October 1st, 2021
In August, there were still 5,000 new cases of the new coronavirus in Tokyo, and more than 2,000 new cases in Kanagawa Prefecture every day. Although the number of newly infected people has been decreasing since September, the number of severely ill people has been increasing and it has become difficult to secure hospital beds in many areas.
The government has declared a state of emergency in 19 prefectures, including the Tokyo metropolitan area and three surrounding prefectures (Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama), and extended the priority measures to prevent the spread of the disease to eight prefectures until the end of September. The emergency declarations and priority measures to prevent the spread of the disease have been issued, cancelled, and extended repeatedly until today. However, since the beginning of September, the number of newly infected people has been decreasing due to vaccinations and therapeutic drugs.
As of October 1, the "Declaration of Emergency" and "Priority Measures
to Prevent the Spread of the Disease" have been lifted. However, we cannot say that we have reached the point where we can rest assured yet.People in the medical field are concerned about the sixth wave to come. I have high expectations for Fumio Kishida(the new Prime Minister), the new government, and the policies of the various parties after the House of Representatives election. But what do you think?
It seems that the government will complete the corona vaccination of those who wish to be vaccinated by November and allow those who have been vaccinated or who have tested negative to go out with some restrictions.
But now is not the time to relax. It is time for each and every one of us to be more vigilant than ever before. It is also important to avoid the spread of the infection, which could result in the closure of the Dojo and the inability to practice for a long period of time, as it happened 2020 spring. Please continue to follow the training manual and etiquette and cooperate with us further.
Thoughts about the Olympics
I started practicing Aikido in 1964, the year the first Tokyo Olympics were held, when I was 18 years old. I am thrilled to have been able to see two Summer Olympics held in Japan in my lifetime. I was also able to see the Winter Olympics in Sapporo and Nagano.
The second Tokyo Olympics started in late July with 206 countries participating. There were 33 competitions and 339 events. I watched the games on TV and was very excited. There were many new events this time, as for example the women skateboarding competition. And I was positively surprised to see a 13-year-old Japanese woman win the gold medal, a 16-year-old Japanese woman win the bronze medal, and a 13-year-old Brazilian woman win the silver medal in the women's skateboard street event. Especially Momiji Nishiya, who won the gold medal, seemed to be really enjoying herself. And her smile, as she boldly performed difficult moves, made me smile along with her. Of course, for elderly people, the sight of Judo and other athletes fighting on behalf of Japan is bound to be very impressive. In addition, I also felt a sense of freshness as if they were enjoying their favorite sport with less self-consciousness, which probably comes along when young athletes fight for their country. Being young is a good thing!
The Paralympic Games, which started on August 24th, came to a successful conclusion on September 5th. I received a lot of courage and hope from the athletes who worked hard despite their physical disabilities. Watching the games on TV at home, I often found myself shouting out loud at the heated competition. 161 countries participated in the Paralympics, with 22 events and 539 competitions. Mayumi Narita, 51, who is known as the "Queen of Women's Swimming" and has swum in 6 Olympic Game events since her first appearance in 1996 in Atlanta, USA, has won 15 gold medals in the past 5 events. Unfortunately, she did not win a medal at this year's event, but she did finish 6th in the 50-meter backstroke. Miyuki Yamada, the youngest member of the Japanese team and a first-time competitor, won the silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke, the first Japanese medal of this year’s Olympic Games. She also won a silver medal in the 50-meter event that followed. It was just amazing to see her swim through with only crippled legs to kick. I, myself can barely swim 25 meters.
I was also amazed at the power of the wheelchair rugby team that won the bronze medal. It was also surprising to see that there were women playing on the same team as men. The power of wheelchairs colliding with each other was more shocking than full-contact martial arts. Of course, there must be a lot of injuries, and I was impressed by the boldness of the attack. A female athlete said, “It's a great feeling to be able to assist in a match by hitting the wheelchair of an international male athlete at full speed!”
This was also the case with the men's basketball team, which lost to the U.S. champions by a narrow margin, and therefore won but the silver medal. The way they passed the ball while bumping and dodging was amazing. I was particularly impressed at the skillful wheelchair maneuvering and brilliant 3-point shooting of the players, which was different from that of rugby. I already have high expectations for the next Paris Paralympics.
