Entrevista a Ariga Sensei por Fabio Branno

Interview with Kaname Ariga Shihan 

Interview with Ariga Sensei by Fabio Branno

I am very happy to share this interview with Kaname Ariga Shihan with the whole Aikido community. I am proud to consider Ariga Sensei a guide and a beloved friend. Thanks also to Mrs. Fumie Sato for her help with the translation


Kaname Ariga was born on October 22nd, 1973 in Funabashi City, Chiba prefecture. Before entering elementary school he lived in Hokkaido and took the last name “Horii”, which is his father’s family name. When he entered elementary school, his family moved to Funabashi and he changed his family name to “Ariga”, which is his mother’s family name.

He joined Funabashi Aikido doyu-kai when started high school in 1989 (15 years old), and met Endo Shihan. He then entered Shukutoku University, where he organized the Aikido group and lead it for three and half years. After graduating from university, he did not try to get a regular job but spent the most of time mainly doing Aikido Keiko for 6 years. In particular, he saved money and tried to attend Endo Shihan’s seminars abroad. Kaname Ariga moved into the Saku Dojo when he was 28 years old and started working full time as an Aikido professional until the present. 

He currently holds the rank of Aikikai 6th dan, received in January 2015.


Is your Aikido changed since your beginnings?


The place where I grew up is a fishing village where people tended to have strong tempers. among us young people there was often violent and quarrelsome attitudes. At the beginning, therefore, my attitude on the tatami was also quarrelsome. I was trying to prevail, trying not to fall down during Keiko, trying not to surrender… I was obsessed with “Winning”,  which is just something superficial. I was training in a way which built a clear border between my partner and myself, and trying to defeat my partner was my number one priority.

I met so many people and had some shocking experiences, thusI went through a few turning points. Aikido means to become one, that is what I am thinking now and I focus on that during Keiko. It is not a struggle between Red and Blue, one can produce Purple from these two. I am aiming for a kind of training where there are no borders and where to be able to connect with the “World Peace” that O Sensei was talking about.

However, I really appreciated that time when I was able to practice as much as I wanted, which is only possible when you are young, and all my teachers and all my Aikido friends.



How can one develop a practice that generates from the center?


I think that the meaning of  “Center” also includes Hara, Tanden, Jiku (Axis), Seichu-sen (Central line), Kokyu, “Hajimari” (Source of the movement). I have come to think , however, that the most important thing is not to set an object outside of yourself.

We would rather seek an object, evaluation or value in the outside world. I believe that it is important to have your own self-evaluation for the things which you create by yourself. You set your values, and afterwards you do not let yourself being affected by value judgment from outside. It is a waste of your time. I think when you seek inward, it becomes SELF, and when you seek outward, it becomes EGO. We can learn the above through Aikido Keiko, which I think is the best type of culture for this learning.


What can you tell us about your way of teaching Aikido?


When I started Aikido, “Kata-Keiko” was the main Keiko. There was almost no explanation: we just watched the demonstration and tried to imitate and repeat. I think it is important to observe during Keiko, and to let your body learn how to move. However, doing automatic Kata-Keiko routines makes people’s feelings and thinking degenerate. The pace of understanding and the parts where you are interested are different from person to person. I would like to offer movements and words that can inspire each of them. I believe that the meaning of “Shido-sha” is not only teaching, but also guiding, suggesting and leading.


Saku Dojo has a very peculiar energy. It is a special dojo-community where everything is Aikido and Aikido is in everything. What is its secret?


A “Dojo” is different from a gym or a sports hall. It is a place where people gather together with composed mind and body for one purpose. Recently there are fewer places like this. It has become easier for people to come and go, and people who have different purposes visit the dojo that is a cultural and spiritual place, and I think that makes the energy disturbed. Saku Dojo is an Aikido exclusive dojo and also it is a place for people who are pursuing Endo Seishiro Shihan’s way of Aikido to come together. This is a place that has a clear purpose.

Saku City is a local town in Japan with a population of less than 100,000 people. People gather here from all over the world in order to pursue one purpose. Saku Dojo has been formed by the energy from those people.

The passion of Endo Shihan’s in his decision to build the dojo, the passion of those who supported it and made an effort to follow Endo Shihan, the passion of dojo members training day after day, the passion of the people who love Endo Shihan and gather together, all these passions are spirits in the vessel of Saku dojo. “Passion” is the key, I think.


How much will Aikido change after Covid? 


It has been four days since I saw this question. Every day I have been receiving much different information from friends from all over the world, TV and internet. What it is happening right now, what it’s going to happen in the future and many thoughts are all mingling with each other right now. If you say it will change, it will. If you say it won’t change, it won’t . This means that the number of people who realize what they really had originally, will increase. If the number of people who don’t expect so much and try to wish for a simple life will increase, I think it will be a good change and I hope it will be like this.

Being “Chisoku” (knowing contentment), I am thinking about this deeply in my heart.

Publisher's note: Chisoku anbun

Zen terminology uses very succinct expressions that concentrate concepts related to the mental state or enlightenment, and that help us interpret the complex teachings of its philosophy. The proverb chisoku anbun could be translated as 'be happy with what you have'.

The term “Chisoku anbun” consists of two parts: chisoku (知足) means 'knowing that one is enough' and anbun (安分) is 'being satisfied with one's situation'; That is to say, if you think that your current situation is the one that corresponds to you, you will always be able to live peacefully.

Ambition, in all its forms—greed, gluttony, lust, thirst for greatness—knows no limits. When human beings begin to desire more, there is nothing that stops their greed. Even if one ambition is satisfied, many more emerge later. And there are many who, no matter how many goods they acquire, are never satisfied and are prey to permanent restlessness.

