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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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May 3, 2010

"Polish the heart..."

O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba

When a katana (Japanese sword) is sharpened, it is known as sword polishing. It is a way of expressing the refinement, improvement, and development of oneself; the polishing of the warrior’s soul, as the katana is often referred to as “shinken” literally “sword of the soul/spirit”.

The term “samurai” refers to “one-who-serves”, and it is in this spirit of service that the warrior keeps himself in constant practice, to serve with wisdom and technical skill at the slightest moment. When committed to service, the samurai does not need to ask if his master needs to be assisted or served. The samurai is constantly vigilant, does what needs to be done without being asked, and provides service at a drop of a hat.

Through the etiquette and practice of technique, the tradition continues through the “polishing of our hearts” in the Dojo. Not in preparation for some future confrontation, but to refine ourselves in spirit, mind, and body, confident that should the need arise, we are able to provide an appropriate resolution.

Aikido is not a fighting system. It is designed to prevent and neutralise negative encounters quickly and efficiently, not prolong them, and certainly not to provoke fights. Proficiency comes with continuous sincere practice. This is why Aikido is not a sport. The ritual observed in the Dojo helps to “polish the heart”, the first step of defence. Self-respect and respect for others result; “pre-serving” ourselves and others, allowing better choices and a better approach to relationships.

We can take our example from a mother’s love, where the polishing of the heart is deeply connected to the nurturing of her children. A mother would do anything for the well-being of her children: talk about the spirit of life-long commitment and service. Just like a lioness, there is nothing more effective than a mother defending her children.

Do remember to honour your mother on the special day that is approaching, and on everyday of her life. And to all mothers, I wish a heartfelt:

Happy Mothers’ Day!

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright May 2010: Rafael Oei)

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