SPIRITUAL SIDE OF A MARTIAL ARTIST
- New ideas
- In the
"Book Section" of my web site I talk about
Reverend Kensho Furuya Sensei's recent book.
- It is clear
from all accounts that Furuya Sensei is truly dedicated
not only to the art of Aikido, but also to living a very
simple life, while doing his utmost to pass on to his
students his knowledge, and his humanity.
- His book
"KODO: Ancient Ways" is published by Ohara
Publications Incorporated, of Santa Clara, California ,
and I strongly urge you to buy a copy.
- For me it
is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever
- To give you a little
background, Reverand Kensho Furuya is a 6th Dan in Hombu
Aikido, and 6th Dan Kyoshi in Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido,
with over 47 years experience in martial artists. Furuya
Sensei earned his degrees in Asian Studies at the
University of Southern California and Harvard University.
He trained at the Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo,
Japan in 1969, under the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu
and established his Dojo in 1974.
- Furuya Sensei was ordained
as a Zen priest in 1988 and received the honor to speak
at the United Nations in the following year. He is the
author of many articles on martial arts and has appeared
on many television programs speaking on the subject. He
is also the author of the acclaimed video series, "The
Art of Aikido" which is in nine volumes.
- Just as the
deepest depths in the ocean are truly invisible unless
you are actually standing on the bottom of the sea floor,
I believe the true depth of what is written in Furuya
Sensei's book will remain invisible unless you actually
make a real effort to look beyond your current beliefs.
- With Furuya
Sensei's very kind permission, I have placed here on this
page just a few of the thoughts and sayings from his
book, and some excerpts from his web site http://www.aikidocenterla.com.
- It is my
sincere hope that his words will bring to you, what they
have brought to me. This page is currently a work in
progress for me, and as such I encourage you to visit it
often for updated material.
- So please
remember, the following thoughts and words are not my own.
- The great
credit for what you read beyond this point belongs solely
to Reverend Kensho Furuya Sensei, and I would like to
take this opportunity to once again thank him for
granting me permission to reproduce his thoughts and
comments here on my web site, and especially for taking
the time to put his words in writing for all of us to
enjoy, and to contemplate.
- I wish
Furuya Sensei well in all things.
- Words of
Regardless of success or failure if you have done your
best you have passed successfully.
- 2. Persue
your training only because you love it. That is all.
- 3. Martial
arts can never be separated from the reality of our daily
lives. This is true spiritual training.
Everybody wants a black belt, but so few people know what
it really is.
- 5. The true
dojo is the world.
- 6. Good
training means proper attitude plus correctly focused
- 7. Train
your mind through your body. Train your body through your
- 8. Without
a word, Nature teaches all.
- 9. There is
much more than just strength and speed.
Everything in life is a gift.
- 11. Our ego
is our greatest obstacle to learning.
- 12. If you
learn anything in this world learn the value of life.
- The purpose
- To be the best is not hard.
- To stay the best is very
- To be the strongest is not
hard, to be strong each day is very hard.
- To be good is not hard, to
be good day, after day, after day, is very hard.
- To be faithful is not hard,
to maintain your faith each moment of the day is very
- Daily practice is not to
become the best, or the strongest, or #1 or whatever, -
the purpose of daily practice is to refine the power to
sustain you one day after the next, after the next, after
the next. . .
- Many people practice Aikido
to become strong, or rich, or famous, or powerful - such
shallow goals in life are only for shallow people.
- The essence
of the art
- Within the techniques and
the traditions behind them lies the essence of the art.
- It is not to be taken
lightly or played with changing this and that to suit
your own fancy.
- At the same time, those
self-absorbed people will never grasp its meaning.
- Let the art absorb you, as
you absorb the art. . . . . Simply strive for a pure
- Unfortunately, those who
can put the art above themselves are very few.
- Old zen
- Fame and fortune come and
go like the floating clouds.
- Just embrace your practice
and continue to polish yourself.
- Although a good sword
remains in its case where no one can see and touch it, it
is still bright and sharp.
- This is a great part of its
beauty, nobility and mystery. . . . .
