Dr. Ralph Singer


Dr. Ralph N. Singer on right of Doshu Kissamaru Uyeshiba, Sensei Heroshi Akeida (back), Shihan Mitsugi Saotome left.

Cherry Blossom 1992 Seminar, Washington, D.C.

I remember the first day I stepped on the mat.   I had moved from Milwaukee to Orlando to work at Walt Disney World as a Glass Worker.     I was grateful be free of the cold, and it was a new life.    I called about Aikido classes to various Dojos, and finally found a Judo School that had Aikido.      It was a stand alone building behind Colonial plaza on Route 50.     It was 1971 and many of the streets in the area were still sand.    It was quite pristine.     There was a fairly big guy sitting on a chair just inside the building as I entered.    I had bought training equipment, so I introduced myself and asked where to change.   Sensei Baker, as he introduced himself, directed me to the rear, but told me to remove my shoes.   I complied and changed.    When I came out, he had put on his hakama.     He showed me how to tie the belt, he motioned me out on the mat, and told me to sit down.     I was the only student.     I was so stupid it didn't even seem strange to me.    As I walked out onto the mat so did he.      I sat folding my legs in front of myself tailor fashion.     He sat down differently, with his legs folded underneath. He said don't sit like that, sit like this.    So, I altered my position putting my feet under my butt and leaning back. It was not particularly comfortable, and I think I had a peculiar look on my face.      He used a mannerism that I eventually came to know quite well. He said, what's the matter?       I cannot say exactly if this was irritating, condescending, concerned, or provocative.      I think it might have been all of the above.    He seemed to know my discomfort and revel in it.      So, what was the matter? I assessed my state and said "this is an abnormal position."      He responded while laughing ha, ha, ha, "You'll get used to it."      And so I did, but I can tell you, it took longer than a week.

Back row facing left:

Ralph Singer, unknown ,Paul Blackwood, Darrel Schroeder, Larry Smith, Craig Eddy, Andrew Weiner, Frank Hreha, Bill McIntyre


Front row left:

Diane Freeze, Steve McPeck, John Messores, Kinny Collens, Bruce Merkle, Darrell ?, Sensei Saotome, Tom Taft, Dean Jenson, Sara Bluestone, Sue Migeri, Jason Weiner, Patty Taft.


Sarasota, 1975

Life on the mat, perhaps where life begins:

From Orlandoland Magazine, 1973

There are some moments in life when you know it you are in the right place at the right time, in fact nothing else enters the mind.    This is how I found Aikido, or perhaps Aikido found me.    It was not as if I had not looked into it before, I had visited a school in Milwaukee, and talked to Sensei Mike Mamura, very much desiring to start, but things were not to begin quite then.     I had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in philosophy.    So what does one do with a BA in philosophy?     Well, this was the major issue at the time.    The Viet Nam War was just de-escalating, although I still thought I might be drafted.    There was a lottery for the draft that was instituted in 1970 and I was in the first pool. Luckily my number was 235.    Pre-induction physicals thankfully stopped at 215.    Yet, the possibility of being drafted was not quite over.    You never forget stuff like this.     I was in limbo; no job, a questionable education when it came to professional qualifications, and living at home.    It sucked, but looking back it could have been much worse.    I worked part time at the garage of a lifelong friend of my father's, but made little money.    I, through some friends, began a program in painting and drawing at a place called Art Originals in Oak Creek a suburb of Milwaukee.    Because I was doing this I put off starting Aikido, but it never left my mind.

While working at the garage I began to pick up various repair jobs on the side.    One time I fixed this guy's car, and while talking to him, discovered he worked glass.    So, I suggested that instead of paying me, he teach me to work glass.    This I did with great zeal, after a time, the work in the glass in Milwaukee declined, so in a fit of desperation and expectation I called the concession at Walt Disney World, and eventually submitted some of my pieces and a résumé.      I was ecstatic when they called me one freezing day, and suggested I fly down.     Perfect, my last girlfriend had dumped me. I had never been on a plane before.     Actually, I had never been anywhere. It was warm in Florida.     So at least it was an adventure.     The rest is history, I got the job, worked at Disney for several years, by the way, working for the mouse is not all it is cracked up to be.    And I, once installed in Orlando, began to train in Aikido with Sensei Ed Baker.     All that knew Ed will understand about how he affected lives.     I remember, first asking him, what do I call you, and he said, you call me sensei on the mat, but otherwise you can call me Ed or by my first name Chief.   That was Ed, or Chief Torpedo-man Edward B. Baker, Sensei.

