Tanaka Shigeho Shihan was a major contributor to my Aikido development. He gave me private and small-group lessons at the Shiseikan Dojo located in Meiji Shrine Park. His mastery of empty-handed techniques and various weapons systems was daunting to watch and to feel. Here are extracts from a speech that he gave in Toronto in 1992 when he visited with students from Senshuu University.

“…my purpose has never been to advertise and expand Japanese Budo. My conviction is that it is vital that countries which have different cultural backgrounds correctly understand each other’s traditional arts, culture, and way of life. [However], I am willing to make an unstinting effort to cooperate if people from other cultures are seriously determined to learn Budo, despite cultural barriers.

“…I shall be speaking about my general mental attitude toward Bushido, and my attitudes toward life and death. I will speak through a lifetime of Bushido, from the point of view of a Budo trainer who has been devoted to the practice and teaching of Budo…

“One of the distinct characteristics of the unchanging Bushido spirit is the attitude of clemency toward the opponent…We do not consider Bu [martial] merely as a way to defeat an opponent or as an effective stance for killing. It is taken, moreover, to quite an elevated level where power is used to correct wrong and to achieve justice. This is also to conquer evil and to be enlightened…

“Subsequently it requires courage to realize justice. Therefore, Bujin [martial arts practitioners] trained and disciplined themselves to promote the unfolding of such courage…”

To whatever extent I can, I am determined to pass on Tanaka Shihan’s legacy.

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