A life dedicated to peace

Mutsuko Minegishi
Guam Aikikai (Guam Aikido Association)
Martial art: Aikido
Years practicing: 45 years

In Aikido, students rise through the ranks based on the number of years dedicated to the art instead of through competition.

Mutsuko Minegishi, founder of Guam Aikikai (Guam Aikido Association) in Barrigada, is a 7th degree black belt and is celebrating 45 years of dedication to Aikido this year. Her lifelong dedication to Aikido is an inspiration to her students and all who seek to lead a positive and peaceful life.

Aikido techniques include entering and turning movements that redirect the momentum of an opponent's attack. The practice of Aikido combines martial arts and philosophy as a way to preserve the harmony and peace of the universe.

Minegishi joined Aikido in her youth with a friend in 1972. “From the first day, I never stopped”, she said. Today, she strives to spread Aikido's messages of peace and positivity. She is a member of many Aikido organisations in the world and travels frequently to visit them.

In 1998, she became the first female to earn the 6th degree black belt, and in 2010. was the first woman to earn the 7th degree black belt. In a few more years, she hopes to get her 8th degree black belt.

Her promotion to the 6th degree black belt was difficult, as the Aikido Federation headquarters was reluctant at first to give her the recognition.

“Because of that I am more energized. If there are walls, I will break them down. I will get strong and break the walls. The more walls there are, the stronger I get," Minegishi says.

Minegishi has a special mission for peace in Guam and Micronesia.

As a young child, she and her family fled Tokyo during World War II and were sheltered by her uncle.

“I experienced war... (but) until I moved to Kiribati, I didn’t understand what Japan did in the war," she says. Minegishi moved to Kiribati in 1988. while working for a grant aid project by the Japanese government. She learned about the Japanese occupation of the islands and the strain it caused on the environment and the people.

I thought, 'War is a terrible thing”, she says. Minegishi then developed a 10-year project to spread Aikido in Micronesia, starting in Kiribati and moving northward toward Japan, connecting all the islands that were impacted by the war. Her mission was to make friends and peace with the people.

After six years of instructing in Kiribati, Minegishi spent five years traveling between Guam and Saipan before
settling on Guam permanently. She founded Guam Aikikai Aikido in 1999.

Having reconnecting with former students in Kiribati this year, Minegishi will return to the island for a short period
at the end of the year to assist in reviving Aikido in Kiribati. She also has plans to help another former student establish
Aikido in Pohnpei. Once the dojos are established, she hopes to one day form an inter-island Aikido federation.

“In this way, my dream is going to come true”, she says.

When it comes to accomplishing her dreams and goals, Minegishi is not a quitter, and she wants all her students to
show the same determination and dedication, she says.

Minegishi tells her students, "If you can't do it at first, keep trying ... That joy (of accomplishment) you won't feel
until you have achieved it.


77 year old Aikido master hopes to see the benefits of the martial art spread to Pohnpei

By Bill Jaynes, The Kaselehlie Press


Pohnpei, FSM  – 17 year old Kai Rekdahl, a first degree black belt in the Martial Art of Aikido, held up his hand as if ready to strike Sensei Mutsuko Minegishi over the breakfast table at Ocean View. Minegishi is 60 years older than Rekdahl but neither of her breakfast companions were at all worried. Even if Rekdahl actually did want to hurt her, he would not likely have been able to do so. Minegishi has been practicing and promoting Aikido all over the world since she was 32 years old. she reached up and gently guided Rekdahl’s hand in another direction. “He means me harm”, she said, “but i don’t want to hurt him so I redirect his energy in a way like water flows so that  neither of us is hurt.”

It was a small demonstration of the principles of Aikido. Minegishi had asked Rakdahl, who has been practising the martial art with her at least three times a week since he was nine years old, because “Aikido requires to practice with a partner. I need him to assist me”, Minegishi wrote in an email. Rekdahl’s entire family of six are involved in Aikido in Guam. His parents, his younger sister and his youngest brother who is five years old are all involved.

Minegishi, who has promoted Aikido in 35 countries, was in Pohnpei in early June to promote Aikido here.

“Founded by Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is a martial art that focuses on harmonising with your opponent to bring peaceful resolutions to situations involving conflict”, an Aikido website said.

While in Pohnpei, Minegishi spent the mornings teaching a group of young people that grew in number each day. In the evenings, after business hours she taught adults. She used the rest of the time to talk with community leaders and groups about the Aikido and its benefits. She also has been looking for an ideal candidate to lead Aikido in Pohnpei. That's not an easy task. Her standards for an Aikido teacher are high and are not solely related to the person's knowledge of the techniques of Aikido. The person must be a self-disciplined, physical and spiritual role model for the students. She also worked to find a volunteer who would be willing to handle the administrative details of running an Aikido program here, someone separate from the Aikido teacher.

Minegishi is member of the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay. While in Pohnpei she also visited the Rotaiy Club ofPohnpei hoping to drum up support for establishing an Aikido program here.

She said that along with a training location, mats are essential. Aikidogi, the loose fitting "uniform" of the martial arts are also necessary since some ofthe moves practiced involve gripping the clothing of the oppnent.

But Minegishi would probably disagree with the use of the word "opponent" as would most practitioners of Aikido. Aikido IS not a competitive sport, and even the word "sport" is probably unacceptable as we understood. You will never see an Aikido competition at the Olympic Games or anywhere else. Advancement in Aikido IS not achieved by besting an opponent but by demonstrating proficiency in techniques that become increasingly difficult as rank increases. Those who practice Aikido work in cooperation with a partner, "still employing effective techniques against an energetic and realistic attack, yet doing so by blending wah the attack and redirecting its energy back to the attacker," the Aikido web page said.

Minegishi said that many police officers in Japan are trained in the art ofAikido because it allows them to subdue attackers without brutal or deadly force.

She is the Chief Instructor at "Guam Aikikai" and is cunently finalizing plans for a new dojo, a facility for Aikido in Guam. She intends to bring in potential instructors from several countries on a scholarship basis for intensive training in the art so that they can take Aikido back to their home countries.

Aikido is especially helpful for self-defense and for situations where aggressors need to be subdued. She said that last July Guam Aikikai held a special seminar regarding "Violence against women and children". Students from Kinbati, Guam, Thailand, and New Caledonia attended the seminar. She hopes that she can also help to enable Pohnpeians to defend themselves in a non-harmful way.

Minegishi said that one of her regrets is that she started the practice of Aikido so late in her life. She said that children are much more agile and team more quickly but added that it's never too late to start. New people came into her classes every day, and as is the way at any Aikido dojo, the more experienced students helped the new students to understand what was going on. "It's never too late to start", she said. "The goal is theo develop to the highest level of growth that our inbom potential allows. It's not a competition. A coconut is not a banana. There is no comparing; no competition. A green belt is not envious of a black belt and a black belt does not look down on green belt." She said that it's all about the joy of personal achievement and realizing that we are all one a part of the universe and everyone has an equal right to live and develop.


July 3-16, 2017