Interviews

Interview with Tada Hiroshi: A Lifetime Cultivating the Ki

Tada Hiroshi Shihan is one of the last living students of O Sensei Ueshiba Morihei. He has taught some of the greatest teachers in activity, both in Japan and abroad. He Shihan currently holds the rank of 9th Dan, which makes him the highest ranking instructor in the Hombu Dojo's hierarchy. Tada Shihan is know for the extraordinary dynamism of his demonstrations even though he is well into his 80's. With the help of his long time student, Mr Fabio Gygi, we decided to ask him about his past and about the physical and psychological concepts that he teaches during his many seminars all year round.

GuillaumeErard.com: When did you first encounter Budo?

Tada Hiroshi: When I was a small child. People before the Second World War all did. They started practice in primary school. Furthermore, in my family a style of archery was transmitted. At the back of our house there was an impressive makiwara. I had the red and black bow that belonged to my father when he was as a child and I learned the basics with it.

GuillaumeErard.com: That was in your own home?

Tada Hiroshi: In our house. It was always like that. The style was called Heki-Ryu Chikurin-ha Ban-pa It is a very rare school. It was taught in Tsushima to the upper class Samurai who earned more than 500 koku of rice per year. Although we had a shooting range in our home,  we didn't accept outside students. It was part of our family education. Everybody used to do this.

GuillaumeErard.com: Only at home?

Tada Hiroshi: Yes, at home. You had a dojo in your house and that's where you'd practice. The same is true for horsemanship. A proper samurai would have a stable and practice there. You wouldn't have to go to school for that. Of course there are also things that you go to school for.

GuillaumeErard.com: Was this in Tokyo?

Tada Hiroshi: Tokyo, in Jyugaoka. I was born in the University of Tokyo hospital, when it was still in Nishikatamachi. My father was at the Tokyo Imperial University at that time. In 1933 we moved to Jiyugaoka. The house was large and Jiyugaoka at that time was still countryside. I started to practice with the sword in primary school and when I was a student I also practiced Karate with Funakoshi Gichin Sensei.

Gichin FunakoshiFunakoshi Gichin (1868 - 1957) founder of modern Karate-do

GuillaumeErard.com: Was that Shotokan-ryu?

Tada Hiroshi: Shotokan. This is how people called it. Sensei did not call it like that. Shoto was Funakoshi Gichin Sensei's pen name. It is the same kanji as the one used for the Shoto district in Shibuya. Shoto means "the wind rustling in the pine needles sounds like waves".

GuillaumeErard.com: Did you meet Funakoshi Sensei?

Tada Hiroshi: Yes, many times. When Funakoshi Sensei went home from the Dojo, I also went to see him off two or three times.

GuillaumeErard.com: What was your motivation for entering the Ueshiba Dojo?

Tada Hiroshi: I had known about it since childhood. I'd often hear about it during the war, when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. Many famous people were studying this exceptional Budo. Yano Ichiro, the former president of Dai-Ichi Seimei, was a close friend of my father. He had started Kendo as a child at Hibiya High School and did it all the way through and Tokyo University. Then he became the chairman of the Businessmen's Association and he was also holding the highest degree (Hanshi) of the Butokukai. Mr Yano said about O Sensei that: "Compared to Ueshiba Morihei Sensei I am like a baby". That's what I heard as a child.

Then when I went to Manchuria in 1941, it was the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Manchu state. There was a meeting of Budoka from all  over Japan. There was a large demonstration at the Hall of Martial Arts in front of the Last Emperor of China. I heard that the demonstration that Ueshiba Sensei gave that time was incredible. I was supposed to attend too, but my mother and my sister talked too much and we missed it. But my cousin saw it.

manchukoMartial arts representative gathered in the Hall of Martial Arts in occupied Manchuria

GuillaumeErard.com: How old were you?

