Aikido Sangenkai Blog Honolulu, Hawaii - Oahu Fri, 01 Jan 2021 15:02:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Aikido Sangenkai Blog 32 32 Happy New Year of the Ox 2021 from the Aikido Sangenkai Fri, 01 Jan 2021 15:02:08 +0000 Happy New Year 2021 from the Aikido Sangenkai in Honolulu, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.

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Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. We enjoyed training with all of you in 2020 (what little training there was before the world locked down for Covid-19), and we’re looking forward to restarting training with you all in the coming year!

Konjin – from Abe no Seimei’s Hoki Naiden (The Book of Yin and Yang)

2021 is the Year of the Ox (actually, the Metal Ox), promising success through hard effort (we can all hope).

The primary deity of Onisaburo Deguchi’s Omoto religion is also an “Ox” – “Ushitora no Konjin” (艮の金神), the “Ox-Tiger” kami who guards the North-East segment of the compass. Actually, Ushitora is a Daoist diety from Onmyodo – “The Way of Yin and Yang” – Sokaku Takeda’s grandfather Soemon was apparently a master of Onmyodo.

San-dai Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama

Above you can see the twin banners that are displayed at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama during the Taisai (合気神社例大祭) each year in April, commemorating the passing of Morihei Ueshiba (at one time they also hung in the dojo itself).

“Ushitora (Imi-tsutsuchi) no Konjin” (艮鬼門大金神) on the right (traditionally representing the North-East) and “Hitsuji-saru (Imi-tsutsuchi) no Konjin” (坤鬼門大金神) on the left (traditionally representing the South-West).

Yin and Yang, representing stillness and motion:

“Seek motion in stillness, seek stillness in motion.”
The Taiji Classic – “Song of the 13 Postures”

“Stillness in motion, motion in stillness.”
Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan, Aikido 9th Dan

“Motion in stillness. It is said that here is the foundation of Aikido.”
Ni-Dai Aikido Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba

“The unity of calm and action.”
(Official English translation – the Kanji read “stillness” and “motion”)
Ki-Society Founder Koichi Tohei

Kokuzo Bosatsu, deity of wisdom and memory.
Todaiji temple complex, Nara, Japan. 1709 CE.

There are eight Buddhist deities assigned to protect the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, and who work to protect the people born in those years. The Buddhist protector of the North-East, Ushitora no Konjin’s segment of the compass is Kokuzo Bosatsu, who is often pictured holding a wish granting jewel (如意宝珠 / chintāmani / nyoi-hōju) – a jewel said to have the power to produce whatever one desires.

The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom (大智度論 / Mahāprajñāpāramitā Upadeśa) states that this jewel can be obtained from the head of a Dragon King.

Coincidentally, Morihei Ueshiba believed the Dragon King to be the patron god of Aikido. Here Morihei Ueshiba is portrayed as the “Dragon King” (天之叢雲九鬼さむはら竜王). This portrait is said to represent the unification of stillness and motion – bringing us full circle (and isn’t Aikido supposed to be circular?).

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in front of
a self portrait of himself as the Dragon King

We hope that you can find the wish granting jewel and that all of your wishes will be granted in 2021!

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou
Happy New Year

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Happy New Year of the Rat 2020 from the Aikido Sangenkai Wed, 01 Jan 2020 15:41:26 +0000 Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. We enjoyed training with all of you in 2019, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year!

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Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. We enjoyed training with all of you in 2019, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year!

Sangenkai Hawaii

December 2019 Sangenkai Hawaii Intensive Workshop
hosted by Aiki Kai O Kona

The capstone to another year of training in Hawaii, in December 2019 the Sangenkai Hawaii intensive workshop once again attracted attendees from all over the world, with a large group Australia Sangenkai members as well as mainland, local and neighbor island Sangenkai members – continuing the tradition as the only workshops in Hawaii that command a regular international attendance.

And now I’d like to finish with some thoughts for the coming year in this statement published at the end of 2018 by Dan Harden, discussing Aiki, Shugyo, and his continuing relationship with Roy Goldberg Sensei, one of the highest ranking Daito-ryu instructors in the world:

Most people now know that Roy Goldberg and I resumed our training many years ago after a few years off.

We were training at my house all day today and realized this was our 28th year anniversary of knowing each other and training together. While we each took a different turn in our training under Kiyama shihan; Roy remained, pursuing aiki in kata traveling with Kiyama to Japan, staying at Kiyama’s home. We also trained privately with Kiyama in Roy’s home, year after year, with Roy eventually becoming Kiyama’s highest ranked student—indeed becoming one of the highest ranked Western practitioners in the world: receiving Kyoju Dairi and being awarded 7th Dan and the third scroll.

I remained, (perhaps true to my nature) in pursuit of the same aiki body, in MMA, Judo and grappling and tried to develop aiki-in freestyle and at speed. What a delight it was to come together again and discover where we each had gone and then continue blazing our trail together. Two friends in Shugyo.

What a surprise when Roy showed up with a gift. He had commissioned two rings to be made by a world renowned jeweler. They are hand carved figures of Fudo Myo-o. The very definition of his name expressing our mutual pursuit: “Esoteric training to achieve immovability.”

Without my knowledge Roy had offered—rooms full of people—his opinion of my direction, and a written a forward to my upcoming book. I had done the same about him both in public and on a private Daito Ryu website.

So today we thought we would celebrate our venture with the rings and our sharing our opinions about our two paths.

This was my opinion of Roy expressed to some rather frustrated students of Daito Ryu wondering why they never “got it.”:

It’s my understanding that quite a bit isn’t shown to ni-dans and san-dans and such.

There is quite a bit that comes later…if at all. I know you all practiced for years. Everyone practices, but not everyone is chosen. I don’t know why you weren’t shown, but stating what Aiki is or isn’t, by your personal experience as defining the entire art, is simply not a good plan.

We have spent years reading on many forums and in countless interviews done with Stan Pranin where Japanese Daito Ryu shihan openly stated that they did not teach the majority of their own students. Instead, they picked one or two “so that the secrets wouldn’t flow out of the school.” (more on that later).

For that reason any of you making statements that “I don’t think this or that is in the art, because I wasn’t shown it and haven’t seen it.” Is rather ridiculous at face value and can have serious logic flaws.

For starters it can be seen and can be mimicked without actually getting it.


Remember Takeda and Tokimune saying repeatedly that “they showed different things to different people in different places?”

What do you think you get when you ask those people what they think the art….is?

Remember Tokimune and Sagawa admitting that they never taught their ENTIRE school the true art?

Weird huh? Imagine being an insider, being the secretary or president of Tokimune’s organization and finding out thirty years later he was actually only teaching Kondo… Who many considered AN OUTSIDER??? That wasn’t even a regular member of the dojo. That really happened.

I think you need to consider who else might have done that.

Teaching inconsistencies:

Sagawa taught a lot about solo training, and breath work, then claimed he didn’t!!

Kodo practiced Aiki-in-yo-ho breath work and solo training.

So did the Inoue
So did Takuma Hisa
So did Okabayashi. 
So did Tokimune
So does Goldberg
So do I

Much of which, Daito ryu People on forums have claimed didn’t even exist.

We need to finally accept that there are levels of teaching in Daito Ryu not available to all.

There was in the end, a benefit to becoming Kyoju Dairi,

In Goldberg’s case, we sat at countless dinner tables, and on mats all over New England hearing Kiyama state over and over that Goldberg is his number one student. Indeed when Goldberg received the third scroll, Kiyama openly stated that “Roy had single handedly changed his mind. That now he could see westerners were capable of true shugyo.” This, while expressing dismay, that most of his students never really pursued the same path. Roy, and Danny Kiyama discussed much of this recently.

I was proud of seeing what my friend had accomplished after all these years. I was also surprised to hear of Kiyama’s decision to put in the paperwork for Roy’s Shihan, and Roy, summarily leaving Japan.

When I asked him why one night at one of our favorite watering holes. He told me: “Our philosophies were different. I felt it was necessary to spread this art to *real* Shugyo people. I have seen, first hand on many trips to Japan, the Kodokai shrinking, both in Japan and the United States and this once magnificent art could die. And all my teachers efforts could be in vain. As so many teachers have said “only teach one or two….so that the secrets wouldn’t flow out of the school.” I think times have changed and we need to teach, or this art will continue to fade.
Interestingly, Roy had recently received a letter from one of the leading Kodokai Shihans in Japan, supporting his efforts and decision. Stating: “I watched you and found your skills quite impressive. I support and am anticipating your future activities.”

Roy’s forward:

Dan is one of the best Martial Artists I have ever encountered. And I know that not just from a couple of seminars but some 28 years of training together in Daito Ryu. With his obsession to Shugyo, he has brought the combat part of Daito Ryu alive again. His internal power and aiki is pulled from another era. His approach reflects people like Sagawa and Takeda who took on any challenger

I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the leading martial artists in Aikido, Tai Chi Karate, Judo and classical jujutsu and Daito Ryu, none was able to create such soft power. Call it internal power or aiki or however you want to analyze it, he’s got it.

Being a Physical Therapist for 45 years, I have tried to understand many of the aspects of Daito Ryu and realized it never helped me on the mat. Kiyama Shihan would always say “Goldberg! It’s in the Shugyo! Computer never understand! Do Shugyo. You decide.”

Many people may say “Well Dan is a just a big guy, that’s why he hits with such power.” But, these are only people who have never touched him. What he does is both powerful and soft and a true expression of Aiki, at speed, force on force, in a way I’ve never seen. I have also had the privilege of watching Dan tossing Shihan across the room with little effort. Many of these Shihan, are presently training with Dan. We must applaud Dan Harden Sensei for the depths he went to, to find this.”

On this anniversary we wanted to recognize the different paths we took, and help those who were unaware we were training together privately. And now for the first time to openly share our research in Aiki-in-yo-ho, the creation of the aiki body, the one true power in Daito Ryu. And also acknowledge each others work, the future of the art and share our plans to work together in the future.

So many talk…..

We are continuing to spread the essence of this magnificent art in both the United States and internationally, to those like us… In pursuit of true shugyo.

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Interview with Chris Li about “Internal Power” training in Martial Arts Sun, 18 Aug 2019 23:19:48 +0000 Below is an interview that originally appeared on Nick Porter’s The Way You Practice blog. Following the English interview is a translation in Spanish by Juantxo Ruiz. Hey folks! What follows below is an interview with Chris Li, a martial artist who has primarily trained in Aikido. He’s a great resource within the Aikido community regarding the history of the art and a very approachable … Continue reading Interview with Chris Li about “Internal Power” training in Martial Arts »

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Below is an interview that originally appeared on Nick Porter’s The Way You Practice blog. Following the English interview is a translation in Spanish by Juantxo Ruiz.

Hey folks! What follows below is an interview with Chris Li, a martial artist who has primarily trained in Aikido. He’s a great resource within the Aikido community regarding the history of the art and a very approachable guy. He also trains in “internal power”, which is something that never made sense to me, even when I trained Aikido. At best, it seemed like an overly complicated explanation of biomechanics. At worst, it looks like straight up woo-woo.

So rather than continue to flame online, I decided to ask someone in the know, and Chris was gracious enough to take some time and attempt to explain it to me. Perhaps I’m just a bad interviewer, but I’m still not sure I get it. What do you all think? Is there something to Internal Power training? Is it useful for martial artists?

