This is a publication of British Shintaido. It was the first inaugural lecture, given by Peter Furtado in January 2021, about the Rakuntenkai group who developed Shintaido with Aoki Sensei in the 1960s, and the importance of their mission to the world today.Read more
Interview par Sarah Baker – Janvier 2020
Qu’est-ce que Shintaido Kenjutsu?
Shintaido signifie « Nouvelle Voie du Corps », nous pourrions aussi l’appeler un art ou nouveaux mouvementx d’expression de la vie. Lorsque les gens entendent Shintaido, la syllabe à la fin est Do, qui est généralement utilisée pour les arts martiaux. Mais Shintaido est plus qu’un art martial. C’est un mouvement pour le développement du potentiel humain.
Quelle est la différence entre le Kendo et le Kenjutsu (Judo et Jujutsu)?
Kenjutsu signifie techniques de combat au sabre. Donc, Shintaido Kenjutsu représente l’expression de votre vie à travers des techniques du sabre. Durant la période des samouraïs au Japon, personne n’utilisait le mot kendo (ou judo d’ailleurs). Les termes étaient kenjutsu et jujutsu, et ils faisaient référence à des techniques de combat. Les mots Kendo et Judo sont entrés en vigueur lorsque le Japon a commencé à se moderniser, après la restauration de Meiji vers 1865. Cela a marqué la fin du style de vie des samouraïs. Les gens n’étaient plus autorisés à prendre actes des questions de loi et d’ordre, à se venger de leurs propres chef ; ces affaires étaient désormais traitées par la police et les tribunaux. Les techniques du sabre et les arts martiaux étaient encore pratiqués, mais plutôt comme une forme de sport ou d’entraînement physique, pratiqués dans des espaces semblables à un gymnase. C’est à ce moment que les termes kendo et judo sont devenus populaires
Kendo signifie littéralement « la voie du sabre » et Judo signifie littéralement « la voie de la flexibilité ». Bien que ces mots sonnent bien et que la pratique soit censée conduire à l’illumination, ce type de keiko peut en fait devenir creux et inflexible lorsqu’il s’éloigne des exigences du champ de bataille. À sa base, le Shintaido est conçu pour nous faire vivre des interactions de vie et de mort sans avoir à s’entretuer.
Quelle est la différence entre le karate et le kenjutsu de votre point de vue culturel ?
Le karaté est venu d’Okinawa, et en conséquence, il comprenait beaucoup d’influences d’arts martiaux chinois parce qu’Okinawa a été occupée par la Chine et le Japon et à différentes époques de l’histoire. Le Kenjutsu est totalement japonais et est affecté par ce que nous appelons la «culture insulaire» du Japon, ce qui signifie qu’il a été relativement isolé et peu influencé par d’autres formes d’art martial. De plus, le Kenjutsu a des liens étroits avec le Zen, qui est la forme du bouddhisme suivie par de nombreux samouraïs japonais.
Le karaté a de façon caractéristique développé les katas, pratiqués individuellement. Le kihon est pratiqué à l’unisson avec un groupe, et le kumite, pratiqué avec un partenaire. Traditionnellement en Kenjutsu, Kihon et Kata sont pratiqués individuellement, et non pas à l’unisson.
Parce que le karaté a des exercices de groupe, Maître Aoki a pu développer le Goreijutsu, des techniques pour exécuter le gorei. C’est l’un des points forts du Karaté, de par son influence chinoise.
Le karaté est une relation horizontale, c’est très pratique pour le combat traditionnel. Les instructeurs ne sont pas responsables du développement spirituel de leurs élèves. Le Kenjutsu a une grande composante verticale – intellect-corps-esprit – l’instructeur a la responsabilité de développer ces trois aspects chez ses élèves.
D’où vient Kyu-Ka-Jo Kumitachi?
Dans Shintaido : un nouvel art du mouvement et de l’expression de la vie (1982), Maître Aoki a déclaré que Kyu-Ka-Jo Kumitachi venait de Maître Inoue Hoken, qui était le fondateur de Shinwa Taido. J’ai entendu une rumeur selon laquelle Maître Inoue était de la lignée d’Itto Ryu Kenjutsu, et Maître Ueshiba était de la lignée de Shinkage Ryu Kenjutsu. Je crois que Kyu-Ka-Jo Kumitachi est issu de la tradition Itto Ryu. Cela signifie que les pratiquants de Shintaido ont de la chance, parce que nous avons accès, via notre keiko, à la pratique traditionnelle Itto Ryu.
Qu’est-ce que Jissen Kumitachi ?
Le concept original de Jissen Kumitachi est venu d’une équipe / projet composée de Maître Okada, Maître Minagawa et moi. Kyu-Ka-Jo Kumitachi est un excellent véhicule de développement spirituel et d’harmonisation corps-esprit, mais ce n’est pas nécessairement très pratique en termes de technique de sabre. À ce moment-là, j’avais étudié le Shin Kendo avec Master Obata à Los Angeles et, en raison de son expérience en Aïkido, je portais beaucoup d’influence du Shinkage Ryu. Nous avons donc pu partager tous les trois des points forts de Shinkage Ryu dans notre travail avec Jissen Kumitachi. Le mot jissen peut s’écrire de deux manières différentes en japonais: 実 戦 et 実 践. La prononciation est la même, mais la première signifie «pour les combats pratiques» et la seconde signifie «pour la vie pratique». Nous avons pu intégrer la sagesse mixte de Shinkage Ryu et Itto Ryu dans Jissen Kumitachi.