Edward Baker

May 21, 2000


Edward Baker:

I have had a number of mentors in my life, but Edward Baker was also a long time friend, teacher, and exemplified a human being.      I say this as best I can reflecting on the Native American reference to themselves as human beings, part of a tribe, struggling, looking at the comings and goings of events perhaps perplexed at the craziness around them.    He was a human being, his life experience could have produced bitterness and much decay.     He may have faltered occasionally, but he always gave sincerely and generously.    Ed might have been a cynic, but knew bitter and what was outside it; he got over it.    He would rise every morning before dawn and meditate, or walk as he would describe it.    He was plodding and deliberate.    He was provocative, and annoying at times.    He was a patriot, but cynical about the workings of government.     He served his country, rode conventional submarines for seven years, and taught at Orlando Navel Training Center as a Torpedo Instructor.    

He once said to me, "Ralph, I have scars on my soul that I couldn't scrub away with a wire brush, but, he intimated the Navy is very forgiving of some things.    He also lamented that he earned every grade twice, except for Chief."    He was awarded the coveted Sailor of The Year Award just after Zumwalt initiated the program in 1973.    Knowing him outside the Navy, one would not think he could be so strack.    

He would disassemble ideas like he did his art.    His process was unique, it had a garish finality and truth when complete.    It was primitive, sometimes awkward, but completely expressive and entirely sincere.   

Over the years I saw him go back to school, learn philosophy and art.  It was a remarkable process.   He created with a sincere cynicism that would alert many knowing the artifice of human creativity.   He Bakerised everything chewing on morsels as they never loose flavor.  

He was navy, he understood navy, he treated me like a gedunk, but also with a respect and camaraderie that I sometimes had difficulty understanding.   He often said he considered me an officer.   I suppose this was because I went to college, perhaps more, but it was irrelevant.   If there was shit on my plate, he let me know.   Top shirts can evaporate the demarcations between enlisted and commissioned in a blink of the eye.    I listened intensively to his every word and perhaps was occasionally irritating, I knew I could be this way.   But, he could smell out shit from a mile, and when I was full of it he let me know.   He taught me the same skill, bullshit has the tendency to permeate a persons very soul.  Yet, he was very compassionate and tactful when appropriate.  


Ed at Daughter's (Kelly's) Wedding

Another Chief's Tail:

I was having breakfast last spring in the Collage Park café and it was starting to rain really heavy outside! I stated that the Dragon gods were busy helping by cleaning the air and making the grass green because of the Lighting strikes and etc.

There were only about two people present as this was early on a Sunday morning. This one gentleman spoke up and stated that he was a Christian and gave me a homily on his faith because he loved me About one god etc. and etc.

I listened and his spiel was very good.   I asked him if he was a boss and in charge of other in a position of leadership?   He stated that he was!   I explained in the navy (USN) that the old chief's taught that one, when in the position of leadership, organized, supervised and deputized others to do the work.   He said that was exactly how it was done.

Then I explained how the   Dragon gods were put in charge of the weather as the BOSS didn't have to do every thing!   He thought about what I had said then stated that he hadn't thought about it that way before!

A few days ago I was telling this story to the park manager, Rick, as the weather had been and was dry as a bone.   During the conversation it started to cloud up really fast and then started to lightly rain!

So your outing and picnic was highlighted by the Dragons putting on a show for you and your lady.    I hope you said thank you?



