Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Crazy for Kanji"

H. E. Davey Sensei's Japanese calligraphy will be featured in the upcoming Stone Bridge Press book Crazy for Kanji. A sample of his brush writing, which will appear in the new book, can been seen above. It shows the three different script styles commonly used in Japanese calligraphic art.

The kanji, or "Chinese character," depicted in all three illustrations is do (a.k.a. michi), which means "a road" in its more utilitarian usage and "the Way" in more spiritual terms. Many traditional Japanese arts that are practiced for spiritual realization end with the character for do. Examples are shodo ("the Way of brush calligraphy") and budo ("the martial Way," in other words, martial arts). In the illustration above, do is brushed using kaisho, gyosho, and sosho script styles. Moving from left to right, each script becomes more and more abbreviated and abstract.

You can learn more about how shodo functions as an ancient system of writing, moving meditation, and abstract art, by visiting our sister blog Art of Shodo at

You can purchase Davey Sensei's latest book The Japanese Way of the Artist, which covers Japanese calligraphy in detail, through

Want to find out more about the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts Integrated Shodo & Meditation program? Just drop by

You can read more about The Japanese Way of the Artist and the upcoming Crazy for Kanji at Stone Bridge Press focuses on books about Japanese culture that will appeal to many readers of this blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From "Unlocking the Secrets of Aiki-jujutsu"

Preface from Unlocking the Secrets of Aiki-jujutsu
By H. E. Davey

Aiki-jujutsu is a traditional Japanese combative discipline that has the potential to vitally transform the lives of its participants. This transformation takes place of course in the realm of one's newly developed skills of self-protection, but due to the nature of the art, it is also equally possible to experience profound spiritual realizations.

I was once asked by a skilled jujutsu instructor why I had "tacked on" this spiritual emphasis to what were essentially arts of combat, and if I had not added this dimension to the arts that I was teaching, why was this dimension there to begin with? In other words, why use as unlikely a medium as a martial art for spiritual development? Over the passing years, I have reflected on that question many times.

One of the essential issues that we have to deal with throughout our lives is the certainty of our own demise. Many of us have tried to put it out of our normal consciousness for many years, with the thought returning only occasionally--perhaps late at night while lying awake in bed, with no other activities to distract us from the inevitable outcome of life. It is a fear that never leaves.

Resolving this fear is something that is vital for any human being wishing to be at peace with him or herself. In fact, it is this fear which has prompted the great religions, philosophies, and teachings throughout recorded history, for by encountering this ultimate fear, we in turn face a number of our other anxieties as well. We are then forced to consider what lies beyond our limited physical form and discover our spiritual natures. We have come to see these related subjects, however, as being solely the domain of mystics and priests. At least, many of us find it strange to find them outside the sphere of philosophy and/or religion . . . especially in a martial discipline.

Still, what better place to encounter one's own mortality than in a combative art? It is the essential character of arts like aiki-jujutsu that they involve, ultimately, the potential death of one or both participants. This is not the same as facing death in the abstract--sitting alone with one's eyes closed, as in certain forms of meditation--but rather in the face of a rapidly approaching fist or weapon. In fact, if one does not come to grips with the true makeup of the human psyche and spirit, while at the very least, considering the issue of dying, it is impossible to make real progress in aiki-jujutsu. Of course, it is possible to cultivate technical skill and appear formidable within the relatively safe confines of the dojo, or "training hall." However, when faced with a sudden, violent, and potentially life-threatening attack, even in the dojo (but especially in daily life), few of us have the mental constitution to handle such an assault effectively. We will "freeze" unless the mind has also been deliberately and directly trained to deal with violence and the reality of human mortality. This mental training is absolutely essential for realizing genuine combative effectiveness, and it is not an issue that will simply "take care of itself " by engaging in hard physical practice, despite the fact that a number of martial arts teachers have tried to convince of the public of just that myth. (Otherwise, most professional athletes would have arrived at these spiritual realizations in the course of their training as well.)

Beyond combative efficiency, aiki-jujutsu gives us the opportunity to see ourselves clearly and to face our own fears in a way that few people in modern society will ever experience. Actually, when deeply and properly practiced, aiki-jujutsu promotes an inevitable spiritual examination. Furthermore, if one explores any combative discipline long enough and seriously enough, it is actually impossible to fail to face one's anxieties, fears, and mortality. These are not issues that have been "tacked on" to the Japanese martial arts and ways, but are inescapable aspects that lie at the very heart of these disciplines.

Nonetheless, one still needs a proper understanding of aiki-jujutsu to grasp the art's deeper dimensions. No amount of effort, if it is misguided, will allow most people to unlock the mysteries of aiki-jujutsu; and therefore, authentic instruction is vital. This book is designed to serve only as an introduction to a dynamic and infinitely subtle martial discipline.

The first half of Unlocking the Secrets of Aiki-jujutsu is designed as an overview of aiki-jujutsu in general, while the second portion illustrates the techniques of Saigo Ryu, since this is the system of aiki-jujutsu with which the author is most familiar. Moreover, the techniques depicted in the book are only a representative sampling of the skills taught in Saigo Ryu aiki-jujutsu. (While one chapter explains a limited number of techniques in detail, it was not possible to continue this detailed explanation throughout the book due to space limitations. However, the following chapter does shows a fair variety of techniques but without explanation. This is, once again, due to space constraints.) They do not depict this system's official kata, or prearranged formal exercises, which form the foundation of most aiki-jujutsu methods. (They are actually individual techniques drawn from various dissimilar kata and kata no oyo, or applied techniques that are derivative of those official kata techniques.) This is deliberate, as charlatans in the past have attempted to learn one of Japan's martial arts or ways from a book and bill themselves as instructors of disciplines that they have never studied. The credentials of individuals claiming to teach Saigo Ryu aiki-jujutsu can be checked by contacting the author at the address given in the appendix.

With the increasing international popularity of aikido, a martial way that is derived from aiki-jujutsu, aiki-jujutsu itself is being drawn into the limelight. However, aiki- jujutsu is a practice that was not readily available to the public for most of its history, and this situation has only recently begun to change. Thus, the amount of reliable information about the art is limited, but the public's interest in this art is steadily growing. Clearly, any little-known art that has managed to gradually capture the attention of the public is in danger of being exploited, distorted, and/or misunderstood. This has, unfortunately, already started in the case of aiki-jujutsu . . . before it has even had a chance to establish its legitimate principles. Hence, the need for a comprehensive, English-language introduction to the art is vital, and I have written this book for this reason, and because a number of senior Japanese and Western martial arts teachers have requested such a book.