Quelle est la différence entre Bokuto et Bokken ?
Dans le monde des arts martiaux, les termes bokuto 木刀 et le bokken 木 剣 disent la même chose. Les deux signifient « épée en bois ». Mais en Shintaido, nous faisons une distinction: le bokuto est une épée droite en bois et le bokken est courbé. Nous recommandons d’utiliser un bokuto lorsque vous pratiquez le Kyu-Ka-Jo Kumitachi et d’utiliser un bokken pour Jissen Kumitachi.
Plus précisément, la pratique originale et formelle du bokuto a été conçue par Maître Aoki. Il croit que la forme de bokuto peut naturellement aider les pratiquants à ressentir l’énergie verticale Ten-Chi-Jin lorsqu’ils font Tenso. Le Shintaido Kenjutsu (par exemple Kyu-Ka-Jo Kumitachi) est censé être pratiqué avec un bokuto (épée droite en bois).
Le Shintaido Kenjutsu (par exemple Jissen Kumitachi) est censé être pratiqué avec le bokken (épée en bois incurvée). Et dans les deux cas, il est très important d’étudier et d’expérimenter les techniques et la philosophie de Tenso et Shoko lorsque vous êtes un débutant Shintaido.
Quelle est la différence entre Kirikomi and Kiriharai ?
Voir Hiroyuki Aoki, Shintaido : un nouvel art du mouvement et de l’expression de la vie (1982), p 46-47 et p 70-73.
Qu’est-ce que le Toitsu Kihon ?
Voir Hiroyuki Aoki, Shintaido : un nouvel art du mouvement et de l’expression de la vie (1982), p 88-89.
Quelle est la relation entre Maître Egami, Maître Inoue, Maître Funakoshi et Maître Aoki?
Voir le parchemin de Tomi Nagai-Rothe sur notre héritage de trois maîtres, créé dans les années 1990.
Quel est votre aperçu de l’histoire de Shintaido en tant que courant de conscience ?
Karaté Shotokai ~ Karaté Egami ~ Karaté Rakutenkai ~ Découverte de Kaisho-Ken ~ Shintaido (Toitsu-kihon) ~ Découverte de Tenshingoso & Eiko ~ Sogo-Budo ~ Shintaido-Bojutsu / Karaté ~ Yoki-Kei Shintaido ~ Shintaido comme potentiel humain en mouvement.
Qu’est-ce que Shintaido Kenjutsu pour vous ?
Le travail d’une vie, la conclusion de ma formation continuelle en Shintaido, un cristal / reflection de Kaiho-Kei Shintaido, Yoki-Kei Shintaido, Shintaido Bojutsu et Shintaido Karate.
Quelle est votre recommandation à ceux qui veulent commencer à étudier le Shintaido Kenjutsu ?
Si vous êtes un débutant, vous devez d’abord étudier le Shintaido Daikihon : en particulier, Tenshingoso, Eiko et Hikari / Wakame (étape 1). Après cela, Toitsu Kumite utilise le kaishoken (étape 2). Ensuite, vous pouvez démarrer Kyukajo Kumitachi (étape 3), puis Jissen Kumitachi (étape 4).
Si vous avez déjà de l’expérience avec un autre art martial, en particulier lié au Kenjutsu, vous pouvez sauter à Jissen Kumitachi (étape 4), et si vous aimez, vous pouvez ensuite étudier Kyukajo Kumitachi aussi. Et si vous voulez vraiment comprendre la discipline en profondeur, vous finirez également par étudier le Daikihon (étapes 1 et 2).
Avez-vous étudié d’autres art martiaux en parallèle du Shintaido?
Je n’ai jamais rejoint ou appartenu à aucun autre dojo d’arts martiaux, mais j’ai fait six mois de formation au Aikido Headquarters (siège principal) au Japon en 1970. C’était juste après que Maître Aoki ait terminé le Daikihon, et juste après le décès de Maître Ueshiba. Maître Aoki était prêt à sortir du « monde Egami » et il m’a envoyé au siège de l’Aikido pour voir à quel point ce qu’il m’avait enseigné était vraiment pratique, et aussi pour comprendre quel était l’héritage de Maître Ueshiba – ses points clés secrets (en japonais, nous disons: « Découvrir ce qui est écrit sur sa pierre tombale »). Maître Aoki ne m’a pas dit combien de temps j’y serais, alors j’ai supposé que ça pourrait durer un an ou plus. Chaque soir, je rentrais à la maison et il me demandait ce que j’avais étudié. Je m’intéressais de plus en plus à l’Aïkido et j’étais entouré de gens qui avaient étudié avec Maître Ueshiba, même si je ne l’avais jamais rencontré moi-même. J’étais vraiment flexible à cause de tous mes keiko durs à ce moment-là, donc leurs clefs de bras ou poignets ne fonctionnaient pas sur moi (je ne leur ai pas dit, bien sûr, j’étais respectueux), et mon tsuki était vraiment solide, donc Je savais que je pouvais les frapper à tout moment (mais je ne l’ai pas fait bien sûr, j’étais respectueux). Je travaillais avec un homme plus âgé, pas un instructeur, et je l’attaquais doucement, mais une fois que je l’ai attaqué fortement sans avertissement, et soudain je me suis retrouvé par terre ! Après cela, je suis devenu beaucoup plus respectueux envers l’Aikido. Quand j’ai raconté cette histoire à Maître Aoki, il a dit: « D’accord, vous n’avez plus besoin d’y aller. » Je pense que Maître Aoki collectionnait des techniques d’Aikido à travers moi, mais il a probablement reconnu que j’étais devenu plutôt fier de moi, alors il m’a probablement envoyé au dojo d’Aikido pour apprendre un peu d’humilité et de respect envers les autres arts martiaux.
