We decided to change our dojo name from ”Zushi Aikikai” to ”Aikido Zushi Shoufuu Kai.”
Our feelings are infused in the ”Shoufuu Kai” part of the name ”Aikido Zushi Shoufuu Kai. Shoufuu combines the ”on” reading of pine tree (”Matsu”) and maple (”Kaede”).
As you know the pine tree is an evergreen with a unique kind of bark and needle-like leaf. Its appearance is strong and it is known to have a long life. Have you ever seen one bathed in sunlight with melting snow covering its upper branches and leaves under the blue sky in early spring? From the sight of a clear drop of melting snow dripping from the tip of the needle-like leaf, from that sphere of melting snow, we are reminded of the strength it takes to purify the human heart.
And the sight of the leaf which maintains its color right until it withers reminds us that there are some things that never change, that there must be some things that remain constant.
The maple tree is a deciduous tree that changes colors beautifully with the coming of autumn. When its leaf, shaped like the palm of a person or a frog, changes colors from green to deep red to yellow, it is truly stunning.
What that teaches us is that there are some things that are best if they change.
Going back through the history of Japan where we live, we feel that when faced with unprecedented situations, Japanese culture has emerged with a new flavor, and progressed.
Instead of always thinking that the form and methods of our seniors, that the ways handed down from the past are always right, we should feel that things which must be changed have to be changed.
We feel that this principle ”that which is constant, that which changes, that which should be kept and that which should be changed” applies not only in general but also to the direction of our own lives. We feel this applies to the state our training and our practice as well.
Aikido practice still has room to develop further. In order for us to take up where our seniors have left off, we followers must come up with innovations. We must continue to strive to come up with improved practice methods even if reaching in the dark at times.
For such reasons we began calling our group ”Shoufuu Kai” in 1980.
We would like to become like timber which stretches it’s roots widely in the earth, like a great tree which is delicately beautiful but not withering, rugged yet continuing to stretch its long roots. This name embodies the wish to treasure and maintain the basics, while at the same time changing by seeking new better directions on the surface.
For a long time, this name was not used publically. Instead, it was used only as the Iaido registry name.
Over the last several years, at the request of some of my European pupils, ”Shoufuu Kai” was introduced as their dojo name as part of other cooperative activities. Consequently, the name ”Zushi Aikikai” was changed to ”Aikido Zushi Shoufuu Kai.”
Dancing on the wind, the maple seed travels far. Trees which cannot move attempt to spread their offspring in this manner. But most likely, only a very small percentage grow to become a great tree. Nevertheless, the maple goes on putting its seed on the wind year after year.
Likewise is how we practice in our dojo.