For years, I encouraged Ed to acquire a computer, and communicate.    In general he acted toward this suggestion like I wanted him to roll in poison ivy.    I think I recall the excuse "too *#!?&# much work!"    He never did get a computer, but he did connect via web TV.    Once he got on, he had an immediate audience.    His friends, family and students circled around him with issues and interpretation, jokes and pleasantries.    He called himself grey tengu, perhaps a malapropism, but also an ironic use of terms which depicts a mythical Japanese gremlin given to idiosyncratic and mischievous behavior.    Tengu are sly and machinating with an agenda only they knew,  because it had little to do with normal or  conventional reality.     However, within Ed there was no ideation toward evil, despite his occasional regrets associated with his past.    The name could not have been more appropriate.    The true irony lies in that this was typical of Ed's form of thinking.

Ed died some time between November 11-13, 2001.    A mutual friend Pete Easton Sensei called me.    At first it could not be believed.    How, could he do something like this.    I went from denial to idiocy.    He was somewhat of a recluse, he lived alone with an ancient cat named Mr. B that adopted him in the mid eighties.    Ed's wife Marion had passed several years before, and he always seemed to miss her.    Marion and Ed met through Aikido.    Sensei Benzo Sakashuro introduced them to one another.    Isn't life a kick.      I remember Ed saying that after Marion died, he thought he went a little crazy for awhile, one could understand, but no one could alleviate his pain, but he pretty much kept his burdens inside.    Perhaps, he was becoming a tengu.    He always said he wanted to become a Yamabushi and his modest trailer was his cave.     We in the west think that there is never enough life and we cling to living without thought as to what is nurtured during the passage of time, there is another slant, when the work is done one can leave. 

His students had not heard from him for several days, he had mentioned to me and others that he was down with the flue and very sick, no one thought it might end like this.    This was about a week before he died, he said that he was leaving the windows open just in case something happened.    I didn't think much of it, Ed always rebounded back from everything.     I know that other students and friends talked to him after this, so I do not know if the condition continued to get worse.    Maybe I should have called again and checked on him.     I recall Ed telling me about his brother Labbi, a step brother.    I had met him once, one could tell they came from different gene pools.

Labbi came to live with Ed in Orlando, and one day Ed found him seemingly sleeping peacefully under a tree with the lawn mower close by.    Ed said Labbi had a smile on his face, and looked at peace, he was just resting.    This is how he discovered his brother's body.     He always said Labby had a rich life and that was the way he would like to go, kind of a surprise and with a sublime smile.    I wonder if Ed had a smile on his face.     I don't think he ever thought he was going to die, no one else did either.    In actuality for a while I contrived that it was just an insidious joke he was playing on us.    I, as his student, was not ready to go it alone, and as his friend have his voice disappear from my ear.    Every day he crosses my mind, and as I transcribe these words more than usual.    Those of you that knew him will understand.      I like so many others was made part of his family.    But, Baker was no different than many other bona fide Aiki teachers.    Their lives may be quite humble but their work is great.       He was buried in his gi.    Ordinarily I have excellent visual recall, but I cannot remember seeing him in the coffin, I must have blocked it, I might have gone a little crazy.    Still, every day, as every thing is training, I try to live by his example as best I can.



Much of the practice is about the people.    Now, I relate to you about teachers, but there are many individuals that are not forgotten although not mentioned.    Recall I mentioned Mike Mamura Sensei. Mike was Japanese American.    When I was in my mid twenties I began to have back problems, that finally lead me to Chiropractic and healing.    I thought it was wonderful and decided to become a Chiro.    I left Florida and returned to Milwaukee, again precipitating myself on my parents.    I both began to do prerequisites to gain entry in Chiropractic College and to train at the Milwaukee Aikikai.    Mike was wonderful.    Mike was the grandfather of Aikido in the region; he bridged the gap between the Japanese instructors and us Americans.

