One of the students asked a question about the etiquette of class and it reminded me of famous stories of O’Sensei’s great patience in teaching but harsh reprimands for impoliteness or inattention.

There is an old Zen story about weeds growing along the path to the temple.  The Elder sees them and reminds himself to fuss out the students who have not properly attended the gardens and path.  The Younger is oblivious and walks past the weeds not realizing anything is amiss.  The Righteous pulls one weed and congratulates himself on being erudite and correct.

The Master pulls them all; tosses them and any thoughts on the matter away.

Although its been a full year since the devastating tsunami hit Japan, their need for assistance remains  great.  Please hit the link below for the full details but the seminar conducted by Bill Bunn Sensei should be terrific.  He is an old training buddy and has spent decades honing his craft and teaching methods.  Support this event by spreading the word and plan to attend!

JAPAN AID SEMINAR

 

I had the great pleasure of filming a lecture by Dr. Jeff Brantley on Mindfulness at Duke’s Integrative Medicine Center in Durham.  We had an animated conversation before and afterwards relating the confluence of Mindfulness and Aikido.  Specifically I was relaying time studying with the late masterful George Leonard, one of the presidents of the Esalen Institute.

Here are some of Dr. Brantley’s observations on the subject which coincide with our concept of Mushin.

  • A quality of mind that notices, in the present moment, without judging, or trying to fix or change anything.
  • An awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally and with acceptance, where “acceptance” means a willingness to see things as they are.
  • Is enhanced by developing skills of intention, attention, and an accepting, allowing attitude towards present moment experience; usually by “meditation” or “reflective practice.”

One of the biggest mistakes martial artists make is valuing mindless repetition of techniques. If a movement is practice a thousand times, each time it has to be done with full alertness, attention, context and the inner dialog designed to remove unnecessary tension.

But equally fascinating was Dr. Brantley’s emphasis on “Self Compassion – not being overly self critical”. Obviously this leads to anxiety, worry, stress and tension which prevents us from performing fluidly whether it be professional work, play or personal interactions.

“Train with a spirit of Joy once said the Founder but never let the focus waiver”.

Welcome to the start of the New Year. This is the time when we contemplate our dreams and plans for renewal and how to capitalize on the time and blessings we have received going into to the new year. Time is the great issue and our lives are akin to mere sparks as weighed against the perpetual energy of the stars.  Time is one of my favorite topics and so here are a few of my mostly non-original thoughts on the subject.
1) Any person who accomplished anything did it within the same 24 hours we are all given each day.
2) One percent of the day well spent can change your life. One percent is roughly 15 minutes and if devoted and consecrated to something meaningful will change your habits and in turn change your destiny – 15 minutes with sacred readings, 15 minute run, 15 minutes calling old friends, 15 minutes reading to your child, 15 minutes devoted to real dialog with your better half. One percent of your daily time well spent can change your life.
3) A quiet mind is like a clock in a thunderstorm. It keeps its own pace no matter the clash and clatter. The purpose of training is to develop the quiet mind.
Peace, Health and Prosperity to each of you. I would love to see each of you on the mats with us.  But if that is not to be,  find your own path and consecrate yourself to it…
Sensei Fitts

Last year the Diversity Martial Arts Association donated a great deal of used clothing to HOLT Elementary School in Durham. HOLT Elementary was chosen because of the high percentage of children living in poverty at that school.

We had the participation of about 8 dojos and in turn received a wonderful letter from the Principal.  She was completely blown away as every table in their cafeteria was filled with clothes for the kids ranging from socks to jackets.

The need is even greater this year.  Please set aside clean used clothing items and start bringing them to class.  The deadline for the donation is mid December and we will make the presentation to HOLT Elementary on December 18th.

I want to say thanks again to Winslow Thornton who made a huge contribution last year.

Thanks in advance for your help.

3rd Annual Doshinkan Aikido International Festival!!! October 29th-30th, 2011

The annual event was a great success even though the crazy weather impacted attendance.

Here are video clips from the demonstrations.  I was only able to get a few since Richard Vinesett Sensei and I had to do our own demo.  In typical fashion we didn’t plan as our dojo emphasizes spontaneity.  Richard did perform the old traditional jo kata in excellent form.

Click these links below:

http://vimeo.com/31405351

http://vimeo.com/31349979

http://vimeo.com/31347681

This documentary is at least 30 years old but has a wonderful section highlighting Gozo Shioda, founder of Yoshinkai Aikido.

Unfortunately the name of the documentary was – Budo, The Art of Killing and clearly the writers were inaccurate in the script and title. However the quality of the martial arts within is classic.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sud8bsZyn84&feature=related]

New Documentary on Doshinkan Aikido Trailer

The weekend began with a quick demo and class for our audience from the Superior School of Martial Arts.  The kids and participants were enthralled with Kancho’s techniques and humor.

Saturday started the actual seminar with movements and techniques flowing from the original Aikijujitsu to Aikido.  We trained in the classic aikido weapons of bokken, tanto and jo developing genuine insights concentrating on timing, correct distance,extension of ki and balance.

That evening after dinner we returned to Sensei’s home to watch “13 Assassins”.  Besides being an outstanding movie in the tradition of Seven Samurai, the film dealt with the concept of “The Life Giving Sword”.  The concept has several meanings but this plot reflects:

“It is missing the point to think that the martial art is solely in cutting a man down. It is not in cutting people down; it is in killing evil. It is the stratagem of killing the evil of one man and giving life to ten thousand”  – Yagyu Munenori

My thoughts were how aikido is an amazingly evolved art, not just the idea of sophisticated technique from its samurai past,  but in its aim to develop harmony within ourselves, our fellow man, with nature and the Divine.

Dear Friends,

This is the beginning of our new website.  It is set up as a blog on wordpress.com and will be updated from time to time.

Please sign up at the bottom of the page for email updates and by the same token feel free to create your own comments or send video and photos to me at tenrokan@gmail.com

Of course I need your help to make this successful.  And if you have experience with these type of website templates we are open to suggestions.

Osu!

Gil Fitts, Sensei

Dojo Cho

Tenrokan Aikido Dojo