Stream of Consciousness

Facing Death - Part I

Facing Death - Part II

Passive Resistance - Part I

Passive Resistance - Part II

Workshop Reports - August 2004

Passive Resistance, Part I

Shintaido and Passive Resistance

Published in Body Dialogue #7, 1998

At the age of 22, I received some wise words from Egami-sensei as a present for my university graduation. He told me, "From now on, your life is your Dojo. Remember that the more you develop your Karate in your life, the less chance you will have to use it. And finally, you may reach the level at which you will never use actual technique throughout your lifetime, if you are lucky. But, if you end up meeting an accident that causes you to use your Karate on a practical level, it is your misfortune. At that time, you must be ready to die".

At first, I simply appreciated this message as a kind of warning about my 'short temper', which I used to have in my youth. Later, I started to understand his wish for me, to keep improving on what I learned from him, until I accomplished his dream (Heiho to shiteno Karate, or to complete Karate as a way of establishing peace).

In the Spring of 1996, I discovered a new way to use Tenshingoso and Eiko when I helped Bill Peterson to die and saw him off. Since then, Tenshingoso has become a kind of gyrocompass which gives me guidance in my present life, and Eiko has become a kind of magical tool, with which I can create a bridge to Ten or heaven.

To reach this level of understanding, I visualized an actual opportunity to use Eiko would come right after my heart stop beating. Until then, I have to keep practicing, and when the time comes, I thought that I would accomplish Egami-sensei's message in/with my life.


In the first weekend of June, 1996, I was in Koln, Germany to lead a Shintaido weekend seminar organized by the Koln Shintaido group. People came from different regions of Germany: Stuttgart, Regensburg, and Berlin. Some came from France, and England. It was a small Gasshuku (15 people)– but it still had a nice international flavor.

When we had a Q & A session on Saturday night, three of them, Amras and Joey Weber, and Helmut (a friend of theirs from Schnega) asked me a question which I was not able to answer. Their question: How can Shintaido be used by the people who go to picket lines of public demonstrations? Is it possible to use some Shintaido technique to stop the forcefulness of the police which is used unfairly?

The Big Question

The following is the background of this question:

Amras saw Shintaido in 1986 in France for first time. She was attending the Annual National Gasshuku of French Shintaido as one of the macrobiotic cooking team. After the event, she came to me and asked if I would come to Berlin, where she was living, if she organized a local workshop. Not expecting too much, 1 gave my conditions 1 that she had to meet before I. would agree to come.

She surprised me six months later by sending me a letter and asking me to come to Berlin as she had enrolled enough people through her macrobiotic cooking class. Since then, she has organized three workshops in Berlin, and two workshops in Schnega, inviting me as a guest instructor.

In 1992, Amras & Joey bought an old farm house in Schnega, a small town located in the middle of triangle area of Berlin, Hamburg, and Hannover, and relocated there. They also started a local Shintaido class in conjunction with her macrobiotic cooking class.

The Wendland region is known for the anti-nuclear power movement since 1976 when the German government started to build an atomic waste deposit near the village of Gorleben. Since then the movement in this region got more and more established, becoming a broad movement among all citizens. They have successfully prevented high radioactive deposits in their area for over 18 years.

In 1995 the German government forced the first CASTOR transport with 30,000 cops to the deposit area, facing the resistance of thousands of activists. The resistance culminated in various sit-ins, blockades, and other colorful activities.

The second transport was in the Spring of 1996. The activists became more organized with a picket line, but the police force guarding the train was expanded as a counter-measure. After all the experiences of police violence, anger, fear and helplessness, Amras, Joey, and Helmut asked my advice for how to deal with such a situation because they believe that I am a Master of Japanese martial arts.

At first, I thought, do I know how to fight back against the police? Are they looking for actual fighting techniques? Secondly, I realized it would take at least a couple of years for them to get trained and become a kind of front line warrior. Thirdly, even if they succeeded in their training, there was no guarantee that they would not hurt themselves. Were they ready to get hurt, or hurt others if necessary? They might succeed in defending themselves temporarily, but sooner or later more police would come back with an even stronger force.