Peu de temps après, j’ai été nommé Doshu (Maître Instructeur) en 1988 à Tanzawa, au Japon. Maître Aoki disait que puisque j’étais Maître Instructeur, je devais aller étudier le Tameshigiri (techniques de coupe réelles) auprès de Maître Toshishiro Obata. Il avait été le champion du Tameshigiri au Japon pendant cinq ans avant de s’installer à Los Angeles vers 1985.
Maître Obata était encore nouveau aux États-Unis lorsque je l’ai rencontré pour la première fois en 1989. Il était l’un des meilleurs disciples de Gozo Shioda qui était 10e Dan en Aïkido. (Je pense qu’il a étudié directement auprès de Maître Ueshiba.) Il était le fondateur du Yoshinkan Aikido, une école d’Aikido réputée pour être extrêmement pratique et très difficile.
Starting in 1989, I studied with Master Obata three or four times a year, about a week at a time, for three years. I thought I was there to learn test cutting, but I ended up also practicing Yoshinkan Aikido and Kenjutsu. At that point he called his style Toyama-Ryu Battojutsu, which was the kind of training that was taught to Japanese Army officers during wartime. Very practical – scary practical, actually ! In Los Angeles, Master Obata had a small Aikido dojo, but his teaching was so demanding that he was not very successful with his dojo. When I first started to study with him, he didn’t speak English very well, and was very frustrated with his American students. He complained, “They have no guts, no manners, and no concentration !” Of course, I know how to study from Japanese masters, so he shared a lot with me. It was like a brain dump – all of his frustration, but all of his technical skills in Aikido and Kenjutsu, too. He taught me a lot, but he was very tough on me – I would be black and blue all over after working with him for a week. He would whack me with his practice stick whenever I left an opening. We were practicing kata, and from his perspective he wasn’t hitting me – he was teaching me. But he couldn’t treat his American students like that because they would sue him. And Master Aoki had introduced me to him as a 20-year practitioner and his best student. So, he was very generous, but also very challenging. And, of course, this wasn’t kendo with a lot of armor – we didn’t have any kind of protection. I guess I had become proud again ! So, this was a good lesson, too.
À partir de 1989, j’ai étudié avec Maître Obata trois ou quatre fois par an, environ une semaine à la fois, pendant trois ans. Je pensais que j’étais là pour apprendre au Test de Coupe, mais j’ai fini par pratiquer l’Aikido Yoshinkan et le Kenjutsu. À ce moment-là, il appelait son style le Toyama-Ryu Battojutsu, qui était une formation enseignée aux officiers de l’armée japonaise pendant la guerre. Très pratique – pratique effrayante, en fait !! À Los Angeles, Maître Obata avait un petit dojo d’Aikido, mais son enseignement était si exigeant qu’il n’avait pas beaucoup de succès avec celui-ci. Quand j’ai commencé à étudier avec lui, il ne parlait pas très bien anglais et était frustré de ses étudiants américains. Il se plaignait: « Ils n’ont pas de tripes, pas de manières et pas de concentration! » Bien sûr, j’avais étudier auprès de maîtres japonais, alors il a beaucoup partagé avec moi. C’était comme une fuite de cerveau à cerveau – toute sa frustration, mais aussi toutes ses compétences techniques en Aïkido et Kenjutsu se transferait. Il m’a beaucoup appris, mais il a été très dur avec moi – j’étais couvert de noir et bleu partout sur le corps après avoir travaillé avec lui pendant une semaine. Il me frappait avec son bâton d’entraînement chaque fois que je laissais une ouverture. Nous pratiquions le kata, mais de son point de vue, il ne me frappait pas – il m’enseignait. Il lui était impossible de traiter ses étudiants américains comme ça parce qu’ils l’auraient poursuivi ! Et Maître Aoki m’avait présenté à lui comme un pratiquant de 20 ans d’expérience et comme son meilleur élève. Il était donc très généreux, mais aussi très difficile. Et, bien sûr, ce n’était pas du kendo avec beaucoup d’armure – nous n’avions aucune sorte de protection. Je suppose que j’étais redevenu fier… C’était donc aussi une bonne leçon !