Aiki-jujutsu's essence is contained in its name. Ai means "to meet," or alternately, "harmony" and "union." Ki describes the vital life energy that animates all living things as well as all of Nature. Ju can mean "gentle," but in this context it is more readily translated as "yielding," "flexible," or "non-resistant," while jutsu indicates an "art." Thus, in aiki-jujutsu, one discovers an art with which to master conflict by means of harmonizing with the life energy that animates the opponent and pervades Nature. Through this all-embracing state of harmony, then, it is possible to overcome an opponent, or even to face the "tests" life continually sends our way, by arriving at a state of non-resistance. This state, however, is not passive but actually extremely dynamic. For example, imagine trying to push a ping-pong ball under the water with one finger. The ball will seem to yield to the force of the finger, only to whirl away and pop up out of the water again and again. Its unsinkable quality comes from non-resistance, not passivity. Through the study of genuine aiki-jujutsu we can become like this floating ball, responding quickly and flexibly to life's changes, yet never being overwhelmed by them.
About the Author: H. E. Davey is the Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts. To learn more about the Japanese cultural and martial arts, visit The Japanese Way of the Artist blog at

An Article from "Furyu" by H. E. Davey

Budo and the Art of Japanese Calligraphy
By H. E. Davey
(This article first appeared in the Spring-Summer 1995 issue of the Furyu: The Budo Journal.)
Many students of traditional Budo (martial arts) have read that the education of the bushi consisted of a dual emphasis on bun and bu. Bu refers to the study of martial strategy and combat, while bun indicates the literary and fine arts of Japan. Some scholars of Budo have even declared that bun and bu must be considered as one. For example, Nakajima Masayoshi Sensei, fifth headmaster of Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu, has written that, in addition to the ryu's eighteen classical martial arts, students are taught such fine arts as Shakuhachi (five-holed flute), Shimai (a form of Noh dance), Yokyoku (Noh song), Sado (tea ceremony), and Kado (flower arrangement). Moreover, in feudal Japan, young bushi, or samurai, of the Aizu clan attended the Nisshinkan, where in addition to taking part in the martial activities that many would expect from an institute of samurai education, the youths also received detailed instruction in the Chinese classics, religion, etiquette, classical music, mathematics, healing arts, astronomy, and Japanese calligraphy. It was the art of brush writing, in fact, that was among the most important of studies for the higher-ranking bushi. Actually, for many ancient warriors, as well as present-day Japanese martial arts experts, Japanese calligraphy (Shodo) amounts to a vital part of Budo training.

Shodo, or the Way of Calligraphy, is studied by a multitude of Japanese, from college professors to housewives. However, even in Japan, few fully grasp the connection between Budo and Shodo, or how Japanese brush writing can be used as an exceptionally effective form of supplemental training for the Budoka. This is holds true despite the fact that many past masters of the martial arts and ways were also masters of Shodo. Well-known martial artists such as Miyamoto Musashi; Aikido's founder, Ueshiba Morihei Sensei; and Muto Ryu Kenjutsu's founder, Yamaoka Tesshu Sensei, are all held in equally high regard as calligraphers. Yamaoka Sensei is a fine example of a master of the dual ways of Sho and Bu. Terayama Katsujo Sensei, in his foreword to The Sword of No-Sword, writes:

Yamaoka Tesshu was an outstanding figure of the turbulent era that marked the birth of modern Japan. In the public sphere, Tesshu negotiated with Saigo Takamori and arranged for the peaceful transfer of power from the old order to the new; as an individual student of the Ways, Tesshu attained profound enlightenment at the age of forty-five and realized the inner principles of swordsmanship, Zen, and calligraphy. Thereafter, Tesshu was like Miyamoto Musashi, "passing one's days without attachment to any particular Way" (Book of Five Rings). Tesshu too became an extraordinarily versatile and prolific master: a peerless swordsman who established the No-Sword School; a wise and compassionate Zen teacher in the Tekisui tradition; and an unrivaled calligrapher who gathered all things of heaven and earth in his brush. Even today, nearly a century after his death, Tesshu's incredible vitality can still be discerned in his brushwork. 1

As the actions of the sword in Kenjutsu can be considered a reflection of one's mind, in Shodo, the dynamic movement of the artist's spiritual force, or Ki, becomes visible in the form of jet-black ink. Like traditional Budo, Shodo, which is derived from 3000-year-old Chinese characters adopted by Japan, can be practiced as a means of cultivating Ki. In Zen and the Art of Japanese Calligraphy, Omori Sogen Roshi expresses this idea:

The work of a Zen artist, on the other hand, is permeated by what Hakuin called the "overwhelming force of enlightened vision." That force is kiai. Ki, the energy of the cosmos, is always present but remains dormant if not cultivated. Kiai is to be full of ki; it is incorporated in the ink as bokki. 2
Setsudo said about this: "Bokki is not, as most people believe, the colour of the ink, and does not depend on the quality of the brush, ink, and paper. If one's ki is not extended into the work, the bokki is dead." 3
The clarity of the bokki is not seen with the eyes, it is sensed with the hara, the physical and spiritual centre of one's body. Bokki reveals the calligrapher's inner light.

Many followers of Budo, especially Aikido and Aiki-jujutsu practitioners, place a similar emphasis on the cultivation of Ki, kiai, and hara in their own disciplines, just as Shodo is viewed by its disciples as an equally effective method of developing oneself spiritually. A spontaneous creative gesture that has much in common with abstract expressionism, Shodo is more than mere writing, and its skilled practitioners believe that the "visible rhythm" created by the brush is a "picture of the mind" which reveals the calligrapher's physical and mental condition. For hundreds of years in China and Japan, leaders in any field, including Budo, were expected to demonstrate a powerful, composed script. Recently, major American and European corporations have started to employ handwriting analysts to help them select future executives; however, the study of byohitsu, or "sick strokes," is not new to Japan. It is believed that the subconscious mind is unmasked at the moment the brush is put to paper. It is also felt that one's subconscious can be positively influenced by copying masterpieces of Japanese calligraphy executed by exceptional individuals such as Yamaoka Tesshu Sensei.
Like Budo, Shodo is ultimately a means of cultivating the personality by developing positive subconscious habits. Martial arts author Michel Random writes, "It is said that internal serenity drives the brush. The brush in effect interprets the deepest part of the subconscious. The 'wisdom of the eye' is what relates the characters to each other as though assembling the movable and the immutable, the ego to the 10,000 things in the universe, the present to the timeless."
Each brush stroke in Japanese calligraphy must be perfectly executed since the artist never goes back to touch up any character. Each movement of the fude, or brush, is ideally performed with the full force of one's mind and body, as if one's very life depended upon the successful completion of each action. It is this spirit of decisiveness, of throwing 100% of oneself into the moment's action without hesitation, that perhaps most clearly connects Budo and the art of Japanese calligraphy.
Random further states in The Martial Arts:
For is not the ability to make the stroke flow naturally, to let the brush move freely across a thin piece of paper, also a superior struggle of the most testing kind? The spontaneous stroke of the brush is reminiscent of the quick free thrust of the sword or the freedom of the arrow fired effortlessly. Wherever there is distress, worry or uneasiness, there can be no perfect freedom or swiftness of action. 4
In Shodo, all mistakes are final, just as in the martial arts a mistake ultimately, or at least symbolically, results in the Budoka's death. For this reason, many beginners in calligraphy lack the spiritual strength to paint the character decisively. Each stroke must be delivered like the slash of the bushi's sword, yet the brush must be held in a relaxed manner, as well as manipulated without a loss of controlled calmness. Through rigorous training, a kind of seishin tanren (spiritual forging), the student's mental condition is altered, and this change in consciousness is expected to be carried into the individual's daily life as well. For the Budoka, the added strength and composure, which is cultivated by Japanese calligraphy allows him or her to more instantly respond to an opponent's attack without hesitation. In one sense, the shuji-gami, or calligraphy paper, which is so sensitive that the ink will "bleed" through it in seconds, is one's opponent and the brush one's sword. Every kanji, or character, must be painted with a perfect asymmetrical balance, which like a person's balance in Jujutsu, must be developed until it is maintained on a subconscious level. (In fact, the author has found his prior training in Aiki-jujutsu to be invaluable for sensing balance in Shodo, and over the years, his study of calligraphy has enabled him to more precisely see, and correct, a lack of balance in the bodies of his Aiki-jujutsu students.)