At this point, I realized I was stumped, so I asked them to give me some time to think about the question. Their question became my new Koan. I kept thinking about it, but never came up with a proper answer for them. After one year had passed I returned to Germany again, I was nervous and feeling guilty about going back there to meet the three of them.

On June 16, 1997, I left San Francisco for my four-week trip to Europe. My schedule was:

June 21-22 A waterfall training for Toulouse Shintaido in the Pyrenees mountains

June 28-29 A Shintaido workshop in Schnega, Germany

July 05-06 A Shintaido/Karate workshop in Bern, Switzerland

July 12-13 British Shintaido Summer Seminar and Examination

On June 26, 1997, I took a flight from Paris to Hamburg, and then took a train from Hamburg to Uelsen. When I saw Amras at the Uelsen station, I told her that I had not come up with an answer yet, but was hoping it would come by the end of the workshop. She said, "I am sure you will!"

After giving me a couple of hours to rest at her quiet farm house in the peaceful country side of Northern Germany, she invited me to a practice session of the local choir group. On the way to the local community center she asked me if it would be possible to lead a half-hour Kenko-taiso session for the members. Of course my answer was yes!

That evening I lead a 40-minute Shintaido session for the members of the local choir group before they practiced their singing. There were about 50 people in the hall, including Helmut and a few local Shintaido members.

After their practice, many of them told me that they felt more power in their singing than usual. Of course I was happy to hear that because I thought they must have experienced Ten Ga Ichi Nyo or unification of Ten (heaven) and self through the effect of Shintaido. I also assumed that they all belonged to one church.

Later, I found out that the choir group did not have any affiliation with one church, but they were organized as part of their expression of the anti-nuclear power movement. They actually had formed a picket line at public demonstrations, and often ended up confronting the police force. I was really astonished. As soon as I started listening to the details of their activity at the picket lines, a moment of Shinku or true emptiness arrived in my mind (and body) and I received a great inspiration.

They mainly do two things in the picket line: sing, and apply first aid. But, before they go to a demonstration, together with thousands of other people, each of them writes a letter to the minister of interior. Each letter declares their wishes for no nuclear power, but they promise that they will never use their muscle to fight against the police force and they sign the letters with their own names and addresses.

Often, in an actual picket line, some individuals may unintentionally attract/invite the police to respond to them with violence, so it is very important for people who are protesting not to do this. It is not so easy to behave in a peaceful manner, unless you erase all anger in your mind. The point becomes how much peace can you keep in yourself, when you are in an unreasonable and unfair situation.

According to their experience, the more they remained quiet, and sang quiet songs, the more they created a positive effect in the picket line. They calmed people at the demonstration as well as the police. This let the police use more time and energy to remove people from the front line.2 This is a great example of passive resistance!3 When I heard their explanation, something clicked in my mind, and I realized that I had found the answer that I had been looking for the last year. I decided to teach Shintaido to the people who go to the picket lines just like I teach to health caregivers.4 Shintaido will not help them fight with the police, but help them prepare their minds to face them. The POINT is that it is not your arm and muscle but your mind control that protects you, and ends up saving you and your friends. The goal of our practice should be. to find and keep 'perfect peace' in our mind.


I have practiced Shintaido for the last 33 years after four years of Karate training, which I started at the age of 18. Now I know how to fight, with or without using weapons. My way of teaching fighting techniques has become more mature so I can help many students develop their fighting ability much faster. However, I also reached a new level of understanding: The more effort I put into developing martial arts for myself and my students, the more I create a space that invites people to use their martial art knowledge in a broader application.

I have to confess that my love and passion for my research and development of strong fighting art has reached an end. I recognize that I have been practicing martial arts all these years, without peace in my mind. Thirty-seven years I spent like this. What a long way I had to come to understand my original weak point. I wonder, was there any other way for me to find peace in my mind?

Egami-sensei's message came to my mind once again. On one hand, I was very happy and encouraged by the answer I found for Amras, Joey, and Helmut. On the other, I was sad, and discouraged, because I suddenly felt that all of my focus on studying and developing my fighting form throughout my life was now useless.

