Interview with Ariga Kaname Shihan
By Fabio Branno (trans. Sato Fumie)
Fabio Branno: I’m very happy to share with all the Community this little interview that Ariga Shihan, that I’m proud to consider a guide and a beloved friend at the same time, kindly accorded to me.
Many thanks to him for his time and to Fumie Sato San, for her precise translation.
Q: Is the Aikido changed since your beginning?
The place where I grew up is a fishing village so that people there tend to have strong tempers, also there was "violence" around me in that period of Japan. In the beginning, there was "brawl".
Trying to win, trying not to fall down during Keiko, trying not to surrender… I was obsessed with "Winning", which is just the superficial thing. I was doing Keiko which I made a clear border between my partner and myself, and trying to defeat my partner was the number one priority.
I met so many people and had some shocking experiences, and I went through some turning points.
"Aikido" means to become one, that is what I am thinking and I put that in my mind during Keiko. It is not a struggle between Red and Blue, but one can produce Purple from those two. I am aiming for the Keiko which there are no borders and to be able to connect "World peace" that O-sensei was talking about.
However, I appreciate the period that I was able to do my Keiko as much as I wanted, which is only possible when you were young, and all my teachers and all my Aikido friends.
Q: How can one enroll a practice from the center?
I think that the meaning of "Center" includes "Hara", "Tanden", "Jiku" (Axis), "Seichu-sen" (Center line), "Kokyu" (Breathing), "Hajimari" (Place where the movement comes from), the most important thing is not to set an object outside of yourself, that is what I have come to think this way.
We would rather seek an object, evaluation or value in the outside world. I believe that it is important to have your own self-evaluation for the things which you create by yourself. You set your values, and afterwards you are not let yourself be affected by value judgment from outside. It is a waste of your time. I think when you seek inward, it becomes SELF, and when you seek outward, it becomes EGO.
We can learn those things through Aikido Keiko, which I think the most optimal culture for this learning.
Q: What can you say about your way of teaching Aikido?
When I started Aikido, "Kata-Keiko" was the main Keiko. There was almost no explanation and we just saw the demonstration and tried to imitate and repeat it. I think it is important that one contemplate during Keiko, and let your body learn how to move. However, doing automatic rote Kata-Keiko makes people’s feelings and thinking degenerate. The pace of understanding and the parts where you are interested are different from person to person. I would like to offer the movements and the words, which can be the tips for each of those.
I believe that the meaning of "Shido-sha" is not only teaching, but also guide, suggest and lead.
Q: Saku dojo has a very peculiar energy. It is a special dojo-community where everything is Aikido and Aikido is in everything. What is his secret?
"Dojo" is different from a gym or a sports hall. It is a place where people gather together with composed mind and body for one purpose. Recently there are fewer places like this. It has become easier for people to come and go, and people who have different purposes visit the dojo that is a cultural and spiritual place, and I think that makes the energy disturbed.
"Saku dojo" is an "Aikido" exclusive dojo and also it is a place for people who are pursuing Endo Seishiro Shihan’s way of Aikido to come together.
This is a place that has a clear purpose.
Saku city is one of a local city in Japan, and the population of less than 100,000 people. People gather here from all over the world in order to pursue one purpose. Saku dojo has been formed by the energy from those people.
The passion of Endo Shihan’s decision to build the dojo, the passion of those who supported and made an effort to follow Endo Shihan, the passion of dojo members training day after day, the passion of those people who love Endo Shihan and gather together, all these passions are spirits in the vessel of Saku dojo.
"Passion" is the key, I think.
Q: How much Aikido will change after Covid?
It has been four days since I saw this question. I have been receiving much different information from friends from all over the world, TV and internet everyday. The things happening right now, the things in the future and many thoughts are mingle with each other right now. If you say it will change, it will. If you say it won’t change, it won’t .This means that the number of people who realize what they really had originally, will increase. If the number of people who don’t expect so much and try to wish for a simple life will increase, I think it will be a good change and I hope it will be like this.
Being "Chisoku" (knowing contentment), I am thinking about this deeply in my heart.
Q: What is your aim for your Budo Life?
I would like to become a nicer person and I would like to live my life so that I will be able to say at the very last moment of my life, "It was a fun!"
Gasshou (Sincerely, with much gratitude).