Yoshioka-sensei's Aikido Notebook (1981)

The following is my transcription of a small notebook made by Yoshioka-sensei, when we had the idea of making a book, but had not yet hit upon the plan of using recordings. Some of the items have been included on the tapes, often almost verbatim, but a number of them were never recorded, or recorded in slightly different versions. As with the tape, this was not the form Yoshioka-sensei intended that these lectures be published in. We had planned to produce an edited, organized version. I am publishing this here to make Yoshioka-sensei's philosophy available to all who are interested, since an edited version is yet to be produced. The entries are in the order of his notebook. [st]

Basic Information

Bowing

To begin Aikido, like all martial arts, we begin with humility, and end with humility "The rice plant bends as its grains develop."
1) Bow before entering and leaving the dojo. The bow must be low enough from the waist so you can see if your hands and feet are clean.
2) Bow before going on and off the mat. (To thank God for good training without injury to you and others.)
3) Bow to the front before and after each class. (To show thanks for this country's freedom and to the founder for his knowledge.)
4) Bow to the teacher before and after each class. (To thank the teacher for his or her instruction and guidance.)
5) Bow to your partner before and after each practice. (To thank your partners for a good practice and also the prevention of any injury.)

The student or junior person (kohai) will bow first to the teacher or senior (sempai), and rise after the sempai. (To show you are kohai and respect the sempai.)

The kohai must not look at the sempai's face as he bows to the sempai, but should be able to see his own feet. (To show respect and trust.)

When bowing to a stranger, it is wise to bow only as far down as you can see his hands and/or feet. (To prevent the stranger from striking at you when your head is down.)
Be sure that you are more than two arm's lengths away from that person. (maai) (To prevent a sudden attack.)

In bowing, hands must be in front or at the side of the body, and the feet together. (To show that you have no concealed weapon.)

All etiquette is for self-preservation.

Cleanliness

The training gi must be reasonably clean. Respect your partner's five senses.

Our body reflects our mind, it is the mirror of our mind. We must wash our body every day with soap and water. Clean mind, clean body.
It is easy to wash our gi and body with soap and water but our mind cannot be washed that way. To wash our mind we must constantly get rid of bad thinking. Meditation in this area will help.

Before criticizing that another's feet are dirty, check your own. "He who has no wound may touch poison."

Mirror

The mirror is one of the three regalias from the first emperor Jimmu. A round mirror is used in the Aikido dojo to remind members that roundness represents harmony and nothingness. Because the mirror is empty it can be filled with reflections. If the mirror is dirty, everything it reflects seems dirty. If our mind is dirty, everything we see seems dirty. It is easy to blow the dust off the mirror if it is done daily; let it accumulate and it becomes a task. So with the mind, it must get rid of bad things every day. "A circle has a beginning with no end," harmony with nature has no end.

Punctuality

Students and teachers should be on time for classes. Teachers will conduct classes with enthusiasm, students will learn with enthusiasm.
"If the source is dirty the pool will never be clean."

Timing is the essence of punctuality. Being on time in self-defense is most important. All techniques of Aikido depend on timing. Timing is coordination of mind and body. Timing of mind and body should be 24 hours a day.

Any student who is tardy must leave the dojo as soon as class is over. (To show that you are sorry and that you are very busy.)

Visiting Students

Students who wish to train Aikido at other dojo s than their own must first ask permission to train from that dojo 's instructor, and thank that instructor before he or she leaves that dojo.
Students who are guests for more than two weeks must pay dues to that dojo. They must also participate in club chores.

Visiting Instructors

Head Instructors of any dojo may be exempt from any chores or dues, regardless of how much time they spend at any dojo.
Regardless of rank, guest instructors must show all respect to the host instructor. A guest instructor must have permission to train at any other dojo than his own.
A host instructor may ask a junior guest instructor to conduct his classes.
A host instructor shall give the guest instructor who is senior, the privilege of teaching his class. The senior guest instructor may refuse this privilege.
All guest instructors shall be compensated.

Dojo

The front of the dojo will be at the farthest wall of the dojo from the front door.
Students shall sit seiza in class a few minutes before class starts. (To show the students are enthusiastic.)
Senior students will be in the front row from right to left facing the front of the dojo. Junior students will sit to the left of senior students.