Mike had what appeared as a  complex relationship with Sensei Akira Tohei.    Tohei who, not English fluent, often depended on Mike to act as intermediary and to provide feedback on the temperature of the Aiki climate.    There was always stuff, politics.    The bigger the art became the more issues about money, regional authority and prestige surfaced.    Mike appeared unassuming and was humble in a very real sense, but he was also very convicted with respect to correctness — right and wrong.    So, often he an Sensei Tohei would go back and forth.     Mike was always unabashedly attempting to hit the mark and polish the mirror at the same time.    If they say the world is comprised of saints and sinners, Mike was definitely a saint, his aspiration was great.    Mike struggled with many things, including his health. No matter how bad he felt he always preferred to talk about Aikido and where it was going and what he was doing.    Sensei Tohei died about a year and a half before Mike, and when he did it left a gap in terms of authority in the Midwest.     Mike and I would talk about this, about the wrangling for control of regions and petty personal agendas.     I said to Mike, maybe it is better to rent a shihan rather than to buy.    Even though I thought this was funny, I don't think he did. I mentioned that Aikido and the martial arts in general have come a long way in the United States since the influx of teachers thirty or so years ago.    We now have some genuine expertise of our own, so it may not be entirely beneficial to attract a Japanese Shihan.    He had a considerable influence as to how the dojo's in Milwaukee and Chicago might swing in terms of alliance with national groups. I suggested he communicate with Sensei Robert Nadeau of California or Sensei Saotome before making a decision.    I do not know specifically what transpired, but eventually he aligned the Milwaukee Dojo with Saotome and ASU.    It was a big move for a man that prized loyalty as only a Japanese might appreciate the word, with patience and persistence.      Regardless, good for you Mike, I hope everything works our for the benefit of the Milwaukee Dojo.

Mike came to Hawaii, as he explained, in the basket. It was 1911 and his mother was pregnant before landing on Hawaiian soil.     He said he figured this out on his own.    In early life, he mostly spoke Japanese somewhat isolated within the immigrant community.    He grew up in Hawaii and at the outbreak of the war enlisted in the Army.    Due to his fluency and understanding of Japanese culture he participated in efforts to break the Japanese Code and translate sensitive material.    He made sergeant, a fairly prestigious rank for an oriental in army intelligence, so his contributions must have been significant.    When the Japanese surrendered he was part of the occupation forces.    He used to tell this story, like it was a secret.    When he first arrived, other GI's were treated with great deference but he was treated like shit. When he would go to a restaurant or make contact other wise other GI's were treated well but he was not.    After awhile his buddies notice that he was being singled out as though all the Japanese anger and resentment was focused on him.    Whatever the case emotions were so strong they were palpable.   Apparently his buddies finally cornered someone and elicit why.

Mike came from solid peasant Japanese stock and appears characteristically Nipponese, and while he had cultural values associated with his past in every other aspect he was an American.    It was fairly obvious that it was difficult to pry information out of the hapless Japanese that they accosted to get to the problem.    They finally blurted out: he is a traitor.    As Mike explained, his friends were flabbergasted.    What do you mean they asked, and they said he is Japanese, isn't he?    No, they explained that he was American, and was never before in Japan, and that America was a big country with many different ethnic groups.    Mike said he was treated pretty well after that.    Thank God that America is diverse enough to have people like Mike in our midst.    Maybe this was a good lesson for everyone, after all it was 1945-6 and the issues associated with race were not yet addressed in the USA.

After the war, as best I recall he married and moved to Milwaukee.    He said that when he was 43 a doctor told him he had diabetes and should control his diet and get some exercise.     He did both.     He always hated the bland food but he loved the rich Aikido.    So, at 43 he began to train, and he never stopped through retirement, through cancer, and all the vicissitudes.    I believe he one of his first instructors was the elder Takahashi Sensei from California.    If he wasn't talking about Aikido it was about orchids.    I think it was how he touched his origins in Hawaii.    He would talk about humility, about Kan Sha, gratitude despite human failings.    This was Mike; he was buried in his Gi surrounded by family, friends, students and orchids.     I try to live by his example too.   When every one trains in Aikido they are in the presence of people like Mike, and this is also a great example of the surroundings one might like to find themselves. 


