September 20, 2010

Katsujinken: the sword that gives life

This past weekend saw the visit of T.K. Chiba Sensei, an Aikido master and Zen practitioner, to Chicago. Though Chiba Sensei is not in our particular Zen lineage, he is nevertheless one of the important and immensely powerful teachers whose energy has made Korinji's development possible. More than this, in fact, I can say very definitely that without Chiba Sensei, there would be no Korinji.

This may be a surprise to many of you since Toyoda Sensei, another Aikido master and one of our original teachers, is most often mentioned in this regard. Certainly it was Toyoda Sensei's dream of a rural Zen training monastery that was the seed of Korinji, and his work to plant both Zen and traditional martial arts in the West that set the tone for our practice. Toyoda Sensei was one of those who labored to transmit the spirit of Omori Roshi's training, and all of us now endeavor to do the same.

But it was Chiba Sensei who, during the difficult time immediately following Toyoda Sensei's sudden death, stepped in and encouraged many of us - in the true meaning of the word - to continue with our work. Had he not done this, I can say for sure that Korinji would not be happening. None of the resources currently going into Korinji, and none of the many hands building Korinji (belonging almost entirely to Aikido students, interestingly) would be here.

This was no coincidence. Toyoda Sensei and Chiba Sensei had a relationship rooted in their common ties to Aikido, Zen and misogi training, and their common work of transmitting these mind-body practices to westerners. In supporting us now with his energy and advice, one could perhaps say he is following through on the intentions behind that relationship.

Leaving aside "reasons" and "intentions", however, we can also simply say that Chiba Sensei is a good and wise teacher who has been immensely kind to us. We therefore count him among the key persons whose groundbreaking efforts have made everything in the future possible for Korinji. As we watch Korinji take physical shape, we should remember such remarkable individuals - a network of energy and intention stretching back through generations - who continue to be the benefactors enlivening our work.

No comments: