Public Letter

Imaizumi Sensei's Letter
AikiExpo 2003

"This year marks the 50th anniversary of the spread of aikido in Hawaii (1953) by Koichi Tohei Sensei and due to this fact aikido in America now has a history going back more than 50 years. The Shin Budo Kai organization that I head recently also celebrated its 15th anniversary in Hawaii this May.

I am participating in Aiki Expo for the first time this year, but I have been traveling to Las Vegas each year since 1999 to conduct seminars so it really doesn’t seem like the first time. Actually, Stanley Pranin requested that I participate in the first Aiki Expo last year, but since I was already conducting my own seminars in Las Vegas I declined. However, last summer I was invited as a guest instructor at the Aspen summer camp by Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei of the Aikikai and I was fortunate to be able to meet Mitsugi Saotome Sensei there after a hiatus of 27 years. Mr. Pranin also spent about two days there and talked about the results of the 1st Aiki Expo and other subjects. I learned that instructors from the Aikikai, Yoshinkan, Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, Shindo-ryu Karate and other arts attended and I decided I would participate in this year’s event.

Since I learned aikido for many years from Koichi Tohei Sensei, my aikido style is that of Tohei Sensei from the period when he was the chief instructor of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. This year people from many dojos all over the world will be coming to Las Vegas. Since those attending will compare the techniques they see at the Expo with what they are learning themselves in their own training, I would like them to study the techniques of each sensei focusing on how their techniques are different and what constitutes their essence. Then, after returning to your own dojo, I would like you to take the things you learned at the Aiki Expo and apply them in your daily training and devote yourselves anew to practice.

I think that in the future the martial arts’ world must grow in influence by moving with the times towards a borderless state. The radicals of the character for “bu” are “halberd” (ho) and “legs” (ashi) meaning “to advance carrying a halberd on one’s shoulder.” From there it evolved to mean avoiding war preemptively through military power. In the future, I think the budo world should not limit itself to the single subject of proudly advancing holding a halberd on one’s shoulder, but rather should seek to challenge other subjects as well. I would like you to seek for yourselves the essence of budo in this spirit.

Finally, my motto is the following words I found in a book when I was young. “Shugyo (ascetic discipline) is the ceaseless accumulation of new challenges.”

Shizuo Imaizumi, Shihan

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