There is no enemy for Ueshiba of Aikido. You are mis­taken if you think that budo means to have opponents and enemies and to be strong and fell them. There are neither opponents nor enemies for true budo. True budo is to be one with the Universe ; that is, to be united with the Centre of the Universe .
Morihei Ueshiba

 

Minegishi Mutsuko 7th Dan Shihan

AFSA’s Honorary President

 

I have been a close student and colleague of Minegishi sensei since 1997 and would like to give recognition and present her to my friends and students in the following pages. I would like you to know of the valuable work Sensei is doing in South Africa and all over the world.
-- Paul de Beer



Minegishi sensei has been promoted to the prestigious rank of 7'Th Dan at the 2010 Kagami Biraki ceremony at Hombu dojo. She was born in Japan in July 1940. She finished a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education at the Yokohama National University, Japan, followed by an MA degree in linguistics at the University of Kansas, USA. In 1974 she obtained a Japanese Language Teaching certificate and in 1981 her MA degree in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts.

She later worked as a newspaper editor, as the general manager of the Japanese branch of an American Cookie Company and later also as the coordinator of a Japanese Government Grant Aid in the Republic of Kiribati in the Central Pacific.

Mutsuko Shihan started her aikido career in Japan. She registered at Hombu Dojo, Tokyo in 1972 and graded to Shodan in 1974. She started teaching Aikido in the USA during that same year and founded the Nonotuck Aikikai in Massechusetts in 1976. She returned to Hombu dojo between 1982 & 1989 and graded 5th Dan in 1990. She founded the Kiribati Aikikai (1989), Saipan Aikikai (1994), Guam Aikikai (1999) and Croatia Aikikai Federation (2006) and acts as technical director in these countries. She became the Technical Advisor to Monaco Aikido Federation in 2009.

Our South African association with Minegishi sensei dates back to 1997. At that time she was invited to South Africa as a special guest instructor with the late Kenneth Cottier Shihan and Georgio Veneri sensei, Terry Ezra Shihan and Matt Holland Shihan, to teach at AFSA’s 20th Anniversary celebrations in Cape Town.

 

In 2010 Minegishi Sensei opened more doors for AFSA by introducing the South African Aikido community to the renowned Kubota Ikuhiro Shihan, 8'Th Dan. Together they traveled the country and instructed AFSA summer school courses for two consecutive years. In the process South Africans could experience Aikido of the highest level and meet with one of the most dignified living masters of the art.

The “little lady” left a big impression and has been invited back regularly, almost on a yearly basis, to teach at our Dojos and national courses ever since 1997. During this time she has been involved in many demonstrations and was also responsible for numerous extraordinary outreach programs involving aikido to many universities, schools and disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa.

Ms Minegishi received her aikido education at Hombu dojo under the severe scrutiny and influence of the most revered aikido instructors and masters of our time. After a lifetime of diligent study she has become one of the most respected female aikido instructors in the world today.

Minegishi sensei is totally conversant in Japanese and English. This gives her the special ability to communicate complex cultural and theoretic principles that are essential to understand the subtle fibre of aikido. Her love and understanding of children also serves as catalyst to promote woman’s and children’s classes and to bring better diversity to aikido. These extraordinary qualities make her a very special ambassador of Aikido and of Hombu dojo wherever she goes.

Any chance to interact with her is a welcome opportunity. No surprise, therefore, that Minegishi Sensei is renowned throughout the world and has been invited for aikido workshops in Sweden, Singapore, Italy, South Korea, Ireland, Russia, Greece, Holland, England, the Philippines, Bulgaria and Macedonia. She visits Monaco and Croatia two to three times a year in addition to her almost annual visit to South Africa.

At her age, and only 1,5m tall, she is a prime example of how a fit and healthy person can live actively and foster self confidence in others, especially the frail. Her energy seems to be inexhaustible. She is an excellent role model and a good example of how a martial art can empower women without having to sacrifice any femininity. She is a true inspiration to all who know her and have had the pleasure of attending her classes.

Minegishi sensei’s involvement, commitment, care, friendship, and love for aikido is also tangible in other spheres: In October 2003, with the co-operation and financial assistance of her Japanese friends, she invited four South African leaders on a month long pilgrimage to the Land of the Rising Sun. It was the first opportunity for a South African aikido delegation to visit Japan. I was very fortunate to be part of the group. We visited Hombu and were fortunate to meet and train with the Doshu and 18 other top Japanese instructors. We also visited Iwama, Nikko and other prominent cultural sites. This was a life-changing event for us all. By sharing and showing us the way, it positively changed and left a meaningful impression on those who participated in the program. Like a stone in water the rippling effect of this also touched many fellow South African aikidoists back home.

Her inspiration, commitment, special talents and continuous hard work is doing wonders to educate the public about aikido, to bridge the divide and to bring people of diverse cultures together as part of the international aikido family.

IN SUMMARY:
Minegishi Sensei is respected for her kind-hearted, unselfish nature and especially for her notable work to teach aikido to women and children. She made an invaluable contribution to help spread aikido throughout South Africa. She further contributed by representing the AFSA in such a way that it could restore its international standing dramatically after the difficult years of political isolation. Her instruction, experience and insight are inspirational. It has consolidated our leadership and enabled South African Aikido to grow and to establish itself.

We want to give thanks to our respected teacher for her noble efforts to help spread aikido to the remote and often unknown corners of the world. We are extremely proud on her promotion to 7th Dan and pleased that the Doshu has given her his recognition.