Our tools and the teaching of Meri-Hari.
Maintanance: If you have a hoby, or if you are an artist, you probably like to have good equipment, and to keep it in best condition. Photographer's tools are camera, tripod, film, lenses... all kept clean and working smoothly. Painters, keep their brushes and canvas in clean and good condition, they make sure their paint wont get dry. It is onvious and natural to want high quality equipment.
What is dogu? In Aikido, our tools are tatami, hakama, aikido wear (keikogi), bokken, jo, tanto and more. But our most important tools are not thouse wooden weapons or fancy wear. Our most precious tools are our body and mind. No matter how good our keikogi is, and how expensive our hakama and tatami are, if our body and mind wont be under constant care and maintanance, our aikido and helth (mental and phisical) will become bad. In Japanese, many arts are called "do" or "michi". "do" as in Aikido, shodo (calligraphy), chado (tea ceremony) etc. "Ddo" means an art which is also a way of life for development and enlightenment. The equipment and tools of the "do" are called dogu.
Maintanance of our body: It is great to have regular aikido training, but we need healthy body to support it. It is extremely recommended to walk or swim about six times a welk for at least 30 minutes each time. In just several times, you will find out how much energy such regular work out gives us, and how our health is improving.
Maintanance of the mind: Mainatining of the mind is a very wide subject for such a short article, but I would like to introduce here Miyashita Sensei's teaching. Miyashita is a wonderful shiatsu therapist and teacher living in Hollland. In 2007, he gave a special class in Ameland, and in that class he spoke of the principle of "meri and hari".
Meri and Hari: Meri and Hari is a Japanese concept that teaches us to keep the correct balance between tence and relaxation. Miyashita Sensei told us that in Japanese they say that we must not carry today's trouble and tiredness till tomorrow. At the end of each day, we should find time to relax. We should not study or work until we fall asleep. We have some relaxed time at the end of the day, and we must end it like that. I think, that this simple teaching is a great advice.