Mitsugi Saotome Sensei came to the United States in 1974.    I had been training under the USAF [United States Aikido Federation], but knew allot of people in Sarasota, Florida where Saotome was teaching.     I went to visit. It was a paradigm shift.     His Aikido had a quality that was not even mimicked by the other shihans for all their skill.    I was instantly converted.     I was fortunate to have tested in his first black belt promotion test in the US.     But, associating with his organization, or what was to be the Aikido Schools of Uyeshiba, was not always to be a peaceful ride.    It was the beginning of my coming to understand and resent Aikido politics and alliances based on loyalty alone.    Loyalty should not blind one to truth.    Eventually, Ed transferred his allegiance to Saotome Sensei.    It was a slow process, but when he switched he did it whole hog.

I recall how Aikido Schools of Uyeshiba was born.    Ed, Frank Hreha, and Saotome were drinking and talking, we did allot of drinking and talking in those days.    I was new in the art, so in this instance I was merely observing and drinking, not talking, well that was a switch.    They sat in a old camper cover on Ed's truck.     It was parked in front of John Messores's home at Catholic High School off Fruitville Road in Sarasota.    It was cramped inside and it was rather funny in that it appeared as though they were conspiring in some garret.    They were really getting into the conversation and the beer, I would occasionally fetch, discussing that Saotome should have his own organization.    I don't recall exactly who proposed the ASU title, but I think it was Ed.    They all agreed it was a good name.    The next day we were Aikido Schools of Uyeshiba (ASU), and some of us had hangovers.    We were young, adventurous and healed quickly.    We were officially a family, maybe a bit dysfunctional, but a family nevertheless.    ASU owes Ed something in this regard. 


I trained within the confines of ASU from 1975 to 1995. In 1987 I moved to Washington, D.C. built a Chiropractic practice and trained at the Butternut Street Dojo.    In 1994 I was invited by Aikido practitioners in the Ukraine to give a seminar.    This was facilitated by a close friend Lidia Wolanski herself a high ranking and expert practitioner.    Lidia is an extraordinary woman, she went to the Ukraine, partly to get back to her roots, she is Canadian Ukrainian, but wound up eventually starting a publishing company and producing the premiere English language magazine regarding the region.    It is called the Eastern Economist.    This publication has since been sold, and she has recently translated for Ureshenko, and continues to work in Kiev.     She managed promethean tasks with great parsimony, character and perseverance.   She was the kind of woman that could make it happen.   She is an excellent example of women in charge, servant of truth, and Aikidoka.  

The seminar was in Kiev and comprised two weeks of intensive teaching virtually from morning to night.    It was the first exposure of this kind for Ukrainians.    I was the highest ranking American to have taught in the region to this date.    It was a bit historic and a pleasure for me because it was rewarding to see the exuberance of the Ukrainian students. One of the students took video of the seminar and there is a two and a half hour video available of this seminar.    At the time of the seminar I was a Godan, fifth Dan.    Aikido had been brought to the region previously and influenced by such people as Lidia.

I have a singular affection for the Ukrainian people.    The post soviet transition was very difficult for virtually all countries that comprised the USSR.    Money went into the crapper, the ruble was worthless and this effected Ukrainian currency.    While by 1994 there was a bit of improvement things were still precarious, and most had little discretionary finds for special seminars in such luxuries as Aikido.    This is one of the most sterling aspects of training in this region, and I suspect it is true in other regions.    Although the seminar was very inexpensive from western standards, it was still often too expensive for many.    The promoters permitted all that wanted to attend two classes free of charge.    The fee otherwise was merely two to three dollars equivalent per day.   What struck me, and has always impressed me, is that these students love Aikido so much that often they would rather train than eat.    I do not think many Americans would so sacrifice.    They were very hungry for the spiritual message of Aikido and of course any martial secrets that might be extracted as well. I did my best to give them both.