- Everyone benefits when we
work to the high standards of the art itself not by
bringing down the art to satisfy our whims, or to adapt
to our own convenience, or petty ideas.
- You must teach a student as
correctly as possible, whether he likes it or not.
- Old S &
- There was an old Simon
& Garfunkle song that I have always liked which had
the words, "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail. . .
- This is a very old song so
I wonder if many of you youngsters even remember it!
- Of course, everyone would
rather be the hammer because it is the hammer that
strikes the nail. It is the nail that appears to be
passive and yeilding. After how many years now since I
first heard this song, I finally decided that I would
rather be the nail - not the hammer. It is the nail which
penetrates deeply and connects all things in which it
comes into contact. And finally, if you think about it,
the hammer only exists because of the nail.
- Today, I see many hammers
banging away at everything because that is all it can do,
I see very few nails. . . . .
- The Spirit
of the Word
- When most people listen,
they really do not hear what is being spoken but only
hear what they want to hear or interpret what they want
to hear. I find this to be a big obstacle in teaching.
This is known as "selective hearing," the
opposite of "critical hearing."
- In training, one must hear
the "spirit" of the word or hear the full
meaning of the the words or instruction. This means that
you must be on the same wave length or "of the same
mind" as your teacher. Most student never can
understand this. . . Usually, we hear just what we want
to hear and often miss the valuable lesson or often the
"real" meaning of the words which is often
hidden behind the words. . . .
- In order to listen to the
teaching, one must first make a connection with the
teacher trying to understand where he is coming from and
what he is trying to tell you. NOT - simply what you
think he might mean. . . this is only our interpretation
or mind-set, not the speaker's or your teacher's. Can you
- To hear the word, as only
you want to hear it, is the level of a very mediocre
student. Only a true student will hear the spirit of the
word beyond the word itself - this is the meaning of
- In the same respect a
mediocre teacher will only tell you what you want to hear
- this is only hype and hypocrasy, a true teacher will
give you a part of his spirit. . . . this is true giving.
The student must understand and appreciate "true
- Listen well
- People today take things to
literally and often read only the most superficial
meaning of the words we see or hear. A good student will
hear many meanings always trying to penetrate deeper and
deeper to find the real, original meaning of the
teacher's words. . . .
- A pure mind
- They say that they first
lesson in practice is to enter the mats with a pure mind.
- Sometimes this is the most
difficult practice of all.
- Heart to
- Knowledge can only pass
from one person to the other person through that elusive
but eternal line of friendship connecting one heart with
- Only a
- Variation and
transformation come after mastery . . . . . . not before!
- The first basic teaching is
"have right thoughts, do right action."
- How hard this is!
- I keep trying and giving
up, forgetting it and coming back to it.
- Maybe I can never
understand this or do this in my lifetime, but it doesn't
mean to discard this teachings. . . . perhaps, it is the
struggle to understand this is the practice itself -
regardless of whether I can achieve it or not.
- Can you understand?
- Even if it takes ten or
twenty years to understand - the virtue is in the correct
practice, not in the doing "any way you please."
- Eventually, it will come,
understanding the teachings is more important than to
understand immediate success.
the best student is not always the best
- A young, strong student is
ideal, but a strong student who is over-confident and
arrogant is not as desirable as a student who is weak and
understands his limitations and desires to develop
- A smart student is
desirable but a student who thinks he is smarter than
everyone else is not as desirable as a less educated
student who understands his limitations and desires to
- A successful student is
desirable but a student who thinks he is better than
everyone else is not as desirable as a student who does
not have much, but understands his limitations and
desires to develop himself.
- Time is
- When you reach my age, you
begin to see how short life really is and how little time
we have to do what we want to do.
- You should take my word for
it and get off your duff right now and begin what you
need to do.
- Young people today always
think these is "tomorrow," but, in reality, you
only get a few "tomorrows" and that is it!
- Live in the present, be in
the present, do in the present.
- This is the best advice I
- Time flies like an arrow,
and like an arrow, it never comes back.
