts, and one of them is that we can live life while being fully surrendered to death. We can also go beyond life and death, and even die for others anytime with love. Furthermore, our bodies can become natural once again. All of us are born 100% natural. However, although our bodies are still natural, our consciousness makes our bodies unnatural. This is why we want to release those parts.

Hiroyuki Aoki Profile
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Born in Yokohama, Japan in 1936. Graduates from Chuo University with B.A. in Law. Studies Japan Karatedo under Master Egami Shigeru. Creates Shintaido, a modern physical practice for body and mind development based in Judo, Karatedo and Aiki Jujutsu. Also creates a complete practice system of Japanese Bojutsu (Stick Fighting) spread worldwide today. Receives degree of Doctor of Literature from the California Graduate School of Divinity for his research on Religion and Philosophy. In 1994, starts providing educational support for children living in poverty in the Philippines. In 1998, receives the “The Order of the Grand Knight For The Distinguished Service of the World Peace” from the International Academy of the United States. Opens Tenshin Shoho Juku (Tenshin Calligraphy School) in 2001. Establishes NPO Tenshinkai in 2005.
Creates Kenbu Tenshin Ryu in 2008. Opens the first Kenbu Tenshin Ryu class, and guides students in their pursuit of the Do (Way) by building a healthy body and spirit, promoting purification of the world, and praying for world peace through Kenbu. Establishes Tenshinkai (General Incorporated Foundation). Creates Team Tenshin in May 2011, a volunteer group to provide support to the Great East Japan Earthquake victims through health exercise workshops, shiatsu, and bodywork on a regular basis at temporary housings in Fukushima and Minami Sanriku.
Also visits China, Philippines, Czech Republic, Italy, and France to promote international exchange through calligraphy and Kenbu.

Currently is the Representative Director of Tenshinkai Foundation, Tenshinkai Inc. Director, Director of Tenshin Calligraphy School, Founder of Kenbu Tenshin Ryu, Shintaido Honorary Chairman, Japan Mind-Body Science Director, and Japan Yojo Gakkai Supervisor.

Main Books:
“Karada wa Uchu no Message” (puhlished by Jiyu sha)
“Shin Karada Shugi Sengen” (published by Business sha)
“Shintaido” (published by Shunju sha)
“Shizen na Karada Jiyu na Kokoro” (published by Shunju sha)
“Un wo tsukamu Meiso ho” (published by Seishun Shuppansha)

Calligraphy Profile:
“Chugoku Shoho Gakuin (Chinese Calligraphy Institute accredited by Shanghai University)” master course graduate
“Chugoku Shoho Ten (Chinese Calligraphy Exhibition)” judge
Bokuseki Research Group “Hitsuzenkai” former adviser
“Chinese Santon Province Sainan Private Seika Shoho Gyoko (Calligraphy School)” honorary professor.
Also have been active as guest artist in various international calligraphy exhibitions.

Shintaido
Tenshinkai
Tenshinkai Facebook Page

Japnese Interview Page


Naoko Mitsuda(NM):
Since I was a child, I had very poor sports ability. I was the kind of child that would enjoy reading books all day long, and sports were not a part of my vocabulary at all. So today, this might be a totally reckless interview by an interviewer with no sense of sports, challenging a martial arts master. I hope you will bear with me today.


Hiroyuki Aoki(HA):
Feel free to ask me anything. I consider everything I have a wealth for all humanity to share together, as they were all passed down to me by my teachers and masters. I’ve learned not only from martial arts but also from pioneers in various fields. I exist here today as who I am, thanks to all the teachings I’ve received from nature and people, so my duty is to polish up those teachings the best I can and give something back to the world. Therefore, I am willing to answer anything I can today, so please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions.

NM:
The first thing I’d like to ask you is about the “Old Shintaido Video” I watched on youtube. I couldn’t understand what was going on in the video. My mind went blank, and I just repeated watching a little bit, then pausing for a few minutes, and then playing it again for a while, and then pausing again. Can you tell me what was going on between you and your students there?




HA:
That video was from more than 40 years ago. Although they look very similar in movement, two different kinds of body practices were demonstrated there: one martial arts like, and the other a very special kind of training. To answer your question in sum, here’s what it was.