Chris Li

Chris Li (CL) has been training in Aikido since 1981, and has also trained in Judo with a former coach of the Japanese and US Olympic teams and in Shito-ryu Karate, as well as several lineages of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. He spent some 15 years living, training, and teaching in Japan. He has been training with Dan Harden, in his Sangenkai organization, since 2010.

Nick Porter (NP): Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about this. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of “internal power” but the actual practice vs preach seemed a difficult sell to me. To start, so that we’re on the same page can you define what you mean when you say “Internal Power?”

CL: Sam Chin once said to me “the thing about internal power is that… it’s power. ” And he’s right, the division between internal and external methods is a largely artificial way of classifying generally different methods of body usage. But they’re all power, they all involve the mind, the body and all the rest. On the other hand, playing the violin and power lifting are also both purely physical tasks that involve the same body and the same musculature but end up in very different places, so there are things that can be very different and yet involve some or all of the same elements. All sports use both strength and endurance, but of course we often divide physical conditioning into areas such as endurance exercises and strength building as a matter of convenience. So the internal / external dichotomy is artificial, of course, but it’s also convenient. 

When I talk about internal methods I am talking about methods that, generally speaking are referring what is happening within the frame of my own body (rather than, say, a technique that is defined by what happens relative to another person’s body). Further, the methods I’m talking about are largely intent driven. Of course, everything’s intent driven, but the emphasis on intent in internal methods is often that you’re attempting to use or condition your musculature in a way that is generally different from the that you normally use it. 

NP: Do you feel there’s a disconnect between the way Internal Power is explained (vs, say, the mechanics of tai chi or yoga) and the way it’s practiced such that more people don’t see a reason to begin training it?

CL: The descriptions are often difficult because they don’t make much sense without hands on. So yes, that can be a problem. IMO, it’s one of those things that has to be felt. People who join us and end up staying usually do so because we’re doing what they were looking for in the first place. In other words, they’d done the research on their own and had an idea of what to expect. But it may be that the difficulty of this type of training precludes, in part, an easily understood short description. Further, there’s no common frame of reference with most folks the way there is if I were talking about, say, baseball. 

NP: I actually had a great discussion with some IP folks yesterday about that– how “it had to be felt” and “it just can’t be understood” are tough sells in the modern world. Is there a way you think IP could make itself more understandable?

Additionally, my other question for them (and now for you) is: how do you sort out someone who knows what they’re doing from a woowoo artist? All I’ve heard is

  1. A real IP master is exceedingly, overwhelmingly rare
  2. definitely know one, though.

So in a system that’s very subjective (“you just have to feel it”), how can you know what you’re feeling is actual “power” instead of the power of suggestion?

CL: If you can think of a way to make it more understandable then I’m open to suggestions! I suppose that we really need an “elevator speech”, but part of the difficulty is that these things really are quite different. And that brings in the frame of reference problem that I mentioned above. 

How do you tell? Well, that’s difficult too. 

Experience with multiple folks certainly helps, so does intellectual honesty. In the end, I guess that you have to make your best judgement and take your chances.

Traditionally, I guess that you’d challenge an instructor and see what happens, but those kinds of things don’t always turn out well…

I’d also have to say that defeating or not defeating a particular person doesn’t necessarily say much about the method or theory. Everybody wins and loses when you roll.

NP: I think IP could take a few things from yoga. The way I see it, movement is movement and at its core, efficient movement is simple movement. This video of Kyuzo Mifune illustrates that point. I understand that his partners are giving him some respect. Even with that in mind, and with the understanding that I know nothing about Judo, I can understand and respect how he’s moving because how he’s moving seems logical, simple, and efficient. I contrast that with a lot of the  IP videos I watch: where an uke grabs for their life, gets twisted around, then gets chucked across the room as everyone looks on in amazement. At its best, it seems like suggestion and a very compliant partner. At its worst, it starts looking like the no-touch KO people.

The thing I hate about the “it has to be felt” argument is that it’s self-fulfilling and, too often, the uke is blamed for anything that goes wrong (“You just have to relax more”, etc). You discussed the method and the theory. What, exactly, is that method/theory? What do you feel “Internal Power” offer specifically that other forms of martial arts/body organization do not? If its primary benefit is efficient movement, can’t you refine efficient movement through other means? If the goal is to increase martial efficacy, why, frankly, are a lot of the IP guys lousy fighters?

CL: There are a bunch of big issues in that question, but I’ll try to break out a few. 

Efficient movement is one of those things that sounds good, but doesn’t really mean that much. Kyuzo Mifune was very efficient, but so was Mike Tyson – and they moved very differently and had different types of bodies. It’s a little like saying “delicious food”, what that means varies.  Of course there are many ways to develop efficient movement, and there are many ways to become an efficient fighter. A particular method may be better or worse for a given situation, but no method is really better or worse in and of itself. 

IP won’t make you a fighter, any more than strength training will. But most coaches would recommend that you do some kind of strength training because it will help you to be a better fighter – and most people doing strength training are probably pretty poor fighters. They’re different, but often complementary, activities. IP training can help you to organize your body to generate power, sometimes a lot of power, in a very efficient manner that has a lot of longevity. But it does take a while and not everybody will be interested in it. Are there other ways? Sure there are. 

IP methods aren’t monolithic, so talking about theory is going to vary – but in addition what I mentioned above I would add that most internal arts are trying to develop whole body power that rely more on movement within the frame of one’s body than the momentum of the weight of that frame moving forward as a whole, and this usually involves some degree of “softness” in order to facilitate the maximum usage of the body frame. 

A lot of demonstrations are bad, that’s true. Similar things happen in Aikido – you’re engaged in a cooperative training method to learn a certain skill, and like all rulesets folks learn how to game that ruleset in order to look “good” while forgetting that the ruleset, especially in uke-nage based training methods, is completely artificial. That doesn’t mean that it’s a poor training method, just there are pitfalls. 

The “it has to be felt” thing is all about that common frame of reference from above. I’m not sure what you mean by blaming uke in this case – it’s just about feeling it for yourself. 

NP: Starting from the top: It’s true that Mifune and Tyson both moved efficiently while moving very differently, but the difference between that and what I see with a lot of IP people is that the fruits of an athlete’s labors are a bit more obvious– the person gets thrown or hit when they don’t want to be.  I guess I also don’t understand the semantic differences between how an IP person would move and how Mifune or Tyson would move. As I understand it, even for different ends, efficient movement is efficient movement. A judoka and a violin player are both using gross and fine motor movements– the difference is that a boxer or violin player or yoga instructor can explain, generally in very simple terms, how they are doing what they are doing. IP people have, in my experience, a very complex vernacular that seems to shut off any understanding of the movements until you’ve already invested.  

The “It has to be felt” line gets me because, I can look at any athlete, in any discipline (be it ballet or boxing) and while I can’t replicate their movements, I can understand that they are moving efficiently and correctly just by watching them. I don’t necessarily see that in IP demonstrations, where someone wiggles a hip and their partner flies across the room. That’s where you get people comparing IP people to the no-touch people– a fundamental disconnect between what is normally needed to move another person that way (kuzushi, etc) and what they see in the IP demonstration (none of that). What are they missing?

Regarding fighting: I appreciate your saying that IP won’t make you a fighter, but could you pass that along to the rest of the IP community? There seems to be a disconnect– where on the one hand, IP is touted by some as a health/wellness exercise and on the other hand you see people in martial arts uniforms looking incredulously at their IP master as he/she manipulates someone’s balance or throws them or whatever, and these students then swear that their instructor is “too deadly for the ring” or whatever other cliche you want to use. 

Is there an intersection at any point between IP and fighting? If so, why isn’t there a better track record for IP people fighting? If not, do you feel the community would be better served by disconnecting from the idea that fighting skill is a goal/sequela of these exercises? Furthermore (and I know I’ve posed a lot of questions here), how would you, as an IP practitioner yourself, convince someone who’s only done internal training that maybe they are NOT as fearsome a fighter as they may believe themselves to be? 

CL: A lot of people would call Mifune an IP person, I’m not sure that I would. In any case, yes, it’s hard to see – that’s a large part of why getting direct hands on is usually more reliable. It’s also one factor among many. So two folks hitting may be using different methods of body organization with little visual distinction. But sorting the whole thing out can get complex. 

The terms seem to be complex because of that lack of a common frame of reference that I mentioned above, and because folks are trying to describe things that are happening inside the body – I’ve seen some biomechanical descriptions of golf from the internal body structures that are equally opaque to me. Like anything else, once you get some experience with it those things get easier. 

Yes, you can describe a lot of what is happening in biomechanical terms (and we do), but part of the difficulty is that knowing the exact biomechanics doesn’t really help that much in execution. For those things, imagery and visualization – intent based approaches work better. That’s the classical method, and actually visualization and imagery is now commonly used among professional athletes. If I ask you to wiggle your ears, which is a purely physical task, describing the exact biomechanics involved is unlikely to actually help you wiggle your ears. But visualization and imagery can often help you access those actions where intellectual description runs into difficulties. 

Chris Davis at Martial Body actually has quite a good collection of clear material and explanations, FWIW:

For the IP community – there isn’t one, really. There are a lot of folks doing a lot of things, some of them questionable, with no general agreement of who’s even in the community. It’s a lot like the Aikido world. 

For fighters, if we’re talking about modern sports fighters, I don’t think that IP has a quick enough return on investment, generally speaking. Mike Tyson went from zero to Olympic gold in three or four years, retooling your body usage just takes too long to compete with that. Even if you invest the time it’s as I said, one factor among many in fighting. Does long distance running make you a better fighter? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that long distance runners are fighters. When you’re talking about IP as a stand alone, it’s just that – a kind of conditioning and body usage. If you’re talking about it as attached to one tactical martial system or another then you have a lot of other factors in play as well. 

NP: Tyson never made it to the Olympics but I think I understand what you mean.

I won’t keep you much longer, so in closing: what do you think people outside of IP fundamentally misunderstand about it? What do you think people inside of IP fundamentally misunderstand about it? If you had to make that “elevator pitch” to try and convince IP skeptics that what you’re doing has value beyond a basic conditioning workout, what would you tell them?

CL: As I said earlier, it’s a method of conditioning and usage. That usage can be very useful in martial applications – but that’s best experienced hands on, and that’s basically what I tell folks.  Most of all, it’s interesting, much more interesting than your basic conventional physical training, at least to me. 

People outside of IP may tend to think that it’s woo woo – but it isn’t, it’s entirely physical and logical (it has to be, really). People inside – well these things are hardly monolithic, but perhaps it’s true that they overestimate how much weight those skills get them in a fight when they may lack other skills or experiences. 

NP: Being interesting (and something you’d come back to consistently) is generally what keeps people training more than anything else. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. 

Entrevista con Chris Li sobre el entrenamiento de “poder interno” en artes marciales


¡Hey gente! Lo que sigue a continuación es una entrevista con Chris Li, un artista marcial que se ha entrenado principalmente en Aikido. Es un gran divulgador dentro de la comunidad de Aikido con respecto a la historia del arte y un tipo muy accesible. También entrena en “poder interno”, que es algo que nunca tuvo sentido para mí, incluso cuando entrenaba Aikido. En el mejor de los casos, parecía una explicación demasiado complicada de la biomecánica. En el peor de los casos, se ve como charlatanería .

