Survey says – this is Aiki!

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フル・コンタクト・カラテ Full Contact Karate magazine

Full Contact Karate at the Aikido Sangenkai? Not really, but many of the quotations in this article originally appeared in the January 1996 issue of the Japanese magazine “Full Contact Karate” (フル・コンタクト・カラテ), in an article entitled “Secret Technique: The Secret of Aiki” (秘技・合気の秘密). They present an interesting survey of comments on Aiki from some of the leading exponents of both Aikido and Daito-ryu.

You may also be interested in Sagawa-den Daito-ryu Aiki-Budo instructor Masaru Takahashi’s technical essay’s on the nature of Aiki “What is Aiki?” (Part 1 | Part 2  | Part 3).

Survey says – this is Aiki!

Masatake FujitaMasatake Fujita on the cover of Aiki News #124, April 20th 2000

Masatake Fujita (藤田 昌武) – Aikikai Hombu Dojo

(student of Morihei Ueshiba)


The Aikikai is the central organization promoting and spreading Aikido domestically and abroad, but it has not adopted a particular definition or explanation of the word “Aiki” itself. Since Aikido has no form of competition, it seeks to train the spirit of harmony with the partner while conditioning the body through “Yakusoko-geiko” and “Kata-geiko”. Through this practice we believe that anyone’s Aiki can be developed and manifested.

Hawaii HochiPhoto from the Hawaii Hochi, 1974, announcing
Morihiro Saito’s one day seminar at the Honolulu Aiki Dojo
on his way back from California to Japan.
In front: David Alexander, Morihiro Saito and Shigemi Inagaki

Morihiro Saito (斉藤 守弘) – Aikido Ibaragi Dojo

(student of Morihei Ueshiba)


From the beginning Aikido was passed down from Ueshiba Morihei sensei, but today we are the only ones who are correctly transmitting the Aiki received from Sensei. In their quest for Aiki most Aikido students today are neglecting the training passed down from Sensei. So, they are unable to grasp Aiki. Aiki is fundamentally something that is possessed by everybody, but it is manifested through correct Kata practice. If one does not learn through the repetition of correct Kata practice then they will never grasp Aiki.

Hitoshi NakanoHitoshi Nakano – Nakano Orthopedic Clinic (なかの整骨院)

Hitoshi Nakano (中野 仁) – Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo

(student of Gozo Shioda)


In order to grasp Aiki there are those that approach through theory and those that approach through the body. Both of these seek the answer to Aiki, but most of the new schools from the post-war skip past the process and seek the answer through theory. We are different from that, we chose the method of learning Aiki though the process of such things as Kihon-dosa and guided practice, training that uses the body. Further, Aiki is not necessarily mysterious, I believe that Aiki also includes such things as the Ma-ai with the enemy and sensing their murderous intent.

Yoshimaru and SagawaKeisetsu Yoshimaru taking ukemi for Yukiyoshi Sagawa, 1972

Keisetsu Yoshimaru (吉丸 慶雪) – Aiki Rentai Kai

(student of Yukiyoshi Sagawa)


Aiki is a technique that uses the extensor muscles to destabilize the opponent, the principles can all be explained rationally. Since what many people call “Ki” actually refers to the power of those extensor muscles there is is no such thing as a mysterious “Ki Power”. However, since the person making use of the movement of these extensor muscles has no consciousness of “I am using power”, many people refer to this as “Ki Power”. For that reason, Aiki and Ki must be thought of separately.

望月 稔Minoru Mochizui – around 1930

Minoru Mochizuki (望月 稔) – Yoseikan Aiki-Budo

(student of Morihei Ueshiba)


The Ki of Aiki is “Yaru-ki” (“the spirit of commitment”). In other words, “fighting spirit”. The collision of fighting spirit with fighting spirit. I believe that this is Aikido. If there is someone who is strong in Ki then there is also someone who is weak. However, that is something that becomes strong through training. We have both young men and women enter my place, but as they continue to practice their bearing becomes firm. In other words, they develop “Yaru-ki”. Those with Yaru-ki begin to tackle their training even more aggressively. That is important.

Yusuke InoueYusuke Inoue at the 50th Anniversary of Sokaku Takeda’s Passing

Yusuke Inoue (井上 祐助) – Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai

(student of Kodo Horikawa)


It is something that should only be transmitted through actual techniques, not through words or writing, I have never defined it or written a book about it.  Just as everybody has their own character, while watching those people’s character or characteristics I teach them while placing emphasis on certain sections – “what should you do in order to extend that?”.  I believe that the result, that they may acquire an Aiki that is different than mine, is acceptable. Because that is each person’s inherent flavor.

