I was enrolled at the Aikikai for six and a half years. During that period the time that I spent close to O-Sensei receiving his instruction was three years. That is, and it was the same for all of the uchi-deshi, I was was sent here and there to teach. At Hombu I was often asked by Osawa Sensei to teach in his place, and when I was asked I would accept, saying “Yes, Yes…”.
When I think about it now, I was really presumptuous, wasn’t I? The other person was an eighth dan instructor, and I was an untalented uchi-deshi, so normally one would say something like “I’m sorry, but it would be impossible for someone such as me to take your place as an instructor”, but I would always just accept lightly. (laughing)
Was there anything special about your teaching at the time?
No, there was nothing like that. However, it may have been that O-Sensei liked my instruction. At the time Aikido was in a transitional period. When I enrolled, if one was asked “What do you do? What’s your job?” there was no way that I could reply “Aikido”. Because nobody had heard of it. If I answered “Aikido” then I would always be asked “What’s that?” next. Making that explanation was really tiresome. That was the kind of era that it was.
Was there some about the Founder that especially left you with an impression?
Well…there were so many things that left an impression on me…I don’t know where to start. One day he said “Shimizu, are you free?”, and when I answered “Yes” he sat down in a backless chair and said “My back is tight, could you massage it a little?”. At the beginning, when I pushed on his back lightly, he said “What’s this? You don’t have any strength – push harder!”, so I put more strength into it and pushed on his back strongly but O-Sensei didn’t move at all. He just said “Push harder!” so I added even more strength and pushed on his back, but he didn’t move, not an inch. He was the same during training – O-Sensei would hold up his te-gatana (手刀) in kamae and say “OK, try pushing me!”.
In any case, no matter how much of a master one is, he was of such an advanced age that one would think that he would fall over if pushed strongly. However, since he would become angry if we pushed lightly we would push with all of our strength. Even so, he wouldn’t move, not an inch. Thinking about it now, I interpret that to mean that he matched the power of his mind and body to the power of nature, and mobility transformed through the unified body resulted in tremendous power.