Teaching basic rolling to beginners with Aikido Association of America’s Western Region Shibucho James Nakayama Sensei (Chushinkan Dojo).
Six years ago when I started studying Aikido I only had one thought about it, “Aikido was cool!”. I only looked for the capability to throw somebody nicely on the mat and the ability to take a hard fall. Now that six years have gone by, I still have that one thought, but a little bit more, “Aikido is the coolest martial art!”. Not because I can throw people or I can take a hard fall, but because it changes my life in a positive way. There is no doubt that it helps improve my health, but it has a huge impact in my point of view.
Shugyo is the Japanese pronunciation of a word which basically means, “deep mind-body training”. This means any kind of training such as in aikido Kung Fu, Zazen (seated meditation), archery, or artistic endeavors such as shodo (calligraphy), ikebana (flower arrangement), or in Buddhist training that pursues higher or deeper levels of consciousness, as well as the refinement of an ability. Training for Shugyo is not easy, it’s demanding, requiring a lot of effort, mindfulness and refinement. Shugyosha (the one practicing shugyo) should always extend their effort of energy, concentration and mindfulness to everything they are training for.
The training of shugyo is an emphasis on the depth of knowledge, wisdom, experience and technical ability. The student practices the form over and over again, but each time they practice, they should seek a higher level or should refine the skill. It doesn’t matter how long I have been practicing the same thing, I find that I never get perfect. There is always something better to learn, to add to what I already know.