Shodo requires a balanced use of the mind and body, as well as a state of mental and physical integration. As many novices in the martial arts have discovered, it is sometimes rather difficult to make the mind and body work together as a unit. To simply paint a straight line can be a surprising challenge, one that can be accomplished only through a coordination of one's faculties. In Japanese painting and calligraphy, a strongly concentrated mind must control the brush, and a relaxed body must allow the brush to act as an exact reflection of the mind's movement. Shodo, as much as Budo, demands this coordination. Through calligraphy practice, the martial artist has an additional means of realizing the essential harmony of thought and action, and a visible means of illustrating this state of unification at that. To achieve unification of mind and body, of course, demands a positive, concentrated use of the mind, along with a natural and relaxed use of the body. It is this enhancement of concentration and relaxation that many people, including Japanese practitioners of the martial arts, find so appealing.

Just as Judo begins by gripping the opponent, and Iaido begins by gripping the sword, so too does Shodo start with the student's hold on the brush. Unless the proper method of holding is mastered, no real progress is possible. Some teachers in the past tried to suddenly pull the brush from the student's hand as a means of testing the grip. An ink-covered hand would reveal an improperly held brush. However, squeezing tightly is not the answer, because this does not produce flowing, dynamic characters. Limply gripping, on the other hand, results only in a loss of brush control. It was, and is, therefore essential to learn to hold the fude in a way that is neither tense nor limp, with a kind of "alive" grip in which one's Ki is projected from downward-pointing fingers through the brush, out of the tip, and into the paper. This same supple, yet firm grip, is vital in most forms of Budo, and it has been characterized as "Ki de toru," that is, holding with Ki.

As an individual prepares to paint, he or she will notice if the tip of the brush is still or shaking. A wobbling brush not only makes it difficult to paint stable kanji, but it also indicates an unstable, nervous mental state. In Shodo, and Budo, the body reflects the mind. Therefore, the bushi would also notice if his opponent's kissaki (sword tip) began to tremble, for this was often an indication of suki--a break in the opponent's composure and concentration, and an opportunity to attack. In Shodo, as in Budo, as in daily life, the mind and body are interconnected.

In both Shodo and Budo, one's spirit controls the brush or, in the case of Budo, one's body. The Shodo student needs to strongly focus on the character to be painted for a split second, and then without hesitation, move the brush in a relaxed manner. In this way, the Shodo artist endeavors to succeed mentally before the brush even touches the paper, in much the same way that a skilled Budoka will spiritually win before engaging the opponent. Japanese calligraphy dictates that the movement of a person's Ki slightly precedes the brush as it draws the character.

Shodo has a "visible rhythm"; in other words, the kanji sit in repose on the paper, but they must look and feel as if they are moving. (This is the state of dochu no sei, or "stillness in motion," that is often alluded to in esoteric densho, or manuals containing a school's most profound teachings. Its converse is "motion in stillness." It is the unity of these two conditions that results in skilled Shodo and Budo.) To create this dynamic, yet balanced feeling, the brush must flow in a free and easy manner. Each kanji has a set number of strokes that must be brushed in a precisely defined order. Within the form of each character, the brush should move smoothly from one stroke to the next. This creates a rhythm, which must not be broken if the character is to take on a dynamic appearance, and unless a constant flow of concentration is maintained, this rhythm will be broken. Many people have an unfortunate tendency to cut off their stream of attention at the completion of an action. In calligraphy, this often happens when finishing a single character or at the end of a line of words. It is vital to maintain an unbroken flow of Ki and concentration throughout the artistic act. In Budo as well as Shodo, this is known as zanshin (literally "remaining mind"), and it indicates a kind of "mental follow-through" and unbroken condition of calm awareness. Shodo has been used in the past, as well as the present, as a way for Budoka to develop zanshin without the presence of an actual opponent.

Both Budo and Shodo have been characterized as forms of "moving meditation." Michel Random eloquently describes this unique method of meditation with the brush:

The sign is repeated until total spontaneity is achieved, completely free from thought . . . spontaneity and not automatism of movement which is contrary to the object of the exercise. In calligraphy (as in the martial arts), the space between the lines is what matters. It is this space which gives the signs their beauty. In Zen painting, we find the same need for pressure and spontaneity. Here, we see the result of the movement of the brush and ink on the paper. The brush is dipped in encre de chine. The special quality paper is very fine and absorbent. The brush hardly needs to touch the paper to make a large blob. Therefore, the hand must skim or fly across the paper without stopping. Thought is free. 5
Few realize that many of the brush strokes in Shodo are similar, or the same as, the lines of the fude in Japanese ink painting (Sumi-e). Both the Japanese and the Chinese use pictographs as well as thousands of ideograms in their languages, each with a specific meaning, producing a virtually limitless combination of expressions. A large number of kanji are actually abstract and abbreviated pictures which can evoke emotion in the viewer, just as some paintings do, owing to their variety and depth. For this reason, it is not uncommon to find that some Japanese calligraphers can actually paint, and some Sumi-e experts can execute calligraphy, as the two arts overlap considerably.

Shodo is, thus, an art that can be appreciated just as much by individuals that cannot read Japanese as by those that can. For just as it is possible to enjoy the rhythm and sound of music, without being able to read the notes, it is also possible to appreciate Japanese calligraphy without being fluent in Japanese. In the dynamic beauty of Shodo, one finds the essential components that make up all art--balance, rhythm, grace, and the beauty of line. These aspects of Shodo, which are also found in properly performed Budo, can be appreciated by all cultures.

