“Kyo no wagachi, Kino no waga” “Today defeat the person who you were yesterday”

-- From the sayings of the Yagyu family

This saying comes from the Yagyu family who for generations served as the swordsmen and coaches to the Tokuawa (shogunate) family. This saying came to my mind when I was thinking back to our Aikido training camp (gassyuku) at the Yagyu family’s Masaki Yagyu Kenzaka Kenzen Dojo a few years ago.


Because the number of people who are getting infected with the new corona virus continues to increase so rapidly, if we compare the numbers from this year with last year, or even the numbers from yesterday and today, it feels as if the situation is getting continually worse. Even so, and maybe even because of this, it is important to keep calm and without getting distracted by these events, to continue improving our abilities to be sensitive to the many other things happening around us. Even a tiny new "insight" is an improvement. When you continue to make tiny improvements from yesterday or if you can see things in a new way from how you used to look at them, the possibility to continue improving in the future increases as well, doesn’t it?


In my case, the other day I was asked a question about ukemi (a rolling technique) that no student have ever asked me before. Thanks to this, I was able to think deeply about why this student was asking this question and how to explain the solution in a way that this student would understand. As I thought through the answer, I started to look at this technique in a way I’d never done before. Because of this, I could make a new discovery about the physics that influence our ukemi techniques. Right at that moment when I had that new insight, my teaching improved just a little. I was also able to explain this new way of thinking about ukemi to our advanced students, sharing a new type of knowledge and thinking with them. These new insights will now be passed down to future students for years to come. So even a very small new insight (in Japanese, this is called “ki-tzuki”) can become the shared knowledge of many people.


From this saying " Kyo no wagachi, Kino no waga" I think that improving ourselves a little bit from who we were yesterday is connecting us with the future. This means that if you work on improving yourself today, you’ll be even better tomorrow. Even during these difficult times, let’s all do our best!

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