Training & Spirit

Article ID: 4
Written by: Jitsufreak
Written on: Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:01 pm
Article Description: Taken from: Aikido and the harmony of nature
by Mitsugi Saotome
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Hard training is not just muscle training; it is not only discovering the redirection of force through strong resistance. It is more than fast throws and hard ukemi. These trainings are important, but the hard training that builds strong spirit and develops spiritual confidence is the training of a hard situation. It is easy to train vigorously every day if you have plenty of good nourishing food and lots of rest. Try fasting for one week and continue to train regularly. Or try not sleeping for three or four days but continue to train. As the body reaches it's limits, the spirit takes over and begins to grow. Obviously this type of training might be dangerous. It should never be undertaken without the supervision of a qualified teacher.

In the dojo of Yamaoka Tesshu, there was a special training for silencing the ego and developing a strong and confident spirit. It was the training of defense against one thousand attacks. Over an extended period of time- weeks, months, or, in one case, a year- the student would, every day, face one hundred training partners who would attack with all their power ten times in any style they chose. On the final day of this training, the student received no rest and only one small cup of soup for nourishment. Legs turned to jelly from the weight of the kendo armour, arms quivered with the pain of the effort to wield the shinai. The physical body soon became exhausted, and it was at this point that the student gave up attachment to physical strength and good technique, and met his spirit. Though he was knocked down again and again by the blows of fresh attackers, the students spiritual power did not stop and his concentration intensified. He continued to fight and attempted with all his spiritual might to defend against each attack. Many times, by the end of the training, the student was completely unconscious, yet still standing in kamae, his shinai held in a posture of defense. This is not narrow physical strength. This is the true essence of strength.

Yamaoka Tesshu knew the day on which he was to die, so he called his family and students together to prepare them. Seated formally, he asked them not to be surprised or sad. After thanking them for their help and devotion, he passed away. Even in death he remained seated in seiza, in perfect form. The body passes away, the spirit continues.

A very long time ago, one man stood alone in front of his teacher to protect him from the arrows of many attackers. Arrow after arrow penetrated the man's body, but he continued to stand, still protecting his master. The attackers, seeing this became very afraid and ran away. They understood that his power was no longer of this physical world.

The movement of self-defence is not a game; it is a very serious reality. When the enemy tries to kill you, the only choice is life or death. If you are weak, you cannot defend your own karma or the enemy's. Weakness is an excuse, an easy way out. If you cannot defend yourself and fall beneath the enemy's attack, the enemy is guilty and becomes a murderer. But you too have sinned because of your weakness, for you have made a murderer. The karma of the enemy and yourself is the same.