Tada Hiroshi: I was twelve. From that point, things became difficult because of the war. A short while after the topic came up again during the spring break at Waseda University Karate Club. There were talks about a famous master called Ueshiba. That Admiral Takeshita was a patron of his, and that he could throw foreign officers in the blink of an eye. Harada Mitsusuke who is in London now and Oshima Tsutomu who is now in America were also there when we talked about it. Mr Takeda, who was the captain at the time said: "Now that you mention it, a relative of mine did the illustrations for the book on Budo by Ueshiba-Sensei." I forgot her name, but I knew her well. He said he could get me the dojo's address if I was interested. It was is Wakamatsu 102. It was a short walk from Waseda University.

hombuHombu Dojo c. 1957

GuillaumeErard.com: The same place as today's Hombu Dojo?

Tada Hiroshi: Yes, nowadays' Wakamatsu-cho 17-18, but it used to be number 102.

GuillaumeErard.com: Did you need a guarantor to sign up?

Tada Hiroshi: No, it was already after the war. Generally there were too few people to even make up a dojo.  So you would just have to go visit to be admitted.

GuillaumeErard.com: Were there still refugees living in the dojo?

Tada Hiroshi: There were, for another three or four years. It wasn't really a shelter, just one family. From the 80 tatamis, 20 were partitioned off, and they lived on these 20 tatamis.

GuillaumeErard.com: What was the practice schedule like?

Tada Hiroshi: Practice was from Monday to Saturday. In the morning from 6:30 am to 7:30 am, and the evening one was from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm, that was it. Then you could practice for yourself freely for the whole day. Kisshomaru Sensei was employed and had to go to work because there were only 5 or 6 students, and big corporations no longer subsidized the dojo. It wasn't that kind of time anymore.

kisshomaru ueshiba osaka shojiUeshiba Kisshomaru in front of his company, the Osaka Shoji

GuillaumeErard.com: Could you tell us about O Sensei's whereabouts at the time?

Tada Hiroshi: O Sensei was always on the move between Iwama, Tokyo, and other places. When he went to the Kansai Area he would come back to Tokyo and then continue to Iwama. Then he would come back to Tokyo and go to Kansai again. Suita in Osaka, Tanabe in Wakayama, Hikitsuchi Michio.s dojo in Shingu. That’s what he did all the time.

GuillaumeErard.com: When you started, was it already called "Aikido"?

Tada Hiroshi: When I was admitted it was not called that yet, it was called “Aiki-Budo”. There was no official name. When I was a student at Waseda university, I wanted to create a club. Ueshiba Sensei started to give seminars at his dojo. I wanted to invite O Sensei to teach like that. But in order to advertise this we needed the name of a professor, so we asked Mr Tomiki.  To call it “Aiki-Budo” was problematic because of the times, so I chose “Aikido”. But even before then it was called “Aikido”. Under the Butokukai, it was practiced in the section called “Aikido”.

GuillaumeErard.com: Wasn't "Aikido" meant as an umbrella term to gather different empty-handed system?

Tada Hiroshi: No, that was not the case, it was Ueshiba Sensei’s Aikido. My cousin brought me the programme of the 1942 demonstration in Manchuria, I lost it but it was billed as “Ueshiba-Ryu Aikijutsu”. This name also appears in a novel, some kind of children’s fiction.

GuillaumeErard.com: I started Aikido in Andre Nocquet's group, did you know Mr Nocquet?

Tada Hiroshi: When Mr Nocquet joined, I think I was in my mid 20s. Mr Nocquet was around 40. Before he came, Mr Mochizuki Minoru had been to France in 1951, invited by Sakurazawa Nyoichi. Over there he called himself "George Ohsawa", the George Ohsawa of macrobiotics. It all started when Mr Mochizuki was invited to France by him. The year after, Abe Tadashi went. It was in 1952. At the beginning, M. Nocquet practiced Judo, and after he had mastered it, he started to practice with Abe Tadashi for several years. He found it amazing and decided to practice more and came to Japan, where he stayed for 3 or 4 years. After Mr Nocquet came, several Frenchmen started coming.