Since this time I have returned to the region three times, the last in 1999.    Each time I go, I now see old friends and hundreds of eager faces. There are occasions where I also work on people Chiropracticly.    It is very different than in the US.    These are very tough resilient people with good hearts and bitter lives.    I have visited many cities from Kiev, to the Crimea, Simpheropol to Yalta, always staying with ordinary people, enjoying their company and hospitality.     I would not have it any other way.     In the process I have learned from and about a people that a mere few years before were officially enemies.    I also learned much about my country from their perspective.    They are as much family as my American students.    I guess that makes us all family, this is as it should be, and all of us should not let governments create barriers keeping us apart.

Article on Aikido In Russian Language Karate Magazine. Only American featured in the Magazine's first issue published in January 1999.

Bhole Baba,

Dandi Swami Sadashiva Bharati,

Swami Rama

1925 - 1996


While my training in Aikido always came before most everything else, including making a living, there were also other wonderful opportunities lying around.    I was feeling restless and unfulfilled so in 1975 there was in interlude where I returned to the Midwest and lived at the Himalayan Institute of Yogic Science and Philosophy while it was in Glenview, Illinois.    This was an organization presided over by a very unusual man, Sri Swami Rama.    An author named Doug Boyd wrote a book about him called Swami, and in actuality he is widely published and published about.   Swamigi was a celebrity, like Swami Satchedenanda, Pir Vilat Khan, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and others.    He came to the US from India having held the position of Gadhid of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham.    In 1950 Shankaracharya Swami Vidya Shankar Bharati (Dr. Kurtkoti) initiated one Bhole Baba into the Dandi order of Swamis, a high initiation in the tradition of Adi.    Bhole Baba after was called Dandi Swami Sadashiva Bharati.    He later was to become Rama, a name after the legendary first enlightened one.    Rama's teacher was Bengali Baba, a great sage and acolyte of the Mahavatar Baba, "Babaji."    In Living with the Himalayan Masters Swami Rama explains "Our tradition is Bharati.     Bha means 'knowledge'; rati means 'lover'.     Bharati means 'he who is the lover of knowledge.'    The tradition of Himalayan masters associated with caves is touted to be at least 5000 years old.   Bharati as an order was established by Shankaracharya some 1200 years ago as one of the ten orders within the sect.

I remember when he whispered my mantram in my ear and said "what do you think, it has all nine rays."    I had no idea at all as to what I had gotten myself into.     Rama was the youngest Gadhid, and the only ever to run away run away because it interfered with his meditation.    The appointment schedule and politics ran him ragged.    He said he hated it, so he gave his luxurious Shankaracharya robes to a beggar, put on his, got on a train, and ran away.     The position is equal to that of the Pope or the Dalai Lama, with literally millions of followers, and usually held until death.    He ran away eventually to the United States and taught us.     He always called me his little boy, what could I say, maybe he treated everyone this way.    He was a person that one watched and marveled at, but he was also human and could be uproariously funny, cookie monster.    He could make you shut up with a glance.     It did not pay to squirm.    He departed his body November 13, 1996 leaving a legacy and I am grateful to have been even a small part of it.     And, yes, I do love knowledge.

Even his sojourn to the US was rare, but you can read books like Swami and Living with the Himalayan Masters for further edification.    In the US he demonstrated unique physiological control by simulating stopping his heart while monitored at the Menenger Institute at Topeka, Kansas.    He always said that he did not actually stop his heart, but that by controlling the smooth cardiac muscle he was able to increase the rate of contraction to tachycardia simulating pre-atrial fibrillation, the valves would flutter almost open simulating flat line. Quite a trick.    Even though he explained this in my presence in the seventies, I never appreciated the implications until I became a physician.     In fact he had control over many autonomic functions ordinarily not subject to voluntary control.     His control over his internal states was in many ways singular and his example and demonstrations were at the center of the mind body movement of the period.    The postures, asana, associated with the physical part of Yoga are only a scratch on a boulder on a mountain on a range of mountains representing the mass of yogic truth.     My stay at the Ashram was short, but during this time I was changed.     When Swamiji stepped into your life it was strange, phenomenal and sometimes paranormal.     He could insinuate himself such that he would orchestrate your life.    Many considered this a gift, and I am certain is was, but it is very hard to commit oneself to such a powerful personality, despite spiritual qualities or inclinations.