From the days of the samurai, the kohai will protect the weak side of the sempai. The left side is the weak side because the samurai swords are drawn from left to right.

photographs

In taking group pictures, the teacher or guest instructor will be in the front row at the center. Next in rank will sit at his left. Third in rank will sit at his right. (These are the important positions. After that, black belts will be in the first row, alternating sides as with the main three; behind them the more advanced students, and in the back row, the beginners. This is not so important; the first three positions are important.)
In taking pictures with two persons, the teacher will be at the right side facing the camera.

Social or business gathering

The head table will be placed farthest from the front door; it must be at the center, facing the front door. (This custom is to protect the leaders from intruders.)

Photo of the Master

The Master's photo will be hung farthest from the front door, or on the front wall of the dojo. If there are more than two photos, the Master's photo will be at the center, and a few inches above all the others. If there are two photos, the sempai or Master's photo will be at the right facing the dojo.
Never place any photos above doors.

Classes

Classes will be conducted by the senior instructor. The senior instructor may assign assistant instructors to conduct any class.
If the assigned instructor is late for class for any reason, the senior student may start his class.
No talking by students in classes unless it is related to the technique that is being taught.
No questions from the floor unless asked by the instructor.
We all have our opinions, but in class we must not think or reason, only learn. The saying goes, "Come with an empty cup and you can taste my tea."

Seminars

Seminars may be held by any club. All seminars will be conducted by senior instructors. At no time will a junior instructor conduct a seminar and invite a senior instructor to attend his classes. The instructor may invite a senior instructor to conduct classes at his seminar; that instructor must be compensated for his services.

Philosophy for beginners

In our lifetimes we will have many responsibilities. Aikido helps us in developing the confidence that we can face each responsibility and overcome all obstacles.
The mind has mind waves as it controls the body movements. By training in the arts of Aikido we will develop keen coordination of mind and body. When the mind waves and physical power synchronize (harmonize) you will have strength that can overcome superior force.

Thinking is like day dreaming; nothing can be accomplished by it. To get rid of thinking we must concentrate on the things that we are doing.
In any project, big or small, we must make plans. While making our plans, we must concentrate. As we stop thinking our five senses rise. This gives us the ability to perceive.

Ability to perceive is awareness. As we train in the arts of Aikido we must concentrate on the movements, synchronizing mind waves and body power, without thinking. When the thinking mind stops, the sub-conscious mind rises. The sub-conscious mind learns when we stop thinking.

The Beginner

Beginners will accept any correction from the teacher, but as they advance in knowledge they begin to resent being corrected.
Being corrected in life is to gain knowledge. Refusing to learn new things by reasoning with one's mind gains nothing.
Every mistake has a reason; using these reasons makes one free of mistakes. No mistakes in a person creates egotism, and shallow feelings of righteousness.
"As the rice grain develops, the rice plant bends." As we develop in knowledge, we must become humble.

In Aikido we don't have contests. Competition creates a competitive mind. Not to win is not to lose; not to lose is not to compete. The winners today will lose tomorrow, the losers will end with frustration in their minds and hearts.

Humility seeks no glory or honor. Glory and honor come only when you are ready. Our training is to prepare ourselves, but not to seek it.

Ki and Electricity

Ki is for those who believe in it. It belongs to the universe. We are all part of the universal ki.
Like electricity, ki has plus and minus, positive and negative charges.
Ki is as current in amperes.
Mind is as power in voltage.
Body is as resistance in ohms.

We must have a healthy body that knows how to relax. This relaxed body becomes a good conductor and ki will flow freely in a cycle from the universe through the body.
The mind, through concentration, extends or forces the ki through the body.
Ki need not be talked about; it is invisible. Like electricity, it will be felt only on contact or when touched.

Daily training is needed to develop it.

Mind and body

Mind and body coordination is important in our daily life. In any field , occupation or sport, coordination of mind and body is important. Aikido teaches us to develop a sharp mind. The mind controls the body, the body will keep up with the mind, the body will soon become sharp.

The samurai sword is made from ore. It is heated red hot, and pounded and folded many times, to get rid of waste particles. To sharpen the sword, many stones from rough to smooth are used before it is polished smooth and shiny with a very sharp edge.

Like the sword, the beginners will be pounded, and their techniques are rough, but with coordination of calm mind and body, someday they will become smooth in their arts. When they become sharp, they must keep their sharpness like a sharp sword; it must be kept in the scabbard. Smoothness is sharpness.