Interview par Sarah Baker. Sarah est née aux Bahamas (1965) de parents américains. Elle est retournée au Rhode Island en 1966 et a déménagé au Massachusetts en 1969. Elle est soignante et praticienne certifiée Touch Pro depuis 2003. Elle détient une 2e dan en Aikido, examiné par Don Cardoza (Aikido 5-dan), fondateur et instructeur en chef du Wellness Resource Center, North Dartmouth, MA. en 2011. Elle détient un Shintaido Kenjutsu 1e dan examiné par H. F. Ito à l’atelier de Doshokai, septembre 2019. Elle réside actuellement à Sarasota, en Floride. Elle agit en tant que chef de projet, Shintaido of Americavideo, projet d’archives de documentation.
On April 13, 2019 in Bruges, Belgium, I presented Shintaido for a second year at the 2nd Global Conference on Death, Dying and the 21st Century. This year 22 people from 10 countries came together for 2 days as an interdisciplinary research community. We discussed the ways culture impacts the care for the dying, the overall experience of dying, and the ways the dead are remembered. Attendees came from the Netherlands, Australia, Portugal, Switzerland, Wales, the UK, Israel, Lebanon, the USA, and Canada. Our interdisciplinary group included scholars from philosophy, ethics, the law and literature; experts in the field of design for both products and processes; photography and videography; writers; and healthcare professionals including me as both a healthcare professional and student of Shintaido.
I presented Tenshingoso with overtone chanting, as part of an array of topics from personal reflection on the journey through and after death of a loved one to review of literature and poems that gave voice to the illness experience. During the 45-minute interactive demonstration, the participants used their voices and their bodies to explore the sounds of Ah, Oh and Um to express grief and facilitate mourning. Participants were first given the opportunity to stand facing inwards in a circle, and then with alternating groups they were invited to stand in the center of the group while these three movements were being done by the external circle.Participants reported feeling soothed and relaxed. Many reported feeling the vibrations of sound within their bodies. All agreed the simplicity of the three repeated movements made it easier to learn and potentially use in the future. Many were eager to work with their colleagues and explore how patients might benefit from these movements and sounds.
Our group quickly formed an intimacy and connection through our mutual sharing and teaching over these two days. For almost everyone, these two days moving toward the unknown and mystery of death brought us closer together. I received feedback that the inclusion of body movement was welcome to both “get out of our heads and into our bodies” and to facilitate our interconnection as a group. I am making plans for next year’s meeting already!
Here is my paper on my presentation:
Kotodama Applications for End of Life; a performance/audience participation presentation
Abstract: The use of sound combined with body movement crosses all cultures, languages and religions to provide a physical means for spiritual growth that for end-of-life purposes can provide a way to express grief and connection with the deceased. When the voice is added in Japanese martial arts such as Shintaido, the sound can be a spiritual basis for teaching. The Japanese word for sacred sound or word spirit is Kotodama. In the Japanese belief system, mystical powers dwell in words or names and ritual word usages can influence our environment. The Japanese martial arts body movement is Tenshingoso, with specific attention to the sounds “Ooo”, “Uumm”, and “Aaa”. This presentation will bring the results many years of weekly practice and instruction for use in celebrations of life.
Presentation: Tenshingoso is called “The Cycle of Life” so that through body movement one can study life as measured from moments to a lifetime, while using the voice to increase the flow of energy. Tenshingoso is derived from esoteric Buddhism with each movement accompanied by a Sanskrit sound. For this presentation, the sounds of O-Um-Ah will be presented and practiced. This movement with voice will advance to transition from one sound to the next sound ultimately doing three sounds with one breath.
O – Reaching out into the universe to reach what is omnipresent
Push hands forward and up as far as possible with the palm facing forward, fingers pulled back so as to open the palm of the hand. The sound of “Oooo” is made throughout this movement and as the movement Um is started, the sound changes to “Uumm” to start the stage of Um.
Um – Bringing the universe, perhaps those who have gone before into one’s center
The right-hand rests lightly inside your left hand. Eyes can be half closed or completely closed. Bring all your concentration into one single point where everything else disappears. Release all tension from the top of your head to your feet. Bring the hands back to rest lightly over your lower abdomen. The sound of “Uumm”” continues through this movement and begins to change to the sound “Aahh” to start the stage of Ah.
Ah – Opening Space – asking those who have died to reappear.
Opening your eyes, drop your arms down and backwards with shoulders relaxed, your fingers open and palms open, leading with the thumbs pointing backwards. Look toward the skies. Your chest will be open, head tilted backwards so that your chin and face is looking up. Your arms with palms open will be at your sides. Making the sound of “Aahh” and transitioning to the sound “Ooo”.
Recently I came upon a reference to Howard Schultz, who founded the Starbucks chain. It described the transition of the company from “founder-led” to “founder-inspired” now that he has retired from day-to-day involvement. This is a good way to describe the current state of affairs in the Shintaido universe. Aoki-sensei has retired from active involvement in the international Shintaido movement and is focusing on his work in the Japanese Tenshinkai school as well as participating in the international Le Ciel Foundation project. We have moved to a “founder-inspired” phase of our history.