Entonces, en lugar de seguir en línea, decidí preguntarle a alguien que lo supiera, y Chris tuvo la gentileza de tomarse un tiempo e intentar explicármelo. Quizás solo soy un mal entrevistador, pero todavía no estoy seguro de haberlo entendido. ¿Qué piensan todos ustedes? ¿Hay algo en el entrenamiento de energía interna? ¿Es útil para artistas marciales?


Chris Li (CL) ha estado entrenando en Aikido desde 1981, y también ha entrenado en Judo con un ex entrenador de los equipos olímpicos japonés y estadounidense y en Karate Shito-ryu, así como varios linajes de Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. Pasó unos 15 años viviendo, entrenando y enseñando en Japón. Ha estado entrenando con Dan Harden, en su organización Sangenkai, desde 2010.

Nick Porter (NP): Gracias por tomarse el tiempo de hablarme sobre esto. Siempre me ha fascinado la idea del “poder interno”, pero la práctica real frente al discurso me pareció algo difícil de vender. Para comenzar, para que estemos en la misma línea, ¿puedes definir a qué te refieres cuando dices “Energía interna”?

CL: Sam Chin me dijo una vez “lo que pasa con el poder interno es que … es poder. “Y tiene razón, la división entre métodos internos y externos es una forma en gran medida artificial de clasificar métodos generalmente diferentes de uso del cuerpo. Pero todos son poder, todos involucran la mente, el cuerpo y todo lo demás. Por otro lado, tocar el violin y el levantamiento de pesas también son tareas puramente físicas que involucran el mismo cuerpo y la misma musculatura, pero terminan en lugares muy diferentes, por lo que hay cosas que pueden ser muy diferentes y, sin embargo, involucrar los mismos elementos o solo a algunos de ellos. Todos los deportes utilizan tanto la fuerza como la resistencia, pero, por supuesto, a menudo dividimos el acondicionamiento físico en áreas tales como ejercicios de resistencia y desarrollo de la fuerza por pura conveniencia. Entonces, la dicotomía interno/externo es artificial, por supuesto, pero también es conveniente.

Cuando hablo de métodos internos, estoy hablando de métodos que, en general, se refieren a lo que sucede dentro del marco de mi propio cuerpo (en lugar de, por ejemplo, una técnica que se define por lo que sucede en relación con el cuerpo de otra persona). Además, los métodos de los que hablo se basan principalmente en la intención. Por supuesto, todo se basa en la intención, pero el énfasis en la intención en los métodos internos es lo que a menudo está intentando usar o condicionar tu musculatura de una manera que generalmente es diferente de la que normalmente usa.

NP: ¿Sientes que hay una desconexión entre la forma en que se explica el Poder Interno (vs, por ejemplo, la mecánica del tai chi o el yoga) y la forma en que se practica de tal manera que no haya más personas que vean una razón para comenzar a entrenarlo?

CL: Las descripciones son a menudo difíciles porque no tienen mucho sentido sin experimentarlo antes. Entonces sí, eso puede ser un problema. En mi opinión, es algo que hay que sentir. Las personas que se unen a nosotros y terminan quedándose generalmente lo hacen porque estamos haciendo lo que estaban buscando en primer lugar. En otras palabras, habían realizado la investigación por su cuenta y tenían una idea de qué esperar. Pero puede ser que la dificultad de este tipo de entrenamiento excluya, en parte, una breve descripción fácil de entender. Además, no hay un marco de referencia común con la mayoría de la gente como si se estuviera hablando, por ejemplo, de béisbol.

NP: Ayer tuve una gran discusión con algunas personas que trabajan Poder Interno, sobre cómo “tenía que sentirse” y sobre qué es algo que “simplemente no se puede entender”, que son argumentos difíciles de vender en el mundo moderno. ¿Hay alguna forma en que creas que el Poder Interno podría hacerse más comprensible?

Además, mi otra pregunta para ellos (y ahora para usted) es: ¿cómo diferenciar a alguien que sabe lo que está haciendo de una superchería de artista (marcial)? Todo lo que he escuchado es:
Un verdadero maestro de poder Interno es extremadamente raro.
Sin embargo, definitivamente conozco uno.

Entonces, en un sistema que es muy subjetivo (“solo tienes que sentirlo”), ¿cómo puedes saber que lo que sientes es el “poder” real en lugar del poder de sugestión?

CL: Si puedes pensar en una forma de hacerlo más comprensible, ¡estoy abierto a sugerencias! Supongo que realmente necesitamos un “discurso de ascensor”, pero parte de la dificultad es que estas cosas realmente son bastante diferentes. Y eso trae el problema del marco de referencia que mencioné anteriormente.
Como lo dices Bueno, eso también es difícil.

La experiencia con múltiples personas ciertamente ayuda, al igual que la honestidad intelectual. Al final, supongo que debes formarte una opinión y arriesgarte.

Tradicionalmente, supongo que desafiarás a un instructor y verás qué sucede, pero ese tipo de cosas no siempre salen bien …

También debería decir que derrotar o no derrotar a una persona en particular no necesariamente dice mucho sobre el método o la teoría. Todos ganan y pierden cuando ruedas.

NP: Creo que el Poder Interno podría tomar algunas cosas del yoga. A mi modo de ver, el movimiento es movimiento y, en esencia, el movimiento eficiente es simple movimiento. Este video de Kyuzo Mifune ilustra ese punto (nota, se refiere, creo a un vídeo muy conocido de Mizune sensei, uno de los grandes históricos del Judo, demostrando técnicas con alumnos suyos de alto nivel). Entiendo que sus Ike’s le están dando un poco de respeto. Incluso con eso en mente, y con el entendimiento de que no sé nada sobre el Judo, puedo entender y respetar cómo se está moviendo porque cómo se está moviendo parece lógico, simple y eficiente. Comparo eso con muchos de los videos de Poder Interno que veo: donde un uke agarra como si su vida dependiera de ello, se da la vuelta y luego es arrojado a través de la habitación mientras todos miran con asombro. En el mejor de los casos, parece sugestión y un uke muy obediente. En el peor de los casos, comienza a parecerse a las personas KO sin contacto.

Lo que odio del argumento de “tiene que sentirse” es que se cumple por sí mismo y, con demasiada frecuencia, se culpa al uke de cualquier cosa que salga mal (“Solo tienes que relajarte más”, etc.). Hablaste a propósito del método y la teoría. ¿Qué es exactamente ese método / teoría? ¿Qué crees que ofrece el “Poder interno” específicamente que otras formas de artes marciales / organización del cuerpo no ofrecen? Si su principal beneficio es el movimiento eficiente, ¿no puede refinar el movimiento eficiente por otros medios? Si el objetivo es aumentar la eficacia marcial, ¿por qué, francamente, muchos de los tipos de Poder Interno son pésimos luchadores?

CL: Hay un montón de grandes problemas en esa pregunta, pero intentaré aclarar algunos.

El movimiento eficiente es una de esas cosas que suena bien, pero en realidad no significa mucho. Kyuzo Mifune fue muy eficiente, pero también lo fue Mike Tyson, y se movían de manera muy diferente y tenían diferentes tipos de cuerpos. Es un poco como hablar de “comida deliciosa”: lo que eso significa varía. Por supuesto, hay muchas maneras de desarrollar movimientos eficientes, y hay muchas maneras de convertirse en un luchador eficiente. Un método particular puede ser mejor o peor para una situación dada, pero ningún método es realmente mejor o peor en sí mismo.

El Pode Interno no te convertirá en un luchador, como tampoco lo hará el entrenamiento de fuerza. Pero la mayoría de los entrenadores recomendaría que realices algún tipo de entrenamiento de fuerza porque te ayudará a ser un mejor luchador, y la mayoría de las personas que hacen entrenamiento de fuerza son probablemente luchadores bastante pobres. Son actividades diferentes, pero a menudo complementarias. El entrenamiento de PI puede ayudarte a organizar tu cuerpo para generar energía, a veces mucha energía, de una manera muy eficiente que tiene mucha longevidad (¿?). Pero lleva un tiempo y no todos estarán interesados en ello. ¿Hay otras formas? Claro que los hay.

Los métodos de Poder Interno no son monolíticos, por lo que si hablamos de teoría el asunto variará, pero además de lo que mencioné anteriormente, agregaría que la mayoría de las artes internas tratan de desarrollar el poder de todo el cuerpo que es algo que se basa más en el movimiento dentro del marco del cuerpo que el ímpetu del peso de ese marco que avanza en su conjunto, y esto generalmente implica cierto grado de “suavidad” para facilitar el uso máximo del marco del cuerpo.

Demasiadas demostraciones (exhibiciones) son malas, eso es cierto. Suceden cosas similares en el Aikido: participa en un método de entrenamiento cooperativo para aprender una determinada habilidad y, como en todos los conjuntos de reglas, la gente aprende a jugar ese conjunto de reglas para verse “bien” mientras se olvida de que el conjunto de reglas, especialmente los métodos de entrenamiento basados en el trabajo uke-nage, es algo completamente artificial. Eso no significa que sea un método de entrenamiento deficiente, solo que existen dificultades.

Lo de que “tiene que sentirse” tiene que ver con ese marco de referencia común desde arriba. No estoy seguro de lo que quieres decir con culpar a uke en este caso: se trata de sentirlo por ti mismo.

NP: Comenzando desde arriba: es cierto que Mifune y Tyson se movian eficientemente haciéndolo de manera muy diferente, pero la diferencia entre eso y lo que veo con muchas personas con IPI es que los frutos del trabajo de un atleta son un poco más obvios: la persona es arrojada o golpeada cuando no quiere serlo. Supongo que tampoco entiendo las diferencias semánticas entre cómo se movería una persona PI y cómo se moverían Mifune o Tyson. Según tengo entendido, incluso para diferentes fines, el movimiento eficiente es un movimiento eficiente. Un judoka y un violinista utilizan movimientos motores gruesos y finos; la diferencia es que un boxeador, un violinista o un instructor de yoga pueden explicar, en términos muy simples, cómo están haciendo lo que están haciendo. La gente de PI tiene, en mi experiencia, una lengua vernácula muy compleja que parece impedir cualquier comprensión de los movimientos hasta que ya estás familiarizado en ellos.

El argumento de “Tiene que sentirse” me atrapa porque, puedo mirar a cualquier atleta, en cualquier disciplina (ya sea ballet o boxeo) y aunque no puedo repetir sus movimientos, puedo entender que se mueven de manera eficiente y correcta con solo mirarlos. No necesariamente veo eso en las demostraciones de PI, donde alguien mueve la cadera y su compañero vuela por la habitación. Ahí es donde aparecen personas que comparan a las personas que trabajan PI con las personas sin contacto: una desconexión fundamental entre lo que normalmente se necesita para mover a otra persona de esa manera (kuzushi, etc.) y lo que ven en la demostración de PI (nada de eso). ¿Qué se están perdiendo?

