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Thread: My life in Budō

  1. #1
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    Default My life in Budō

    As part of my Budō appraisal, I have researched the UK origins and development of Judō and Aikidō since their introduction into Britain by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei during the 1950’s. My current Budō activities are mainly with Aikidō, Kyūshindō Judō and Kenpō (sword technique). In my deliberations, I have unearthed some contentious issues that took place during and since the mid-fifties and also what appears to be some incredible claims by certain individuals within the British martial arts world, as to their ‘claims to fame’ and impersonation of the Japanese masters who brought their Budō to these UK shores and in Europe.

    In my own case, I could claim participation in Budō spanning over 60 years, but I do not! I practiced Judō with my big brother when I was 13/14 years of age in a local Judō club… that was in 1953/54. The text the club members used for study and revision were the Dr. Feldenkrais and Mikonosuke Kawaishi ‘Judo – The Art of Defence and Attack’ 1951 reprint edition and also, the E J Harrison (with a forward by Kyūzo Mifune) ‘The Manual of Judo, Jūjutsu and Self Defence’ published in 1952. These two books I now have, having been passed over to me from my brother.

    But after leaving Secondary Education I entered an engineering apprenticeship that involved me in undertaking evening classes and day-release for Technical College education. Any other time left over I got involved in playing drums and bass in jazz and rock-n-roll bands. This meant that I gave up Judō and Jūjutsu… a course of action I later regretted and wished that I had keep it going throughout my working life.

    A year before my retirement, an opportunity arose for me to join a local Genbukan Ninjutsu dōjō… The advert said; “Anyone, of any age, from any background are welcome and progression is at one’s own pace”. Well, after a near 50-year gap, I eagerly started Budō practice once again… that was ten years ago in 2004 and I have trained regularly ever since… this time I have no intentions of giving up for as long as my health and fitness remains. So, when persons ask me how long I have been training, my answer is: “Continuously for the past ten years, but I also did some Judō as a 13/14 years old”. Incidentally, back then a friend was practicing karate and invited me along for a trial lesson, but I did not take to all the punching and kicking and so I decided stick with Judō… the gentle way.

    Genbukan Ninjutsu practice is fundamentally Ninpō Taijutsu, Jūjutsu, Bikenjutsu and Bōjutsu… and at certain seminars I received instruction in Shurikenjutsu, Fukiya (blow-pipe), Ishiyumi (small cross-bow), Tantōjutsu and Hanbōjutsu. Additionally, I re-commenced Judō practice in 2006 with a Kyūshindō Judō club in Oxfordshire, attending on the occasions of visiting my daughter. Having found a Kyūshindō club in my local area in 2012, I now practice Judō regularly, together with Jūjutsu that also includes weapons practice and defence.

    I am grateful to the Genbukan dōjō for their encouragement in my return to Budō practice and for that wording on their leaflet. As to my 50-year gap, well Budō never really left my heart so; maybe I should claim a 60-year involvement in Budō after all! I am reminded of a proverb a Japanese friend who is a Cha nu yu (tea ceremony) Sempai gave to me: “shoshin wasurubekarazaru” - ‘never forget your feeling when you first started’… this has to be my link with the past.

    To improve my balance and breathing, I attended Tai Chi classes together with my wife. We practiced with a Chinese teacher, Tai Chi Chuan 24-form and 48-form of the Yang style over three years. We also practiced 18-form Qi Gong and meditation.

    During the early years of my return to Budō practice and study, I discovered Aikidō and became fascinated with this art that had derived from Daitō-ryū Jūjutsu. Then upon meeting a Japanese Aikidōka in 2008 I was recommended to a small club in Brighton practicing traditional Aikikai style, together with occasional Aiki-ken and Aiki-jō. I will not name-drop here but the club’s Sensei lineage is a very well respected one. Aikidō became, and still is, my first love. The club does not grade aikidōka… we just practice “with vigour and enjoyment” and love what we do.

    I hope that it has been noted here that I have not mentioned any grades held… of course, yes I have gradings in the various styles but, as O’Sensei has said “do not chase technique after technique”… and so in the same way, I am not seeking to chase Dan grade after Dan grade. I am always happy to share my practice with others but I do not teach… should others learn from my example, then that’s enough for me. After I returned from my last visit to Japan three years ago, Sensei requested me to wear hakama for Aikidō practice forthwith… I feel it a great privilege to wear hakama but I only wear it within any of the clubs I am attached to. Anywhere else, or when practicing a new martial style under a new sensei, I feel more comfortable wearing my white belt without hakama.

    In retirement I am able to put in some practice every morning, which is usually Kenpō… so Budō has become simply my way of life that also includes regular meditation at a Kadampa Buddhist Centre… Yes! The two compliment one another. And much of the philosophy of New Kadampa Tradition concurs with the Kyūshindō philosophy that Kenshiro Abbe researched during his student days at the Budō Senmon Gakkō (Busen) in Kyōto during the 1930s (a good treatise on the Kyūshindō philosophy can be found on the Seishinryu web-site).

    Now, I am not a re-incarnation of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei, nor do I impersonate him. But I am interested in keeping alive his memory and continue to practice his style of Judō. I am also interested in the connections that exist between the techniques of Aikidō and Kyūshindō Judō in the circular nature of Ueshiba’s Aikidō and also the style of Judō that Kenshiro Abbe developed partly from Aikidō. Given that Abbe Sensei was also a direct student of O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, there may also be relevant connections between the now defunct Kyūshindō religious philosophy and the Ōmoto-kyō religious philosophy that Morihei Ueshiba became involved with during the period when Ueshiba was practicing and teaching Daitō-ryū Aikijūjutsu to Ōmoto-kyō followers… further research is needed, I feel.

    As I said, I do not chase grading after grading (although feel very privileged whenever a Sensei actually bestows upon me a grading pass). I am now too old to even contemplate the notion of becoming a ‘shihan, renshi, hanshi or kyōshi’… I’ll leave that to the younger people who have time on their hands (and body)… my only aspiration is perhaps, just perhaps one day it may be appropriate for me to wear white hakama, if only for special commemorative occasions such as misogi or nagoshi no harai… then I shall know I am truly on the path toward enlightenment.

    In conclusion, I owe a great debt of gratitude to all my Sensei, wherever in the world they may be.

    BRL

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  3. #2
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    Hello Barry, Thank you for sharing your interesting thoughts and life, we have something in common, I also love Aikido and train for fun, and do not need any promotion more. Welcome to the forum

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