The heart of the ocean

Instructors must accept all new students without discrimination. "The ocean accepts all rivers without discrimination." The ocean will purify them without complaint. Instructors must correct bad students without complaining.

Men must protect the ocean from man-made toxic chemicals. We must protect the dojo from delinquency.

From the brook... the river... the lake... and the ocean. The brook and river waters are rough, but the lake and ocean are calm because of their depth. Beginners are rough, but someday become calm. Rough water cannot be seen through. We will be able to see through calm water. Not all calm water is clear, but someday it will be so. Calmness of mind takes time. Only then we will be able to see the truth.
The brook and river express every pebble and stone from the bottom to the surface. The water jumps at every bump.
In the beginners class, students will blink and flinch at any attack, expressing the impression of their minds. The lake and ocean water are calm with no expression of the bottom; they express the condition of the surface. Like the ocean we must keep our mind and center of balance (seika no itten) two inches below the navel calm, and move our body as necessary (in a crisis).
The surface of calm water reveals any action. It will reflect the moon and birds that fly across, make waves from leaves that fall into it. Our body will react to any action if our mind is calm.

The Foundation

The foundation of a building must be well-built; a strong foundation will support a tall and beautiful building. The foundation of this building will not be seen after the building is up. People will only admire the beautiful tall building.
In Aikido we learn that the basic techniques and etiquette are the foundations of our arts. Students who make light of this and wish to learn only new arts are building a beautiful home without a good foundation. Such homes will collapse in a storm; such students will fail in their technique in crisis.

Protect the weak

While the tree is growing, many obstacles will try to stop its growth, but the tree says nothing and keeps on growing. Students must not complain about hard training in Aikido, or hardship in life.
Only the tall and beautiful tree will be admired and recognized. So we must learn to stand tall with righteousness. The tall trees protect the small trees from a wind storm. So we train in Aikido technique to protect the weak in trouble, and help our new members.
Some day you will be recognized as the tall tree.

Spirit over Beauty

We all look up at beautiful flowers or trees. The cherry blossoms are beautiful,. but the petals are delicate; one puff of wind and they will fall.
We must look down and notice the grass that we step on but which continues to grow.
Men seek position and power, but like cherry blossoms, they are fragile. We must develop strong spirit and overcome all obstacles in life. Even the grasses have beautiful flowers if we take the time to see. These flowers will withstand any storm.

Promotion

Kyu and dan promotions are to gauge the members' experience and advancement in the training. They are also to see if the students will be able to perform the required arts for their test under pressure.
As the students advance in grade, they must take responsibility in club activities, as committee chairmen or members. At the dan level, students must help beginners.

The law of nature is to "give and you shall receive." Those who refuse to help will stop receiving.

The instructor receives by teaching his students; teach all you know and you shall receive more. Help the weak and nature will protect you.

The fruit of each tree is the same

When students learn from other instructors than their own, they will see that the art is done a little differently. Some students will judge, and reject it, or accept it as a new form. Students must not judge, but only learn the arts that are taught by any instructor. This is the way to aiki (spiritual oneness). The Founder is the seed, all the branches of the tree are his students or instructors of today, and not one branch is the same. But the fruit it bears is all the same. The fruit is spiritual oneness.

Loyalty

Loyalty to the Founder and to your teacher is one of the most important things in Aikido. The Founder, his successors, and the Honbu (Headquarters, Japan) will be first. To be faithful to your teacher, your club, and the Federation.

Once a ranking instructor from Japan and his otomo came to Hawaii with a group. The ranking instructor received a mounted black coral tree from the Hawaii members. The otomo said to his teacher "I like it better if the skin was peeled off." The teacher remarked, "It is beautiful with the skin on." The otomo said, "Of course, I like it better with the skin on, it is much more beautiful with the skin on."

I witnessed the conversation and admired the otomo for his faithfulness.
Loyalty is to have faith without thought of oneself. To be able to take blame to protect one's master. Arguing to prove your point is not the way (michi). Proving that you are right is wrong.

Feeling

Every living thing has feeling.

One with nature

To be one with nature is to be in harmony with all people. Men are the highest creation of nature.

O Sensei

"Get rid of self and you avoid the spears of death."

"To get rid of self" is to stop thinking of personal glory or fame. "the spears of death" is to be criticized by others. The spears are the fingers of accusation. If we stop thinking of personal glory or fame we avoid the fingers of accusation, which stop our growth: death.

Mind Power

unfortunately, this is where the noteboook ends [ST].