Dave Lowry, the esteemed author of Autumn Lightning, describes his impressions, as a young American, observing the calligraphy painted by his sensei:

... Sensei was writing in the much older kanji characters of Japanese script with ink and a soft bristled brush. There is a maxim in the bujutsu, ken, sho, ichi, a reminder that the katana and the brush are one and the same in practice and the swordsman must wield his blade with exactly the accuracy and artistry with which he employs a brush to render the intricate characters of calligraphy. Sensei's characters, like his swordsmanship, were adroit and flowing, unconsciously expert. 6
It is the author's hope that this article will encourage American martial artists to look beyond Budo's more obvious physical aspects, to realize that it is a Way born out of the arts, religions, and history of Japan; that it is a cultural art like tea ceremony, Shakuhachi, Shodo, and others; and that ultimately, it is not possible to fully remove Budo from Japan's cultural matrix without altering beyond recognition its true form. In fact, it may help individuals not fluent in Japanese to realize that Shodo is often painted in ancient and highly abstract scripts, such as tensho and sosho, which the average Japanese cannot even read. (Shodo is, however, an enjoyable, stimulating method of learning the Japanese language--the international language of Budo.)

Perhaps, through the practice of Shodo, Western martial artists can come to also understand the other so-called "impenetrable" Japanese cultural arts that the bushi considered an invaluable part of his education, and which are so rarely explored by Budoka today.

1. John Stevens, The Sword of No-Sword, Boulder: Shambhala,1984, p. vii.
2. Omori Sogen and Terayama Katsujo, Zen and the Art of Japanese Calligraphy, Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983, p.10.
3. Michel Random, The Martial Arts, London: Octopus Books Limited, 1978, p. 98.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Dave Lowry, Autumn Lightning, Boston: Shambhala, 1985, p.142.

About The Author: H. E. Davey is the Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts, located in Albany, California (near San Francisco). It offers classes in Japanese Yoga, Japanese healing arts, Aiki-jujutsu, and Shodo. He is also a direct disciple of Shodo master Kobara Ranseki Sensei, Vice President of the Kokusai Shodo Bunka Koryu Kyokai of Japan. He holds the highest rank in Kobara Sensei's method of Shodo, and he exhibits his artwork annually in Japan at the International Shodo Exhibition (Kokusai Shodo-Ten), where he has received various awards, including Jun Taisho, the Associate Grand Prize.

An Article by H. E. Davey, Sennin Foundation Director

Shodo: Japanese Brush Meditation
Article and Calligraphy by H. E. Davey

More and more Americans are captivated by Japan’s traditional art forms. In the 21st century, it’s almost as common for children to participate in martial arts like judo as to play baseball. Your wife may study Japanese flower arrangement, while you read the latest book on Zen released by a major American publisher. Although classical Japanese arts have grown in popularity, they aren’t inevitably well understood, and not everyone realizes that martial arts (budo), flower arrangement (kado), tea ceremony (chado), and other activities are actually spiritual paths.
Note that the terms for each of these disciplines end in the word “do,” which means the “way,” as in a way of life leading to spiritual realization. Not only are such arts more than what’s seen on the surface, numerous other activities were “spiritualized” in ancient Japan. Many of these arts are little known in the West, or at least little understood. One of the most popular arts in Japan, also ending with the designation “do,” is shodo—the “way of brush calligraphy.” Western participation in shodo is much smaller than in Japan, and many people have never heard of it.

Of course, a few American art connoisseurs may have seen shodo in museums or books, and some young people in the USA sport tattoos of Japanese characters. Still, even Westerners that know of shodo seem to think that it’s too esoteric, or too difficult to read, to be accessible to most non-Japanese.

I’m living proof that this needn’t be the case.

Discovering Shodo
I began practicing martial arts at age five, tutored by my father, who had studied these arts initially from Japanese-Americans. He later lived in Japan, where his martial arts study continued and intensified.
In addition to the aiki-jujutsu that I learned from my dad, I enrolled in a local judo school. Even as a child, I admired the beautiful Japanese brush writing on the walls of our dojo, or training hall. I didn’t know what it said, but I knew I liked it.
Skipping ahead a few years, I grew interested in painting and drawing in high school and majored in art in college. I also began studying Japanese language, meditation, and healing. And I still admired the calligraphy I saw in homes and businesses of Japanese-American friends, but no teacher of shodo was available to me.
Jumping forward even further, in 1981, I formed the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts in Northern California. The primary focus of study at the Sennin Foundation Center is Shin-shin-toitsu-do, the “Way of Mind and Body Unification.” Shin-shin-toitsu-do is a form of Japanese yoga and meditation created in the early 1900s by Nakamura Tempu Sensei. In addition to Japanese yoga, the Sennin Foundation Center offers instruction in Japanese healing arts and martial arts (aiki-jujutsu). I teach all three arts, and over the years, I’ve developed teachers to assist me. However, I also wanted to offer my students optional instruction in brush writing. Unfortunately, in 1981, I’d still hadn’t found a shodo teacher that I wanted to study under.

Practice Begins
After searching for years, in 1986, I met Kobara Ranseki Sensei, one of the most skilled shodo artists living outside of Japan. Deeply impressed, I began practicing with Kobara Sensei, originator of the Ranseki Sho Juku of San Francisco. Kobara Sensei has evolved a distinctive type of shodo and a creative program of instruction. He has, moreover, received numerous awards for excellence from various shodo associations as well as the Japanese government. With his help, I was in time able to exhibit my artwork annually at the International Shodo Exhibition in Japan, where I’ve also received awards, including Jun Taisho—the “Associate Grand Prize.” In 1993, I received Shihan-dai teaching certification, the highest rank in Ranseki Sho Juku calligraphy.
Upon receiving certification, I began offering my students of Shin-shin-toitsu-do instruction in shodo. Like Shin-shin-toitsu-do, shodo is a “way,” traditionally functioning in Japan as both fine art and moving meditation. As such, it’s ideal for students of Shin-shin-toitsu-do or any type of meditation.
Yet some of my students were intimidated by the “foreignness” of shodo, and few Westerners seem to grasp how it functions as dynamic meditation that leads to deeper concentration, willpower, and calmness. To counteract this lack of understanding, I authored Brush Meditation: A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony in 1999. And I hope this article will also lead to a greater appreciation of shodo and its spiritual components in the West.

The Roots of Shodo
Around 2700 BC, according to Chinese tradition, an enigmatic man with four eyes called Tsangh-hsieh created the first Chinese characters. Captivated by the footprints of beasts and birds, he gave birth to the earliest Chinese system of writing. The God of Heaven was believed to have been so moved by Tsangh-hsieh's bird-based characters that he made grain drop from the clouds as a symbol of his happiness with humankind.

