An Interview with a Master: Part 5.
Q: Uchi Deshi is not your first book, you have also translated two other books Jinsei and Shugyo. What made you translate these two books?
A: Two things, first it was my way to study Japanese, so that was my personal training, but also because Shioda Sensei asked me to translate it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it while he was alive, so I promised myself to do it after. When Chris Johnston offered to work together, I took the opportunity, because he is a native English speaker and a great editor. I jumped at the opportunity and we published the book together.
Q: I just saw the interview with Chris Johnston by Joe Thambu Sensei yesterday, it was very interesting to hear how he got into translating and how he got to work with you, it was an amazing story.
A: Yes, that all happened through aikido, because he is a great aikido teacher too.
Q: Unfortunately, I have never met him, but I would like to meet him someday.
A: Yes, he is an amazing person, very great heart, like many people in aikido.
Q: People who rise to the top.
A: Yeah, I think in aikido the only challenge is with yourself, so you struggle to know yourself better and trying to get better. But don’t spend too much time critiquing people or anything like that, if that happens that means that you still have a lot of work to do.
Q: It is all just work isn’t it?
A: It’s just working continuously. No stopping. Never stop.
Q: Everyday, little by little.
Q: I think we already came into this question, but I really want to ask, how translating these books change your life or your aikido?
A: I don’t think It really changed my aikido, but it helped me to understand it better and also it made me have to think, because a lot of the words you cannot just translate directly, there is a lot of interpretation to be done and I just had to rely on what I had heard from Shioda Sensei and try to guess what he was… sometimes I had to guess and translate as best as I could.
For me it was a very good exercise to really try; to really think about the meaning of the words. Because you hear these things all the time in aikido, like Shuchu-ryoku (One’s ability to focus) and all these things.
But it’s just a word, you have never found you own explanation, and through the translation I had to go deep and try to really understand. I also had to study into the kanji and maybe ask for help from outside or ask Honbu (the main Dojo), because there was a lot of historical things I didn’t know so I had to ask. So for me it was a good way to learn more about aikido.
Q: The languages are so far from each other.
A: But it worked very well because Chris Johnston did almost all of the translation and when there was some doubt we would sit down and think together, and I would ask the people at Honbu and other teachers and so on, to get more confirmation, so it was a very good to work with them.
Q: Is there any story that Shioda Sensei told you about his life, or a story from you being with Shioda Sensei that had an influence on your life or your aikido?
A: well, there are many stories, many of them are in the book. He loved to party and anytime there was an opportunity to party he would and sometimes for no reason he would just ask us to bring beer.
He did not talk much about his life usually, but when he would drink a little, he would talk a lot. But more than the stories were how he was telling them, whatever he was doing, you could see that there was only one focus, everything was around aikido, whatever he was doing, so he was living aikido all the time.
To be concluded –