Thursday, March 13, 2014

Doshu's New Year Statement

Aikikai Hombu Dojo

by Aikido Doshu Ueshiba Moriteru

Step by step, steadily

I would respectfully greet you with a Happy New Year.

I am very happy that we are able to start a New Year again, calmly. While the world is changing quickly year from year, I spent a year as if it was swept away.

It was not only Japan attacked by forces of nature, such as the extreme heat of last year, local rainstorms, tornados and powerful typhoons. When I think of the people who encountered these natural disasters, I really appreciate that we are able to turn over a new calendar safely and feel happy for that.

In recent years, especially in the city, we no longer see many people visit shrines at New Year wearing Kimono. It becomes difficult to feel the beginning of the year in the town. But I am able to greet New Year’s Day with many Aikikai members while practicing etsunen-keiko. We can say that it is the best moment when we greet each other with “Happy New Year” at 0 o’clock on New Year’s Day.

Recently, many recognized dojos or aikido clubs at Universities celebrated their 50th anniversaries. I looked back at what Akikai was 50 years ago.

50 years ago, in 1964, it was the year of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Judo became an Olympic sport as a martial art, and Kendo, Kyudo and Sumo were performed as demonstration events, as Japanese traditional martial arts. This was in the same place as the ‘All-Japan Aikido Demonstration’ is held in May every year, the Nippon Budokan.

The January issue of the Aikido Newspaper that year said, “This year, Aikido is also expected to make a global leap, spreading its wings still more than other national martial arts.” At that time, the wings covered about 6 countries but now a wide age group practice Aikido in over 95 countries.

Aikikai, over the last 50 years, has been spreading in a way inconceivable in those days. On the other hand, has awareness of Aikido amongst the general public in Japan leaped dramatically? The answer is NO.

Aikido has been one of the options for junior high school compulsory martial arts practice since 2012 and has been adopted by about 40 junior high schools.

I feel keenly that I want to improve practical teaching methods in order to correspond to the compulsory martial arts curriculum, while we strive to enhance instructors through their teaching methods and practical guidance, we have to create enough awareness of Aikido for the people engaged in (physical) education.

In addition, I think it is the one of challenges for us to make school officials and the All-Japan high school Aikido association understands that Aikido is a martial art without competition. I am keenly aware that I should make an effort to help more people recognize the difference between sports and martial arts.

If Aikido transmutes into sports or games, washing away in the flow of the times, it is no longer Aikido anymore. We shall not be bent away from the essence of Aikido as we strive to spread it widely to the general public.

I was awarded the Medal of Blue Ribbon for contributions to the dissemination and promotion of Aikido as chairman of the Aikikai Foundation.

I was able to receive the Medal of Honor awarded over three generations of doshu. I am very honored by this award because of the recognition for my activities to popularize the way of Aikido and for firmly taking over the organization, which has grown rapidly since 1975, following from Kisshomaru 2nd doshu. Thank you for your help and to everyone involved in Aikido from the bottom of my heart. I myself study more and would like to hand the basic philosophy and the charm of Aikido on to the next generation and broaden the true comprehension. Nothing could make me happier than if you could support me more than ever in future.

Steadily, step by step. I will proceed slowly but steadily and gratefully expect your support for this year.