Unfortunately for our four-eyed friend, archaeology paints a different picture. Drawings engraved on pieces of tortoise shell and oracle bone date from the Shang Period in China, which is from 1766-1122 BC. These pictures were the archetypes of Chinese characters.
Ancient shamans would bore holes in the shells and/or bones, which were then placed in a sacred fire. The surfaces of these objects would crack and split. Chinese priests, who etched their impressions of “The Voice of Heaven” on the bone or shell using simple sketches, deciphered the resulting fissures. Eventually these pictographs were utilized for legal transactions, conducted via the exchange of etched strips of bamboo or wood. Later, such writings came into religious and official usage as bell inscriptions.
Much later in history, these inscriptions developed into the kanji, or “Chinese characters,” that Japanese and Chinese are familiar with today. Various script styles, such as kaisho (similar to printing in English), gyosho (a semi-cursive script), and sosho (an abstract, cursive form of writing), eventually evolved.
Starting around 552 AD, many elements of Chinese culture came to the Japanese island nation. Chinese characters also arrived on Japan's shores during this era.
Japan had a spoken language, but no system of writing at this time. Thus, the Chinese method of written communication was readily adopted. Initially the Japanese used the entire multitude of Chinese scripts, embracing quite a few of the Chinese readings while adding as many of their own. Characters were later modified in Japan, and new phonetic scripts called hiragana and katakana were born.

An Ink Painting of the Spirit
The spoken languages and cultures of Japan and China differ greatly, but they share a common set of Asian characters, which although pronounced differently by Chinese and Japanese, often convey similar meanings. It’s important to note here that while these characters are utilized for written communication, Japanese calligraphy should not be thought of as just penmanship. In light of the fact that Chinese characters began as simplified drawings or pictograms, it’s evident that no clear-cut dividing line can be found between drawing, ink painting (sumi-e), and calligraphy. Ink painting and shodo originally used the same brush, ink, and paper. Even certain brush strokes are similar. Shodo can be thought of as a system of writing and abstract art originally based on abbreviated drawings. In characters like mountain (yama), for example, it’s still easy to see three mountain peaks.
Kanji transcended their utilitarian function and collectively serve as visually stirring fine art. Shodo allows the dynamic movement of the artist’s ki ("spirit") to become observable in the form of rich black ink. In great examples of shodo, you sense the rhythm of music as well as the elegant balanced construction of refined architecture. Many practitioners feel that the visible rhythm of Japanese calligraphy ultimately embodies a picture of the mind, and calligraphers recognize that it discloses our spiritual state. This recognition is summed up by the saying: Kokoro tadashikereba sunawachi fude tadashii—"If your mind is correct, the brush will be correct."

Shodo and Mind and Body Harmony
With a bit of thought, it’s apparent that the mind controls the body. Based on this line of thought, it is equally clear that the actions of the body serve as a reflection of the mind. Witness the slumped posture of someone who’s depressed and the shaking hand of a nervous student about to take an exam.
In like manner, in shodo the mind controls the brush through the hand, and the lines the brush creates reflect the mind. In this way, shodo functions as an outer reflection of our mental state.
Some Japanese calligraphers and psychologists have written books on the examination of personality through calligraphy. Just as American companies have employed handwriting analysts to help them select the best individuals for executive posts, the Japanese traditionally expected their leaders in any field to display refined, serene script.
It is even said that health defects are revealed in byohitsu, “sick strokes.” This stems from the belief that brush strokes unveil the state of the body and subconscious mind—its strengths and weaknesses—at the moment the brush is put to paper. It has also been held that the subconscious can be influenced positively by copying consummate examples of calligraphy by extraordinary individuals. Tradition teaches that using this technique, you cultivate strength of character akin to the artist being copied.
Even today, some of Japan’s highest executives and politicians endeavor to develop traits for success by reproducing the artwork of an emperor or famous religious leader. At its ultimate level, shodo has historically been regarded as a means of refining personality.
What’s more, most people want to realize their greatest personal potential. We want to bring the full force of our minds and bodies to bear upon whatever we do in life. Yet for many of us, it’s difficult to coordinate the mind and body. The body may turn the pages of a magazine or the steering wheel of a car, but our minds are frequently elsewhere. Such lack of attention becomes visibly apparent in shodo, and thus Japanese calligraphy serves as a means of learning how to unite the mind and body. Just as a car only functions well when the front and rear wheels move in the identical direction, we only display our full potential when the mind and body harmoniously work toward a related aim.
In shodo, thoughts and actions must match, and we must direct the full, coordinated energy of the mind and body into the artwork we create. Failure to do so causes characters to end up where we hadn’t intended, lines to nervously quiver, and the overall creation to lack vigor and grace. In essence, shodo offers Americans the same benefit it has traditionally offered Japanese—an instantaneous, visible barometer of mind and body unification.

Shodo for the West
Just as many Western people appreciate jazz, rock and roll, or blues without being able to read music, so can Americans appreciate shodo when they’re properly exposed to it. Since shodo is an abstract art, it’s not strictly necessary to be able to read Chinese characters or Japanese phonetic scripts to admire the dynamic beauty of shodo. Within Japanese calligraphy, we find the essential elements that constitute all art: creativity, poise, rhythm, gracefulness, and the beauty of line. While shodo is a fun way to learn about Japanese language, initial lack of Japanese reading ability needn’t be a stumbling block to shodo appreciation, and the universal aspects of shodo can be recognized and admired by every culture.
Bringing the mind fully into the immediate moment, realizing mind and body harmony, seeing directly into the actual character of the mind—all of this relates to meditation and all of these points are part of shodo. Shodo remains one of ancient Japan’s most sophisticated arts of moving meditation.

About the Author: H. E. Davey is the Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts, which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at and by telephone at 510-526-7518 (evenings). He is the author of the books Brush Meditation: A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony, Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation, The Japanese Way of the Flower: Ikebana as Moving Meditation, Living the Japanese Arts & Ways: 45 Paths to Meditation & Beauty, and Unlocking the Secrets of Aiki-jujutsu.

An Article by Japanese Yoga Expert Sawai Atsuhiro Sensei

Autosuggestion in Japanese Yoga & Daily Life
By Sawai Atsuhiro

My teacher Nakamura Tempu Sensei was the founder of the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga and meditation. One of his central teachings was the use of autosuggestion to alter the subconscious mind and thus change negative habits. I learned various forms of autosuggestion directly from Nakamura Sensei, and I’d like to explain how they can help you to become more effective and cheerful in your daily lives. But first, you’ll need to know a bit about the nature of the mind.

The Conscious Mind and the Subconscious
When we think in everyday life, this thinking takes place in our surface waking consciousness. We can call this surface awareness the conscious mind.