Katsuyuki KondoKatsuyuki Kondo’s DVD “What is Aiki”

Katsuyuki Kondo (近藤 勝之) – Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu

(student of Tokimune Takeda)


Learn the five fundamentals of Daito-ryu (reiho / etiquette, metsuke / use of the eyes, kokyu / breath, maai / distance, zanshin / awareness), and perfect them through the addition of destabilization by Aiki. Since the destabilization accomplished through Aiki is different from the destabilization of jujutsu, Aiki is not necessarily equivalent to destabilization, but at the beginning level it is acceptable to conceive of it as “destabilization”. There are instances in which one destabilizes the opponent when they are unaware, but destabilization through Aiki must destabilize the opponent in the instant in which they touch you. Also for that reason, learning the fundamentals are absolutely necessary.

Maeda - MatsudaTakeshi Maeda (right) with his teacher Toshimi Matsuda

Takeshi Maeda (前田 武) – Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Renshinkan

(student of Toshimi Matsuda)


It is not “Shuchu-ryoku” (“focused power”), I believe that it is to make the opponent non-resistant upon touch. Extend Ki through the contact point, transmit from the Tanden to the feet and put the opponent in a condition in which they are unable to move. After that, they may be thrown or taken down at will. I was taught by my teacher Toshimi Matsuda “Don’t put in power!”. One must remember the feel of taking the teacher’s hand and then absorb it through their own process of trial and error. In my case it took about thirty years.

Shioda and HorikawaGozo Shioda with Kodo Horikawa of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai

Gozo Shioda (塩田 剛三) – Yoshinkan Aikido

(student of Morihei Ueshiba)


You must rid yourself of the desire to do this at this time, or to do that at that time. One does not move through an intellectual decision. Only when you leave it to the five senses is one able, for the first time, to move freely.

Hakaru MoriHakaru Mori at the 50th Anniversary of Sokaku Takeda’s Passing

Hakaru Mori (森 恕) – Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Takumakai

(student of Takuma Hisa)


In order to apply Aiki and execute Aiki techniques, the strength, technical points and other essentials required for joint techniques are not necessary requirements. You could even say that they are an impediment.


In other words, the fundamental principles behind Aiki techniques and joint techniques are completely different, stated extremely one could even say that their technical principles are diametrically opposed. Accordingly, however much one trains in joint techniques, that alone will absolutely not enable one to accomplish Aiki techniques.


Sagawa Morote DoriYukiyoshi Sagawa demonstrates Morote-Dori Aiki-Nage

Yukiyoshi Sagawa (佐川 幸義) – Sagawa-den Daito-ryu Aiki-Budo

(student of Sokaku Takeda)


Doing jujutsu as Kata is the worst. It will become something that you can’t use at all in reality. Change is important. The way of doing it in my place is like that. Even if we teach a single representative Kata, we change flexibly.


Ultimately, the goal (of my technique) is to create the Aiki body, if one can create the Aiki body than however they move it becomes a technique, becomes Aiki.

Ueshiba SoldierMorihei Ueshiba in uniform during the Russo-Japanese War

Morihei Ueshiba (植芝 盛平) – Aikido

(student of Sokaku Takeda)


When I move technique is born.


In the Way, you must first stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven. If you do not stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven then Aiki will not come forth.


This Aiki stands on the Floating Bridge of Heaven, from there something is born. It is called Take Musu Aiki.

The Floating Bridge of Heaven (天の浮橋)

The phrase “Floating Bridge of Heaven” appears in O-Sensei’s lectures to the Byakko Shinkokai collected in the text “Take Musu Aiki” more than any other phrase, including the phrase “Take Musu Aiki”!

If you’re interested in reading more about the Floating Bridge of Heaven and how it relates to Aikido and Aiki you may be interested in the three articles below:

Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven

More on Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven

Morihei Ueshiba and the Way of the Cross

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You may also be interested in some thoughts on a technical translation of the term “Aikido” that appears in “Aikido without Peace or Harmony“.


Aiki is to remove power from the opponent, a technique for making them non-resistant. 

– Sokaku Takeda 

Christopher Li

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