This is a report about my last trip to Japan from March 25th until April 15th. Again it was a very special trip with beautiful experiences and I’ve learned a lot again. I am very grateful that I can learn so much from the two leading senseis within Aikido Yuishinkai, Maruyama sensei and Okajima sensei. I will do my best to share an overview of what we have done, but if you want to know more please contact me!
Koretoshi Maruyama sensei is the founder of Aikido Yuishinkai. He has been a student of O’sensei Morihei Ueshiba for 13 years and he was one of the top teachers within Ki No Kenkyukai under Koichi Tohei sensei. Since 2004 he has been my teacher and since 2007 I go every year to Japan to train in Tokyo with him and we have by now built up a very close father-son like bond. It is a great honor to have the opportunity to learn so much from a master like him. You can find more information about Maruyama sensei on www.aikidoyuishinkaialkmaar.nl/geschiedenis.
In 2007, Maruyama sensei introduced Okajima sensei as his successor during a training session in Tokyo. His teaching was of such a high level that I was immediately very impressed by his skills. You can find more information about Okajima sensei on www.rakushinkan.com/taiki-okajima-sensei. Maruyama sensei told me I also have to train with him and he asked Okajima sensei to teach me everything he knows, because according to him I have the Japanese spirit. Of course I gratefully accepted this offer and that’s why since then every year I visit both senseis when I go to Japan.
The first 9 days I trained in Tokyo with Maruyama sensei. And after that I had 8 days of training in Osaka with Okajima sensei. These were mainly private classes with the addition of the regular classes in the evenings. This time a wonderful group had joined me on this trip, we were with 7 advanced Aikidoka in Tokyo and 6 in Osaka. 4 from The Netherlands (Pieter van Dongen, Marc Beemer, Andre Voermans and I), one from Germany (Stefan Leiendecker) and two from Argentina (Julian Jiterman and Akio Takata). Most of them I already know very well as we have been going to Japan together for many years. The harmony in the group was very strong and both senseis taught us at the highest level I’ve ever seen. It’s wonderful to see how their classes evolve further each year.
Aikido classes in Tokyo were at advanced level and Maruyama sensei taught us mainly about the new reitai level with the links to the kotai, juntai and ryutai levels. Reitai is the level that comes after kotai, juntai and ryutai. Previously, the advanced levels were called kutai and kontai, but these no longer exist. Now there is only the advanced level reitai which is being taught from the black belt level. Sensei also told us that “To make the impossible possible” is the motto of Aikido Yuishinkai. And he showed us in many ways how this is also translated to practical application in the techniques.
Sensei taught us all the basic techniques on reitai level, so we will also practise these during our advanced classes in our dojo. Maruyama sensei also explained about the Nenpa Shindo principle and explained how to develop it. This stands for the development of a strong will, intention, focus. He also underlined the importance of a calm mind and hereby emphasizing that we must maintain the level of serotonin in the brain to continue to maintain this state and we did exercises to raise our serotonin level. Furthermore, we did some amazing Ki tests and sensei clearly explained how to perform these correctly.
He also explained why Aikido is love as O’sensei had always taught him. The important point is that we take care of each other and raise our Ki level during our Aikido practise. It is essential that we have a clear focus on this principle and therefor practice Aikido in the correct way. This is also the basis of the classes in our dojo.
Maruyama sensei gave me my 4th Dan certificate to bring to The Netherlands which Will Stoelman sensei officially handed over to me during the Masterclass. That was a very special moment for me and hopefully this encourages and inspires others to continu developping their Aikido, for me that is certainly the case. Maruyama sensei is in very good condition and was teaching on a very high level. It was a great pleasure to be part of that. Also it was a great pleasure to practise with our Japanese friends. Maruyama sensei has a group of highly-advanced Aikidoka and I always learn a lot by training with them and we always have lots of fun together.