Elements in surface consciousness are influenced by elements that are kept in the subconscious mind. The subconscious lies deep beneath the covering of the conscious mind, and we’re not typically aware of the workings of the subconscious during our waking hours.

During our sleep, however, the subconscious rises to the surface and the conscious mind is moves into the background. This is why a number of authorities claim that dreams are a manifestation of the subconscious.

More than just the motivator for our dreams, the subconscious is a kind of storeroom for most of the elements in the mind. If the elements stored in the subconscious are negative in nature, the conscious mind cannot think positively. If elements stored in the subconscious are positive, the conscious mind thinks positively. In short, the subconscious records past experiences, events, and especially feelings. The elements stored in the subconscious constantly influence our conscious thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Even if we consciously try to be positive, we cannot easily do so if negative elements are in the subconscious. Elements in the subconscious minds of many people are negative, and this influences their conscious minds. As the result, they tend to think pessimistically. They are inclined to take a negative attitude toward anything. They are easily angered, complain often, and are fearful of even small matters.

“Suggestions” are sometimes defined in psychology as something that enters the mind and has an impact on it. Such suggestions are received by the conscious mind and recorded by the subconscious mind.

When we see, hear, or say something repeatedly, these suggestions have a large impact on the subconscious. A happening that is dramatic or traumatic also has a great impact on the subconscious. Whatever is stored in the subconscious tends to have an unconscious influence on all of our conscious actions.

There are many sources for these suggestions such as spoken words, letters in books we read, our behaviors and that other people. Any phenomena around us produce some suggestions that are recorded by the subconscious.

We should be aware of what kind of suggestions we receive in everyday life. Such awareness is necessary, because both positive and negative suggestions exist. A positive suggestion influences the subconscious to be bright, cheerful, energetic, and brave. Negative suggestions do the opposite.

Those who are weak in mind are inclined to accept negative suggestions and reject positive ones. Those who are strong in mind are not negatively swayed by discouraging events. The purpose of the various forms of autosuggestion, or jiko anji, is to create a positive, vigorous, and powerful mind.

Many people do not understand the nature of the mind. They may have accumulated numerous negative elements in their subconscious minds. These negative materials in the subconscious produce many negative habits like smoking, pessimism, insomnia, and others.

Fortunately, you can readily grasp the relationship between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind if you receive clear instruction and information about this topic. So it is important to realize that we can easily change negative habits into positive ones. And this will allow you to quickly adopt a more positive mental attitude, which is also extremely important for success, health, and happiness.

I’d like to offer you four simple methods of autosuggestion:

1. Renso Anji
2. Meirei Anji
3. Dantei Anji
4. Hanpuku Anji

Renso Anji
Renso means “to think of things one after another.” Anji means “suggestion.”

In Renso Anji we simply think of positive things one after another as we’re about to fall asleep. From the time we get into bed, until we are asleep, we must not imagine anything negative. In other words, avoid thinking of something that makes you angry, fearful, or sad.

The surface consciousness blurs and the subconscious arises and becomes more active, when you are sleepy. So autosuggestion is easiest and most effective at this time. (Any suggestions we receive right as we’re about to fall asleep penetrate the subconscious more directly, in that they don’t need to filter through layers of waking consciousness.)

When you are sleeping, the conscious mind is resting and the subconscious is active. So, as previously noted, dreams are reflection of the workings of the subconscious, which is why some psychiatrists analyze dreams to understand the subconscious motivations of their patients.

When we are falling asleep, we easily accept any suggestion into the many depths of the subconscious, because right before sleep, the conscious mind and the subconscious are in a process of transition. The most ideal time to positively influence the subconscious is, therefore, the moment before we fall asleep.

If we think of positive matters one after another, they will enter the subconscious easily. And the content of our subconscious will gradually become more and more positive. In a few days or months, many people find themselves changed. One example of such a change can be found in the nature of their dreams. Why not have happy dreams instead of unhappy dreams?

Although they are more highly educated than in the past, many people in modern times hold on to negative feelings like anger, fear, and sorrow. As the result, they weaken the mind’s power. Even rich people, who eat gourmet dinners, are often plagued by insomnia stemming from their fears and sorrows. Simply being well-educated and wealthy isn’t enough to guarantee happiness.

For such people, the situation will not change until they change the nature of their minds. One way to do this is to change the nature of what they think about before falling asleep. Then they will sleep well. Deep sleep is very important. Sleeping lets us receive a great amount of ki, or “life energy,” from the universe. The time when we sleep is the time when we relax completely, and in a state of deep relaxation, the universe and the individual are closely united.

Meirei Anji
We can create a stronger form of autosuggestion by using a mirror just before falling asleep. It’s called Meirei Anji.

Meirei means “ordering or commanding.” Anji means “suggestion.”

In Meirei Anji, we utter a single simple sentence, which serves as a positive suggestion. Shortly before we speak this command to the subconscious, we watch our face in the mirror, or more exactly, we look at our reflected face between the eyebrows. Then, we speak to our reflected image and strongly order ourselves to become what we want to be.

Examples of positive suggestions for Meirei Anji are:

· “Your confidence will become strong!”
· “You will not be worried about your illness!”

You need not speak loudly, but you should be very serious at the moment you make this suggestion to your subconscious. Just one suggestion is good and effective. If you use many suggestions, they may confuse the subconscious.

Quality is more important than quantity. Say it just once, then immediately go to sleep. Intensity is important.

I hope you will soon feel the effects of Meirei Anji, but even if you don’t notice sudden results, I advise you to continue to practice it every night. Just as it took time to develop negative habits, it may be some days before you feel the effects of Meirei Anji.

We have acquired bad habits over many years. It is unrealistic to expect these harmful habits to be gone instantly by using Meirei Anji.

A French psychologist taught Nakamura Tempu Sensei this form of autosuggestion using the mirror. But he suggested we do it as often as possible during the daytime. Nakamura Sensei modified it and advised us to do it before falling asleep, because it is psychologically the most effective.

Furthermore, Nakamura Sensei was skilled in shodo, Japanese brush calligraphy. Students, who want to improve in shodo, can use a sentence like this:

“You will become fond of shodo.”

This is more effective than “You will be good at shodo.” If we come to like something, we study it harder and naturally become good at it.
Children that wet the bed during sleep can use a sentence like this:

“You will wake up when you want to urinate.”

People who want to correct their stuttering should not say, “Your stuttering will be gone.” Rather they should say, “You will not care about stuttering.” A person’s psychological state and ability to speak are closely connected. If we stop worrying about stuttering, we often stop stuttering.

The same can be said of many problems in life. We create problems by worrying about them.
People who are ill should not say, “You will recover from the illness.” They should say, “You will not worry about your illness.” This is not to indicate that you shouldn’t get medical treatment, it is more an indicator of the psychosomatic effect of the mind. The mind controls the body; positive mental states have a very real impact on our health.