The weekend workshop which was organized by Amras, Joey and Helmut went well. Thirty people were there. We had two classes on Saturday, and one class on Sunday, and had nice weather, too. The same people whom I saw one year ago came back. At the end of the workshop, sharing my answer for the question posed one year ago. I told them that "Shintaido will not help them fight with the police, but help them prepare their minds to face them. The POINT is that it is not your arm and muscle but your mind control that protects you, and ends up saving you and your friends. The goal of our practice should be to find and keep perfect peace in our mind." I explained that the same people who asked me the question, gave me a chance to find an answer.


On July 13, 1997, at the end of British Shintaido Summer Seminar and Examination, I shared my latest thoughts on martial arts. The people who especially appreciated my growth in this sense were Marcus Grant and Vicky Meadows. They said Shintaido and environmental movements are the foundation of their relationship. They met each other 16 years ago, when Jennifer Peringer was offering Shintaido sessions at London meeting of the anti-nuclear power movement.5 All of sudden, I became very close to the three of them, and thanked them for 'running' ahead of me.

Peace activist discussions

On August 17, 1997, I had an opportunity to discuss this issue (Shintaido's involvement to the environmental movement in Germany) with two peace activists and one scholar: Kaz Tanahashi, Alan Senauke, and Linda Hess in Berkeley, California.

Kaz is an artist, poet, writer, translator and calligrapher. Readers of Body Dialogue may remember Shintaido's participation in the "Circle of the World" at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1993, and "Circle of All Nations" for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of United Nation in San Francisco in 1995. Kaz is the one who developed the original idea and gave us direction at both performances.

Alan is a musician friend of Henry Kaiser, a priest at the Berkeley Zen Center, and director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.6 He often visits the refugee camps near the border of Thailand and Burma, and provides them with medical aid.

Linda Hess is a specialist on Hindi literature and Hinduism. She has taught in universities including Stanford University and U .C. Davis. Her publications include Bijak of Kabir.

When I shared my latest thought about the effect of my martial arts and its new goal, they gave me some feedback.

1) They think that martial art training still has a lot of value for people who go to the 'front line'.

As long as you have patience, you can control your anger. Besides anger, the other emotion you must handle in this kind of situation is your fear. It is anger with fear that invites violence. The violence that comes from the combination of anger and fear is very scary. It can get out of control.

Here is the analysis: If you are trained in martial arts and know how to defend yourself, you have choices. For instance, you can fight back if you really wish, but you may choose not to on purpose. When you have choices in your mind, you feel free. If you are free in your mind, you end up having confidence. Once you start having confidence in yourself, it appears naturally and automatically in your actions.

The difference is that if your mind is between anger and fear any people who confront you, the police in this case, end up playing with your emotion. But if they find 'confidence' in your posture/action they will respond with 'respect.'

Therefore, if practicing the fighting form of Shintaido can help people control anger and fear, and develop confidence, it still provides a positive and useful effect to those who go to public demonstrations. The harder you train in Shintaido technique, the calmer and steadier you will be able to keep yourself in an actual situation.

2) In the activity called Passive Resistance, your aim/goal does not have to be to win the battle on the day of the demonstration. In fact, you should not want to kill any of the policemen who represent the opposing principles. The point is how to win your situation. You must have a long range plan or Kokyu. It is okay to lose the battle in the picket line.

Plan to lose the battle, but as slowly as possible. Ideally, no one should get hurt. In a way, it is like pulling out your troops from a battle field; you may lose the battle so you do not lose too many soldiers. To contribute to this kind of protest movement, Shintaido's way is to use your power of concentration and clear consciousness, which Shintaido students usually develop through their daily practice.

Another day you may get to speak out about the situation. You may have a chance to write an article and put it in the newspaper, or get an interview by TV, Radio, or Magazine. You can send your letter of appeal to politicians. These kind of activities are also tactics in the quiet battle.

Shintaido can be cool and passive when facing the police, but it can help you be 'hot' and active when you do other activities. In this way, sooner or later you will meet with Ten no Toki, Chi no Ri, Hito no Wa, or heavenly timing, benefit of the earth, harmony of human, and finally you will find new directions for what was once a problem, and the problem itself will disappear.

At last, I would like to express my special appreciation to Amras, Joey, and Helmut for providing me with an opportunity to upgrade the level of my Shintaido wisdom. Also, I thank Kaz, Alan, and Linda for their encouragement to my work and their suggestions to the Wendland anti-nuclear power movement.