Con respecto a las peleas: agradezco que digas que el PI no te convertirá en un luchador, pero ¿podrías transmitirlo al resto de la comunidad de PI? Parece haber una desconexión, donde, por un lado, el PI es promocionada por algunos como un ejercicio de salud / bienestar y, por otro lado, se ve a personas con uniformes de artes marciales mirando con incredulidad a su maestro de PI mientras manipula el equilibrio de alguien o los tira o lo que sea, y estos estudiantes juran que su instructor es “demasiado mortal para el fin (para luchar en un cuadrilátero)” o cualquier otro cliché que desee usar.

¿Hay una intersección en algún punto entre IP y la lucha? Si es así, ¿por qué no hay un mejor historial de las personas que luchan con IP? Si no es así, ¿cree que la comunidad estaría mejor atendida al desconectarse de la idea de que la habilidad de lucha es un objetivo / secuela de estos ejercicios? Además (y sé que he planteado muchas preguntas aquí), ¿cómo podría usted, como profesional del Poder Interno, convencer a alguien que solo ha realizado un entrenamiento interno de que tal vez NO son un luchador tan temible como pueden creerse?

CL: Mucha gente llamaría a Mifune una persona IP, no estoy seguro de que lo fuese. En cualquier caso, sí, es difícil de ver, esa es una gran parte de por qué el tener manos directas (nota : poner las manos directamente si te un profesor de PI) suele ser más confiable. También es un factor entre muchos. Entonces, dos personas que golpean pueden estar usando diferentes métodos de organización del cuerpo con poca distinción visual. Pero resolverlo todo puede volverse complejo.
Los términos parecen ser complejos debido a la falta de un marco de referencia común, como ya mencioné anteriormente, y porque la gente está tratando de describir cosas que están sucediendo dentro del cuerpo. He visto algunas descripciones biomecánicas del golf desde las estructuras internas del cuerpo, que son igualmente opacos para mi. Como con cualquier otra cosa, una vez que tenga algo de experiencia con eso, las cosas se vuelven más fáciles.

Sí, se puede describir mucho de lo que está sucediendo en términos biomecánicos (y lo hacemos), pero parte de la dificultad es que conocer la biomecánica exacta no ayuda mucho en la ejecución. Para esas cosas, las imágenes y la visualización, los enfoques basados en la intención funcionan mejor. Ese es el método clásico, y en realidad la visualización y las imágenes es algo que actualmente se usan comúnmente entre los atletas profesionales. Si le pido que mueva las orejas, que es una tarea puramente física, es poco probable que describir la biomecánica exacta involucrada realmente lo ayude a moverlas. Pero la visualización y las imágenes a menudo pueden ayudar a acceder a aquellas acciones donde la descripción intelectual se encuentra con dificultades.

Chris Davis en Martial Body en realidad tiene una buena colección de material claro y explicaciones.

En relación a la comunidad de PI: en realidad no hay solo una. Hay muchas personas que hacen muchas cosas, algunas de ellas cuestionables, sin un acuerdo general de quién está en la comunidad. Se parece mucho al mundo del Aikido.

En relación con los luchadores, si hablamos de luchadores deportivos modernos, no creo que la propiedad intelectual tenga un retorno de la inversión lo suficientemente rápido, en general. Mike Tyson pasó de cero a oro olímpico en tres o cuatro años, reorganizar el uso de su cuerpo lleva demasiado tiempo para competir con eso. Incluso si inviertes el tiempo es como dije, un factor entre muchos en la lucha. ¿Correr largas distancias te hace un mejor luchador? Probablemente, pero eso no significa que los corredores de larga distancia sean luchadores. Cuando se habla de Poder Interno como algo independiente, es solo eso: un tipo de acondicionamiento y uso del cuerpo. Si estás hablando de eso como un sistema marcial táctico u otro, también tienes muchos otros factores en juego.

NP: Tyson nunca llegó a los Juegos Olímpicos, pero creo que entiendo lo que quieres decir. No le voy a entretener mucho más tiempo, así que para concluir: ¿qué cree que las personas fuera del entorno del PoderInterno fundamentalmente malinterpretan? ¿Qué crees que las personas dentro de PI entienden fundamentalmente al respecto? Si tuviera que hacer ese “discurso de ascensor” para tratar de convencer a los escépticos de IP de que lo que está haciendo tiene un valor más allá de un entrenamiento de acondicionamiento básico, ¿qué les diría?

CL: Como dije antes, es un método de acondicionamiento y práctica. Esa práctica puede ser muy útil en aplicaciones marciales, pero eso es lo mejor con experiencia, y eso es básicamente lo que le digo a la gente. Sobre todo, es interesante, mucho más interesante que tu entrenamiento físico convencional básico, al menos para mí.

Las personas que no pertenecen al PI pueden tender a pensar que todo esto es charlatanería, pero no lo es, es completamente físico y lógico (tiene que serlo realmente). Gente de adentro: bueno, estas cosas no son monolíticas, pero tal vez sea cierto que sobreestiman cuánto peso les dan esas habilidades en una pelea cuando pueden carecer de otras habilidades o experiencias.

NP: Ser interesante (y algo a lo que volverías constantemente) es generalmente lo que hace que la gente entrene más que cualquier otra cosa. Gracias por tomarte el tiempo de hablar conmigo.

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, Hawaii

The post Interview with Chris Li about “Internal Power” training in Martial Arts appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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The Essence of Aiki: an Interview with Seigo Okamoto Soshi – Part 2 Sat, 13 Jul 2019 16:14:28 +0000 Born in 1894 in Kitami, Hokkaido, Kodo Horikawa began Daito Ryu Jujutsu training with Sokaku Takeda at around the same time as Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Sokaku focused on instructing Kodo in “Aiki” because of his size, and Kodo came to be known for techniques that were extremely subtle and soft. In 1930 Kodo received the certificate of “Acting Instructor” or Kyoju Dairi from Takeda … Continue reading The Essence of Aiki: an Interview with Seigo Okamoto Soshi – Part 2 »

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Kodo Horikawa (front left) with Kazuto Ishida (right)
Ishida was the 5th Chief Justice of Japan,
the second chairman of the All Japan Kendo Federation
and 5th Soke of Yamaoka Tesshu’s Itto Shoden Muto-ryu
Ishida’s wife (front center) and daughter (back right)
Seigo Okamoto, back left

Born in 1894 in Kitami, Hokkaido, Kodo Horikawa began Daito Ryu Jujutsu training with Sokaku Takeda at around the same time as Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Sokaku focused on instructing Kodo in “Aiki” because of his size, and Kodo came to be known for techniques that were extremely subtle and soft. In 1930 Kodo received the certificate of “Acting Instructor” or Kyoju Dairi from Takeda (the same certification that Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba received from Takeda in 1922), and was later awarded a certificate of complete transmission in the art, the Menkyo Kaiden. In 1950 he established the Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Kodo Kai in Hokkaido. 

It seems that there are many differences among Daito-ryu techniques.

I have not often viewed the techniques of other schools. I have seen them only at the demonstration held by the Headmaster [Tokimune Takeda]. When I entered Horikawa Sensei’s dojo, there were some people from other schools who criticized his techniques when they saw them saying that he could not really execute a technique with such a small movement and that his students were very meek. However, I believe that there were no such stupid, critical men among the students, seniors and juniors alike of Kodo Sensei. We followed him because his techniques were real. However, there were many who could not continue their practice for long because they found the techniques too difficult.

I have learned a lot since I came to Tokyo. In the Roppokai there are some students who have practiced another school’s art for more than 20 years or who are instructors of another art, but they all recognize my art and are gradually making progress mastering techniques which I think is great. I really feel that I must continue to practice all my life.

Interview with Seigo Okamoto Shihan (2) – Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin

Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Roppokai Founder Seigo Okamoto entered the dojo of Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa at the age of 38. In 1974 he received his 7th dan from Kodo Horikawa, and his Shihan license from Kodo Horikawa four years later in 1978.

Seigo Okamoto’s Shihan certification (top) and the Hiden Ogi no Koto,
the third scroll in the Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodokai
awarded by Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa

Are there are some Aikidoka who try to learn Daito-ryu techniques in order to improve their own Aikido?

Yes, that’s right. I do not refuse anyone who comes to me. We have an Aikido instructor at our Osaka branch dojo. I think that he is probably utilizing the techniques he learns from us in his Aikido techniques. As I mentioned, I refuse no one who comes to me, but I don’t stop anyone who leaves me either. This is my principle. However, those who come to me must conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. There are some people who come to me with an arrogant attitude as if to say I should be pleased because people like them have come to train while others come with an open attitude toward being taught. People come with many different attitudes. I accept anyone who comes in the latter manner.

Interview with Seigo Okamoto Shihan (2) – Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin

This the second part of an English translation of an interview with Seigo Okamoto that appeared in Hiden Koryu Bujutsu vol 4, 1990, published by Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan. You may wish to read Part 1 before continuing with this section.

The Essence of Aiki: an Interview with Seigo Okamoto Soshi – Part 2

4 – The Roppokai Technical Method – Difficult to See

Q: Is it difficult to apply technique after one has been grasped strongly?

Okamoto: No, if one becomes skilled then it’s possible. But it’s difficult for people in their first three or four years after starting. There are also times when they are grasped strongly by multiple opponents. That’s not strength, it’s technique. With strength they won’t move.

“However many opponents there are
we do it with the intention of applying it to a single person.”

Q: When being grasped by multiple opponents how does it become possible to apply Aiki to the entire group at the same time?

Okamoto: It’s the same. Even if there are five opponents one doesn’t think of them as five people, one does it as if intending to apply it to a single person. If Aiki enters momentarily at the moment at which one is grasped by all of them then they stiffen through their reflex action. When that happens one person is the same as five people – they come along here easily.

For example, five people form a line and the person in front grabs me while each of the people behind pushes on the shoulders of the person in front of them. There is a way to throw these five people. This also is not something for which strength is relied upon. When it is applied to the first person it passes through that person and the same movement is transmitted to the next person and is applied to the next person in the same way and then progressively to each of the people in turn. It’s like toppling dominoes.

Seigo Okamoto demonstrates on multiple opponents

Q: So by doing this you can apply it to any number of people?

Okamoto: In order to do that all of them must have their strength turned towards me. For that reason, before one applies it they push or pull a little bit. So I aim for the time at which all of the people have their strength turned towards me and then apply it with a bang! It’s for that same reason that Sokaku would make the opponent angry.

Q: So you build a pile of people in that instant?

Okamoto: Since Aiki has been applied to those that were thrown, while it is still being applied to the person on the bottom I drop the next person on top of them. If there were nothing being done to the person on the bottom then they would just run away before that. However, although they are frozen and in discomfort, it’s not a great amount of pain to be in that position. Once they are released they just laugh it off.

Q: It appears that the Roppokai doesn’t have the same kind of pinning techniques that other branches of Daito-ryu have, is that right?

Okamoto: That’s a common misunderstanding. Taking their arm and holding them down, pushing the opponent down and stepping on them, this is what most people think of as pinning, but here although we don’t hold them down very strongly the opponent is unable to move. Those are the kind of pinning techniques that we have.

Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa
pinning Seigo Okamoto

We throw the opponent when we want to throw them, when we think to pin them then without throwing them we instantly drop them at our feet. Since Aiki has been applied to the opponent, even after they fall they remain stiff. Then if one just presses on them slightly with their foot they will already be unable to move. The technique is so small that you can’t understand it, can you?