At the weekend one day we went out with William Reed, he showed us beautiful places in Tokyo like a fireworks museum, Ekoin Temple, the birthplace of Katsu Kaishu and the memorial of the 47 ronin. And we ate chankonabe at Kirishima, the dish that Sumo wrestlers eat. Sunday we went to Odawara Castle and the Mishima Taisha Shrine, in the evening we saw a huge fireworks show in Atami. These were also the only two days during the trip that we had no training, we had classes on all of the other days. What a delight!
In Osaka Okajima sensei gave me on the first day a private lesson in Gendai Reiki level 4, the Master level. This was a very special lesson and initiation. The contact with the Ki of the universe has further deepened and I notice that in daily life by the further deepening of the calmness, relaxation and connection I experience. I look forward to spreading Gendai Reiki further in the Netherlands because many people can benefit from it in these times of stress and change. It is a very down to earth and simple way to learn Reiki and to apply it in daily life.
Furthermore, this year was the Soutaiho basic course the core of our training in Osaka. I’ve done this course a number of times and by now also have been teaching Soutaiho for several years, so it was nice with that background to dive deeper in the matter and get the latest updates. The special effects of the Soutaiho exercises continued to amaze us every time. We have seen that pains were resolved in a short time, deformations in bodies significantly decreased after a number of exercises or disappeared, but also the deep relaxation it gave us time and time again. We had regularly days where we were in the dojo to train from 10:00 until 21:00 and by doing Soutaiho regularly during these classes it was easy to do this. In fact it gave a lot of energy and the Soutaiho helped to bring our Aikido and Goshindo to even higher levels.
Stefan, Peter and Julian received the Quasi instructor certificate at the end of the course, and I received the certificate of official Soutaiho Instructor. With this, I am the first person outside of Japan who has achieved this at the Soutai Balance Kyokai organization of Okajima sensei. This is a great honor and stimulation to further spread Soutaiho in The Netherlands. You can find more information about Soutaiho on www.soutaiho.com.
Furthermore, we had Goshindo and of course Aikido classes. Okajima sensei had changed the curriculum of Goshindo, so we have gone through that. And we made video recordings of this, so I can update the Goshindo DVD with the new examination criteria. Okajima sensei surprised me by appointing me to 5th dan Shihan of Goshindo. This is a huge boost for the further development of Goshindo within the Netherlands and Europe where I’m going to put plenty of effort in. Stefan, Peter and Julian he appointed to Shidoin accompanied with the 1st dan, so they are also qualified to teach Goshindo. We are now the only people outside of Japan who have been awarded the official teachers license of the Nihon Goshindo Kyoukai organization of Okajima sensei and this is a great team to give Goshindo more publicity outside of Japan. You can find more information about goshindo on www.goshindo.nl.
During the Aikido classes sensei gave a lot of attention to the basics, sharing what he had learned during the time that he was Uchi Deshi with Tohei sensei. We have thoroughly practiced the hitori waza (Maruyama sensei now calls these Kata), the basic Aikido techniques and how to move with the Jo and Bokken. This is an important basis for our Aikido, and we will regularly exercise this during our classes, as you already may have noticed in the recent weeks. Okajima sensei is a true master in the use of Ki in many ways, and his Aikido is of a unique level. He calls himself a body pilot, which describes it very well. Those who have already joined us on our trips to Osaka know exactly what I mean. Maruyama sensei has with Okajima sensei chosen a truly worthy successor.
Altogether a journey completely filled to the edge with great training and very special experiences. We have got as much out of it as we could and also both senseis gave us all they had. I like to share what I have learned with you and hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. On May 4th I share Soutaiho and Gendai Reiki during a Doushindo seminar in Alkmaar and on July 6th, I organise a goshindo seminar. During the Aikido lessons I will share everything that I learned about Aikido this trip as you have already noticed. I also like to hear your enthusiastic responses during the classes in our dojo. See you on the tatami!
Martijn van Hemmen