“These ‘mysterious’ happenings occur spontaneously
as required, as a gift from nature and the universe.”
I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was at the West Ryde Gym Dojo in 1970. We were practicing multiple attacks. All young men. Sensei would exemplify and then we would attempt to match his example. He had gone first and there were at least eight, maybe ten attacking him. Because we thought Sensei was invincible, we would go all out and as hard as we could, trying to plant a strike.
He didn’t mess around either. It was like being hit with a Mac truck padded with cotton wool or the wind at the edge of a cyclone. But we’d get up as he’d taught us to, and re-attack again and again.
On this fine day I was one of the uke. I must make it clear, for the record, in those days we did not “TAKE” ukemi for Sensei. We ATTACKED with all our might using real attacks brought from other disciplines such as judo, karate, boxing etc. Simple as that.
And we would end up flying regardless. We would keep getting up and repeating until he finally called, “Yame!” We considered it a courtesy to attack as hard, fast and ruthlessly as possible, holding nothing back, so that Sensei could continue to improve himself. It was our obligation to him for so selflessly providing impeccable instruction.
On this day, something had stalled. Sensei had two holding each leg; one or more on each arm, one or two facing him applying a shime-waza…
And as I stood back up from an ukemi, I turned and saw it. Sensei’s back was exposed for a strike. Too easy. He was mortal after all and judging by the way they had hold of him, and they were hanging on, I would have time to cross the four metres or so, tap him on the back, symbolizing a strike, and put paid to all the myths after all.
Juvenile male ego, the thrill of battle, the rush of biochemicals and the sheer coincidence was too much. I moved in.
And then it happened. About three metres from him, I had barely begun to take one step, it was as if I had walked into an invisible wall and been struck with immense power which punctured me, my head spun, I saw what appeared to be an almost tangible light surrounding me, or something akin to a vision difficult to describe, my body tingled with unusual energy, my guts retched and over I went. But before I completely lost consciousness I could see all of them flying through the air in slow motion. Before they landed, just before everything went black, the smiling countenance of Mr. Sugano was the last thing I saw…
I was only out for 1 to 3 seconds, maybe 5 and Tom and David were attempting to resuscitate me, but I was already coming around. “Are you OK? We saw you go limp and keel over. What happened?”
“Yeah, I feel fine. What happened at your end? You all suddenly went flying..”
Tom said, “It was strange. We thought we had him… then Sensei fumbled, and we were sure we had him. And then we went flying. What about you?”
“Never mind, ” I replied. “You wouldn’t believe it.”
Training continued as normal and Sensei retained his unassuming Zen demeanor as usual. To him it was just another day. And that notion soon took our minds as well, as training forged quietly and purposefully onward as it always did.
I do not have an explanation. I experienced what I experienced. Nobody can take that away. We could talk till we are blue, we could develop theories about holes in donuts and indigestion, we could subject ourselves to the tedium of all manner of inanely irrational gibberish from the society of skeptics, we could argue the point, we could write blogs, we could have long forums and discussions, we could make movies depicting people flying over buildings and fighting in mid air using SFX props, we could talk some more, we could talk a lot; and we could talk even more. But none of these will alter one atom of fact.
You know what? That it happened there can be no doubt. It simply did. And that was not the only instance. Over time, similar things happened with Sensei and also other individuals as well. But these are other stories for other times and I’m trying to train myself to keep these blogs shorter.
I do have a view. It is a view voiced by Tohei Sensei on page 168 in the 174-page hard cover book he published via Rikugei Publishing House in 1961, and later in England by Souvenir Press Ltd, London in 1966. A book which depicts his magnificent expression of Aikido techniques. The book is called: ”AIKIDO, The Co-ordination of Mind and Body for Self-defence.”
In the very last chapter, titled “Self Defence In Its Deeper Meaning” he explains some key points, which should be made freely available and clear to all new students. And regularly reminded to older ones.
It would save us all years of blind struggle to be so apprised.
Tohei Sensei describes how nature already protects life. That when we sleep, whilst we have no control, there is a benign protecting force ensuring the heart continues to pump, and so many other functions, so you can awaken to another day. He goes on to say how budo is not about ego or bragging, but rather following the principles of nature and to improve and integrate your personality.
I cannot copy the whole chapter for obvious copyright reasons. I suggest you find a way to get hold of this particular book. It has immense value in so many ways and was written and published when O’Sensei was still alive and with his supervision. Tohei Sensei writes a poignant foreword and a remarkable introduction. The book is replete with salient anecdotes, philosophy, body-mind explanations and rare photos. The section on The Founder alone is worth the trouble of finding this old hardcover publication.
I will quote some relevant parts however as being salient and universal wisdom.
“Remember, always that you live under the protection of some mysterious force of nature….. Therefore true self-defence does not stop with defending yourself against others, but strives to make oneself worthy of defence by nature herself. … Budo respects the principles of nature… True self-defence must be in consonance with the harmony of nature… When man observes the harmonious principles of nature, he helps to make them the principles of humanity because they are directed towards the good of humanity… True self defence must be in accord to the will of God.. One who whole heartedly practices this will have learned true self-defence.”
He then elaborates, and concludes with “This is true self-defence and the chief purpose of training in AIKIDO.”
In another book, the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, concurs with: “The secret of Aikido is to harmonise ourselves with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself.” ” Aikido training is to straighten and correct our warped mind, purify our heart and be harmonized with the activities of all things in Nature.” “Winning means winning over the mind of discord in yourself.”
The secrets of so called “no touch” or some of the other mysterious things you will experience if you train for more than a couple of years half heartedly, but instead seriously and as a way of life, all your life; are no mystery at all. They are not ego driven, they are not short cuts, they are not movie magic for the lazy, they cannot be bought or sold; and they are not any of the other much talked about but unproven fantasies.
These “mysterious” happenings occur spontaneously as required, as a gift from nature and the universe. But not until you have made yourself ready and worthy through constant participation in the shugyo of self-purification and clear thinking, with pure intent dedicated to functional Aikido/Budo adding to the greater good and protection of all life. They happen not because of your volition, but regardless of you. They are the result of ongoing dedication to excellence in skill, and service to life, where you will have made youself a vessel and instrument worthy of defence by nature herself.