Aoki-sensei’s last creative endeavor has been the founding of a Kenbu school in Japan and Europe. A bilingual Japanese/English text has been published. Several YouTube videos have been posted for anyone who might be interested in that development.
The current international organization (ISP/ITEC), under the direction of Ito-sensei and Minagawa-sensei, is working to develop a third pillar of the Shintaido curriculum–Kenjutsu–to go along with Shintaido Karate and Bojutsu. So far there has been no cross-pollination between the two sword practices, although we shouldn’t rule it out in the future once the international kenjutsu task force has completed its work.
During this transitional phase I would like to see the Shintaido curriculum move from the martial arts/dan examination model to an instructor certification system. Rather than having a separate assistant category, there could be a combined advanced student/assistant evaluation which would precede the first examination, now called Graduate. This ranking in turn would be replaced by an instructor certification designation, recognition that an individual is qualified to teach Shintaido. The Senior Instructor level would be open to someone who has a teaching resume as well as a demonstrated advanced keiko level, roughly encompassing the curriculum now in effect. The entire bokuto Kyukajo program should be completed by then.
General Instructor would become an honorary title conferred by the international organization in recognition of long-term commitment and contribution to the practice and dissemination of Shintaido. The title of “Doshu” should be retired with the current holders for now, perhaps to be resuscitated in the future if deemed appropriate.
The Japanese martial arts kyu/dan examination/ranking system would still be used in the three pillars of Shintaido Karate, Bojutsu, and Kenjutsu. It’s time to reframe Shintaido itself as a separate art which was Aoki-sensei’s original idea and inspiration.
By Shin Aoki and Derk Richardson
Over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, January 19–21, Pacific Shintaido hosted its Kangeiko 2019 at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California. Master Instructor Masashi Minagawa traveled from his home in Bristol, England, and, as guest instructor, developed and taught a curriculum loosely based on the theme “The Sword that Gives Life.” PacShin board members and gasshuku organizers Shin Aoki (Director of Instruction), Derk Richarson (Gasshuku Manager), and Cheryl Williams (Treasurer) presented the theme to Minagawa sensei, inspired in part by the recent passing of beloved Shintaido teachers John Seaman, Joe Zawielski, and Anne-Marie Grandtner, and the naturally arising question of how a community can heal and revitalize itself in the wake of such losses. In Japanese tradition, the sword has been used for the purpose of purification and cleansing, Minagawa sensei explained. When people pass on, the sword is used in ceremony to purify evil spirits and ensure the loved one’s safe journey.
Holding this idea in heart and mind during four keiko—the first taught by Shin sensei, the next three by Minagawa sensei—anywhere from 15 to 18 practitioners cultivated their relationships with bokuto and bokken through a variety of movements, kata, and kumite.
Irimukae. Individually, each of us held our sword like a candle in front of our body, and walked forward and backward. Your body enters the sword, and the sword enters you. The sword and you become one—and move as one. This exercise helps shift our fear of “getting cut by a sword” into “welcoming a sword.” In kumite, two people held one sword and moved the sword like a kayak paddle, in a figure-eight pattern of jodan and gedan cuts, to unify three worlds—the self, the other, and the sword. Elements of martial art, abstract art, meditation, and body care come together in the movement.
Diamond Eight Cut. In preparation, we held our swords with both hands far apart and, following the Diamond Eight pattern, reached up and down, side to side, back and forth, and diagonally to synchronize the sword movement, the body twist, and the traveling gaze. At the beginning of the more formal kata, we visualized the heavenly sword descending and entering our bodies, coming together with our inner swords. Thereafter, every swing of every cut could be done in concert by the physical sword, the inner sword, and the heavenly sword. In unison, we moved back and forth through the dojo, each of us continuously following the Diamond Eight Cut sequence. Eventually, we all started interacting with one another. Some continued cutting precisely, some were swimming through the crowd like fish, and some were dancing joyfully.
An outside observer might have seen the swirl of bodies and swords as the spontaneous manifestation of li, a Neo-Confucian concept that Alan Watts described as “the asymmetrical, nonrepetitive, and unregimented order which we find in the patterns of moving water, the forms of trees and clouds, of frost crystals on the window, or the scattering of pebbles on beach sand.”
Shoden no Kata. This was the first Kenjutsu kata for many gasshuku participants. Slow and graceful, it emphasizes the continuous flow of the sword movement from the beginning to the end of the kata, it demands seamless concentration, and it develops your awareness of every moment of your sword swing.
Without sword, we practiced Tenchi-kiriharai, a karate technique used against a tsuki attack, which helps the attacking partner connect with heaven and earth, and invites investigation and embodiment of a liberating upward-and-downward spiral motion.
On Sunday morning, Kenjutsu exams were offered, with Robert Gaston serving as exam coordinator and Connie Borden as goreisha. Cliff Roberts took a “mock” exam for evaluation and received feedback, and Chris Ikeda-Nash performed, passed, and received his certificate for Shintaido Kenjutsu Ni-Dan. Rounding out the morning, Margaret Guay taught an abbreviated keiko that explored deep listening and brought participants into intense and subtle levels of ma.
