When I run into challenges at the dojo – including the ones we now face with the pandemic – I remind myself of what things were like at Hombu Dojo in 1945.
• The war had just ended and Tokyo was occupied by foreign soldiers.
• Martial arts practice was completely outlawed.
• The city was a wreck, virtually destroyed by bombing.
• Part of the dojo’s roof had been blown off by a bomb and water was seeping into the interior.
• Homeless people from the neighbourhood were living on the tatami.
• Almost all the members were conscripted, missing or dead.
• O-sensei had moved far away to Iwama with a small core of deshi.
• The economy was in ruins and no one had any money. There were very few jobs. Many people were starving.
I’m inspired by the dedication of the second Doshu, 24 years old at that time, in gradually turning that situation around, starting almost from zero in building the Aikikai into one of the largest martial arts organizations in the world.
Of course, as things slowly returned to normal, he got tremendous help from O-sensei in addition to many other brilliant and committed sensei.
Compared to that, our problems are minor. If we have gained anything from Aikido, I hope it is resilience, flexibility, toughness, courage and a sense of community.
The problems we are facing with the pandemic are very real, but we will solve them.