By Mitsuo Tasaka
7th dan, Shihan – Kumano Jyuku Dojo, Shingu, Wakayama, Japan
Compiled from the Aikido seminars conducted by Tasaka Shihan in Sacramento and Fremont, California, and Wales,
Wisconsin, in August 2014.
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IchiRei ShiKon in French
Shinki Aikido - by Sugawa Dojo-cho
The content of this writing is based on teachings and stories from Hikitsuchi Sensei during the early days of my
training, which began in 1972. Hikitsuchi Sensei advocated the importance of Aikido’s spiritual teachings in everyday
At that time, I didn’t know the kanji for “I ” Osoreru 畏れる among the concepts of Shō, Chi, Kai, I, and Kaku in
IchiRei ShiKon. From Hikitsuchi Sensei’s verbal teachings, I wrongly assumed the different kanji Osoreru 恐れ
る. Because of this preconceived notion, I never fully understood the real meaning of Hikitsuchi Sensei’s teachings.
(Translator’s note: Homonyms in Japanese, as in English, sound the same, but can have very different meanings.)
One day, Hikitsuchi Sensei used the blackboard to write and explain the concept of Osoreru. I still well remember
reflecting on my stupidity and the embarrassment I felt.
It is with a humble feeling that I explain this concept now, as I am in a position to continue spreading what was
passed down to me.
This article is a work in progress. There will be additions to further explain details.
One Soul, Four SpiritsIchiRei ShiKon is an ancient, Japanese, spiritual concept. Soul “Rei ” oversees the Four Spirits “Tamashii” and
functions to nurture and build the mind “Kokoro.”
IchiRei is called NAOHI, the soul with which everybody was born. It is pure in nature, straightforward and without
The Four Spirits are ARAMITAMA, NIGIITAMA, SACHIMITAMA (sometimes, also referred to as
SAKIMITAMA), and KUSHIMITAMA. Each has functions in the realms of the spirit and mind.
From the perspectives of the concepts of Shō, Chi, Kai, I, and Kaku, I will explain how they restore and guide the
functions of our minds.
KAERIMIRU “Shō ” reflection
Do you have a foundational wisdom (belief, conviction, or faith), one that is founded on these four spiritual pillars?
Is your conviction correct? Ask yourself if you are jumping to conclusions or misunderstanding. Do you already
have your heart set from the beginning? Is your view affected by self-conceit? It is important to reflect back on
ONESELF prior to finding fault with others and saying anything. If you are negligent in your own reflection,
NAOHI (written in Chinese character as “straight spirit”) becomes MAGAHI (written as “bent, distorted spirit”),
and ShiKon starts to function improperly, taking you in a wrong direction.
It is important to measure, examine, and weigh yourself. Gauge yourself with your own sentiment. It is not to
examine others based on your convictions. Experiencing over and over, as you polish ShiKon while reflecting, the
SHIKON four spiritual pillars will be adjusted and put in the correct order.
If you are negligent in doing your own true reflection, the functions of Shikon, Yū (courage) changes to Arasou
(competition), Shin (closeness) changes to Nikumu (hatred), Ai (love) becomes Sakarau (conflict), and Chi
(understanding) becomes Kuruu (madness).
ARAMITAMA and NIGIMITAMA are KEIKON or TATE NO MITAMA (these have the same meaning, but
are read in different ways). I think of this as vertical connections, symbolizing present time and inferring subconsciousness.
The state in which both ARAMITAMA and NIGIMITAMA are fully functioning is referred to as IZUMITAMA.
SACHIMITAMA and KUSHIMITAMA are IKON or YOKO NO MITAMA (these have the same meaning, but are
read in different ways). I think of this as horizontal connections, symbolizing past and future, inferring insight and
creativity. The state in which both SACHIMITAMA and KUSHIMITAMA are fully functioning is referred to as
The founder, Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei, said aikido has to be done with the spirit of IZUNOME NO MITAMA,
fully functioning SHIKON. In order to aspire to be this perfect self in which every SHIKON functions, and to
achieve this supreme ideology, one needs to live with this self-imposed mindfulness of the five precepts, which are
Reflection, Shame, Regret, Awe and Understanding. Also, all aikido techniques are MISOGI WAZA, used to purify
oneself, as if to become soul and spirits of Izunome.
HAJIRU “Chi ” shame, humility
Observe one’s own behaviors with a logical mind. In doing so, examine not whether you were right or wrong,
but rather whether or not you should be ashamed of your words and behaviors. Have an open mind to be able to
moderate yourself. Shameful feelings or feelings of embarrassment are the origin point for the building of morals.