At one point during Kangeiko, Minagawa sensei talked about our Shintaido practice—and our everyday lives—in terms of walking a path, on which are also treading all those who have come before us and all those who will come after. The majority of participants at Kangeiko, and at the Advanced Workshop taught by Minagawa sensei the prior weekend, were Bay Area residents. But with Shintaido practitioners flying in from the East Coast (Margarat Guay, Rob Kedoin, Brad Larsen, Lee Ordeman, and Elizabeth Jernigan), and with Minagawa sensei coming from England and H.F. Ito sensei coming from France, the gasshuku felt at once local, national, and international. Minagawa sensei encouraged us to invite John, Joe, and Anne-Marie into our practice, which gave the event a spiritually universal feeling, as well.
Between-keiko pot luck brunches at the homes of Sandra Bengtsson and Robert Gaston (during the Advanced Workshop) and Jim and Toni Galli Sterling (during Kangeiko), plus a group Mexican dinner and post-gasshuku restaurant brunch in San Rafael, all served to strengthen and refine the ma between participants, and added to the sense that the sword had indeed given new life to our Shintaido community.
31 October to 4 November 2018
By Connie Borden and Shin Aoki
For five days, sixty Shintaido Practitioners practiced in Tirrenia, in the Italian region of Tuscany. From pasta to wine, from early morning meditation to late evening meetings, the group was united in the theme Toitsu Tai. Organizers Davide, Patrizio and Gianni had the vision of each keiko trying to reach the core of Shintaido. They asked the teachers of the subjects of karate, bojutsu, kenjutsu, meditation and open hand Shintaido to show these disciplines as expressions of the same spirit from the deep heart of Shintaido. As Mike Sheets said: “The instructors had us work very hard to find the center of both yourself and your partner. The other reminder was not about pieces of Shintaido but the whole – how they are connected.”
Master Instructor Masashi Minagawa spoke of the theme Toitsu Tai – Unification. Here are his words:
“We (Gianni and I) agreed that when you let go of unnecessary things, only the character ichi- one -Oneness is left. . . .
For me, this one line contains everything. It is the ‘Line of Life’, the starting line, the goal line, the beginning and the end. It is my Golden Line, The Diamond Eight, One swing of the sword and “Ichi no Tachi” – the first movement of Jissen Kumitachi.”
The advanced group spent the first three keiko studying with Ito Sensei. Chuden no Kata and Okuden no Kata in the kenjutsu program were practiced. In addition, the group selected a few of the advanced Jissen Kumitachi to focus their study.
Minagawa Sensei lead the next three advanced keiko to focus on Jissen Kumitachi #1 to 11. Each morning started with an hour of collegial practice to review the teaching from the day before. Each evening concluded with meetings: the Kenjutsu Task Force, the European Technical Committee, and the general membership meeting of the European Shintaido College.
The last night was a party that included Ula leading ice-breaker activities and Shin teaching line dancing!
High level exams were offered Friday afternoon on 3 November. Congratulations to
- Shigeru Watanabe – San Dan Karate
- Daisuke Uchida – San Dan Bojutsu
- David Eve, Alex Hooper, Georg Muller, Marc Plantec, Daisuke Uchida and Shigeru Watanabe – Ni Dan Kenjutsu
- Shigeru Watanabe – Shintaido Sei-Shidoin/Instructor
- Jean-Louis de Gandt, Serge Magne, Mike Sheets and Soichiro Iida – Shintaido Sei-Shihan/Senior Instructor
The general gasshuku began Friday afternoon with a keiko taught by Gianni Rossi. Two keiko were taught on Saturday. Weather cleared enough to be at the beach with a stunning view of the mountains to the north and a calm sea to the west. Shin Aoki and David Franklin taught karate.
The second beach keiko was bojutsu lead by Alain Chevet, Georg Muller and Stephan Seddiki. The group experienced an Italian sunset over the water.
Saturday morning and Sunday morning, Ito Sensei lead a 6:30am Taimyo meditation.
The fourth keiko was kenjutsu by Pierre Quettier and Ula Chambers. Pierre gave a demonstration with his katana showing Chuden no Kata and Okuden no Kata. Masashi Minagawa lead the closing keiko with open hand Shintaido.
The United States was represented by David Franklin, Mike Sheets, Connie Borden, Michael Thompson, Mark Bannon, HF Ito and Shin Aoki.
Photos by Marc Plantec.
Master Instructor H.F. Ito
Life is a path. We come from Mu and we go back to Mu. Life is long, and our own lives are each a small part of life. Sometimes rain, sometimes wind, sometime life or death. Pretty simple, actually, it is what it is. Ikkyu
Joe and John. I’m sorry I missed a chance to talk to you just before your departures.
In these days, the more I practice Tenshingoso, the more I appreciate the end of the movement (Oooooo~Uuuuuu~Mmmmmm)!
When I was young, I was practicing this part of Tenshingoso according to the text/recommendation written by Aoki-sensei.
I enjoyed it, and I kept sharing my understanding with many people having the confidence of how much I know about the cycle of our life.
Now that I’m 76 years old, I understand that my grasp of this part of Tenshingoso has been rather superficial.
