On discussing spiritual aspects of Aikido and Iaido during training

In teaching Iaido, I speak briefly about the physical application of Zanshin1 (残心) and the contemplative mind-spirit to the practice of Iaido.  I do not discuss these at length, but expect the Iaido student to practice with meditative intent.

In Aikido, I do not discuss the spiritual side.  We physically practice, which I feel is the best way to practice – a minimum of talk and explanation – more repetitions.  We practice in the spirit of Aikido.

It is more a matter of embodying love, harmony, and peace within Budo2 (武道) in the teacher’s teaching (and practice), and day to day living than talking about it, if one is to teach walking up the path.  Teaching spirituality in a martial art by example and expectation is more pointed than lectures or discussion in my opinion.

I have had Aikido teachers who have talked about Ki3 (気), etiquette, martial spirit, etc. with varying levels of charisma and erudition.  But what really came across to me had to do with their character, morality, and daily conduct – the path they actually walked, good or bad.

I learned it is better to be the Buddha, than to talk about him.

1. Zanshin refers to a state of awareness – of relaxed alertness. The literal translation of zanshin is “remaining mind”.  In several martial arts, zanshin refers more narrowly to the body’s posture after a technique is executed.
2. Budo is a Japanese term describing martial ways.  Literally translated it means the Way of War.
3. Ki is a Japanese word meaning (among many others): spirit, mind, heart.  Ki: the action from a particular state of mind and body that can have physical, psychological, physiological effect. Ki can be expressed, and perceived through physical appearance, behavior, and body language.