Kei Sho: 01 Greetings and ... About the purpose of the establishment by Morimasa Okada
There is a stone monument to the left of the front Torii gate of Kashima Jingu Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture, which is known as a shrine dedicated to the gods of warriors indicated as “Kei-sho”.
This is a monument on the site of the former school of study "Kei-sho-kan" that once existed in the shrine site. Needless to say, "Kei-Sho” means "keiko-Sho-Kon" (lighten the present by learning from the past), and the concept of "Keiko" has become a cornerstone of many martial arts and art practices, which is derived from the preface to the oldest Japanese history book, "Kojiki".
It seems that there are many cases in which we explain and chant "Learn from the past" under various circumstances, but in fact, if we are to mention the real important matter which is, "How are we to illuminate in the current era?", altogether in sets, and also aim for actual implementation, this will become pretty different by means and including methodology.
If we simply cut it off that the times are different between now and the past, we may end up changing something that is absolutely not supposed to be changed in the first place. However, on the other hand, if we try to implement this ignoring the age and totally without accepted in the current age, I feel that this is not truly the act, to transfer the teachings from the past to this age.
It is true that things change according to the background of the times, but at any given time, we should be aware of what we must not lose, what is universal, and we should keep it as a culture or tradition on what we need to transfer. To what extent can we say that modern kendo has learned (thought) from old teachings, comprehend, and apply to the present? Isn't it true that nowadays we are so focused on "now" that we despise the old idea itself? I am one of those who always think about this during performing kendo practice.
“Learn from the past, and how do we light up in current age”, how do we put into practice the teachings handed down by our predecessors in the context of our current values?
These words are my personal motto, my lifelong mission, and my "guidepost".
I received life with the Kendo Dojo (Shodokan) founded by my grandfather Morihiro Okada※in 1935, in Shimotakaido, Suginami-ku, Tokyo.
At that time it was a one-story building and the Dojo and where I lived was adjacent.
Therefore, I was hearing the sound of the Shinai sword already when I was inside my mother's belly, and since I was taught kendo even before I can remember, my earliest memories are making Suburi with a special wooden sword carved for me and performing IAI with a toy Japanese sword.
I would say that those situations were not a strict impression ones and all of my memories were that my grandfather “Granpa“ was teaching me neatly and kindly, and when I can do it well he was so happy to appraised me, and after the keiko, “Grandma” will also give me reward kindly.
It was something that would continue in such circumstances.
My father was a bit scary to me also, as was the impression he gave to the surroundings at that time, but he never told me to do kendo for the rest of my life. However, in some occasions like when I took a bath with him, he conveyed to me in words how difficult the Kendo is and also at the same time how interesting it is, and he would appraise me in front of the adult Dojo pupils, when I did it well.
In this situation, I grew up with a kind of confidence in kendo, and with receiving guidance, that you don't see so much nowadays, not to set your goal for winning matches, and do honorable Kendo, learn honorable “Kihon” basic movements, I was continuing Kendo steadily and quietly, and without any hesitation or doubts I moved on to kendo in addition to my home Dojo to new locations like my high school and university clubs.
During my four years at the Nippon Sport Science University, I followed the rules of the kendo club which I lived with my seniors and juniors at the club's training camp and dormitory, away from my parents (although the distance was not as far as my surroundings).
I learned there by my direct experience that there are many people who practice kendo with different values from what I had, but now I recall and thankful that I never even one time, came to dislike Kendo or wanted to quit kendo.
It's not that "What one likes, he will do best", but I feel that my grandfather and father guided me to like kendo, which is a part of my life.
I think it was because my grandfather and father both really liked kendo and their limitless interest for Kendo had transmitted to myself even for a mind of child.
After graduating from college, I was to return back to my house, but I since I wanted to stay at the “school” place a little longer, I decided to enrolled in a course called “Sports Science” for 1 year.
Then during the 7th anniversary of the death of my grandfather, my father told me, if you are going to become a Kendo professional, you better have a dojo as quickly as possible, and he just simply handed over all the rights of the Dojo to me, and retired.
At the age of 22, I became the Head of Kendo Dojo, that my grandfather founded with all his life, which had been active before, during, and after the war, with many big names gather to take an important roll making birth of All Kendo Federation, and which already had 50 years of history after establishment at that time.
The following year, when I completed the major in “Sports Science” at Nippon Sport Science University, my master, Professor Kunio Shizawa, gave me a request to become a fixed-term assistant at the Budo Laboratory of the Nippon Sport Science University.
At the same time, with the arrangement of Takayuki Yano at Waseda University High School, who was practicing at our Dojo at that time, I became helping to teach the Kendo club, and also, with the recommendation of Yoshiji Yamazaki, Setsuo Nakajima, Gen Toyoda and Shingo Hori, who were disciples of our Dojo, as well as graduates from the Faculty of Medicine of Keio University Kendo Club, where my father was the first Shihan, I became Kendo Club instructor for Faculty of Medicine at Keio University Sports Association.
So my life as a Kendo professional started with a most honorable treatment, even though it was a hectic experience with teaching children to adults at Dojo, research, education and club activities at the graduated school laboratory, and also at Japan’s most famous and traditional Keio and Waseda medical university and high school students.
Since then, after many twists and turns, I have been teaching at various schools and institutions. In particular, at my alma mater, I was able to receive many lessons from many kendo experts who were worthy of being called masters.
Since it is a college of sports science, I was also able to read a lot of research materials and literatures.
At that time, the Kendo Club had more than 200 members from all over the country, and I was able to experience the assignment of Director/Coach for both men and women teams, which gave me various experiences.
I was given a fortune to meet many genius players and was able to experience miraculous joy of aiming for the top and achieving it.
I was in charge till 50 years old, which is an invaluable asset for me, that I have been able to study at university for 32 years since I was 18 years old. Currently, I am in the last seat of the traditional Kodansha Noma Dojo “Do-Ko-Kai” club, which now I am regularly attending as the place for my own kendo training, and having an opportunity to communicate with sword with many teachers and other kendo enthusiasts.
With utilizing the experience I have gained so far, to devote myself for maintaining and developing the activities of the Dojo, which is the origin of my Kendo, I established a general incorporated association Shodo Gakuin to preserve and inherit traditional culture, and every day working on to improve the possibilities of “Budo” martial arts from a wide view point.
I have named this column as "Kei-sho".
This is what I should “Kei-Sho (Inherit)”, and at the same time, I would like to include a "Kei-Sho (Warning)" pointing to the modern kendo.
To be honest, I thought a lot for opening this Salon. The decisive factor for the decision to open this, is based on the teaching "illuminating the present" as described earlier.
It is because I felt that utilizing a tool which didn’t exist before, and to learn the essence of “the Way(Michi)” by exploring kendo with my fellows who mutually share sensibilities, and to communicate and pass it on, is truly a posture of “Keiko-Sho-Kon”.
The majority of what I am mentioning at this occasion is, purely my own understanding at my current stage and also examples of implementation against the teachings that I have received from my grandfather and father, who were my master.
Please let me show you this in a such stance that there is a thinking like this, as an example of implementation at the teaching occasions that I myself is involved.
I don't think that this is the only way to be correct, but it is also something that should be changing in my own practicing process.
Please allow an inexperienced and immature person like myself, may be with a shame, to show a consideration like this, and that I would like to ask you to join and have a long support on this tool, together.