The sentence we use for this autosuggestion should be an imperative form, not a prayer or a request. For example, “Your confidence will be strong” is an imperative sentence. “Please make my confidence strong” is more like a prayer or request.

In addition, we must order ourselves (the face in the mirror) to change. We should use the word “you” instead of “I” in Meirei Anji for this reason.

Don’t be impatient in practicing this method. Be diligent and keep going. I promise that the time will come soon when you can recognize the effectiveness of this method for changing your personality and habits.

Dantei Anji
Dantei means “affirm.” Dantei Anji compliments Meirei Anji.

When we get up in the morning, we can respond to the previous night’s order that we gave our subconscious. We can, in short, affirm the previous night’s command we spoke to our face in the mirror.

We need not use a mirror in Dantei Anji. Your sleepy face isn’t perhaps the best image of yourself or the first thing you want to see in the morning.

If your suggestion the previous night was “Your confidence will become strong,” then upon waking say aloud, “My confidence has become strong.” In this way, we affirm the previous night’s suggestion.

Hanpuku Anji
You can repeat the same suggestion even during the daytime. Frequent repetition of a single suggestion is very effective, and you can do this mentally or out loud, with or without a mirror. Hanpuku means “repetition.” Again, work on only one suggestion at a time. Once you’ve boosted your confidence or stopped smoking, go onto a different suggestion.

Since the early 1900s, thousands of people in Japan have learned and benefited from these four forms of autosuggestion. I’m one of those people.

Now that my colleague H. E. Davey Sensei is writing books about these methods and teaching them across the USA, I’m hoping many of you will achieve the same happy results.

About the Author: Sawai Atsuhiro Sensei is a direct student of Nakamura Tempu Sensei, founder of the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga and meditation. He holds the highest teaching credentials issued by the Tempu Society. He is also Professor Emeritus of English for Kyoto Sangyo University, and a Senior Advisor for the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts. To learn more about autosuggestion and Japanese yoga, visit

Japanese Yoga & Martial Arts for Children

Since 1981, we’ve been offering a fun and well-structured program in Japanese yoga and martial arts for children age five and above. These affordable classes are taught by experienced instructors and are non-competitive. Class sizes are small, and instruction is personalized.
The Sennin Foundation Center presents training in Saigo Ryu aiki-jujutsu, a traditional martial art. While many Westerners use “jujutsu, jujitsu, or jiu-jitsu” to describe their art of self-defense, most of these methods bear little resemblance to the original Japanese jujutsu, Japan’s oldest martial art. Both aikido and judo stem from jujutsu, and our dojo is one of few in the USA to offer authentic Japanese jujutsu.
Our class features a wide variety of powerful throwing, pinning, and grappling techniques stemming from older methods (kobudo) originating in the Aizu-Wakamatsu area of Japan. Saigo Ryu also features advanced training in the sword, spear, staff, short stick, iron fan, and other weapons. It is unique and distinct from many more well-known martial disciplines (like karate-do, kendo, and iaido). While training is dynamic, and the practiced self-defense techniques effective, the emphasis is on subduing an opponent without unnecessary injury. Children improve their health while learning martial arts as meditation, which helps them to remain calm under pressure. Some students have likened training in our dojo to “moving Zen.”
Instruction in the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga and meditation is included at no extra charge. Japanese yoga training makes it easier to master the martial arts, and it helps children to realize their full potential in other activities as well. Studying Japanese yoga and aiki-jujutsu gives young people a great opportunity to develop self-discipline, self-confidence, willpower, respect for others, as well as a stronger mind and body. Children learn meditation, stretching, breathing exercises, mind and body coordination drills, along with valuable self-defense techniques. Training in Japanese martial arts is vigorous, but due to the disciplined nature of our classes, we have few injuries. Parents report that their children show increased calmness at home, confidence in social situations, and better grades in school.
As someone who began studying Japanese yoga and martial arts as a child, H. E. Davey Sensei, one of the highest ranking traditional jujutsu teachers outside of Japan, was ideally suited for creating a program for children. Under his guidance, and with the help of his staff of expert teachers, young people from Albany, Berkeley, and the Bay Area have discovered their true potential and hidden talents for many years.
Parents can learn more about our program for children by visiting the blog Martial Arts & Kids. Give us a call at 510-526-7518, and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can help your son or daughter to become healthier, safer, and more confident.

Traditional Japanese Martial Arts

The Sennin Foundation Center presents instruction in Saigo Ryu aiki-jujutsu, a traditional and non-competitive martial art. While many Westerners use “jujutsu, jujitsu, or jiu-jitsu” to describe their art of self-defense, most of these methods bear little resemblance to the original Japanese jujutsu, Japan’s oldest martial art. Both aikido and judo stem from jujutsu, and our dojo is one of few in the USA to offer authentic Japanese jujutsu.

Our class features a wide variety of powerful throwing, pinning, and grappling techniques stemming from older methods (kobudo) originating in the Aizu-Wakamatsu area of Japan. Saigo Ryu is a sogo bujutsu, an “integrated martial system,” and it also features advanced training in the martial arts of the sword, spear, staff, short stick, iron fan, and others. It is unique and unlike many more well-known martial disciplines (like karate-do, kendo, and iaido). While training is vigorous, and the practiced self-defense techniques effective, the emphasis is on subduing an opponent without unneeded injury. Students improve their health while learning martial arts as meditation, which helps them to remain calm under pressure. Some students have likened training in our dojo to “moving Zen.”

Our instructors also teach methods for cultivating ki (chi in Chinese). Ki is the life energy that animates human beings, and an understanding of it is useful in both martial arts and daily life.

H. E. Davey Sensei, the primary instructor at the Sennin Foundation Center, is the author of numerous books, including Unlocking the Secrets of Aiki-jujutsu and Living the Japanese Arts & Ways. He began studying the Saigo Ryu tradition at just five years old. He received the rank/title of Nihon Jujutsu Kyoshi from the Kokusai Budoin, which defines Kyoshi as a “Master’s certificate and equal to modern ranks of sixth- to eighth-degree black belt.” Kokusai Budoin was founded over 50 years ago in Japan, where it is affiliated with the Japanese Imperial Family, and where it functions as an international federation for most budo, or martial arts. In 1995, Davey Sensei and his students became the first Westerners permitted to give their own demonstration of aiki-jujutsu at the Kokusai Budoin’s annual All-Japan Martial Arts Exhibition. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Shudokan Martial Arts Association, which has given him a seventh-degree black belt and a Shihan teaching license.

Instruction in the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga and meditation is included at no extra charge. Japanese yoga training makes it easier to master the martial arts, and it helps us to realize our full potential other activities as well. Give us a call at 510-526-7518 to find out how aiki-jujutsu can help you toward self-protection and self-perfection.