Seigo Okamoto demonstrates a pinning technique

Of course, there is jujutsu without Aiki for those people who are just beginning, pinning techniques where one takes the hand of the opponent as they come to strike and hold them down, but we don’t do that very often. That’s because if it’s too much like jujutsu then it becomes different from Aiki.

Q: Also, there are some who are of the opinion that there is no tai-sabaki in the Roppokai?

Okamoto: That’s also incorrect. It would be impossible to throw an opponent by just standing there without doing tai-sabaki. Even when one moves their hand, it’s not that their hand alone is moving. It is because the hand and the body are moving as one that the opponent is thrown. It’s just because the movement is small that it can’t be seen like normal tai-sabaki. Here everything is irimi (“entering”)! In any case, it’s that we move into the bosom of the opponent without stepping back.

Q: It must take quite a bit of training to master these techniques, doesn’t it?

Okamoto: That’s right. It takes a number of years, they can’t be learned that easily. I think that you can understand this by watching the training, but although they can appear the same there is a difference whether the opponent is thrown through the application of Aiki or through the use of strength. Because if the technique is immature it cannot be applied against resistance. For that reason, the truth is that one doesn’t just fall when they are thrown, one helps the other person to develop their technique while they are being thrown.

The more experienced the person is the more skillfully the technique can be applied. That is because they know the kokyu and the timing, and their responses to the techniques are more sensitive. And again, being sensitive to technique itself is a path to skill.

Q: So, as one becomes accustomed to it does it become possible to steal the opponent’s Kokyu and timing and reverse the technique?

Okamoto: Even in Sumo they say “shiju-hatte-ura-omote” (Note: 四十八手の裏表 – “the forty-eight techniques have a back and a front”, meaning that each of them can be countered), in the end techniques have an ura and an omote. During normal training we don’t do the ura. If we teach the ura from the beginning than everybody would just escape and there wouldn’t be any training. For that reason we only teach the omote in the beginning. There many ways to escape a grip, you see, so the number of techniques grows accordingly.

“Strength is not put into unnecessary places.
Putting strength only into the fingertips, one always keeps their wrist soft.”

Q: What is the most difficult point in the mastery of Aiki?

Okamoto: To release one’s strength, that is, to eliminate one’s own “tension” (力み) is difficult. Even those like me occasionally have tension! For that reason I always say that it’s okay to have any amount of strength, but it’s no good to be tense. That’s an enormously difficult task. When one feels some kind of momentary strain most people will become tense. Strength enters their shoulders… I think that it’s really a big deal if that can be eliminated. That really comes down to experience. When I say experience, that is to say, shugyo (Note: 修行 / “intensive training”, often with spiritual overtones).

For example, when one spreads their fingers they put strength only in the area around the fingernails, and they always keep their wrist soft. At first I couldn’t understand that, and when Shisho (Note: 師匠 / “Teacher” – Kodo Horikawa) told me to put strength in my fingertips strength would always enter to my wrist even when I tried to put strength only in my fingertips. At some point during my Shugyo I understood that, that is, I became able to do that. Even when I grasp something hard strongly my wrist can move freely. That’s what it is to avoid putting strength where it is unnecessary. It can be said that is one kind of skill.

Scrolls received from
Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa

Q: Do you have a step by step teaching structure?

Okamoto: Daito-ryu techniques are written on the scrolls, and it is said that there are more than 2,880 of them. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve learned all of them. The three scrolls that I received from Shisho in addition to the Shihan Menkyo were Sho-den 118 techniques, Chu-den 30 techniques, and the Oku-den 36 techniques.

Q: What teaching doctrine do you follow during training at the Roppokai?

Okamoto: In one training session here we teach a mix of techniques from Sho-den to Oku-den. Experienced people and inexperienced people all train together, we don’t divide them. Someone who has just started won’t understand if something is a Sho-den technique or an Oku-den technique, and conversely, I think that it is better not to separate them out when considering them. While not knowing one practices from Sho-den to Oku-den, and that way seems to develop the body more quickly. Just doing the basics is boring, and people tend to tense up.

At the time that I started we would only train in the basics at first. But now people come from many different kinds of Budo. When this happens, even when the technique names or other small details are different and many of them have already mastered basic body movement. Making someone like that do only basics is just pathetic. Someone who has some high rank in another school. For that reason we normally do only one or two of the basics. When we do the basic techniques all together it takes two or three hours.

Q: What are the basic techniques of Daito–ryu?

Okamoto: These are basics that were created by Shisho in Hokkaido. In our case we have changed them a little, but basically speaking they are the same. If one looks at these basic techniques from the viewpoint of other Budo they appear to be high level techniques. That is to say, in the former Aizu Domain Daito-ryu was only taught to warriors of five hundred koku and up (Note: the stipend for a samurai, one koku was supposedly enough rice to feed one man for one year), and the people at that level were already training in other types of bujutsu. So they were a compilation of those things. For that reason, the basic techniques themselves are like hiden (“secret”) techniques, and by just practicing these enough one can become quite strong.

These techniques can be taken as an introduction to Daito-ryu Jujutsu when practiced without Aiki in the beginning, but when one practices them faithfully they all become Aiki techniques. Originally, they had to contain Aiki. Because Jujutsu that does not employ Aiki becomes techniques powered by strength, and when that happens it can become difficult if one is physically inferior the opponent.

Q: What happens when one moves beyond basic techniques?

Okamoto: Applied techniques (応用技). They could be called variations of the techniques that were learned at the beginning. The basic techniques that I was speaking of before, from there they grow and branch. Daito-ryu techniques contain innumerable variations. In total there are two thousand and some hundreds of techniques, but all of those can’t be recorded on three or four scrolls. Further, it’s impossible to practice while consulting the scrolls. The scrolls are something that are given to show that one has learned techniques to a certain degree through actual training, something like a certificate of completion. It’s not that one has completely mastered a technique on the scroll, or that we always practice techniques just as they appear on the scrolls. There is a “feeling” each time – when we go to practice a technique it come to us in a flash.

Further, when we say applied, there are those who assimilate the techniques they have learned well and those who assimilate them poorly. Because of that depending upon the person there are those for whom the techniques can grow and branch later than others. For those reasons, even if one talks about a secret transmission, from the very beginning we are teaching the secrets. Whether one can absorb those as Hiden (“secret transmission”) or they can absorb them as part of the Honden (“main transmission”), whether or not a person will grow will depend upon that.

These days, and this was even so to some degree in the past, all schools practice group instruction. But if you said that because of that everybody progresses at the same pace, that wouldn’t be the case. Out of fifty people perhaps one or two will remain to the end of the transmission. These kind of things happen, don’t they?

There isn’t anybody who teaches carelessly, you know! Everybody wants to transmit their techniques faithfully and repeats themselves until they sweat when they teach. For that reason, all schools teach secrets, but I think that it may be that the difference between Hiden and just ending up as recreation will depend upon how they are taken in by the student.

Q: So how should one train in order to progress?

Okamoto: Practicing humbly and seriously is the best. Going forward humbly as normal without resistance and learn from the feeling at the moment of being touched. In Sumo there is also the moment of the tachiai (Note: 立ち会い – the initial charge at the start of a bout). The opponent springs forward into the engagement. In technique one must also grasp the feeling at the moment that they engage.

Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa

Talking about Horikawa Sensei

Q: Next, I’d like to ask if you have any recollections of Kodo Horikawa Sensei?

Okamoto: Horikawa Sensei was an educator, so there aren’t any things like tales of fighting. He was a gentle person, and for his efforts in service towards education in remote areas he was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure 5th Class, Gold and Silver Rays (勲五瑞宝章) in Showa year 46 (1971).

Order of the Sacred Treasure 5th Class, Gold and Silver Rays (勲五瑞宝章)

Q: How were Horikawa Sensei’s techniques, did they feel sharp?

Okamoto: In Shisho’s case, I don’t know about sharpness. It’s really that a level where one can can feel something such as sharpness is no good. It’s not like when one is thrown with strength, it’s like you touch something and then you’re thrown with a soft feeling. That’s what’s called “Yawara” (Note: 柔 – “ju”, one of the classical terms for jujutsu arts, meaning soft or flexible). It’s a feeling like one is being wrapped in silk wadding and one is carried away. His forearms were really thick! Down to his wrists they were the same thickness, but when we grabbed them they were very soft. They were like a woman’s forearms, they didn’t feel defined. And that’s what it was like when he did things to us. It almost felt as if we were being deceived.

Q: If you were to sort the techniques that you learned from Horikawa Sensei simply, about how many would there be?

Okamoto: About thirty or forty techniques. That’s because if one can can absorb and apply them then they multiply without limit. Well, Aiki itself is only one thing, so one changes that one thing in order to adapt to the requirements of the moment.

Even if one says that there are some 2,880 techniques in Daito-ryu, one can’t really use all of them in reality. Because one must topple them with a single technique. It’s just that if one masters some number of techniques then however one is attacked they will be capable of responding – it must be that this grew to be those some thousands of techniques. It’s not that it’s a good thing the more techniques one has.

It was just before I came to Tokyo, around Showa year 49 (1974), that Soshi told me this – “When one gets to your level, your training up until now gives birth to various techniques. So try and do your best!”. At that time it was already more than ten years after I started.

“each of these pictures is the seed for a hundred techniques; study them well”
Scroll entitled “Bojutsu Masakatsu Agatsu” given to Michio Hikitsuchi
by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Q: So does that mean that understanding Aiki itself and becoming able to apply technique strongly takes ten years?

Okamoto: That’s right. That’s not limited to Aiki, doesn’t understanding anything take ten years? But just because I have been doing this for twenty some years, don’t think that I can do things one-hundred percent! I still have to train hard (Shugyo) from now. There are many different kinds of people in the world, and there are always those that are better. It is when one is at the seventh or eighth station (Note: as in climbing Mt. Fuji) that the road above is most difficult, I think. Soshi said this also – “Training is for life. I may seem to be absent minded during the day, but I’m always thinking about techniques!” (Note: 一生修行, “isshou shugyo” “training is for life”).

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, Hawaii

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The Essence of Aiki: an Interview with Seigo Okamoto Soshi – Part 1 Sat, 09 Feb 2019 17:17:12 +0000 Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Roppokai Founder Seigo Okamoto was born in 1925 in Yubari City, Hokkaido. In 1963, at the age of 38, he entered the dojo of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa, one of Sokaku Takeda’s closest students. In 1974 he received his 7th dan from Kodo Horikawa, and his Shihan license from Kodo Horikawa four years later in 1978. After Horikawa Sensei passed away, he … Continue reading The Essence of Aiki: an Interview with Seigo Okamoto Soshi – Part 1 »

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Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Roppokai (大東流合気柔術六方会)
Founder Seigo Okamoto Soshi (岡本正剛宗師)

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Roppokai Founder Seigo Okamoto was born in 1925 in Yubari City, Hokkaido. In 1963, at the age of 38, he entered the dojo of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa, one of Sokaku Takeda’s closest students. In 1974 he received his 7th dan from Kodo Horikawa, and his Shihan license from Kodo Horikawa four years later in 1978.