It is always difficult for me to watch those who helped me share Shintaido leave for the next stage of their life. I wish I could have had a face-to-face meeting and express my gratitude in person.
But, I am lucky that I can still communicate with you, through the following ways:
- Through the sound of Oooooo, I believe that I can reach you who are now omnipresent in the universe!
- Through the sound of Uuuuu~Mmmmm, I can feel you in my Hara, You are gone but I still have many memories of the goodness I have studied from you.
- Through the sound of Mmmm~Aaaaa, I can ask you to appear!
I hope you will continue to share Shintaido, and want to ask you to become our “Guardians” in the sky!
Looking forward to talking to you in Ten in the near future!
[John Seaman, a long-time Shintaido instructor, passed away in April of this year. See the News Item. John and Lee started their practice during the early days of Shintaido in Japan. They taught groups in Oregon and Washington for many years. In this article, Tomi Nagai-Rothe writes about how influential John Seaman was in her life. Body Dialogue Editor]
John at Seminary
With John there was always a story. I remember his account of his studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California during the American War in Vietnam. John was active with students who participated in the 1960s version of an underground railroad, housing draft dodgers and conscientious objectors as they made their way north to Canada where they could request asylum.
John didn’t fit into the mold of the purely intellectual student and struggled against what he felt was the seminary’s narrow and academic view of the world. He spent time in the outdoors to decompress and often visited the Mountain Theater on Mt. Tamalpais. And John often took an unorthodox approach to life, driven by his creativity and curiosity.
One of my favorite stories was the visit that Sara Lee Morrissey (later Seaman) made to campus as a visitor. Lee met John on campus and they became fast friends. Fellow students remarked that John’s personality had mellowed noticeably during Lee’s visit, and they appreciated it!
John drove Lee to the airport when it was time to leave. As they drove, something hung in the air — perhaps it wasn’t the right time for Lee to leave? Return home or stay? The car turned around and they never made it to the airport. Lee stayed on at the seminary for some time, and John’s fellow students welcomed her salutory effect on him. John and Lee were always together after that.
There were a raft of “teaching” stories and when John started one, the longer term students would nod knowingly and watch the expression of the newest people. What were they taking from this story? What did John intend to convey and for what reason? The stories were an opportunity to see a part of oneself reflected in a safe way — in a medium that had space for feelings and upwellings of memory. It was also a chance for those who had heard the story many times to see if they could harvest new insights.
My early questions to John were about Shintaido practice. Once I was scared by a feeling that came up during practice and while others laughed it off, John simultaneously took it seriously and made it seem normal and unsurprising. I was so relieved and grateful to be seen at that moment. And I was able to relax, knowing that my experience wasn’t unnatural.
Over the next ten years my questions expanded to ones about life. I had dozens of conversations with John about personal challenges because I knew he would never be shocked, and would always tell a story that contextualized my experience. John modeled how to create a safe harbor. Since then I have mentored and coached many people and drawn continuously on John’s model to try to provide a safe harbor for others who are seeking.
I made regular visits to Bellingham to study with John and Lee and their students. I was interested in John’s unorthodox (compared to the Bay Area) teaching style that included a very informal warm-up with lots of conversation and new ways of presenting bo technique. I appreciated that the focus was never on perfect technique, but on what the technique allowed us to learn about ourselves and our relationships with our Shintaido practice partners.
John created a big space around practice so we could look at what we hoped to gain from Shintaido, what stepping back or stepping forward could be an analogy for (for example), why being opened up by our partners made us cry, or even why we just didn’t feel like participating. John made space to look at inward manifestations as well as outward ones. Any topic was fair game.
Life Practice and Life Teaching
John had a very high expectation that people around him pay attention to their spiritual development including their shadow side – and address those changes that need to be made in their lives. If you saw him irritated or short with someone, it was probably because they are not paying attention to this aspect of their lives.
John and Lee and their more experienced students used to have regular conversations they termed “staffing.” It was a cross between addressing personnel issues and mapping personal development. They would talk about where people were in their practice and their lives. It was always compassionate and never gossipy and the goal was supporting people in the way they needed to be supported.
At first I mostly listened and then, after many visits to Bellingham, Washington, I came to know their students better and began to participate. Each person’s situation was held lovingly and with respect. Decades later I serve as an elder at my Quaker church and know the tone and approach to take for pastoral care because I practiced it with John and Lee.
When I began preparing for my instructor exam I turned to John and Lee for support and advice. John was incredibly supportive and one day I surprised him by asking if he would support me by taking the exam with me. It was a bit mean because I had cornered him, but John agreed. We had many conversations about the exam elements and about Taimyo Kata, which John didn’t much like. In the end, it made a huge difference for me, being able to take the instructor exam with him in the big, cold gym at Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville, California. It was one example of John going the extra mile for his students.
One of John’s maxims (and stories, of course) was that a good teacher always creates students more talented than they are. It was set as the gold standard and gave John an opportunity to tell stories about students who had gone on to become talented Shintaido practitioners and teachers.
After I became an instructor John and Lee provided so many opportunities for me to teach in Bellingham and to work with them on exams. The debriefs about how people did and what they showed were always the richest part of the experience.