Integrated Shodo & Meditation

Shodo means the “way of calligraphy,” and it is one of the most respected Asian fine arts. Painted with a brush and ink, Japanese calligraphy uses centuries old kanji (“Chinese characters”), which due to their pictographic nature have similarities to abstract expressionism. Balance, grace, dignity, vibrant movement, and the beauty of line combine to create a dynamic ink painting of the mind that people the world over have come to admire.

The Sennin Foundation Center offers you an opportunity to study genuine Japanese shodo—an art rarely taught in English —for artistic expression and moving meditation. Students study kanji as well as hiragana and katakana—phonetic scripts—along with classical ink painting. You’ll also learn to brush age-old haiku and waka poems, sometimes with accompanying ink and water painted illustrations (sumi-e). Sumi-e is a bit similar to Western watercolor painting, and shodo is a fun way to study Japanese language, while you learn about Japanese culture.

H. E. Davey Sensei, the primary instructor at the Sennin Foundation Center, is the author of Brush Meditation: A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony, Living the Japanese Arts & Ways: 45 Paths to Meditation & Beauty, and The Japanese Way of the Artist. He is a top student of the late Kobara Ranseki Sensei of Kyoto, the founder of Ranseki Sho Juku calligraphy. He studied with his teacher for 20 years, and he received the highest rank in Ranseki Sho Juku brush writing. He exhibits his artwork annually at the International Shodo Exhibition in Japan, where he received Jun Taisho, the “Associate Grand Prize,” among numerous other awards. Davey Sensei’s artwork has been featured in many American and Japanese magazines and newspapers.

Integrated Shodo & Meditation is a special program created by Davey Sensei to teach traditional Ranseki Sho Juku shodo to Westerners in an accessible manner that leads to meditation. This class has been liked to “Zen with a brush,” and it combines group instruction in Shin-shin-toitsu-do forms of meditation with private lessons in Japanese calligraphy. Along with the combination of meditation and art, students learn exercises for enhancing ki, human “life energy” (chi in Chinese). Strengthening ki enhances our health, and ki is the enigmatic and dynamic force behind beautifully powerful calligraphy and painting.

Authentic shodo is rarely taught in English in the West. You can read more about Davey Sensei, Kobara Sensei, and Integrated Shodo& Meditation at the Art of Shodo blog. Contact us soon at 510-526-7518 to learn how shodo and meditation can help you discover beauty and serenity in your daily life.

Healing Arts at the Sennin Foundation Center

In Japan, all living things are thought to be manifestations of one universal life force called ki (chi in Chinese). The existence of plants, animals, and people is maintained by, and composed of, this all-embracing ki. When ki is strong and flowing freely, health is maintained. But when it weakens, illness and depression often result. Special healing methods are then needed to restore ki, or “life energy.”
Sennin Ryoji, the “Sennin Foundation Healing Methods,” powerfully strengthen ki to overcome tension, illness, and injury. Japanese massage-like techniques are coupled with procedures for dynamically transferring ki from the therapist to the patient using gentle pressure from the thumbs, fingertips, and palms. This is Yuki, the “Transfusion of Ki,” and it’s comparable to jumpstarting a car’s depleted battery.
Our healing class consists of methods bearing an outward resemblance to acupressure (shiatsu) and “laying on of hands.” Despite such resemblances, the techniques are wholly unique, and they aim at restoring and preserving genki, a state of perfect health.
H. E. Davey Sensei, the primary instructor at the Sennin Foundation Center, began studying this holistic healing art under experienced Japanese teachers while still in middle school. Author of the acclaimed book Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynmic Meditation, he has taught innumerable people how to regain mental/physical wellbeing and how to help others to do the same. The methods he teaches stem from the hitori massage (self-massage and healing) of the original Shin-shin-toitsu-do of Nakamura Tempu Sensei, the modified versions of Shin-shin-toitsu-do created by some of Nakamura Sensei’s students, and the Yuki of Noguchi Haruchika Sensei. He has studied under direct students of these remarkable healers, both in the Japan and the USA.
Included at no extra charge is training in the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga and meditation. Call the Sennin Foundation Center (510-526-7518) soon to discover how to enhance your health, energy level, and mind/body wellness.

Discover Japanese Yoga & Meditation

Shin-shin-toitsu-do is the form of Japanese yoga and meditation offered at the Sennin Foundation Center. Shin-shin-toitsu-do, “The Way of Mind and Body Unification,” was founded in the early 1900s by Nakamura Tempu Sensei. Nakamura Sensei lived in India, where he studied the art of Raja yoga, the yoga of meditation. After studying medicine at Columbia University, he blended Indian meditation and health improvement with his background in medicine, psychology, Japanese healing arts and meditation, and Japanese martial arts. He taught for many years in Japan, authored best-selling books, and counted among his students a large number of Japan’s top executives, politicians, fine artists, athletes, martial artists, and people from every walk of life. But few Westerners have yet been exposed to these extraordinary teachings.
H. E. Davey Sensei, Director of the Sennin Foundation Center, has studied with several of Nakamura Sensei’s top students, including Hashimoto Tetsuichi Sensei and Sawai Atsuhiro Sensei. Both teachers are Senior Advisors to the Sennin Foundation Center, and Davey Sensei began studying Shin-shin-toitsu-do as a child. He is the award-winning author of the book Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation (Stone Bridge Press), which was featured in Yoga Journal in the U.S. and Tempu magazine in Japan. He’s also a member of Tempu-Kai, the Japanese association that preserves the legacy of Nakamura Sensei.
Our Shin-shin-toitsu-do class offers you practical forms of seated and moving meditation, breathing methods for health, stretching exercises, autosuggestion for altering negative habits, stress management, and self-healing techniques that are little-known in the West. Emphasis is also placed on the development of ki (chi in Chinese). Ki amounts to life energy, and its cultivation has a profound effect on mental and physical health. You, like many of our students, may experience greatly enhanced concentration, willpower, calmness, relaxation, and physical fitness. Make a positive and life-altering decision. Consider adding Shin-shin-toitsu-do to your life, and discover a way of living rooted in health, happiness, and harmony.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sennin Foundation 27th Anniversary

“Serving Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington, Oakland, Richmond, Martinez, San Pablo, Hercules, Pinole, El Sobrante, Emeryville, San Francisco, San Rafael, Piedmont, and the Bay Area since 1981.”

In November, the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts celebrated its 27th anniversary with separate workshops in Japanese yoga/meditation and martial arts. Practice kicked off with martial arts training that focused on Saigo Ryu aiki-jujutsu, a traditional Japanese martial discipline. This was followed by Shin-shin-toitsu-do (Japanese yoga) practice, which began with 30 minutes of meditation, followed by mind and body unification training.

A special lunch took place at the nearby Ruen Pair Thai restaurant. To learn more about the Sennin Foundation Center, visit