Power in Perserverence

Maruyama Sensei
Maruyama Koretoshi Sensei, Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai

From Method to Mastery

One of the wonderful things about learning Aikido is that it takes you step by step into a world that is beyond steps. Training takes you from the world of technique to the realm of art, from method to mastery.

My teacher Maruyama Koretoshi, founder of the Aikido Yuishinkai, is a Master of this process, and has captured its essence in a way that rewards perseverance and practice. Anyone, regardless of age or experience, can reach a level of mastery if they persist on the path. Genius and talent may give you a head start, but like the hare in Aesop’s fable, it is more often the tortoise that wins the race.

Having trained directly with the founder of Aikido Ueshiba Morihei, Maruyama Sensei’s career in Aikido extends over more than half a century, and at age 72 he is incredibly fit and full of energy. A Japanese proverb says that Perseverance brings Power (keizoku ha chikara nari, 継続は力なり). However, Maruyama Sensei points out that perseverance requires power, and the source of this power is actually training, the mastery of forms which with practice become an integral part of you.

Mastery is a kinesthetic process, learning with your body. Such learning does not abandon you over time. Once you learn how to swim, how to ride a bicycle, or how to speak your native tongue, it sticks with you for a lifetime, even if you are away from it for a while. By contrast, how much do you remember of the subjects you studied in school? Could you still pass the tests now that you once passed years ago to graduate?

Did you see that?

For those who have not experienced the magic of training over time, the martial arts may seem to be more about mystery than mastery.

How is it possible to detect the movements and intentions of an opponent before they actually occur?

How can you successfully subdue a person who is much larger or stronger than you?


How can you keep your center and remain calm when those about you are losing it under pressure?

How can a small turn of the wrist result in such a dynamic throw?

Aikido training may begin with the mechanics of movement, but it quickly progresses from method to magic, as the dynamics become more subtle and sophisticated. The untrained eye may altogether miss  what is happening, because beginners focus on following the obvious rather than attuning to the opportunity.

A real Master of Aikido can do both the mechanics and the magic, and will adjust their teaching in such a way that anyone, starting from any level, can move quickly from where they are to where they can be.

To see Aikido in action, to feel its power, is still magic despite decades of practice. There is certainly more to it than meets the eye, which is why when you see an amazing throw in the dojo, all you can say is, “Wow! Did you see that?”

Power of Ritual

Without practice you will end up with more froth than finish. This applies as much in life as it does in the dojo. In fact whatever you do, even not doing something, is actually practice leading to habits, good or bad. The key is to find the best practices which enable you to leverage the power of ritual to a favorable result.

What happens if you drift along without discipline? You end up becoming a victim of your own bad habits, or as some would say, stewing in your own juices.

Samuel Johnson (1709~1784) remarked brilliantly that, The chains of habit are too weak to be felt, until they are too strong to be broken.

If you want to start now forming good habits that will serve you for a lifetime, I can think of no better place to start than Aikido.


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