- At the
- Wisdom, knowledge,
instruction and skill must be imparted at the right time
and place and particularly with the right mental state.
- Old ways
- Our dojo is very "old-world"
and "old-school," and I hope all the members
will appreciate the great efforts and sacrifice it takes
to sustain such a dojo in this world where such ideals no
longer hold true and bow down to complacency and
superficiality and momentary goals without deeper
exploration of the mysteries of the art.
- Trying hard to learn, also
means to be easy to teach.
- Easy to teach means to come
to the dojo with a open heart and mind.
- Don't be full of yourself
and your opinions.
- Be humble and grateful and
willing to undergo the hardships of training.
- Train to become a better
person, not a better fighter.
- Talent means nothing
without the proper attitude.
- Without the proper
attitude, there is no proper training.
- Use it or
- When you stop your
practice, you do not pick up where you left off when you
- This is a great fallacy
people like to buy into.
- When you stop, you
immediately begin to forget what you have done.
- I recall some study on this
and in two weeks of non-practice or non-learning,
- about 65% of what you
learned was forgotten. . . .
- Oddly, your forgetting
works quite a bit faster than your remembering or
- Cleaning up
- Before and after class,
please help with the clean-up of the dojo.
- This is not really to
understand "cleaning," but to understand "caring
heart" and "working in harmony with others."
- Let go of
- A good teacher of the
Japanese arts will always try to shake your pride first.
- This is where most students
stumble and fail.
- A teacher knows that once
the student can drop his pride, he is totally open to
receive the teachings.
- If the student doesn't
understand this process, he is doomed.
- Usually people are too
stuck on their egos.
language says a lot
- On the mats, etiquette is a
form of communication and becomes the "universal,
unspoken body language" we all use to speak to each
other. Thinking that we can only speak with words is
another universal misconception.
- Students should be grateful
there is a dojo where one can practice and sensei to
teach them. The teacher should be grateful that students
come to practice and support the dojo. The relationship
between the student and teacher should always be based on
gratitude and respect.
- Many base the realtionship
between student and teacher on power, authoirty and money.
I believe this is incorrect. How a dojo can survive in
such a commercial environment as the world today and
still preserve the traditions and high level practice of
the art, is the great dilemma of practicing Aikido or any
martial art.Most martial arts are converting themselves
into big business or sports and say this is the only way
to survive today. This motivation is nothing other than
profits and money. Of course, the reality is that a dojo
must create income in order to pay the bills and survive,
but all motivation for change must be made in the light
of what is best for the student, the dojo and the art.
- Because this does not
always conform in the best way, there is always the
conflict between existing by the power of money, and how
to teach the student well - everyone in the dojo, both
teacher and student must understand this and work
together in harmony to support each other - and support
the art and dojo in a noble way of both respect and
- There is no greater virtue
than regular training.
- One can never make good
progress with off and on or irratic training. The
discipline is not only practicing correct techniques and
watching one's manners in the dojo and on the mats, but
coming regularly for practice and making it apart of
- Regular training reinforces
what you learn each day. One would be amazed at how much
one can forget if one practice is missed. Please keep up
a regular training schedule.
- It is important to follow
the form of training, more than making up your own
techniques, please practice the basic techniques each day.
No one has mastered them yet. . . . . .
- We are all here together
because of our teachers, we should never forget this and
always appreciate this.
- In days
- In the early days, students
worked hard to meet the expectations of the teacher.
Today, the teacher often must compromise the practice to
accomodate the convenience of the students. Worst of all,
the teacher compromises the art to its lowest common
denominator to attract the greatest number of students.
This is not for the sake of the student and his training,
this is only to fill the pocketbook.
- When students cater to such
low standards, they are not following the Way and all
kinds of troubles and problems occur. When the teacher
caters to such low standards, they are not following the
Way and all kinds of things pull the teacher away from
actual teaching. Although the art is more "user
friendly," today, we have along with this sacrificed
the high standards and expectations of the art and
- As is often the case in the
business world, the artist must kill his art to satisfy
the customer. . . . .