Seigo Okamoto taking ukemi for Kodo Horikawa

After Horikawa Sensei passed away, he established his own organization, the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Roppokai, where he became known for teaching advanced techniques to beginning students and for making public many aspects of Aiki that had previously been considered secret. Seigo Okamoto passed away on January 17, 2015, just a few weeks before his 90th birthday.

In response to a question from Aikido Journal editor Stanley Pranin as to the origin of the name “Roppokai” he explained:

Roppo can be understood in a variety of ways, such as the roppo of roppogumi [six groups of chivalrous young men who used to wander the city streets in the Edo period]. Or it can be equated with the roppo from the kabuki term roppo o fumu of Benkei [a priest of the early Kamakura period and a famous retainer of Yoshitsune Minamoto. Roppo o fumu means to make one’s exit with bold gestures along the runway]. However, I usually compare roppo to gaming dice to describe techniques which can deal with any situation from any direction, top or bottom, front or back, right or left, like the faces of dice. But these techniques do not have square angles like dice but are round, forming six (roku) infinite circles. I am eager to get as many meanings as I can out of the term.

Seigo Okamoto also had an interesting story to relate concerning Morihei Ueshiba’s teacher Sokaku Takeda and “roppo” (for more about Morihei Ueshiba and roppo see “Morihei Ueshiba, Budo and Kamae“):

Once, at the beginning of the Taisho era, Takeda Sokaku, while staying for a short while in Tokyo, had an opportunity to go out to the theatre. Sokaku, having set up camp near the hanamichi was observing Kikugoro’s movements. He was [playing] Benkei, at the Ataka Barrier. Making to chase after Yoshitsune’s party after they exited, Kikugoro was stepping along the hanamichi near where Sokaku had set himself.

At that moment, Sokaku commented: “the performance is good, but the footwork is bad: the roppo is really bad,” in a voice loud enough that the actor could hear. Kikugoro, not having been able to see from the stage, afterwards sent an attendant out. “Just now, in this vicinity, someone was kind enough to comment?” he enquired. Sokaku having immediately informed him that he was the relevant gentleman, the attendant requested that he go with him, just as he was, to the dressing room. After which Sokaku, having met Kikugoro himself, precisely and infallibly indicated the shape and motivation of the movements. That is: in response to Kikugoro’s questioning, he immediately gave him guidance in the movements of the arms and hands, the movements of the feet.

At that time, it is said, Kikugoro hadn’t before played Benkei. Nevertheless he was one of the leading actors of the time. After Sokaku’s guidance, overnight, [everyone] could see that his arm gestures and leg movements were being played in a manner that was completely unrecognizable. It is reported that – starting that very next day – Kikugoro used to receive lavish praise, from his patrons and customers, for the outstanding footwork of his wonderful roppo….

This the first part of an English translation of an interview with Seigo Okamoto that appeared in Hiden Koryu Bujutsu vol 4, 1990, published by Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan.

“When the opponent stiffens one can connect to the point at which they are touching them and they become one part of my body. Perhaps it could be called a synchronization. This is Aiki.”

The Essence of Aiki: an Interview with Seigo Okamoto Soshi – Part 1

1 – Training at the Roppokai

Seigo Okamoto Sensei’s instruction currently takes place in Tokyo at the Bunkyo Sports Center. It was here that we first experienced his unique method of instruction. In Okamoto Sensei’s instruction, he uses a method in which when a technique is taught he always applies that technique to each of the students, so that they will be sure to naturally comprehend it through their bodies. Then through kakari-geiko (a line drill with continuous attacks) with each other the students gradually make it their own.

The students are divided into three groups, in each group one person acts as the tori, and the rest become uke and take turns attacking the tori. After throwing four or five times the next person takes a turn as tori and the training continues. Okamoto Sensei occasionally gives general advice. That is, giving demonstrations of good and bad examples, showing the technique in slow motion while explaining the principles, things that are extremely concrete and easily understood. However, just because one understands how it is done does not mean that they are able to do it that way right away. Of course, one can see varying levels of ability among the students. Here beginners and those with experience are not divided, everybody learns the same techniques together.

We can certainly say that the technical method of Aiki that is unfolding before our eyes is mysterious. As the students grasp Okamoto Sensei with all of their strength they are blown away with a shake of his body. Even if they grasp Okamoto Sensei’s finger it is the same. Okamoto Sensei doesn’t grab the student’s bodies, he throws them with the touch of a single finger.

Other high level technical methods are also revealed and climax with multiple attackers. Grabbed by five students, they are toppled in an instant. Although they don’t appear to be held down in any significant way the five people are unable to move their bodies. This can be thought of as the application of Aiki, but even so it is an incredible spectacle. Immediately following the training we asked about this mysterious Aiki that has been transmitted from the master Kodo Horikawa Sensei.

2 – How is “Aiki” applied?

Q: We’ll jump right in – Okamoto Sensei, just what kind of a thing is your Aiki?

Okamoto: The word Aiki itself is difficult, isn’t it? In Aikido or Daito-ryu it varies according to the expressions of the individual instructors, and each of them presents a different image. To me Aiki is conditioned reflex, circular movement and kokyu-ho (“breathing method”) – I express it as these three elements made as small as possible within the space of a moment.

These three elements, applied as subtly and as small as possible in technique are Aiki. As to the techniques themselves, as I have shown you today they take many different forms, but one cannot understand them through the form alone! For example, if one grabs my chest or if one grabs my shoulder, I execute the same movement using those three elements. For that reason, however I am grabbed I throw them down with the same movement.

Q: We observed techniques in which their hand was unable to let go as they were pulled along, is it because of Aiki that their hand became stuck to you?

Okamoto: That was due to a reflex action by the opponent’s fingers, they become stuck to my hand and are unable to release. If I simply stroke the top of the opponent’s hand it won’t curl, but if I do this with my fingers on the opponent’s hand then the opponent’s fingers curl through a reflex action. If this is done quickly then without a doubt they will curl. For that reason, they become stuck. If one pulls them along this way then they will not separate, but if one becomes slack then they will quickly become separated. That state in which they are pulled along is the state in which one is applying Aiki.

Q: What does it mean to apply Aiki?

Okamoto: In a normal state, if one uses strength then the opponent will not move, but if one applies Aiki then they will move. That is a technique of the fingers and such. However, one does not pull them. When they use the thumb and the littlefinger to grasp a wrist the opponent stiffens for a moment, and we continue to hold onto and continue that stiffened condition.

Q: Is it through that tiny movement that the opponent moves?

Okamoto: Yes, that’s right. One doesn’t need strength. But just doing that won’t work well. In the end technique become necessary. Particularly circular movement, in that one doesn’t move the point that has been grasped and enters while naturally rotating that as the center point.

In addition, there is a conditioned reflex when one is touched. When they are touched the opponent always exhibits a reflex. When the opponent stiffens one can connect to the point at which they are touching them and they become one part of my body. It is for that reason that I am able to move them as if I am moving my own body. It’s somewhat clumsy, but one doesn’t need any significant amount of strength. Perhaps it could be called a synchronization – this is what is called Aiki.

Q: when Aiki is applied it feels as if electricity passes through your body, would you say that your neck receives a shock?

Okamoto: That does happen. Depending upon the person there are those that feel it and those that don’t – if one has ten people then each of those ten people will feel it in a different way. The more sensitive that a person’s reflexes are the easier it is to apply techniques. 

Q: So there are people on whom it is easier to apply Aiki to, are there also people on whom it is more difficult?

Okamoto: Among those coming to train with us are many people with experiences in various Budo such as Judo, Karate, boxing, Ninjutsu, Chinese boxing, Aikido and so forth. I couldn’t say unconditionally, but it’s easy to apply technique to third or fourth dans in Karate. It’s just that their reflexes are conditioned more than a normal person’s and their reactions are quick. That makes it easier for them to react to our techniques.

Q: What kind of action is it that causes a shock to be received?

Okamoto: This is the so called whiplash. When a car crashes there is a snapping force, that’s what it is. We’re not just pushing on the opponent when they come to attack, we draw them towards ourselves while pushing. While the opponents legs move towards us their body goes towards the back. We initiate that kind of action with our hands.

Just pushing on the opponent won’t make them fall down, will it? They’ll just bounce back away from us. But if you step on your opponent’s feet at that time the opponent will fall down without being able to move backwards. It’s the same as that. To do that we apply technique to the opponent in order to stop their feet without stepping on them.

If you just push on the opponent then they will escape, but if you pull them for a moment at that time then their legs will come towards you. We halt their step there so that they will not come toward us. There we apply force in the opposite direction. For that reason, through the application of leverage we can move the opponent with a small movement.

Seigo Okamoto demonstrates Aiki-age and Aiki-sage

3 – Daito-ryu is “Iai”?

Q: During that time you are applying a normal physical force?

Okamoto: That’s so, of course. However, if we consider each other’s power as 100, then we’re only using about a power of 20. In most Budo, one powers up to a power of 120 or 130 in response to a power of 100. That is not the case here. There are times when we may momentarily go to a 120 or 130, but that feeling is not transmitted to the opponent. 

Additionally, the three elements that I discussed earlier quickly and momentarily ramp up the voltage. If one does it slowly then the opponent will escape. 

For that reason, if the person coming to attack wanders in slowly then technique is more difficult to apply. For people who float in to grab I tell them to come get me as if I am going to harm their parents! Then, when they come to grab vigorously, I apply it in that moment.

For example, when Sokaku Takeda showed technique it seems that he purposely enraged the opponent. Since if people had heard of Sokaku’s strength they would likely be timid and wouldn’t really come to attack. If that happened it would be difficult to apply technique to them, so I have heard that he would say something strange to them then. When he did that the opponent would become agitated and attack with vigor, so that things would be really effective. That is because the stronger the opponent and the harder they come the more one can use their strength and the easier it is to apply technique. 

For that reason, our motto is “Don’t repel those who come, don’t follow those who retreat”. When the opponent comes to attack then you do it. Technique can’t be applied to someone trying to run away, and it’s not necessary to apply technique in that situation. Especially because in our case our practice is completely for self-defense. One only uses it for the first time when living a normal life and some trouble occurs. It is with this intent that we are practicing.

Q: So there is no first attack from this side?

Okamoto: Almost none. We don’t take stances because someone is going to come and attack. If one takes a stance from the beginning then the opponent will be cautious and will not come to attack. So in our case we all take a natural stance and apply technique at the moment that the opponent comes. We don’t stretch out our hands and go to meet the opponent. In kenjutsu, such as Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, there is something called mugamae (“no stance” / 無構え), that just puts one in a neutral position. That is the feeling. Entering from there is a secret teaching (“gokui” / 極意).

It is the same as Iai. In Iai when the opponent cuts one draws their sword instantly and cuts. If that isn’t so then it isn’t Iai. It is for that reason that there are things held in common with the principles of Iai. Also in Iai one is not touching the sword, but at the instant that the opponent thinks that they can cut one draws so that there is no way to move the body out of the way.

Q: However, if one just thinks about it simply it seems that the one who draws first will be the fastest?

Okamoto: That is really a matter of distancing (“maai” / 間合い). If one is daydreaming then of course they will be struck first. One applies technique just before they are struck. That is why it is extremely fast. I said this during training as well, if your opponent comes to attack at a speed of 50 km then in the space of that short distance we must oppose them with a speed of 80 km. If we both move at 50 km then since the other person also has inertia we will be pushed back. 