Keiko Sugiura, who won two gold medals in women's cycling, is 50 years old. In the women's marathon on the last day, 44-year-old Misato Michishita won a gold medal, 56-year-old Yumiko Fujii came in fifth, and 66-year-old Mihoko Nishijima, the oldest member of the Japanese team, came in eighth. I watched the closing ceremony on the 5th on TV until the end.
I had some doubts about the distinction between the Olympics for the able-bodied and the Paralympics for the disabled. The term “healthy” is used to describe people who are always healthy both physically and mentally. But is there really such a thing as a person who is always completely healthy?
I was able to feel a lot of kindness and health of mind from the Paralympic athletes. And I saw many wonderful smiles at both games.
At that time, I found the best words in the waiting room of the hospital where I was visiting, “Laughter is good medicine with no side effects.”
As a matter of fact, I became a big fan of the Paralympics. Through this event, I also learned for the first time about the existence of the Deaflympics, the Olympics for the hearing impaired. At first glance, the competitions look the same, but in track and field, for example, the start of the race is signaled by a “start lamp” that lights up in conjunction with the gun, and the athletes and judges communicate with each other using sign language. The Deaflympics is the largest international event for athletes with hearing disabilities. The next games have been postponed and will be held in Brazil in May next year. I hope they will be televised.
These athletes experience a reality that we, who enjoy practicing with five senses, cannot even imagine. Watching the Olympics and Paralympics seems to have made me a person with very honest feelings. Sports have an amazing power, don't they? (And of course, before all martial arts and Aikido.)
Let's not forget to be grateful to each other, and let's continue to practice happily and in good company.
Thoughts on Practice (Part 1)
As you recall, in the last three years of my life, I was hospitalized and operated on several times due to my lack of care for my health, and I caused worry to everyone at the Dojo and my family. It is said that there are no coincidences in fate. Does it now follow, that my struggle against the disease and the recent corona pandemic was inevitable and natural, given from heaven?
In late March of last year, the government declared a state of emergency to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, and the Dojo was closed for two months until the end of May. In Aikido, we practice body techniques in combination with weapon techniques. It is said that in Aikido, body techniques and weapon techniques are the two wheels to build on, and that without either, there is no Aikido. Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, the founder of Aikido, also said that Aikido techniques are derived from sword handling.
In my body and in my mind, there are still many Aikido techniques that I have learned from Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, the founder of Aikido, the second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei,the current Doshu Moriteru Sensei, my teacher Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei and many other teachers. In addition, I have learned Karate, swordsmanship, and Chinese martial arts for the sake of Aikido, and they also have wonderful techniques in common with Aikido.
When I celebrated my 75th birthday this March, I had a strong feeling that I wanted to show and appeal more clearly what I had learned from my many predecessors.
As I continue to practice, I tend to become more self-righteous as I go on. When I look back at myself now, I feel that there are many parts of me that are self-righteous. However, with this in mind, I will continue to train and teach so that people can understand Aikido as it is taught at Igarashi Dojo.
Recently, during my training and teaching, I have been experiencing a lot of backflashes of what I have been taught and learned in my mind and body, and remembering things like, “Oh, so that's how it is.”
As a result, what I was teaching yesterday, I find myself teaching today with a different interpretation. I am still in the process of development, and it looks like I have a long way to go.
Thoughts on Practice (Part 2)
In his book, Yukio Funai, a management consultant, says, “What is very important for human beings is to learn and to remember. Let's call both of these together 'learning'.” He added, “You must continue to do this throughout your life. The moment we stop learning, we begin to age. The moment we stop learning, we begin to age. While we are learning, we are young. This can be proven by the function of brain cells.”
Another author said, “We should not spare ourselves the challenge and the cost of learning, even when we are old.” When the corona pandemic comes to an end, I plan to start taking English conversation and piano lessons, which I have been meaning to do for a long time. I don't want to stop learning in the remainder of my life.
Ultimately, there is this thing that I don't fully understand yet. According to physics books, there are four forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force that holds atomic nuclei together, and the weak force when particles break apart due to beta decay. According to experts and researchers, "Ki" is the fifth force. Prayer power and love power are also said to be areas that cannot be proven by science.
Morihei Ueshiba Sensei, the founder of Aikido, said, “Martial arts is love.” And yet, it is also taught by our ancestors that Aiki is a science. It's difficult to understand which is which. But it's a fun challenge!
I really can't compare myself to the Paralympic athletes, although I'm handicapped in one eye and both shoulders. The more I hope you'll stay in touch with me for a while longer.