The flow of “mind” in water and Aikido

1. Introduction

Hi to all,
We go back into the Seishindo vaults today, to revive a piece written several years ago.

Aikido has been a very rich source of learning for me. By writing about my Aikido experiences I offer you a taste of the sustenance I have received over the years.


2. The flow of “mind” in water and Aikido

Recently, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Senta Yamada sensei for the first time.

What follows is a loose translation of Yamada sensei’s words, embroidered by the “larger picture” I sensed he was pointing towards. Uncharacteristically for a Japanese person, he moved his hands as he spoke, to portray the movements he perceived as inherent in the mind of Aikido and the mind of water. You might try doing the same as you read the words that follow. Take your time, breathe freely, and move your body so as to feel the movement and mind the words suggest.

Water unites all the world’s land masses, large and small, connecting what is seemingly separate, distant, and different into one seamless spherical whole.

In Aikido we strive to embody the mind of water.
We cultivate our energy flow to “become one with” our perceived adversaries and adversities, dissolving any sense of separation, distance, or difference.
We might “move away from”, but we do not “run away from”.
Even when we move away from, we eventually return.

Water not only joins together the land masses of earth,
It also unites the earth with the sky, via never ending cycles of evaporation and precipitation. This process of never staying the same, mirrors the path human beings follow, between heaven, earth, and heaven.
Becoming, being, dying. Life, death, and recycle.

Water expands and contracts depending on circumstances, and the same is true of the human spirit.
When you’re harsh to a child, their spirit tends to contract.
When you love a child, their spirit expands-
Out past the two of you, and into the universe.

The presence of water throughout the ecosystem of earth, is similar to the presence of the body’s fluid system, enveloping and uniting the cells and tissue of the body.
The mind of water, the mind of the body’s fluid system, and the mind of Aikido, all have similar intention.
Moving with, joining with, nurturing, cleansing, renewing.
When everything is experienced as “One” there is no disease, no attack, no separation, death, or destruction.

Rain, mist, steam, dew, snow, ice- Water in all its various manifestations, has a spherical mind. This mind of roundness is a key principle in the mind of non-dissension.

In Aikido we project a full round presence to our adversary and flow with their movements. We offer no hard surfaces to bump up against, and nothing to grab hold of. We encourage our adversaries to follow their course of action to its likely outcome, in the same way water follows the path of gravity downhill. Moving always towards center, until the time for renewal and rising up again.

Regardless of the obstacles encountered water does not stop. It does not give up.
It does however rest and wait for the proper circumstancesEEE an opening.

Water joins with, is absorbed by, and surrounds.
It does not strive to act separately, but is moved byEEE the forces of nature.

This mind of endless effortless rest, renewal, and movement;
As calm when doing, as when simply being.
Realizing the end of every journey is a new beginning,
We experience every destination as temporary,
Every goal as cyclical.

Beginning complete, we remain complete.

With nowhere to go,
No need to “have to”,
Nothing to fulfill,
Except our destiny.

Our destination of returning is never in question.

Senta Yamada was born in Fukuoka, Japan in 1924, and he is the founder and principle teacher of “Kikusui Kai”.

He began to practice Judo in middle school, and received his 1st Dan at the age of 16. He became an outstanding competitive judoka, eventually reaching the rank of 6th dan under the founder of Judo, Dr Jigaro Kano.

Yamada sensei’s name appears alongside the famous in the historic Sekiryu kan Dojo, as one who completed the session of 1000 throws.

Dr Kano sent Yamada sensei to study Aikido with Morihei Ueshiba Sensei after World War II. As a live-in student he began private training with the founder in Wakayama Prefecture.
In 1959 Yamada sensei went to England to teach Judo but instead introduced Tomiki Aikido to the UK. In 1961 he first published his book “THE ANCIENT SECRETS OF AIKIDO”, this was reprinted in 1962 and then revised and reprinted in 2004. His book published jointly with Alex Macintosh in 1966, “The Principles and Practice of Aikido”, was the first extensive presentation of Tomiki Aikido in the English language and is currently out of print.

Yamada sensei left England in 1965 leaving his original students (to name a few) John Waite, John Wilkinson, John Gay, Jim Elkin, Bill Lawrence, George Chew, Alex Macintosh, Eric Domini and later Loi Lee to carry forward his inspiration.

Since those early days Yamada sensei has been involved in several projects of humanitarian aid to people in countries which need help. He is currently involved in helping the government of Sri Lanka feed it’s people and grow it’s economy by providing information on new farming techniques being used in Japan that are designed to increase crop yields.

He has set up a Dojo there, where students study, regularly train, and enjoy the benefits of his unique style of Aikido.

He has returned to England many times since the sixties and everyone who has the opportunity to meet him comes away feeling blessed to have met, such a great yet peaceful and humble “gentle” man.

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