When I met John and Lee I was a spiritual seeker and they provided glimpses into their practice as Christian mystics. Just enough to make me curious. I asked lots of questions and John told stories about the Presbyterians and I learned about pentecostals, fundamentalists, contemplatives and mystics.
I spent years asking very basic and dumb questions about Christianity and faith in action. John always had good information and a contextualizing story to help me feel less dumb. He and Lee were endlessly supportive without pushing me in any particular direction. It was an unconditional love that modeled being a follower of Jesus in a profoundly life changing way. Without that love and guidance I would not have found my church home with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) nor be doing the work I am doing as a Quaker.
The Old Growth Douglas Fir Grove
On one of my Bellingham visits John took me to a special stand of old growth Douglas Fir near the highway to Mt. Baker but tucked back from the road. John and lee had learned about it from a Lummi elder who trusted them enough to take them there.
I walked a short path and stepped under the dark tree canopy and felt like I had entered another world — as in a storybook. The air felt different, the light was filtered and soft and it felt like a very old yet alive place. It looked like a forest but it felt inhabited like no forest I’ve ever entered. We walked quietly and connected to the trees, and sat on the moss and downed trees.
In the first version of my will I asked to have my ashes scattered under the trees there. And in the current version of my will John is named as the person to lead my memorial service. When I heard that John had died I knew I wanted to organize a remembrance for him — since I outlived him, and in thanks for his willingness to do the same for me.
The Wolf Pack
One of the deepest lessons I carry from my study with John and Lee is how essential a learning community is if one is adventurous and interested in spiritual growth. I think it is either too terrifying or too dangerous as a solo activity. John used to say, “a lone wolf is a dead wolf.” Hunting for insight with the support and help of the pack makes a successful hunt more likely, and my study with John proved that.
Thank you, John, for including me in your pack.
At our recent SOA board meeting, an attendee asked: “How do you recharge after teaching?” I became curious about what works for our Shintaido teachers to recharge? So, I ask for your comments and strategies and let’s see what a community does to sustain its teachers.
My interest stems from being a nurse, a nurse practitioner, a palliative care consultant, a woman, a wife, a mother and a caregiver who has experienced times of professional burnout and is aware of the risk of burnout in all caring professionals. This question has often been asked of me in my role as palliative care consultant. When I explored this topic, answers included the capacity to build resilience. Resilience is often a characteristic attributed to those who continue with caregiving of various types– body work, fitness coaching, life coaching, teaching, healthcare professions, parenting, and being human.
What are some of the ways to build resilience and recharge? There are plenty of research studies, talk shows, and books on this subject. Categories include but are not limited to self-care, spiritual inspiration and meditation, networks of likeminded people, expectations and goal setting, and time management and planning vacations. Self-Care typically includes exercise, diet, and sleep. So, I wonder, for a person teaching body movement (Shintaido, Pilates, Fitness coaching and more) – what does exercise look like when this person is physically active as a teacher already? I also wonder, if a network of teachers is part of success, how does SOA become a learning community to support its teachers?
I look forward to reading your ideas and what you have learned from being a teacher (in all the ways we teach and are caregivers) to answer the question “How do you recharge after teaching?” Please post comments in response to this to this article so that all can read your replies. Thank you!
When we drove away from the Shintaido class at the South County Senior Center in South Deerfield recently, Stephen said something like: “That is so inspiring. I always feel great after that class.” I have to agree with him. I am teaching the class and Stephen is assisting me.
The class ranges from 4 to 8 participants; all women and all in their sixties or seventies. Shintaido always seems to work its magic. As the teacher, I often leave work, drive home and get myself to the class feeling a little rushed and tired. Afterwards I feel clear and uplifted. We have come to see by their regular attendance that these seniors are also enjoying themselves and the spirit of Shintaido.
The center is an older building right in the center of town. When we practice inside, we have to move the tables and chairs of the big room to the side to make some space. When the weather is beautiful as in the past few weeks, we set up outside under the shade of two big maple trees.
We always start in a circle sitting on chairs. We concentrate on our breathing and then move into seated warmups. Soon we are up and at it – warming up, stretching, doing balancing exercises. I originally thought that would be about all we would do but I soon recognized that this is a hale and hearty group.
I have surprised myself by what I have been teaching. These women are not afraid to use their voices and they enjoy the sounds and movements of Tenshingoso. We have practiced wakame and other soft movements, but also enjoy stepping, cutting and most recently Tsuki!
The classes last approximately one hour. We asked if they would prefer six or eight-week sessions but they all want to keep going. We may take a break in August, but otherwise we will continue the class on an ongoing basis.
It is true that some seniors have physical limitations, but everyone in this group seems very self-aware and able to work within their limitations and of course, Stephen and I are careful and make adjustments as necessary.
Who knows if some of these seniors will become active and participate in the larger Shintaido community? I hope so, but I am also quite content to continue this lovely weekly practice.
The most surprising thing for me is how very like any other Shintaido class this class is. It is the transformation that comes from connecting with heaven and earth and with one another that gives a meaningfulness to our movements and our practice together.