Nonaka Sensei Interview by A.Lane and D. Bomford

Interview with NONAKA SENSEI
(by Alison Lane and Dianne Bomford)

Kiai Australia Ki Society Newsletter 1998 (2)pp8-9

During the visit by Nonaka Sensei last month, we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions for the benefit of all Ki-ai readers, especially those who were unable to make it to the Seminar.

Q. Tell us about your dojos in Hawaii?
A.  On the Big Island of Hawaii we have 4 dojos. The dojo in Hilo alone runs 15 classes a week including classes for children, junior adults, adults, family classes and Ki classes.

Q. How do you believe that an understanding of Ki can help people with their everyday lives?
A. In many ways. I will give some examples.... At Hilo we have many people who train at the Ki classes although they do not study Aikido. One older woman, a grandmother, loves making donuts and is often complimented on them. Although she gives the recipe to others, they always claim that her donuts are still the best. The secret ingredient is Ki, she told me that she puts all of her energy and love into making her donuts, and so they always taste great! She believes the secret to success in anything is to have feeling and compassion and a desire to help others. Another example is a student whose family were bitterly divided by conflict over an inheritance. By staying calm and centred herself, she alone was able to influence the other members of her family to be reasonable and to reach a solution where everyone was happy.

Q. You spend a lot of time on weapons training, particularly bokken. Why do you believe this is an important part of Aikido training?
A.By studying Bokken, students learn to relax and extend Ki. It teaches co-ordination of the mind and body. This leads to increased awareness, such as the ability to sense an attack before it comes. If the student is tense, they cannot move fast and will be unable to get out of the way of a rapid attack.
There are also other ways of training, such as striving to look after the needs of other people, which also help us to develop this kind of awareness.

Q. Are there any differences between Australian students and those you teach in Hawaii?
A. Not really, both are full of enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Maybe I am more appreciated by the Australian students. My students in Hawaii tend to take me more for granted because I am there all the time.

Q. Sensei, you love telling there a story you particularly like which we can pass on to all the Ki Society Aikidoka in Australia?
A.When I was a young man and had been training for a whole three years, I had the chance to train with Tohei Sensei. In my mind I wanted him to see that I had been training hard and thought to myself “I’ll show him”. With that thought in my mind I was unable to do anything right. We must always have the mind of a beginner, and wish to learn, rather than prove ourselves in order to succeed in our training.