When one considers the variety of spiritual missionaries that came from east to west to share the richness of millennia of evolution, Swami Rama was remarkable, even within their ranks. He was much like Yoginanda.    He was for real.    There are many paths that accommodate all stages of evolution. I have friends that are extraordinary psychics, and have studied many avenues of mind and spirit development.    I have heard many remarkable stories about fakirs, yogis and other adepts that replicate such phenomena, but in the Ashram, in proximity to Swamiji the unusual became usual.    I encountered a man from a tradition that opened my eyes to spiritual unfolding that were merely conjectures before.    Not only did one rub close to this dharma, but Swamiji was also an intellect with profound insight and articulation.     It was almost like one was transported in time and space to an alien civilization of much greater evolution, where the science appeared like magic, and any former knowledge base became irrelevant.

Such experience places one's western culture, experience and knowledge base to scrutiny.    One begins to understand what it is to be small no matter how big or great you think you are.    This is important to recognize, just because a system does not use or exploit technologies such as we presently have, it does not mean it is not evolved.    Restraint or limitation tends to build intellectual constructs that appear alien but are in fact adroit investigations into reality based on other more subtle human instrumentality.    In the west, particularly America, we are too much into our things and not into our most long lived assets conjoined with spirit.    We claim to have faith, but faith that is just another device to provide security in this life or even in the next is merely another thing, temporal and illusory, and consisting of elements of fear. In order for a person to act in accord with divine movement the correct desire or aspiration must be present constantly and fear must dematerialize within fiery expectation.    There is trepidation, certainty and abandon in the act itself.    It is as though one gives themselves to the act, it is sacrificial.    While organization and planning is good it does not supersede innocence in mind and conduct.

The life at the Ashram was very organized, the yogies that lived there were discipline and worked hard.    There was a boy's house and a women's residence.     Separation of the sexes, separation from sex, supposed to keep your mind on track, right.  The work was quite compartmentalized with respect to roles.   There was asana, meditation, work, food preparation, all the domestic rituals, and there was a print shop.    There were health care services under the auspices of Dr. Rudy Ballentine.    There were procedures for everything; food was lacto-vegetarian, the milk was boiled, despite pasteurization, one avoided consuming beverages when eating solids, everything was permeated with cumin, coriander and turmeric in proper proportion, bowel habits were regulated.   There was a library and bookstore, one could read until their eyeballs fell out.    It was a very functional community although austere from a western standpoint. It had an economy based on the promulgation of the teaching.    Maybe it was like a kibbutz, but for yogies.    For all you martial artists, if you want discipline, try this.     In some ways the hierarchical matrix was very rigid, something that grates against conditioning associated with access and freedom of movement and choice, and sex, but often this is more about excess than freedom. In many ways, freedom is indeed a state of mind.     Perhaps the downside is the benevolent dictatorship aspect of the system.    The system is very much a training arena to promote spiritual awareness where distractions are diminished so the goal can be attained.    The nature of the world is many distractions.

Now this all is a long time ago, but I will never forget the essence of the ashram, Sri Swami Rama's presence and how it reflected on my personal inner turmoil and liabilities.    If there is one regret in terms of choices in my life, I may have made it here, I chose to leave.    The world sucked me back. Swamigi never abandoned me on occasions where there was great stress in my life like when my mother was grievously ill with cancer.     He is no longer here either, but he is in my mind and heart, kind of in my shin and to.    It is infrequent when a working class boy from Milwaukee encounters this sort of greatness, perhaps I was not ready.    But I will always remember the waking in darkness, chanting in the asana of meditation, and encounters with his eminence.    It is though it was a life I could have had, or did have, who is to say.