- The right
- In the long run, the
correct way is always the easiest.
- Most people look for short
cuts and always end up taking a longer path.
- Spirit of
- Just the other day, I
happened to glance at a fairly new student who was bowing
onto the mat.
- When I saw him sit down,
straighten his posture, compose himself and bow very
humbly to O'Sensei, I was so impressed and deeply moved.
I thought to myself that I never realized how sincere he
was to learn Aikido and vowed that you give him special
attention in class for now on.
- At that moment, another
person also bowed onto the mats, he was rather
experienced and a ranking black belt, when I saw his
curt, perfunctory bow, I realized that he is getting a
little sloppy in his practice. Another bowed onto the
mats, and I saw that he was very new and didn't
understand the meaning of bowing and was very awkward
without any focus or sense of calmness.
- Even if you are bowing
perfectly to form, I think that your inner heart will
always appear in your bow. If you are arrogant, your
arrogance will seep out as you bow. If you are sincere in
heart, that sincerity will also come out. If you are not
focused, you will make a sloppy bow without any balance
- In practice, they say that
bowing is the "A to Z" of martial arts and now
I am finally beginning to understand why. In order to bow
and begin your practice, you must first correct your mind
- Please practice your bowing
with your heart, mind and spirit as an important aspect
of your practice. Your bow will always reveal your inner
- No eye
- A long time ago, when I was
very young in martial arts, someone said that when you
bow, you cannot see your opponent so even though you bow
your head, you must always keep your eyes up and on him.
This was a common saying and practice in many martial
arts at the time.
- This made a very odd
looking bow, of course, and I could never understand this
practice. This type of bow did not show any sense of
respect or sincerity at all and looked meaningless to me.
Even though your eyes are lowered, you can sense if you
opponent begins to approach you. This is not difficult at
- Today, I see people use
their eyes in a different way and it is equally bad. I
see some people who look at the person, determine their
rank or status and then bow accordingly depending on
whether they are lower or higher rank. If they are of
higher rank, one bows to them very lowly and
respectfully, if one is of lower rank, they just get a
- This type of discriminating
attitude is very bad in practice.
- Of course, we are aware of
rank and position in the dojo, but we bow to everyone,
regardless of rank or seniority with equal spirit and
sincerity of heart. In bowing, it is not to recognize the
other's rank, it is to express one's own spirit and mind
- When I see this kind of
short, curt bow - which I call the "Colonel Klink
bow" - I am always sad and disappointed that the
student does not know any better at all. Among higher
ranking students, it is inexcusable.
- In bowing, do not use your
eyes, use your heart.
- No room for
- In Iaido, we closely follow
the Way of the masters, there is really no room for
innovation in the sense of making up one's own techniques
in a willy-nilly way.
- We appreciate that by
following the masters, we are following the most perfect
way of training and the highest expression of the
- Before anything, you must
understand this important point.
- More than innovation and
thinking up this and that, go deeper into your own mind
and soul for the meaning of the technique.
- No need to intellectualize,
conjecture, doubt, or question - just observe very
carefully. It is usually the students who observe very
carefully, who catch on to the technqiues very well. The
ones who do not pay attention and then the ones to think
"too much" are the ones who lose out or forget
or over look what is being taught.
- It is the same with
teaching - the most important skill is to observe the
students - simply observe very carefully - without
judgement, without bias, without pre-conceived ideas or
- Just observe.
- By observing carefully and
seriously - without any idea stuck in your head - you can
see what the student is doing very carefully - within
this keen observation, it becomes clear what the student
is doing - whether there is a tiny msitake someplace
which needs correcting, or if he is doing correctly - for
his level and skill - or if he is doing very well. . . .
- If you correct the student,
with pre-judged or pre-conceived notions, most probably
your corrections will simply be ego-motivated. I often
see people teaching who are not really teaching for the
sake of the student, but just taking the opportunity to
show off, or express themselves.
- For the teacher, in
teaching, it is not about the teacher, it is about the
- For the student, in
learning, it is not about the student, it is about the
- This is an important point
to understand in learning on the mats.
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."