Trees, if left to grow freely, do not acquire an aesthetic form; If they are pruned well, however, they grow beautiful and healthy. The same thing happens with human ambition: only by containing it and leading a peaceful existence can a full life be achieved.


What is your aim for your Budo Life?


I would like to become a nicer person and I would like to live my life so that I will be able to say at the very last moment of my life, “It was a fun!”

Gasshou (Sincerely, with much gratitude).


Thanks again to Ariga Shihan for the above insights. Ariga sensei is often around Europe for his always very interesting seminars, in which the substantive topics are never reduced to new forms of waza execution. Soon it will be possible to meet him in Italy as well. In the meantime, those interested in learning about his method of practice and that of Endo Shihan, there are already several teachers in the area to turn to. Among them our association, purely addressed to this method, has several dojos in many regions.

La Muerte A Tus Pies

Es curioso como la vida nos sorprende. Hasta hace poco más de un mes la vida era tranquila para la mayoría de nosotros, todos nos desplazábamos, nos relacionabamos con normalidad y de repente todo ha cambiado.

La vida nos ofrece incontables oportunidades de evolucionar, de crecer y la mayoría de las veces lo hace desde el amor, desde la oportunidad de hacerlo sin sufrimiento y sin dolor. Pero nuestra falta de escucha nos lleva a negar lo evidente, nos falta valor suficiente para afrontar los cambios necesarios y entonces la vida nos golpea para que reaccionemos.

Vivimos en una sociedad donde, en nuestra parte del planeta, no nos falta de nada, la mayoría de la ciudadanía tiene todo lo que necesita para vivir, y vivir bien. Pero nos pasamos la vida no valorando suficientemente lo que tenemos, no nos damos cuenta que tenemos más que suficiente para ser felices, y aún así dejamos escapar nuestra felicidad entre nuestras manos.

Si analizamos detenidamente la situación actual y creamos un paralelismo con la alimentación podemos observar que se repite la historia. Podemos observar que en nuestra sociedad poseemos los alimentos suficientes para estar bien alimentados y sin embargo gente con sobrepeso tiene anemia, falta de nutrientes básicos para la vida, exceso de otros que no son imprescindibles. Del mismo modo siempre andamos quejándonos del poco tiempo que tenemos para nosotros, por el trabajo, por la familia, por los compromisos creados, y sin embargo ahora que poseemos todo el tiempo del mundo seguimos desnutridos, seguimos sin tener los nutrientes básicos para nosotros mismos. Ahora nos quejamos de tener demasiado tiempo y nos lamentamos por tenerlo.

En la práctica del Aikido se busca el descubrimiento de nosotros mismos por encima de todas las cosas, buscamos descubrir qué nos sobra, para poder expresarnos a nosotros mismos. Cuando veo a un maestro practicando descubro que no es lo que sabe sino que es aquello que no sobra en su práctica lo que le aporta esa maestría. No existe nada de más, no hay nada de menos, se expresa desde lo más profundo de su corazón y es entonces cuando aparece ese maestro que lleva dentro.

Es justo en momentos como el actual, aunque deberíamos plantearnos si no sería conveniente que fuese en cada momento, donde poseemos el tiempo suficiente para trabajar eso, la conexión con nuestro corazón más profundo, descubrirnos como ese gran maestro que todos tenemos dentro y desarrollar la capacidad que este maestro gobierne cada gesto, cada palabra, cada pensamiento y sentimiento. Es un grandísimo momento para crecer desde dentro y no desde fuera, desde el corazón y no desde el intelecto.

En mi opinión, los momentos de dificultad lo que nos traen son aprendizajes, y en muchos casos no somos conscientes de que se están produciendo hasta que ya quedan impresos en nuestros corazones. Permitamos que esos aprendizajes se produzcan, demos luz a nuestros corazones para que lo que la situación actual nos ofrece, dé lugar a un crecimiento personal y no solo a un lamento. Qué me incomoda, qué me hace estar molesto, esas preguntas nos llevarán al descubrimiento de que es lo que me sobra, que le sobra a mi ser para poder expresarse a sí mismo y poder ser quien verdaderamente es. La incomodidad nace en la mente y se extiende por todo nuestro ser, hagamos que esa incomodidad revele su fuente, de dónde nace, por qué se produce, qué puedo hacer para que desaparezca y tener la valentía de hacer lo que haya que hacer para generar el cambio.

El problema aparace cuando el cambio requiere que la muerte llegue a nosotros, que debamos desprendernos de aspectos, de comportamientos, de pensamientos que hasta ahora nos habían acompañado. Abandonarse al vacío de lo desconocido requiere mucho valor y la valentía se hace indispensable para el cambio.

Pero esto es una práctica que para un aikidoka debería convertirse en habitual, si somos incapaces de desprendernos de lo que ya somos, si somos incapaces de entregarnos al vacío de lo desconocido, no podremos seguir creciendo, no podremos incorporar nuevos aprendizajes pues seguiremos reproduciendo lo que ya somos. La auto-observación es una virtud a desarrollar en el aikidoka, observarse a uno mismo sin miedo a descubrir que hay aspectos a cambiar, que lo que somos hoy era adecuado hasta este momento, pero que podemos cambiar para evolucionar. No temer el cambio y aceptar lo que nos llegue como es y no como nos gustaría que hubiese sido. En la practica cotidiana esta amenaza la representa uke, pero si somos incapaces de hacer esto cuando la amenaza somos nosotros mismos, solo podremos aprender de forma superficial como resolver cada situación y solo será útil para situaciones previamente experimentadas, pero probablemente no estemos nunca preparados para afrontar situaciones desconocidas.

Quien no está preparado para morir, jamás estará preparado para vivir. Morid durante un momento para vivir eternamente.

Guillermo Balderas