Aikido Journal Home » Interviews » Teru Ikeda Aiki News Japan

Teru Ikeda

by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #87 (Winter/Spring 1991)


When did you enter the Hombu dojo?

I think it was around 1966.

Why did you take up aikido?

I was over 50 years old when I started. I guess I was quite a curiosity having begun at such an age. Before that time I had never done any kind of sports. When one of my juniors who had been teaching Japanese at a university in the United States was to return to Japan, it was proposed that I succeed her in her position. I thought that I would like to take something Japanese with me if I were to go to the United States. I thought of the martial arts. Since I knew that aikido was a martial art that older people could also practice, I came to the dojo without concern or worry. Everyone was very kind to me and O-Sensei often talked to me. I felt at home in the dojo.

Was the founder teaching at the dojo when you joined?

It was more that he would come to visit the dojo rather than actually being a resident teacher. One time he asked me to take ukemi for him. But I didn’t. How could a beginner like myself take ukemi for him! Later everyone laughed at me and said that I was the first student who had ever refused to take ukemi for him when he asked [laughter].

You are now involved with both the Japanese and English editions of the Aikikai newsletter?

That’s right. The Japanese newsletter is published monthly while the English newsletter is quarterly. Since there aren’t many things to write about for the English newsletter, I always have a hard time deciding what to cover. However, the newsletter is an important vehicle, both external and in-house, for the Hombu dojo; I think it is meaningful to continue publishing it.

How long have you been involved with this work?

I started when Sadateru Arikawa Sensei resigned from his post in charge of the Japanese Aikido Newsletter. Yoshimasa Miyazaki Sensei was his replacement. So it has been about 15 years.

Do you also edit articles?

No, I only collect them. A retired Yomiuri Newspaper Company employee is now in charge of the layout work.

Do you still practice every morning?

I practice before I start my work in a morning class which begins at 8 o’clock. I change into my training clothes every morning and go to the dojo, but I observe the class more often than I practice. Now I have become a critic.

Are there many at the dojo who are in their 50s, 60s or 70s? Are there many older female practitioners?

Yes, there are, but there are few women. I am the oldest in the general classes.

Have you any thoughts about the spiritual side of aikido?

I am more concerned with what comes before the technical aspect than I am with the spiritual aspect. If you do otherwise, you will never be able to execute a good technique. First of all, we must have good posture. Furthermore, we must concentrate our minds into the center of our bodies. This should be practiced not only in aikido but also in our daily lives. I feel that this has the power to turn misfortune into blessing. In other words, you should deal with things through your stomach (hara), without using your hands or legs, and think about things with your hara, and not with your head.

What was your relationship with O-Sensei like?

I talked to him or had tea with him in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Do you mean that you listened to Ueshiba Sensei’s difficult speeches over a cup of tea?

I didn’t understand anything he said. When I said to him, “I don’t understand what you are saying because you use old-fashioned expressions,” he replied, “What I am saying is the very latest.” When I think of it now, it was true, you know.

Anyway, I didn’t understand techniques, or what he was talking about. However, because he told me to come and chat with him, I often visited his room. One time he told me that he would teach me jo before the 8 o’clock morning practice and that I should come 10 or 15 minutes earlier. But I only went two or three times. I regret not having gone more often now. He was very kind to me.

Do you remember any particular episodes from this period?

In those days, I used to clean the dojo restroom every morning. One day when I poured the water on the floor, O-Sensei happened to be in one of the stalls, and he shouted in a loud voice, “You, insolent fellow!!” When I hastily apologized, he replied, “Oh, was it you? No use being angry then” [laughter].

Sensei had a nice beard. One time a foreign women came to the dojo to interview him and when she met him, she exclaimed, “How beautiful!” I learned that the term beauty could be used for men too.

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