name plateNafudakake of the hombu Dojo c. 1956

The French embassy was also involved. They sponsored an Aikido demonstration at the Ueshiba Dojo. Mr Nocquet gave a demonstration, there are some photographs. There were also some articles about him in the Yomiuri newspaper. [Note: Following our discussion, Tada Shihan kindly came back from his house to offer me those newspaper articles. You can read them translated in English here]

article nocquet 01

Newspaper article about Andre Nocquet

GuillaumeErard.com: Andre Nocquet used to say that your nikyo was very painful! [laughs]

Tada Hiroshi: I was young! [laughs] I was only in my twenties, I was practicing from morning to evening. I did not get a job, but dedicated myself to the exclusive study of Aikido and Japanese Budo. I remember that when he returned. At that time you would leave Japan by ship from Yokohama. He left with an American ship and we went to see him off.

nocquet yokohama

Andre Nocquet about to board his return ship in Yokohama (1957)

When he went home he was perhaps 44 or 45 years old. I don't know what he did just after going home. I went to Italy in October 1964 and in 1965, I was invited to France by Noro. That time, Mr Nocquet came with another person to greet me, and he watched the demonstration.

GuillaumeErard.com: Was it at this time that public demonstrations started?

Tada Hiroshi: The first public demonstrations took place on the roof of Takashimaya. It was done there because there was no other place where to do a demonstration. Of course the Budokan didn't exist. There was no place that could host a demonstration. It was not yet the time when you could rent the Hibiya Kokaido at great expense. After the demonstration at Takashimaya, followed those at Mitsukoshi and on the roof of Shibuya's Tokyu department store. Then you could rent a lecture hall in a beauty school or at a newspaper publisher, different places like that.

takashimaya windowWindow of the Takashimaya department store advertising Aikido

GuillaumeErard.com: But which was the proper first such occasion the Aikikai put on?

Tada Hiroshi: If you look at the records you should find it.

GuillaumeErard.com: It seems that Kisshomaru Doshu had a hard time getting O Sensei to approve of such public displays.

Tada Hiroshi: O Sensei was reluctant to open Aikido to the public. Originally it was not something that was made available to the public. It was the same in Daito-ryu. Takeda Sokaku Sensei did not disclose things openly either. None of the old Budoka did that. They only showed it to privileged people, not to outsiders.

It used to be called Otome-waza. Otome-waza are the techniques that would not be allowed to be taught outside one’s feudal domain. It's completely understandable because it would put you at a disadvantage if you let outsiders learn your secrets. Another reason was that if a teaching spread too far, it would deteriorate. That’s why it was only taught to special people, very carefully. It was that sort of time.

GuillaumeErard.com: When did you decide to make Aikido your profession?

Tada Hiroshi: It's not a profession! That's a difficult topic. It is not a profession, because it is so enormous, it is research. That is the point. In the Budo of old, like the archery transmitted in my family, no students were taken. One's occupation was as retainer of a lord, as samurai. It is not the notion of earning a living through Aikido. It was just about doing research. It might be hard to understand.

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GuillaumeErard.com: There is a debate in the world of Aikido about how important weapons training is.

Tada Hiroshi: If you practice the basic empty-handed techniques well, naturally you should be able to use weapons as well. This is not only true for Aikido, but applies to all the traditional forms of Budo. It is said that: “Jujustu is the mother of all martial arts”. So if you use your body and the techniques carefully and with precision, then, if you hold a sword, it will become a sword movement, if you hold a spear, a Naginata a Jo, you will be able to use them all.

If you control the kokyu and timing, you should be able to use all of the Samurai's weapon such as chain and sickle, etc. You don't have to learn it as a special skill. But of course if you use the sword you have to get used to it and to know its characteristics, the fact that it cuts for example. With the spear you will use the spear’s characteristic at will. The same with the Naginata, it is necessary to grasp the specificities. But to say because it is Aikido you have to practice with the Jo or the sword is odd. The real idea is that you will be able to use everything. That's how it is, and it's not specific to Aikido.