Solo Training (defending hand / attacking hand)
This is a training method in which defense and attack can be practiced simultaneously. One hand forms a fist lightly. The other hand moves to grab the wrist of the closed hand, but at the moment that it is touched the closed fist stretches open quickly and fills the grabbing hand. Further, the index finger of the grabbing hand remains straight and one grabs with the other four fingers. This is done quickly enough to make a sound when the hands touch each other (see figures 1-5).

Q: What do you mean by momentarily moving with a speed of 80 km?

Okamoto: That’s training, training. Conditioning for explosive power. If that is not so then one will be defeated. Sokaku Takeda was said to be a master with the short sword, and that was because of his speed. He’d strike quickly at the forearm, and though your eyes only saw a single strike, when one examined the forearm there would be two black marks there. 

But even in that kind of contest although Sokaku Takeda would not wear armor, he would have his opponent put on protection. The one not wearing armor would have that much more freedom of movement, and the psychological state when facing a person not wearing armor is different. If you struck them perhaps you could give them a head injury, it tends to cause a kind of hesitation.

Q: Even so, developing a speed of 80 km to resist an opponent moving at 50 km must be really difficult, isn’t it?

Okamoto: And so, I always say this. Everyone should train on their own and practice grabbing their wrists (in solo training). The accumulation of that training is important, but also important is the timing of entering at the moment one is touched by the opponent.

Continued in Part 2…

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, Hawaii

The post The Essence of Aiki: an Interview with Seigo Okamoto Soshi – Part 1 appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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Happy New Year of the Boar 2019 from the Aikido Sangenkai Tue, 01 Jan 2019 16:15:29 +0000 — Hau’oli Makahiki Hou — Happy New Year — 明けましておめでとうございます…and much Aloha! Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. We enjoyed training with all of you in 2018, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year! In 2018 our Sangenkai intensive workshop attracted attendees from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden, the mainland USA, Sweden and our … Continue reading Happy New Year of the Boar 2019 from the Aikido Sangenkai »

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Marishiten riding a boar
Katsushika Hokusai
the goddess Marishiten riding a boar

— Hau’oli Makahiki Hou
 — Happy New Year
 — 明けましておめでとうございます
…and much Aloha!

Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. We enjoyed training with all of you in 2018, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year!

February 2018 Sangenkai Intensive Workshop in Hawaii

In 2018 our Sangenkai intensive workshop attracted attendees from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden, the mainland USA, Sweden and our local and neighbor island Sangenkai members as well as a large group of New Zealand and Australia Sangenkai members, continuing our tradition as the only Aikido group in Hawaii to hold workshops that command a regular international attendance.

At the top of this page is the goddess Marishiten (摩利支天) pictured as a wrathful demon riding a boar (for 2019 🙂 ) . Marishiten is an esoteric Buddhist deity closely associated with the warrior tradition in Japan. Esoteric Buddhist practices were very popular in many Japanese warrior traditions – and for Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba as well.

Tokimune Takeda's private notes
A section of Tokimune Takeda’s private notes
on his father Sokaku’s teachings on the Kuji-kiri and
esoteric Buddhist disciplines

“If you don’t research the Kuji Kiri you won’t understand Aikido.”
– Aikido Shihan Sadateru Arikawa

Esoteric Buddhist references abound in Tokimune Takeda’s notes of his father Sokaku’s instruction – and no less in Morihei Ueshiba’s lectures, but before we go too far, I should mention that this is not about religion, strictly speaking, but about martial training – about a system of visualization and imagery that goes back through China to India and has deep roots in Asian martial systems because…it works, and works rather well. It works so well that modern athletes and Olympic champions now use imagery and visualization in their day-to-day training.

Hiroshi Tada demonstrates the Kuij mudra Rin

“When one looks at O-Sensei’s Doka and other writings they might think that they are related to Shinto, but they actually contain the teachings of Shingon esoteric Buddhism.”
Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada

Morihei Ueshiba using the Kuji mudra

Another esoteric Buddhist deity that figures prominently in the warrior tradition is Fudo Myo-o, the “Immovable Wisdom” that represents an important principle of training in the Asian martial traditions, but is often badly misunderstood. Attached below is an essay by Dan Harden on the subject of Fudo Myo-o (originally posted on e-Budo, but edited for clarity as a stand-alone essay) – I hope that it will prove thought provoking and useful to your training in 2019. Happy New Year!

The Narita-san Fudo, associated with
Morihei Ueshiba’s teacher Sokaku Takeda
by Utagawa Kunisada

Fudo myo-o (Acala vidya) is a training paradigm that has lasted for millennia to create truly powerful skills. That it is being reduced to the lowest common denominator by modern martial artists, sport science, military personnel and cops is really no surprise. While we all agree on the mental aspect of training – more so in force-on-force or life threatening situations circumventing or at least dealing with an adrenaline dump aspect of training, to remain both calm and focused – the concept is far deeper than any of that.

It was the connection of the mind to control the body that led to a higher level learning that has existed for millennia. Trying to equate and more so -reduce it to just being a lower level training of mental focus in combatives is just simply wrong.

Okay, then…. mental focus under duress. Got it. Got anything else? Anything at all?
Most people simply haven’t a clue about anything else. No harm, no foul, But it is what it is. Some have some initial understanding of this type of training, but little actual skill in using it. Which bears out in their inability to demonstrate an enhanced mind/ body cultivation either in their arts or bodies. It’s either very, very hard or rather easy, to defend in person. It is interesting that the training models to produce immovability are still extant though not widely known, none of which I have seen incorporate the unshakable combative mindset idea. different, rather they focus on the mind/body. One example is the hara or dantian: As one internal Chinese martial arts powerhouse who taught in Japan said. “Aiki? Where is yin? Where is Yang? How can there BE…aiki? You cannot pretend daintian, you will be found out!”

While I have seen better movement from a few Japanese teachers, as of yet I have never met a single person in Aikido, Daito ryu or Koryu who HAS a center, much less sophisticated use of one. Thus discussion of moving “from one” becomes a total waste of time. It would take years from initial meetings to have them start to actually create and move FROM one, forget a meaningful dialogue.

What remains is that there still exists people who know it and train this material. They are just exceedingly difficult to find and come in various knowledge and skill levels.

What are they training?

The immovable body as a concept.

All of the trade names and acumen for this work have existed for generations and have managed to survive direct translations from culture to culture, with the same terminology and practices used from Tibet to India to China and Japan as well as to specific family Indonesian arts. One would first have to know the terminology, and the practices to understand why the common phrasing is a base line. Once that is done, we can see the uses of common terminology and models from Tibet to internal Chinese martial arts, to Japan; the founder of Shinto ryu and other Koryu to Daito ryu on to Ueshiba’s aikido. Himself using trademark terminology of six directions, the working of attraction point between yin and yang, Aiki being the working of the two ki’s as heaven/earth/man. Ages old material. From B.C.E. to 2019.

Immovability… as a name?

Here we have just another example with Acala Vidya to Fudo Myo-o.

Acala vidya or Fudo Myo-o makes perfect sense – as it is written. “Esoteric training to achieve immovability.”

It makes no sense what-so-ever to call a person, deity or statue….an “esoteric practice!”

Why bring in vidya, as in prana vidya (esoteric training to work ki or chi), or Myo or Mikkyo?


Why mention a training when you were talking about a deity or person?

Because you were not! You were talking about a training concept and methodology.

The mention of a training, an esoteric one at that, is not an imagined state. Which in itself is nice little escape. What a convenient way to equalize all efforts.

”This is my fudo shin.”

“MY…imagined state.”

“You can’t challenge my imagined state….”

Yet we can challenge an understanding of the real concepts. And why can we? For the simple reason that the thrust of this in the ancient world had teeth. It had a profound physical training model behind it that produced physical, real world results for what feels like immovability and power. Not just being strong willed against adversity.

Another example for imagined versus real results are in simple but well known models;

I do this with yogi’s in mountain pose. They can get knocked over with a finger rather easily. Then, I show them an example of “the esoteric training to achieve immovability” behind it and surprise of surprises in about 5 minutes flat…they feel? Well…sort of like a mountain.

I wonder why they called it…. mountain pose?

I leave them to choose. You can teach:

Lift your heart chakra to the sun yoginis


Use it to be stable and feel strong….like a mountain.

It is the same with downward dog and other postures.

I dunno…maybe words have meaning. Maybe some ancient practices actually are defensible and others are just what they are…simply imagined states.

Why Acala vidya? Why esoteric training that produces immovability? Uhm…because it did, and does and was tracked and trained and discussed and actually useful for real people not living in an imagined state. As stated, it simply makes a direct causal link that it was the training to achieve something profound in many warrior cultures that also had health benefits as well as power that gave name to the concept.

Why was it not the norm?

The oft told tale of training in the mountains, training in temples, warrior monks being unusually powerful, has existed for thousands of years. Mind/ body training has been consistently trained solo, many times in isolation and tested and practiced in small groups.

  • First and foremost it was for a mental control of the body to do unusual things that were powerful and out of the norm. That training created different outcomes in combatives that in and of themselves, were forces not normal for an opponent to face, or normal to react to.
  • As well, the adepts at it generated unusual effects to forces on them. So… OODA loops for the opponent? They went out the window.

This was but a couple of examples of many reasons why the training has lasted for millennia. For those who can actually do it instead of just talk, it truly made a palpable difference on contact. The mind body training has created giants in budo and we in turn, look at the giants and follow them, instead of the training. Hence….the majority continue to suck and the giants remain, well, the giants.

In the dawning of our present age which I call “the age of distraction” higher level, mind/body physical training has proven to just be too much for the instant gratification crowd. Why spend countless hours perfecting a tank like body that is all but impossible to throw and with the ability to hit like truck? Go do techniques. Most modern budo people have dismissed or rewritten history to discount this profound training and reflect their stupefyingly ignorant penchant for banging into each other with fists, legs, bodies, and more so sticks, swords and any things else they can get their hands on.

It hasn’t gone away. It is just starting to come out to the public. Those so inclined are discovering the arts did have secrets all along. It wasn’t B.S. and they do have worth. It is why they have lasted for eons. Hard physical work is required.

NOT flinching from a battlefield environment or being focused in a fight…was not it. Not that there is anything wrong with that. As I asked before:

Okay. On that we agree.
Got anything else?
Anything at all that it could mean?
They did!

– Dan Harden, March 2015

Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii

New Year’s Day at the Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii

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Ai no Bujutsu – Aiki and the Bujutsu of Love Sat, 19 May 2018 15:26:00 +0000 Muko (Takeo) Nishikido Muko (Takeo) Nishikido (錦戸無光/武夫) was born in 1940 on Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands near Saipan. After school in Kumamoto he moved to Osaka, where he began to train in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1959 and later established a dojo in Tokyo. In 1973 he met Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa in Kitami City in Hokkaido through the introduction of a … Continue reading Ai no Bujutsu – Aiki and the Bujutsu of Love »

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Muko (Takeo) NishikidoMuko (Takeo) Nishikido

Muko (Takeo) Nishikido (錦戸無光/武夫) was born in 1940 on Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands near Saipan. After school in Kumamoto he moved to Osaka, where he began to train in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1959 and later established a dojo in Tokyo. In 1973 he met Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa in Kitami City in Hokkaido through the introduction of a friend. Upon feeling his Aiki for the first time he decided to discard his previous study of jujutsu and focus on Horikawa Sensei’s approach to Aiki.

