Last Update Feb-29-2012
This column is created by Tomohiro Ishikawa, who is taking charge of "Rakushinkan in the world".
Rakushinkan, celebrating its 20 year anniversary, became an incorporated body.
It is already over 20 years since I started operation of dojos at the age of 30 in 1991. I am 51 year old now, and I feel I need to write about my course up to today and my thought.
I practice everyday. This is just I do everyday. Practice for me includes both hardship and pleasure. Practice looks monotonous at a glance, but I have pleasure of finding various changes or development in myself or disciples in daily practice. On an occasional day off, I repair my dojo and clean my garden. Just such activity on a day off makes me feel fine.
If I stay patient, disciples grow, I also grow, and Rakushinkan also grows larger. When I finished my life as a live-in disciple of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido Kai in 1991, I was given two classes: one in Kunitachi City and the other in Hachioji City. Since then, I have been made all the other classes with help from my disciples. Now, I have 38 classes in Japan and one class overseas. I think the development of Rakushinkan was not very fast, but it matched my pace.
Suppose you climb a mountain. You will have two types of difficulties: one in ascent and the other in descent.
When climbing up a mountain, you see a peak and you climb it considering it to be a destination. However, when you reach it, you will find another peak standing higher ahead of you. So, you must be patient, climbing one peak after another. This is a difficulty in climbing up a mountain.
If you can successfully reach a peak and it is the destination summit, that is nice for you. You will think for the time being that you have attained your goal. Then, how you will make steps further from this point or how you will live from this time emerges as a new difficulty. Accidents in mountaineering for the most part are said to happen in ascent rather than in descent.
After turning 30 and even 40, I was still unconfident in my activity in many situations. Although I have felt unconfident many times, I have never thought of stopping my activity. In the past, I changed drastically my training course or policy and our organization. "You see a peak and you climb it considering to be a destination, and, when you reach it, you will find another peak standing higher" is the way of the world. And, what I pursue is also changing. Also as to my techniques and activity, as it is said, "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins," I have been painstakingly trying to incorporate new original ideas into my activity while following old teaching. I think this continued effort leads to the propagation of Rakushinkan activity, and this is the way I should follow.
From olden days, they have been saying about learning of martial arts, "Without a good teacher, you should not learn." Also, there is saying: "You should spend three years on seeking for a teacher instead of spending the same period on training yourself." In regard to learning of a martial art, it is difficult to meet a good teacher who has something you want to acquire, and the learning is more difficult after you meet your teacher and start your learning. This is similar to the two difficulties in the mountaineering allegory I presented above.
I met Master Zenyu Nagao Ittosai around 1999 when 13 years had past since I became a professional martial artist. Then, I asked him for instructions and received the following by the name of Tomohiro Ishikawa Ittosai:
Up to the present, I could have a Tokyo-based foundation for my activity. Now, we, Rakushinkan, would like to aim at a higher summit.
Our organization "General Incorporated Association Rakushinkan" consists of the following two departments:
We learn kenjutsu, iaijutsu, and Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu as traditional Japanese martial arts. The purpose of this department is to preserve old techniques as they were in olden days and hand down them to future generations after deeply studying and understanding tradition.
Although Aikido is a relatively modern martial art, our training focuses on "kenju ittai" techniques, old techniques that are applicable to both kenjutsu and jujutsu. We convey the essence of aikido in a comprehensible way, and aim to utilize hand and body techniques that do not depend on strong physical force as a way of education and for increasing health of disciples.
There is saying: "One light leads every light to turn on" . When one person lights a small light, everyone lights a light correspondingly. Similarly, an idea or thought of one person is spread to the world. So, I myself would like to be a small light to convey aiki techniques and spirit to people in the world, and I will make efforts so that lights of Rakushinkan will be lit worldwide. We thought this saying of "one light leads every light" suggests a philosophical principle of Onoha Itto-ryu kenjutsu: "One sword leads to every sword" . "One" is "one" from the word "Itto-ryu" (one-sword-ryu), representing the principle of kenjutsu. What is this "one" is the most important question, and this is the very principle to be conveyed. Once I acquire "one sword," it turns to "one light," and it will brightly light the way I am going.