There is a book about how in the Meiji period, the head of a primary school created a form of gymnastics based on the martial arts for children. You can read about it in the book Meiji budo-shi by Watanabe Ichiro Sensei. It's not just normal callisthenics, the form integrates Japanese martial arts. If you master this bujitsu-taiso well, they should be able to use sword, spear, naginata, and staff. He was a schoolteacher, so he let the kids practice. That's the idea.

budo shi 02Budo-shi by Watanabe Ichiro

So in Aikido, if you practice the technique well, if the way you use the movement is correct, it will become Aikiken, or Aiki with the spear, or Aiki with the naginata, or Aiki with the jo. Or if you throw something, it will become an Aiki-specific way of throwing. Kokyu. That's what it is. If you look at modern day Judo or Kendo, you don't see this way of thinking. Because they are competitive systems that are based on one set of rules. Within that framework, you think of nothing else. In Judo you have Judo rules, you automatically fall into a way of thinking and throwing that follows these rules. When you look at contemporary Judo, Kendo and Naginata, they are all thought of as different things. But that's not the case! Historically, the way of thinking is different. So originally in Aikido, if you can work with the sword or the spear, you can also work with the naginata, this is taken for granted.

But it requires a lot of time because you have to familiarize yourself with the weapons. But people just don't practice. If you don't practice you won’t be able to do it. For example, if you do Shiho-Nage in a flash, you can also cut in four directions, it will also become a Jo movement and if done with the spear it will become a thrust in four directions. It all depends on your dedication. O Sensei practiced this all the time.

GuillaumeErard.com: Is this a question of practicing by yourself?

Tada Hiroshi: Practice on your own, yes, then it is a question of mastering the way of using the weapon. But there is a fundamental difference in the way of thinking; whether you think of the weapon as part of your own body, or whether you think of it as something external that you have to confront first. If you don't understand it, you aren't going to be able to solve this problem.

GuillaumeErard.com: Did O Sensei practice alone a lot?

Tada Hiroshi: When O Sensei was in the forests of Ayabe, he would hang up small targets in 8 directions, and practice piercing them with a spear over 5 meters long, from morning to evening. That is how he mastered the spear.

osensei ayabeIllustration from the book "Introduction to Aikido" (1972) by Ueshiba Kisshomaru, representing O sensei training with spear in Ayabe

Then when O Sensei moved to Tokyo at the behest of Admiral Takeshita, Yamamoto Gonbei, who was Naval Minister during the Russo-Japanese war, and who later became Prime Minister, saw O Sensei with the spear and said "This is the first time I saw a living spear since the Meiji revolution". O Sensei himself said: “I am confident in my spear skills”. He said that to stack up 60kg sacks of rice in different piles with the spear was child's play for him. He said it was very easy. So if you practice Aikido techniques intensively and you want to express a certain flow of movements with the sword or with the jo it will work. If you don't do this, you won't be able to.

GuillaumeErard.com: Which is more important, to practice alone or with a partner?

Tada Hiroshi: Of course, moving alone is more important. If you cannot move alone you won't be able to move with a partner either. When your partner attacks you in this fashion, you can do this, (a certain suite of movements) you have to practice occasionally but it's different (from the core practice).

GuillaumeErard.com: How so?

Tada Hiroshi: The first principle of training is to use your own mind and body working on the basics. Once you've mastered this, you will be able to apply it to everything. If you do not have this core idea (of practice) you won't understand. If you cannot use your mind and body freely, how are you going to practice with a partner? What is called realistic practice, when your partner attacks you like this you do this, when he attacks you like that, you do that, that is just one kind of practical application.

It is like a surgeon who is operating. If you do not have the basic skills, you won't be able to operate. So you have first to master the use of your mind and body. Once you've done this, the techniques will be born naturally. That's the traditional way of thinking. In the art of the sword the use of the sword is crucial, but when push comes to shove, it is all down to the way you use your mind and body. Bear this in mind and forge yourself through training, this is the teaching of the traditional transmission (of Budo).

GuillaumeErard.com: There is rarely talk of Ki energy at the Hombu Dojo, why is that?

Tada Hiroshi: This is something you have to research for yourself. It's “the use of your own life energy, so learn about it by yourself”, or so we've always been told. That's the way it has always been. If you are not familiar with this from your childhood onwards it is difficult. For example, in archery, why should one not be attached to whether one hits the target or not? Why practice in a dispassionate, indifferent manner?

To put it simply, it's the way you use your mind and body. If you are not interested in this aspect, you won't be able to do it. It's not because you are taught this that you will be able to do it. One point is the flow of ki energy. In the practice of O Sensei there was the “flow of ki” and the “tanren”. This was first described in the journal Aikikai-shi in 1950. Now you can find it in the book “The Spirit of Aikido”. The method of practice in Aikido is divided into flowing ki and tanren.

aikido shinbun first issueFirst issue of the Aikikai Journal (1950)

Tanren means you let your partner grip strongly. But this won't turn into technique. Because heads will just fly. (The aim is) not to be perturbed even if you are held strongly. If you are held strongly, if your feeling is not attached to the adversary, you will be able to move. The flow of ki energy [ki no nagare], on the other hand, is more complicated. You first learn the correct order of the movements for a technique. As you do it, the corners of a triangle become rounder and rounder, and eventually becomes like a circle, as in riaii (harmony of principles]. Then a flow emerges. A flow of the body.

Add to this Kokyu, what is known abroad as Pranayama, receiving energy through breathing. “Ki no renma” [polishing the ki] means to augment and focus your life energy. Apart from techniques of Aikido, when someone falls ill and wants to heal themselves with their life energy, that is also “ki no nagare no renma” [polishing the flow of ki]. In this way you unify the technique with the flow of your own life energy. O Sensei said “polishing the flow of ki” to explain it in a contemporary fashion.

GuillaumeErard.com: Did O Sensei explicitly speak about Ki No Renma?

Tada Hiroshi: Yes, and it also appears in his writings. But when you only make an effort to study the word “ki”, you won't understand. It will depend on your worldview on your view of the universe. Japanese thinking is Eastern philosophy. It is necessary to investigate the connections, from India and China and then Shintoism etc.  It is unique and independent of other developments. It has also spread to Europe and America in other forms.

GuillaumeErard.com: You often talk about how difficult it was to understand O Sensei's lectures, but how it became easier after you met Nakamura Tempu Sensei.

Tada Hiroshi: What I understood after I started following Tempu Sensei was due to studying the transmissions of the ancient martial arts and the way of thinking of Japanese traditional culture.

hiroshi tada tempukai 1959Tada Hiroshi practicing at the Tempukai under supervision of Nakamura Tempu (1959)

That is different from saying that O Sensei's talk was hard to understand. To understand O Sensei's talk you need to have a grasp of the way Japanese traditional culture understood things, then it becomes easier to understand. The root of Ueshiba Sensei's lectures was Shingon esoteric Buddhism.Over this there is a layer of ancient Shintoism. If you do not grasp this, it will be hard to understand.

As for Shinto, there was a Sempai at the Tempukai, about 8 years older than me, called Sugiyama Hikoichi who went to Kokugakuin, a school that taught Shintoism. For him it was easy to grasp the meaning of O Sensei's speech. The Shinto deities have meaning. The different ways they are connected. With these explanations, you can start understanding. You grasp the rough idea through intuitive feeling. From the different stories you hear from your childhood onwards, you immediately understand the feeling. But a more detailed understanding is not possible. What I understood through what Tempu Sensei said was rather the method to put it into practice. Why do we practice with this method, because there are these reasons and these connections.

That is still relevant today. The Western “mental training” or “mental management” [sic] all come from the research into Raja Yoga and Hata Yoga. Japanese culture contains what came from India via China. One of the origins of Japanese Culture is Kobo-Daishi, the syncretic mix of Shintoism and Buddhism. This is Shinbutsu Konko. To explain Raja Yoga in simple words as “To put emphasis on the connection between human beings and the universe”. This then becomes Japanese Buddhism or even national doctrine under the patronage of the Imperial family. This spreads all over Japan and also is contained in all the martial arts.

GuillaumeErard.com: How can we realize this in everyday practice?

