Remembering Mochizuki Sensei: Lessons and Reflections on Flexibility Overcoming Rigidity, Maximum Efficiency and Mutual Welfare — Part 1 by Patrick Augé


“If you keep focusing on technical (gi) and physical (tai) training only, if you neglect to train your spirit (shin) and refuse to change your way of thinking and the way you live, then you won’t adapt to the changes in your aging bodies and one day you will no longer be able to move your bodies.”

Patrick Auge Sensei

Patrick Augé Sensei

Mochizuki Minoru Sensei passed away May 30, 2003. The Mochizuki Family under the leadership of Mochizuki Sensei’s second son, Tetsuma Sensei, head of the Seifukai (former Yôseikan), organized a private ceremony to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his father’s death on May 19, 2013 in Shizuoka-city. Included, in addition to attending family members, were Mochizuki Sensei’s four designated successors, namely, Master-teachers (shihan) Nobumasa Yoshida, Masashi Sugiyama, Hiroaki Kenmotsu and myself.

The highlight of the gathering was lunch when everyone started sharing personal stories which included everything from facts to how the practice of Budô under Mochizuki Sensei’s guidance had been an essential part of their lives.

It is always interesting to hear the same stories from different people. Everyone has his own angle of vision. Some had vivid memories of Ueshiba Sensei’s visits on his way back to Tôkyô. For example, one hot summer afternoon, when Sugiyama Sensei was a beginner, an old man showed up at the dojo genkan (entrance): “Is Mochizuki here? Tell him that Ji (the old man) is here!” Sugiyama Sensei recalls, “I rushed to the second floor to announce the visitor. . . . A few minutes later Ueshiba Sensei was in his underwear, sitting and talking informally with Kanchô Sensei. . . . He had the body of an athlete in his twenties with the head of a man in his seventies! I couldn’t believe it!” Ueshiba Sensei ended up staying for several days until Kisshomaru Sensei had to come to Shizuoka to take him back home. They remembered Ueshiba Sensei as an eccentric, dynamic, warm, joke- and pun-loving gentleman, not the side of him that seems to fit the popular belief.

Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Mochizuki, c. 1951

Morihei Ueshiba and Minoru Mochizuki, c. 1951

Ueshiba Sensei’s teacher-student relationship with Mochizuki Sensei was similar to a father-son relationship and served as a blueprint for those of their respective students who aspired to develop and cultivate the same kind of relationships in order to transmit the teachings to the next generations.

Often, Mochizuki Kanchô Sensei lectured us on the importance of evolution. “If you keep focusing on the technical (gi) and physical (tai) training only, if you neglect to train your spirit (shin) and refuse to change your way of thinking and the way you live,” he would say, referring to those who escape the uncertainties of the insubstantial by searching for more techniques, more training, more ranks, more trophies, and the like, “then you won’t adapt to the changes in your aging bodies and one day you will no longer be able to move your bodies.” Unfortunately, few of us listened and even among those who listened, few understood the meaning, unless we went directly to Sensei and asked for clarifications.

In Bujutsu, one trains under an instructor solely to develop technique and the body so as to achieve a tangible result: survival, a medal, a rank (belt), a title, or a victory on the battlefield, in the gym or in the arena. In Budô, one uses technique and body under a teacher’s guidance as tools to manage the challenges encountered in the dôjô, namely, dealing with physical discomfort and pain (as in the case of a beginner learning ukemi and kihonwaza), and with mental struggle such as lack of concentration, low self-esteem, doubt, etc. Then one applies the same skills to manage challenges outside the dôjô.

Let’s briefly clarify the difference between an instructor and a teacher. An instructor focuses only on techniques and strategies. His lifestyle has nothing to do with it, whether he instructs as a job or a hobby. His relationship with the student, whether business-like or chummy, will remain superficial. He will retire or quit depending on his personal circumstances. A teacher on the other hand is a student who teaches in order to continue his study. His whole life is focused on sharpening his physical and mental skills, in and out of the dôjô. While an instructor may study and teach in order to support and upgrade his lifestyle, a teacher will set his lifestyle in order to support his study and teaching. His relationship with the student will become an essential part of his study since he sees his student as a reflection of his teaching, whether the student makes himself teachable or not. A teacher never retires. Mochizuki Sensei taught us the lessons he received from his own teachers through the example of his daily life.

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