The Mind of Aikido and Water

1. Introduction

Thanks to all for the wonderful support that so many of you in the community have offered me over the last couple of weeks! Very much appreciated.

There is a LOT to still be determined here in Japan, but don’t believe all of the exaggerated stories about radiation etc. that you’ve been reading. The devastation in some areas has been huge, and many people need a LOT of help, but meanwhile, most of the rest of us here are coping well, while striving to live a calm day to day existence.

Below is an URL for a non-profit that is doing wonderful work in Japan. They’ve been feeding the homeless and needy for years, and they have really stepped up their activities to aid the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Even if you have already given, further donations are very much needed!

For every 1,000 yen donated (about US$12 these days), they deliver 10,000 yen worth of food to the needy!

The tsunami in particular has led me to stop and pause. The power of the incoming water was beyond what I imagined possible!

To honor the victims of the tsunami I have rewritten, and am presenting today, a story I wrote several years ago. It’s based on an evening spent with Senta Yamada Sensei, a leading teacher of Tomiki Aikido. Since I wrote this story, sensei passed away on August, 8, 2010, so I would like to honor him today as well. He was a wise and wonderful teacher to all who made his acquaintance.

Keep the faith!

In Community,

2. The Mind of Aikido and Water

While in Japan, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many exceptional people. Recently when visiting a friend I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Senta Yamada sensei for the first time.
Uncharacteristically for a Japanese person, he moved his hands a lot as he spoke. He did this to portray his perception of the movements essential to the “mind” of Aikido and water.

When he first started to talk he said to me,
“While you sit there, please breathe freely and move your body some, so you can feel the movement and mind my words suggest to you.

Water unites all the world’s land masses, large and small. Connecting what is seemingly separate, distant, and different, into one seamless spherical whole.
Water has an intelligence, a mind,
And in Aikido we strive to embody this same intelligence.

We cultivate our energy flow to “become one with” others. Especially those appearing angry and frightened.
We strive to dissolve any sense of separation, distance, or difference.
And even when moving away from others, we do so with the intent of joining with and returning back to them.

Water not only joins together the land masses of earth, it also unites the earth and sky via never ending cycles of precipitation, movement, and evaporation.
This is the same process human beings mirror in birth, life, and death.

Just like water, we come from heaven, spend time on earth, and return back to heaven once again.
Becoming, being, dying. Life, death, recycling.

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 contracts.
When you love a child, their spirit expands,
Out past the two of you and into the universe.

The presence of water throughout our ecosystem 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 body’s fluid system, and Aikido, all have the same intention.
Move with, absorb, nurture, cleanse, renew.

When everything is experienced as an integral part of the One there is no disease, no attack, no separation, death, or destruction.

Regardless of the form it may take—rain, mist, steam, dew, snow, ice—water always 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.

Just like water, 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 of renewal and rising up again.

Regardless of the obstacles encountered water does not stop, it does not give up.
It searches endlessly for the path of least resistance, and when there is none it rests, consolidates its power, and rises up.
Waiting for another opportunity.
Waiting for the proper moment… an opening.

A single drop of water has little power, but many drops joined together can sweep away everything in its path,
With the relentless force of a tsunami.

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

With a mind of endless effortless rest, renewal, and movement,
As calm when doing as when simply being.
We can realize the end of every journey as a new beginning,
Every destination as temporary, every goal as cyclical.

Beginning complete

We remain complete

With nowhere to go

Nothing to accomplish

Nothing to fulfill

Except our destiny

Our returning

Is never in question.

3. My Offer

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current circumstances, you are certainly not alone in these turbulent times.

Write to me at and I’ll send you a set of questions designed to help you come to grips with what you need to be doing differently.


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