Happy New Year!
The fortune I drew during my New Year's visit to a local shrine said, "A frog in a well does not know the great sea". I was really surprised when I read this because I had just deeply felt the meaning of this proverb during my recent trip to observe and practice at several dojos in Australia last December. After returning to Japan, I said to everyone I met, "I have been a frog in a well recently, and if I don't look out to sea, I will never progress."
This is partly because the scope of my activities and interactions have narrowed due to the spread of COVID-19, but it is also because it is difficult to make comparisons when you are in a small area. Because of this, it is difficult to put your own thoughts and actions into a broader context. Before I knew it, I had become convinced that my own ways and actions were "good enough," and I feel that this was hindering my own learning and growth. Fortunately, I had many teachers around me, and every time I would listen to their lessons, I realized how inexperienced I was. At the same time I had the opportunity to feel the joy of learning. Still, I think I have gained much more knowledge than ever before by crossing oceans, visiting lands with different environments and cultures, and interacting with the people who live there.
Things that I experienced during my trip included: Seeing vast open spaces. People's open minds and flexibility due to a multicultural environment. People's eagerness to learn new things. Their diligence to work hard. Humility.
I was so deeply touched by their wonderful attitude that I felt a warm, burning sensation bubble up inside of my heart. Now more than ever before I am determined to live up to the name of my dojo "Chiseikan" (whose Kanji characters 智誠館 mean "wisdom" "truth" and "place") by integrating all the wonderful things they have taught me and by spreading the philosophy and techniques of Master Mochizuki Minoru's Aikido.
The saying "a frog in a well, not knowing the ocean" is followed by the phrase "but knowing the depth of the sky," and I will devote myself to becoming a better instructor by learning not only the depth of the sky, but also the breadth, beauty, and harshness of the ocean.
In order to do so, this year I will create opportunities for my students and myself to learn more and more. That is my goal for this year.
Thank you for your continued support throughout 2023 and beyond.
-- Yoshie Sugai, Shihan, Chiseikan Dojo (Aikido in Kyoto)