From Me to You
March 5th, 2022
The last day of the workshop. The dancers asked several last-minute questions for Hino during the Q&A session. By this point they had been quite impressed and intrigued by the wide range of Hino sensei’s life experience, from becoming a self-taught, Olympic-level gymnast in middle school to having a gun pointed at him at the office of a Yakuza boss… And now he’s an internationally acclaimed, multifaceted Budo master. So much more they wanted to know, but oh so little time. Someone asked, “How do you feel about balancing your reputation as a Budo master and how you see yourself? Do you feel overwhelmed by how people see you?” Hino sensei smiled broadly and said, “Not at all. I don’t care what other people think about me. I’m just an ordinary man on the street. I just practice to get better.”
After the Q&A, they started working on a sudden stop as a contrast to the previous day’s sudden move exercise. They were asked to pair up and start walking together with their palms being connected. Then the person whose palm is on the bottom suddenly stops, and the other person also stops at the same time. Again the primary purpose is two-way communication of connecting and active listening.
After a few minutes of commotion, Hino sensei paused the exercise and said, “I told you to stop suddenly. In order for a sudden stop to happen, there must be a clear movement before it. I don’t see such movement in you right now. You are just walking around without any direction. Have stronger intention of going somewhere specific.” His remark illuminated how layered and precise the exercise was.
As they kept working on it, Hino sensei added one rule to make it a group exercise. He picked one person of one pair to be the one who initiates the stop and a different person of a different pair to be the one who decides when to start moving. The rest of them had to follow the two leaders as they continued working in pairs. So, one has to not only take care of one’s partner but also pay attention to what’s happening around them. The room was immediately filled with excitement and suspense.. and maybe a little bit of confusion and chaos. How can you stop all together in the midst of such commotion? The dancers made countless attempts, trying to feel each other more as they moved through the space.
After a 30-minute break, they had the last exercise with Hino sensei. It was very simple. He asked them to form groups of five people. One person stands in the middle (A) and the four others stand in front of, behind and to the sides of A. They’re all looking at A. The task for A is to face the four people one by one. The dancers were trying out various ways to turn quickly and more energetically.. and they were also searching what they were supposed to feel when they were facing the others.
After observing their effort for a while, Hino sensei pulled one dancer aside to demonstrate. He stood in front of her and said, “It’s not just looking the other person in the eye. It’s as if you’re touching the other person with your eyes. Really look at her.” His eyes were not only firmly locked on the other’s but also fiercely present. His whole body seemed to be emanating fiery energy towards the other person.
He went on giving advice to several dancers. The gist of his notes to them was, “Don’t look from a distance as if you have nothing to do with this connection. You have to be present in order to reach the other. You’re the one who’s connecting, nobody else.” He also said that many of them got hung up on how to do the exercise right. “This has nothing to do with the form or methodology. It’s much more fundamental and simple. It’s ‘from me to you.’” Without the desire and passion to connect with the other, the exercise means nothing. It’s the driving force for living. And that is something no one can teach.
At the end of the workshop, Hino sensei gave a short speech to thank everyone in the room for the opportunity to work with them. “Please keep on growing and touch the audience’s heart by your passion on the stage.”
Then he asked everyone to say thank-you to each other. They went around, sat in seiza (the formal, traditional way of sitting in Japan) in front of one person at a time, and bowed, saying “Arigatougozaimashita! (Thank you very much!)” Smiles were exchanged, and I saw their eyes sparkle.
I’m extremely grateful to Hino sensei and NDT for the opportunity to observe and witness their work. Working with Hino sensei requires such attention to and engagement in the present moment no matter what my position or job is in the workshop. So, even as a translator, it has been such a learning process for me as well. Now I’m finishing up this post with such optimism and excitement for my never-ending practice of presence. Arigatougozaimashita!