Tada Hiroshi: If I start talking about this it will take a long time. The most important point is to not be attached by things/adversaries. It is the difference between “concentration” and “attachment”. This is the biggest problem. How to attain this state of non-attachment easily, this applies to all problems of everyday life.

tada hiroshi 04Tada Shihan lecturing during the 12th IAF Congress in Takasaki

GuillaumeErard.com: Is it a skill developed through intensive practice?

Tada Hiroshi: Rather than skill or intensive practice, it is about whether it permeates your daily life. This is an exceptionally difficult problem. It applies to all actions. If you think of it in terms of “how to augment and to use your life energy” you will understand. Heightening your life energy and then to use it.

There is no one who is not facing this problem. From the moment you are born to your death. This is a difficult problem. It is difficult but this is where the stress lies.

GuillaumeErard.com: Was this what O Sensei practiced?

Tada Hiroshi: O Sensei was born in Kii-Tanabe, at the base of mount Koya. His family belonged to Shingon esoteric Buddhism. Since his childhood he held these teachings dear. Then when he was 35 he met Deguchi Onisaburo. But when I tried listening to O Sensei talk, I understood that he had profoundly investigated the teachings within the tradition and understood them in his own way.

GuillaumeErard.com: Earlier, you mentioned the "Budo Renshu" book. Could you talk about it?

Tada Hiroshi: There are actually several versions of this book. There is also a mimeographed version. The soft back one from after the war is a bit different. The post-war version… What year was this? Towards the end of 1945. It is a bit different from O Sensei at that time. The first mimeographed version was also copied. This was a bit problematic, because it happened without consulting O Sensei.

aikijujutsu densho moritaka ueshiba sSide by side, the 1934 and 1954 versions of the book, which contain mostly the same text and pictures. [For more information about these two books, click here]

GuillaumeErard.com: What did O Sensei think about writing books?

Tada Hiroshi: O Sensei was often told to write a book, but as he kept on changing all the time, that would be difficult. If he would not change he could write up (his vision of Aikido), but he changed all the time. What is the point of writing what you were doing before when new changes happen all the time? It can't be written.

GuillaumeErard.com: You often use the phrase: “Aikido is Budo that is alive in the present time”.

Tada Hiroshi: This was something Kisshomaru Doshu used to say. He said: “Ueshiba Morihei, my father, was aiming for a martial art alive in the present”. But I don't know what precisely he meant. I don't know the context it was used in because he didn't explain it.  We may have a vague sense of what he meant. But I don't know what kind of meaning Kisshomaru Sensei and Ueshiba Sensei gave to it.

tada hiroshi 09

GuillaumeErard.com: What meaning do you personally ascribe to it?

Tada Hiroshi: It is an art that has at its centre the principles of the mind and body, a technique that is born from the extreme attentiveness of Budo, from the very borderline of life (and death). Through this technique, through our life, our mind and bodies, how can we create something positive for contemporary society? Without destruction, in a positive direction? That is what it means to me. After all, the saying: “Love is at the root of the martial arts” does not refer to the idea of love that we normally talk about. It's the love of the universe.

GuillaumeErard.com: How has your own Aikido changed?

Tada Hiroshi: At the beginning, when I was a university student, I practiced extremely hard. But listening to O Sensei and Tempu Sensei, even without being aware of it while practicing. When you are young you practice vigorously, you practice it as a technique to fight. But as a general principle, when the word “the way” is added to a martial art, it means that it becomes removed from the actual practice (of fighting).

Even so, from the Meiji period onwards, wars with foreign countries started happening and society was no longer able to think outside the frame of “fighting”. That is when things became complicated. There was a gap between the development of society (toward militarism) and what O Sensei was practicing. That was the difficulty. Especially from the Showa period onwards.

GuillaumeErard.com: There is the saying: “to become poisoned by secret teachings”, could you explain it?