There will still be difficulty in the future. It is important to train people and inherit spirit and techniques, which are in turn to be handed down to future generations.
Recently, Mr. Josh MacDonald, who I trained under my own care, has opened the first overseas dojo of Rakushinkan in Calgary, Canada. I thank him very much.
I strongly hope that I train people who will work as instructors outside Japan following after Mr. Josh MacDonald. I am looking forward to seeing high-minded instructors appear in Europe, the United States, Asia, and other locations in the world. I have such a joyful expectation in challenging days.
*1: "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins" (Matthew 9:17). This means that it is not good to depend on an old style too long. When you have grown up, you need a suitable outfit.
The Chief Instructor of Canda is Josh MacDonald.
Josh MacDonald has over 20 years of martial arts experience. He obtained his sho-dan (black belt) in Chito Ryu karate in 2000. Sensei MacDonald ("Jo-shu Sensei") received black belts in Aikido, Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu during his time in Japan.
From Josh Sensei
My time training at Rakushinkan dojo was a wonderful one. I have fond memories of training closely with Ishikawa Sensei and the other students. When I went to Japan I was originally looking for a karate dojo as that was my base. I actually had a plan to try to relocate to Kumamoto and train with some Chito Ryu karate sensei there. In Chiba, I was unable to find any karate dojos that suited me so I went looking for other martial arts to try and I was very fortunate to find Rakushinkan and Ishikawa Sensei. And, it was only a few blocks from my house! Anyway, I was very impressed with Ishikawa Senseifs skill and philosophy and very soon I knew I found something special. After training Aikido for some time, Ishikawa Sensei suggested I take up Iaijutsu. This was really important in my development. First, I thought it was so cool to be learning Japanese sword, but later that gsuper coolnessh wore off and I found that iai training was changing my body and my mind. At the same time I was also learning some kenjutsu. Over time I felt a preference for practicing iai, then kenjutsu, then aiki, then kenjutsum thenc and so on. Later that went away too. I just wanted to train. At some point, things started to come together, and I found myself discovering something about aiki in kenjutsu or iai, or applying an aiki principle to kenjutsu, etc. This happened in starts and stops, but I was realizing something that Ishikawa had said; that these three arts were mutually beneficial and that at some level they were all the same. It was a wonderful discovery. I gained a new appreciation for Japanese sword arts; something for which I am very thankful to Ishikawa Sensei. This principal is something I want others to learn and am now trying pass on. I had several monikers from Sensei. At first I was gkarate boyh. But later I became gMr. Forgeth. It was very apt. I think in class I could catch on pretty quickly and replicate Senseifs technique to some extent. Then in the next class I would try the technique again that I had done well the class before only to fail miserably and Sensei would say, gDo you forget?h Then I would try and try and get the technique again and by the next class I would forget. And this is how I became Mr. Forget. Of course, when I went back to Japan on a visit after 2 years, I had forgotten almost everything. gDo you forget?h Sense asked me several times. natsukashi ne? I am still trying to re-remember everything. Maybe my students will help me. I will always be grateful for the kindness and patience that was shown to me at Rakushikan. In many ways it was a formative part of my life. So thank you Ishikawa Sensei, and thank you members of Rakushinkan. I look forward to training with all of you again when I can make it back to Japan.
The Calgary dojo is opened by Josh MacDonald in 2011.
Regular classes are held:
Thursday evenings 7-9
Saturday mornings 9-11
For the most part, classes are held at the Beltlin Aquatic & Fitness Center - 221 12 Ave. S.W.
In nice weather we sometimes have class outside at Memorial Park (Central Park).
Ocassionally, classes are held at the First Baptist Church 1311 4 St S.W.
The Vancouver dojo is under construction.
Website under construction.
Website under construction.
Contact : RAKUSHINKAN
I hope that I will train some teachers in my school to teach BUDO in many Euro countories near future.