Sakugawa Koshiki Shorinjiryu Karatedo

While I was in Orlando, I also began to train with Thomas Cauley Sensei a Nana Dan, seventh degree Black Belt, in an art called Sakugawa Koshiki Shorinjiryu Karatedo.    Sensei Cauley was a member of the Ogasawara family by marriage.    This of itself is a testimony to his character and ability, he was after all a Gijin.    His first wife Sumi Ogasawara, who died tragically, was Sensei Jiro Ogasawara daughter.    He would tell stories of how she would braid a heavy stone into her long hair and do Tomisuwara, board breaking, by flicking her head. He was in love with all things Japanese.    Maybe all of us that have a fascination with such things are kind of crazy this way, the Japanese call this hana gijin, but in fact maybe we are more like them than we or they would like to admit.

Cauley held a Yondan in Judo [he qualified for the American Olympic Team in Judo but was edged out in finals] and a Nidan in Aikido as well.    The relationship between the Ogasawara clan and the Uyeshiba was quite close.    They sold the land on which the new Hombu Dojo is built to the International Foundation.    Cauley tested before O'Sensei for his grading in Aikido in 1962.    He was in the thick of it.    He lived in Japan while in the Air Force, he spoke the language.    And boy, does he have stories.    I think I redeemed myself with Sensei Cauley because in 2000 he graded me in his art.    To say I am grateful is an understatement, but more than anything else, I am grateful for his friendship, and the license to call him and be a pest.    I suppose this is the burden the teacher bears.    Sorry I have not been such a good Karate student, but I think he knows that Aikido is my first love, as Karate is his.      His performance in Karate is the template on which I evaluate such arts, and his ethic is a pattern that I gravitate to when encountering other practitioners.      We are indeed a family, with many in-laws and some outlaws.    Cauley is the master of tough love, but for the most part I and those that know him today only see the love, but even this can be embarrassing because he has ways of embarrassing one that can hardly be imagined.    Cauley Sensei is now Hachidan, eighth dan, [Zen Tohoku Karatedo Kempo Kumiai, Kyoshi 8th Dan Karatedo] and the International Director of the Sakugawa System.      His position is well deserved and appreciated.     He lives in Selmer Tennessee, and should any practitioner want an experience they should look him up.    Please GO TO to learn more about this system.

There is much more to come as this page is completed but for now I trust you have been entertained.    The mat is a caldron in which medicine is concocted, it purges the soul and tempers the body.    It is not about one art, it is about all arts.    Everything is training, life installs desire and creativity, the encounters are vignettes that flood over into everyday life.    They are there to instruct, to mold and transfer.     Each person takes what they can.    Such mechanisms transform at an accelerated rate because one must aspire to walk the path.    Michi, Do, Tao, the way to Golgotha, they are all the same, but we travel from different directions to meet occasionally, and what a pleasure it is when old friends gather from afar to discuss that which they have learned.

Everyone is Welcome

There is considerable consideration of English, Latin, Greek and other Language bases in these works.  There is an effort to be specific and succinct with respect to all language use.   To facilitate this as as a part of membership with the Global Natural Health Advocates, this site links with that site's extensive Glossary and Commentary resources.      While Aikido is a Martial Way, derivative of a culture, there are many associations and clarifying issues that require comparison between language bases.   There is a sincere attempt to avoid both ethnocentric and biased interpretive slants to specific topics and contexts.   However, there will always be differences, and diversity, that contribute to the rich nature of these environments that will beg continuous reexamination and expansion.   The goal is to provide a platform on which this form of discussion and contribution can take place.  It is part of the project to examine these concepts from many language angles so all in whatever language, or ethic background can participate and benefit. 

Dictionaries and Word sources

 Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary, Thesaurus, College Edition, 

[Designated as RHED]

Word Perfect Corp. version 1.5, ©1992

 Miriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

[Designated as MWCD]

Microsoft Corporation © 1990-2000

RHED & MWCD are search engines so no specific page references are noted.

[The use of multiple dictionaries and sources often clarify minutiae otherwise not clearly recognizable.  This methodology is designed and encouraged as a learning tool in all venues of discovery.]

Other definitions and support materials derived from multiple sources including Black's Legal Dictionary, Dorland's, Stedman's, Merk's, many Medical/science specialty resources, and other literary/historical resources.

There is occasionally commentary associated with definitions that clarify

 etymology or other nuances of words, phrases and conceptual contexts.


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