Tada Hiroshi: For example, when my grandfather started doing archery. My great-grandfather who was born in the period of the samurai, was very skilled in horsemanship and archery. When my grandfather started, he told him two things. One was “Do not criticise other people's technique”. The other was “Do not read books about archery”. That is what he told him. Because confusion will arise. This master says this, this other master says something completely different. To choose the best from different things is the method to make the least progress. It will be a patchwork.

tada hiroshi 08

If you want to learn something properly you must first follow and master the master's teaching. After that, occasionally you will find something very sophisticated written in an archery book. “To become poisoned by secret teachings” is something that occurs in Aikido as well. Instead of looking at their feet, people look up and imitate sophisticated movements in a pretentious, empty manner. That is called “to be poisoned by secret teachings”. This is quite rife in Aikido.

GuillaumeErard.com: How has the practice of Aikido changed up to the present?

Tada Hiroshi: I can't say because it's different for different people. It's like art. In Japanese, Budo is called “art”. But when the English word “art” was introduced during the Meiji restoration, and we used the word “geijutsu” for translation because there was nothing else, there was no equivalent and so it was adapted as “geijutsu”. That is why Issai Chosan's book is called “Tengu Geijutsuron”. The meaning of the Japanese word “geijutsu” is "martial art" here. Whether you put Budo into the large education framework created by the ministry of education, or whether you think it should be turned into a sport, and if you do so what will change, this is all a question of the way you think. The difficult thing is the reality. And why? Because if everyone practices the same thing simultaneously, people who move in a unique manner will become rarer. 

tengu

Tengu Geijutsuron

A further point, the biggest perhaps, is that we no longer live in a period in which we need martial arts as practical skill. The police may use Taihojutsu to apprehend criminals, soldiers may practice martial arts, that still exists, but for the general public it is a means of education, no longer common sense. There is a tendency to think of it as no longer important. But in reality it is important to practice and cultivate an art of some kind. Whether it is dance, or painting, or music, it is better if everyone were to practice something with their mind and body that allows them to express themselves through it. That is certain. Separate from self-defense, or from part of police training, or from fighting skills for the self-defense forces, but as a traditional Japanese art. Because it will polish your perception/sensation/intuition. It will polish the way you think about things. And the biggest of all problems, the difference between concentration and attachment.

GuillaumeErard.com: How can we overcome this problem?

Tada Hiroshi: To overcome? When you've learned the technique and practice very hard, you will unconsciously be able to feel the difference between concentration and attachment. For example, I am now 86, quite a few of my friends and colleagues are sick, or hurt, and some of them even saw their children passed away before them. That is when the state of your mind and the way you use your mind (becomes important). Do you understand “attachment”? The difference between “concentration” and “attachment”?

GuillaumeErard.com: “Attachment” means you are captured by things, ”concentration” means you simply reflect things like a mirror?

Tada Hiroshi: Chuang Tze said: “The true human being uses their mind like a mirror”, 3000 years ago. There is no doubt that this is the most important problem of mankind in its 3000-year history.

tada hiroshi 06

GuillaumeErard.com: How does one change into the other?

Tada Hiroshi: Attachment means the mind is attached to the things it perceives; it stops. Concentration means you simply reflect things like a mirror, that is why you remain free. When you fall ill for example, in order to heal if you remain attached your mind will tire and attain a state of suffering. That is the problem. That is the origin of all problems. Whenever something big happens in the world, the reason usually is (attachment of some kind). From the largest wars and rebellions to the most personal and smallest problem, it is the root of everything. When you think of that, it is very important. But it is a very difficult problem, not something that can be taught. Even if you understand the rationale, it doesn't mean that you can attain a transparent state of mind.

GuillaumeErard.com: One has to investigate this for oneself?

Tada Hiroshi: How you tackle this is extremely important.

GuillaumeErard.com: Thank you very much.

Tada Hiroshi: You are welcome. Was it alright? I think you're going to have a hard time translating that! [laughs]

Guillaume Erard
Author: Guillaume Erard
A resident of Japan for nearly a decade, Guillaume Erard trains at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, where he received the 5th Dan from Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. He also holds a 3rd Dan in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the secretive art that Morihei Ueshiba learned from Sokaku Takeda. Erard is the Information Director of the International Aikido Federation and the Deputy Secretary of International Affairs of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Shikoku Headquarters. He is also passionate about science and education and holds a PhD in Molecular Biology.
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