The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Jocelyn Dubois of Paris, France.
Hikitsuchi Sensei’s one-month visit having just ended, we would like to offer a few thoughts in reflection. The aikido 10th-dan’s presentation of the art is characterized by a spiritual/religious emphasis in many ways reminiscent of O-Sensei. This exposure to yet another point of view most certainly has matured students of aikido in this region and left them better equipped to formulate their own personal interpretation of the art.
The Shinto ceremony conducted by Hikitsuchi Sensei in commemoration of the death of O-Sensei was a particularly moving experience for those attending. The fact that a language barrier existed did not hinder onlookers from grasping the importance of the occasion. The atmosphere and symbology of the ceremony served to establish a new cultural reference point from which to ponder O-Sensei’s ideas on budo.
At the same time, we would do well to remember O-Sensei’s views on aikido as it relates to religion. Although himself a devout Shintoist and student of Japanese traditional religious literature, he considered his new budo as something other than a religion: “When anybody asks if my aiki budo principles are taken from religion, I say, no, my true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion.” (from Aikido, by Kisshomaru Ueshiba)
Also, in this connection, it is useful to recall that the art we know as aikido is a synthetic form incorporating key elements of a long martial arts tradition. O-Sensei’s background included training in several jujutsu styles, the spear, the staff, the sword as well as other weapons. The aikido founder encouraged Hikitsuchi Sensei and many of his earlier students to study other martial arts wherever possible as he had done during his formative years.
Thus, both philosophically and stylistically, Aikido represents an inclusive form which allows for a wide range of individual interpretation yet leads irrevocably to a single goal: a world of non-conflict.