Toshikazu Ichimura
Kobe, Japan

Last summer, I received an invitation from my former students of Aikido in Sweden to attend a ceremony commemorating fifty years of the Swedish Aikido Federation. When I visited Sweden, accepting the invitation, I found that I had become "a Legend." I was astonished to be featured by the local newspaper and television.

Devoted to Aikido in My Youth

From my school days I lived only for Aikido. I trained from morning until night and was completely absorbed in Aikido. After graduating from university, my master suggested that I go to Europe to promote Aikido. At that time there was no Japanese Aikido instructor in Sweden, so I went there single-handed.

Initially, there were two small Aikido dojos (gym for martial arts) but after ten years of strenuous coaching, there was a great rise in students. Eventually, I travelled around to teach in Finland, Denmark, and Poland.

Once, this caught the eye of a Japanese television station; TV crews came from Japan for an interview and broadcast my program in Japan.

Aikido originally is to transmit what is heavenly through its techniques, so the more one practices Aikido, the less competitive one becomes. We aim at attaining this state of mind. However, to teach the martial arts outside of Japan, you have to be absolutely strong. Almost daily, someone would come to challenge the dojo. You have to fight and win against disreputable wrestlers and ex-boxers. To lose would be to lose your status as a master.

So outwardly, I always had to prove myself as "the strongest man." But inwardly, I was trembling with fear of a formidable opponent awaiting me the next day. My heart became rough and I may have created a ferocious atmosphere about me.

My Encounter with God

A single copy of the Japanese edition of Light of Life was sent to such a savage hearted man like me. When I opened it and started reading, I knew instinctively, "Oh! This is the world I have been searching for." I couldn't hold back the tears. So I attended that year's Makuya holy convocation held in Japan.

At my first holy convocation, I focused very much and lost myself in fervent prayer. At that time, someone laid his hands on my head and prayed for me. Instantly, I felt as if some tens of thousands of volts of electricity had run through my body. Then I found myself calling out from the belly, "God!" I was beside myself with joy even after the prayer ended and found myself hugging those around me. That joy was something I had never experienced before during my Aikido lifetime.

Once coming in touch with Christ's life, I experienced marvelous things. I would pray while training, "God, please teach me." Then new Aikido techniques came up one after another like a gushing fountain. My students willingly practiced those techniques. The techniques created then are even now being used across the world.

I was deeply aware that the power working within me was not my own but was from Christ. I struggled to silence the recurring thought, "I want to live with more of Christ's life." Right around that time, a Makuya minister was visiting from Japan, so I confided my thoughts to him.

Then he said, "I understand your wish. Please come to Japan." I believed those were God's words, so I left both Aikido and my life in Sweden to return to my homeland.

Experiencing a Precious Thirty Years

I had only known the world of martial arts until then. Although I found a job, I would quickly get into trouble, which caused me to go from job to job. However, things began to change when I was married to someone with the same faith. Co-operating and praying together, we opened an acupuncture clinic in Kobe.

My technique of Aikido has been very useful as its postures and the use of hands correspond nicely with the treatment of acupuncture and massage. In addition, once I received Christ’s Holy Spirit, I was filled with love for my clients and was clearly shown what I should do. Then a miraculous healing took place.

Furthermore, as I treated my patients with prayer, they opened up about the problems on their mind. Someone with insomnia would joyfully say, "I can always get a good night's rest after coming here." Someone who lost his son in an accident confided, "My son appeared smiling in my dream!" When I heard such stories, I knew that Christ hovered over my therapeutic practice with His heavenly life. Those were a precious thirty years that God truly guided with His abundant blessings.

During those years, I had not taken part in Aikido. But the children from my first marriage and the students I left behind in Europe were always in the depths of my heart. It was something I couldn't speak to anyone about but my heart ached whenever I thought of them.

Breaking Down in Christ's Mercy

Then last year, a friend asked, "Would you like to come along with me to visit readers of Light of Life in Sweden?" At the same time, my wife and I were invited by my students in Sweden to attend a ceremony commemorating fifty years of Swedish Aikido. So we visited the readers of Light of Life and also visited numerous dojos.

There the local media came for an interview, and in the television programs and newspaper articles they wrote, "The 'Legend' is Alive!"

The commemorative ceremony was held in a palace used by the Swedish royal family and there we were welcomed by everyone in formal tuxedos. We, the guests of honor, were clueless and attended in plain clothes. I was asked to give a speech.

I began, "You all have an ideal goal in your practice of Aikido. Please write that ideal in heaven. Look up to heaven. Heaven will surely respond where there is a will and prayer. Similarly, I have been guided."

Since the attendants of the ceremony were of different faiths, I said "heaven" instead of "Christ." And I addressed my gratitude as to how I had been guided until then.

Furthermore, my children were also invited there to my surprise. I could do nothing for them as a parent for so many years. Yet, they came for my sake. When I hugged my children, we couldn't help but break down in tears.

I was reunited with the children separated for a long time. Furthermore, I was given the opportunity to testify about my redeemed life to my students. That was truly a precious time that solely led by the mercy of Christ.

The 'Legend of Aikido' is dead; but was reborn as a witness of Christ. Now I pray that the true gospel of Christ be conveyed in Sweden, the land of my redemption. With this prayer I send emails to the readers of Light of Life and to my students in Sweden today.

(2018)