And through understanding our own pain, we will be able to understand other people’s situations and pain, thus
developing compassion for others.
If you neglect moderating yourself, the function of ARAMITAMA becomes too strong and even if you behaved
justly or correctly, it comes out in a very offensive and oppressive manner towards others. This will only inflict
pain or harass others. As a result, your action is no different than blaming others through your own ego, and you
will very likely start judging others’ future actions from the same egotistical point of view. Therefore, moderating
yourself is important.
KUIIRU “Kai ” regret
Ponder things you are regretting from different angles and on multiple levels. Of the things you regret, it is
important to accept fault as fault, whether it is about yourself or others, and forgive in a way to relieve that burden
with consideration and thoughtfulness. “Yurusu” forgive, in this sense is not simply forgiving others’ or our own
wrongdoings, but a deeper, inner forgiveness of ourselves. Forgiving means letting go of the “selfishness” that
rises through the process of regret, or accepting selfishness as it resides in ourselves. This letting go of your own
selfishness is Yurusu 恕す.
NIGIMITAMA means simple affection and loving feelings toward others. It is important to communicate well with
each other in order to have good relationships. NIGIMITAMA functions for this purpose. If one becomes selfcentered,
hatred toward others increases and one’s social life will not be smooth. Regret and forgiveness will correct
one’s mind, and a loving feeling will be born.
OSORU or OSORERU “I ” awe and have reverence
This is all about how you moderate your emotions within yourself. Be awestruck and have reverence. In other
words, be grateful for all of the things supporting you. This will lead you to the state of “Taru Wo Shiru,” or
knowing the happiness to be found in small, everyday situations. Taru Wo Shiru is about how you can discover
trivial happiness in your everyday life, and how you can make it delightful and find appreciation. Hikitsuchi Sensei
used to talk often about this concept, as he found joy in the beauty of fields and mountains day by day, bowed to
the Sun and Moon, and appreciated the bounties of nature. He also found joy in water flowing from a faucet when
it was turned on, in a stove being lit if a burner switch was turned, or in a light shining if light switch was turned
on. In his simple explanation to people, he said to not take these things for granted and to not forget to appreciate
them. My mother (Mrs. Tasaka) was born in 1933, and she is still engaged in farming. After turning off her truck
and watering tractor, she always says, “Thank you” to these machines. One person is a small existence, and it is the
connections of people to people that make us who we are at the present.
This is is about love, but not only a love for the events, phenomena, and things around us. SACHIMITAMA is
love for all creation. SACHIMITAMA is benevolence. When this spirit is not functioning properly, it means one
ends up losing his or her humanity. Through the process of discovering small happiness in life, one is able to gain
emotionally enriching feelings as a person, and only when one has an abundance of feelings and emotions, one
comes to understand how we exist as humans.
SATORU “Kaku” understand, become aware
This is about possessing true intelligence. Attachment to certain preconceived notions, reasoning, fixed ideas, and
prejudices are no different than having your own ego. This concept teaches you to open your own inner eyes with
an open mind – Sunao. When you open your inner mind’s eyes, you’ll come to understand the principles of things.
This is the state of being clear and open-minded. The word “Wakaru,” or understand, doesn’t mean for you to
become sensible and understanding in regard to others, but to know yourself. Kaku means to be able to understand
principles of things instinctively with the mind of Sunao (open mind).
KUSHIMITAMA is Chi. Chi is to correctly recognize the nature of things. This is not only having knowledge.
To have Chi is to have wisdom. One will get lost and have hard times unless the mind’s eye is nurtured, unless the
mind functions properly, and unless one understands how the mind copes with things. When superficial things
are the only things you see, you will find yourself confronting many things that cannot be resolved with your own
reasoning. In order to open the mind’s eye, SHINGAN, throw away prejudice and your own ego so that you can
have a truly pure mind that is clear, open, and straightforward.
Hikitsuchi Sensei used to give us a simpler version of the above concept: We have a mission in life, and it is
important for one to fulfill his/her mission. Simply put, make your life something others find delightful.
For example, if you are a baker, there is a large difference between being a baker to simply earn money baking
bread and putting your best effort into baking bread to bring pleasure to customers.
In order to fulfill your mission in life, you always have to train and prepare yourself. There is no use if you are not
ready to demonstrate your potential when it’s important. For that purpose, one needs to be able to observe the
greater aspects of nature. It’s good to start with something simple. When you decide to do something, this is the
start of “knowing” – Satori: understanding.