Let’s say you are trying to strike me with your fist or Tanto (short katana) with blinding speed. Before blocking that, what I would do is, I would actually strike a counterattack the moment you step forward, and then block and throw you. However, most people say it’s too fast and therefore, they can’t catch it with their eyes. They tell me “It’s just not visible”. I tried demonstrating this very carefully on a TV show before, but even at that time, Mr. Danshi Tatekawa (Rakugo artist who was one of the guests) asked me, “Aoki Sensei, what did you do just now?” Even top class businessmen and performers/artists have asked me the same thing. They still couldn’t get it after giving them a detailed explanation.

NM:
For me, all I could see was that a student fell on the ground just after he ran towards you. Then, after grabbing your hands, he started to shudder all of a sudden in ecstasy. Then he fell by himself and moved ecstatically again…
I did understand that some kind of change must have occurred either in his body or consciousness. Something was definitely going on, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was.


HA:
Broadly speaking, there were two different kinds of body practices demonstrated there. One was block and counterattack against a powerful attack, and the other was control of Ki (energy), which goes beyond the physical level of blocking and attacking. This is called “Meiso Kumite (meditation partner practice)”. What you saw in the video was a mixture of these 2 kinds of practices, so I can imagine how difficult it was to understand what was going on.

Simply put, it’s like showing people before the beginning of Showa period a computer—they would have no idea what it is. They’ll just be wondering what’s hidden inside the box.

I read a book on songs composed by Beethoven before and it was filled with musical terms. It said he was a very studious man and that when he fell into a slump, he went back to studying the classics again diligently and created a new kind of music after that…However, I still couldn’t understand the significance of it at the time, as it was such a different world from mine.

So it’s no wonder why it’s so hard for others to understand the kind of practice I created, even for people in the martial arts field.

It seems that all people could see there is the attacker running with all his might to strike me, but gets blown away for some reason. However, I’d already given him a strike even before his attack. I didn’t actually strike him physically, but I showed my intention to counterattack him by moving my hand. Since he still continued to attack me, I blocked that while giving him another strike, and then threw him afterwards. These 4 kinds of techniques must have been hard for people to visually see with their eyes.

The second Kata (form) is called “Meiso Kumite (meditation partner practice)”. Generally, people’s bodies become stiff if you try to force it down, but if you let it release all the tensions until it gets totally loose, your partner’s body will reconnect to its natural rhythm.

NM:
So was that all happening in an instant there in the video? It’s when he grabbed your hands that your student started to shudder in ecstasy, right?


HA:
Yes, it all happens in a blink of an eye. They (in the video) have reached a level of practice where they could attain such state of consciousness just in a second, whereas it may take more than a few minutes for an average practitioner to reach the same state. It may even take days for someone that has never practiced these things before. So those you saw in the video are highly advanced practitioners that don’t even need any preparation to warm up. They are capable of sensing my physical and mental movements instantly. This technique is not about warming your hands gradually with a hot-water bottle, but about creating intense fire all of a sudden with a burner. In this sense, it’s a technique that could burn your hands in an instant.

NM:
Can those students moving in ecstasy in the video go back to their daily lives without a problem after that kind of deep training? Can they get on the train, go home, and work properly like they usually do?


HA:
That’s a very important point. They look as if they’re in a trance state, but in fact, they’re very sober inside. Hence, even while moving in a deep meditative state, they could come back to reality right away.

NM:
It looked as if they’ve surrendered themselves entirely to the point where they’ve lost willpower and self-control.


A:
They’ve really surrendered themselves to me entirely and are in the state of Mu (nothingness), but can nonetheless understand everything around them, like “Aoki Sensei is doing this now, I’m feeling this, and others around us are thinking this way.” It’s indeed a very sober state of consciousness. A state of total drunkenness and clear alertness coexisting simultaneously.

NM:
Both you and your students?


HA:
Yes, that’s right. Especially those moving the most intensely. Oh in fact, why don’t you ask one of my students here?
(Aoki Sensei calls one of his students in.)

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(to student) You know how you move intensely when doing “Hikari to Tawamureru (playing with light)”, right? Well, Mitsuda san is concerned that whenever you do that practice, your spirit is pulled into a trance state, unabling you to go back to your daily life afterwards. Can you explain to her what kind of state you’re actually in when practicing that?

(student)Well, you can actually perceive your surroundings with great sensitivity. “Perceive” not only in the visual sense, but able to feel many things all at once. However, because our consciousness becomes so open and free right after that practice, it might be difficult to talk logically right after.”

HA:
So as I said, it’s an extremely sober state. No intoxicated at all.


To Part 2

by legacyofcayce | 2015-01-10 12:00 | Interview