Mr. and Mrs. HorikawaMuko Nishida with Mr. and Mrs. Horikawa in Hokkaido, 1973

After commuting to Kitami for two years, he decided to relocate with his family to Hokkaido in order to further his training and received severe individual instruction in addition to the regular training at Horikawa Sensei’s dojo.

He later established his own organization to spread the teachings of Kodo Horikawa called Hikarido (The Way of Light / 光道).

The following article contains excerpts from “The Height of Aiki” (合気の極み), written by Nishikido Sensei and published in Japanese in 2017 by BAB Japan publishing company (BABジャパン出版局), which also publishes the popular martial arts magazine Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”).

Some of his emphasis on Ki, love and harmony in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu may appear to be at odds with common perceptions of Daito-ryu, but it may be helpful to consider his statements in the context of similar statements from other prominent figures in the Daito-ryu world.

  • Tokimune Takeda, the son of Morihei Ueshiba’s teacher Sokaku Takeda and the Soke of Daito-ryu Aiki Budo:

“The essential principles of Daito-ryu are Love and Harmony”

“The goal of spreading Daito-ryu is ‘Harmony and Love’, keeping this spirit is what preserves and realizes social justice. This was Sokaku Sensei’s dying wish”

“There is no first attack in Aiki-jujutsu. Endure as much as you should endure. Even when it becomes necessary, neutralize the opponent without causing injury through Aiki.”

  • Yukiyoshi Sagawa, one of Sokaku Takeda’s senior students and one-time successor as Soke of the art:

“Aiki Budo is the Way of Human Development”

“Aiki is the fitting together of Ki.
Through this harmonious reconciliation all things under heaven and earth in the universe move peacefully without disturbance. This harmonization is Aiki.”

  • Masao Hayashima (早島正雄), who trained with both Sokaku Takeda and Sokaku Takeda’s student Toshimi Matsuda (from the first page of his book – “Taoist Aiki-jutsu – the volume of Internal Power”):

“Aiki-jutsu is said to be the Budo of Harmony.”

  • Katsuyuki Kondo, Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu Aiki-budo from Tokimune Takeda and successor to the mainline of Daito-ryu, in an interview with Aikido Journal‘s Stanley Pranin:

What are the main differences between Daito-ryu and aikido?

I don’t think there is any difference. In Daito-ryu, too, practice begins and ends with courtesy (rei). And its final goal is the spirit of love and harmony.

Muko Nishikido and Kodo HorikawaDaito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa
applying Aiki to Muko Nishikido

Ai no Bujutsu – Aiki and the Bujutsu of Love

– Muko (Takeo) Nishikido (translation by Christopher Li)

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu is the bujutsu of “harmony” (和), as was stated by Kodo Horikawa, who established the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai, in Showa year 25 (1950) in Kitami City, Hokkaido – “Neither cut nor be cut. Neither strike nor be struck. Neither kick nor be kicked.”. It is a bujutsu that handles the opponent without causing them harm.

In the case of the Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Hikari-do, the level of harmony is gradually enhanced as training progresses from the basic techniques in Shoden to Chuden and Okuden.

Harmony, that is, love.

Why is that? Because it prevents contention. When one uses “Aiki” even the very impulse to counter-attack ceases to arise.

Without harmony one cannot be led to love. The greater the harmony the deeper that love becomes. In Hikari-do we grasp this in our training through the techniques.

At first there is no real feeling when the techniques in Aiki-jujutsu are applied to you. That is because one cannot understand how or what is being done to you.

When Aiki was first applied to me I thought “What is this?”. The will to fight disappears. The desire to attack the opponent disappears.

Aiki completely strips away the feeling of the opponent to fight and their strength. That can be stripped away not only for just a single person, but even when there two, three, four, five or six people.

Thousand Armed KannonSeated Thousand-armed Kannon Bosatsu
Fujiidera temple, Osaka – 8th century

One works to create a body that that can manage situations like that in an instant. One works to create a body like the Thousand Armed Kannon (千手観音), so to speak.

When one says “thousand”, in the past this meant a number without limit. This means that no matter where one is grabbed on their body they become able to use Aiki.

Five person attack

In a manner of speaking, it means that more harmony can be achieved by two people rather than one, three people rather than two, four people, five people, six people. It is the world of harmony. For that reason, contention disappears.

I think that this is real love. One person, two people, three people, four people, five people, six people – love becomes deeper and deeper.

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu is the bujutsu of love.

And then, as one draws closer to real training in the inner workings of Aiki, even the smallest portion of the ego becomes unable to enter. One enters into a selfless world without ego.

This is what I have grasped to this point.

Ego to egolessness chart

When expressing Aiki as a chart we get something like the diagram above.

On the right side is the world of power, the world physical strength. In terms of the spirit, it is the world of the ego. On the left side is the world of Ki, the world of Aiki. In terms of the spirit, it is the world of egolessness.

In the center is the zero point, in other words nothingness (“Mu” / 無). One who has become enlightened to nothingness comes to this point. “Ah, it’s nothingness” is one kind of enlightenment.

However, even if one becomes enlightened to a state of nothingness, one cannot do anything. Even a master potter will say “Nothing can be done from nothingness”. This is still the zero point. Just coming here one can still go to the right side of the world of strength, the world of the ego, or one can also go to the left side of the world of Ki, the world of Aiki.

The right side of the world of strength, the world of the ego, is comfortable. Strength and ego can be used immediately.

Conversely, the worlds of Ki and Aiki are severe. One cannot grasp the real thing if they compromise. If one thinks to grasp he real thing they must pass through this world of severity.

Even when one attains enlightenment through Zen training, they come to this point of nothingness, the zero point. But if you’re satisfied there then you’ll reach a dead end. There is a much deeper world. Wherever you go, however far you go, there is a world without limits.

The more that one uses Aiki the more that their Ki increases, their harmony increases, their spirit enters into the world without limits.

When those people who have inhabited the world of physical strength, the world of power, the world of the ego until this time train in Aiki-jujutsu they will draw closer to the zero point. That is, nothingness. The world of enlightenment. Return to the origin. From there begins the determination of whether one will either return to the world of physical strength, power, the world of the ego again, or depart for the world of Ki, the world of Aiki.

In Hikari-do there are many types of training done in order to return to the point of nothingness. That can be called the enlightenment of the physical body – once the body has gone that far then next one is able to enter the world of Ki, the world of Aiki.

Kodo Horikawa - Police DemonstrationDemonstration at Police Headquarters in November 1973
Seigo Okamoto – Kodo Horikawa – Muko Nishikido

Building the Ki Body

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu first builds the “Ki Body” through training in the kihon (“basics”) and then enters into training in Aiki. When building the Ki Body physical strength (power) is not used. When the use of physical strength has ceased completely, there for the first time is the Ki Body.

There was a time during my third year of receiving instruction from Kodo Horikawa Sensei in Kitami, Hokkaido that I realized that my entire body was the Ki Body. “Ah, my entire body is the Ki Body”, I realized. When I truly stopped needing physical strength, that was my first glimpse of Ki.

In other words, I had made my way to the point of nothingness. However, I did not yet understand Aiki. If I had not been able to grasp Aiki it may be that I would have returned to the world of physical strength.

When one trains in Aiki they experience a liberation (moksha) from the physical body. In moksha there is a liberation of the physical body and a liberation of the spirit, Aiki is a liberation of the physical body. One understands – “Ah, this is the Ki Body!”. The body of physical strength becomes the Ki Body.

When compared with Horikawa Sensei’s sixty years of Aiki, my Aiki is still half of that at thirty years. Even if you just look at the shape of his body, Horikawa Sensei is twice as sharp as I am. I am still inexperienced.

That Horikawa Sensei – even past eighty years old he would say “Well, Sokaku Takeda Sensei was much greater. I’m just not there yet…”.

There are those kinds of steps in this world. It is the world of shugyo (“intense training”), so it can’t be helped. One has to build their body. Just one year, or two years of shugyo can’t hope to build the body and leap past sixty years of training.

Hoping to get even a little bit closer to Horikawa Sensei, I thought of my own method of training. I took a heavy wooden sword and swung it five or six thousand times every morning and night. I did that for five or six hours to seven or eight hours every day, and continued for about half a year.

Then, one day when I swung it ten-thousand times, the heavy wooden sword flew up away from me. I thought “Ah, it flew away!”.

So then I started swinging an iron bar several times heavier than the wooden sword. Likewise, I would swing it for a few hours in the morning and the evening about 2,500 times each, 5,000 times a day. And finally the iron bar became weightless and flew up out of my hands.

Normally I wouldn’t be able to swing it with my strength. Even with Ki I couldn’t swing it. I have swung an iron bar with Ki, but I couldn’t swing it more than a hundred times. My hands couldn’t hold it. Instead, I was better able to hold it when swinging with physical strength.

Then I thought “OK, I’ll swing it with Aiki!”. and I swung it with Aiki – two hundred, three hundred, five hundred, six hundred, one thousand, two thousand times I swung. That was the first time that I thought “Ahh, in the end one really has to train…”. If I hadn’t swung using Aiki I would probably have gone back to my original body of physical strength.

Kodo HorikawaDaito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Kodokai Founder Kodo Horikawa

Basic Techniques and the Ki Body

Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu does not require even the smallest bit of strength.

That said, it’s not “relaxation” (脱力). I am not saying that relaxation is bad, but when one relaxes the become unable to forge themselves.

In Hikari-do we train from the first steps of basic techniques to training to build a truly physically resilient physique. What I am teaching is training methods for the building of the Ki Body.

I grasped this training method after meeting Horikawa Sensei. If I teach it to someone for one year their body will suddenly change. It will naturally become a physically resilient Ki Body. We have that methodology. In other bujutsu they train by learning techniques, not Ki. For that reason, they are unable to develop the Ki Body.

In order to build the physical body, one would normally lift barbells, or other things, but if you can grasp Aiki then things like that can be done simply. Muscular strength is unnecessary. Conversely, if one uses even a little bit of physical strength then they will be unable to use Aiki.

One must get a firm grasp on the basic techniques. This is important.

If one cannot grasp the basic techniques properly then they will not achieve the Ki Body. They will become unable to attain the real thing. They will develop into a body that is simply composed of techniques.

As long as one grasps the basic techniques they will quickly progress to the next level.

One dayI asked Horikawa Sensei, “Sensei, how many years will it take to get to Aiki?”. When I did that he said, “If you grasp the basics firmly, then two or three years will be enough”.

That’s because if one grasps the basics then they will naturally form the Ki Body. There are not that many people who think to purposely grasp the basics. Those who grasp the basics firmly progress quickly.

But everybody, especially those who have come to learn bujutsu,  inevitably tries to throw the opponent or apply a technique and their feelings get drawn in that direction. When that happens those that could see become blind.

Among my students were some who said, “Nishikido can’t use Ki”. But there were also those that, when they finally came to training in the Hiden Ogi techniques, said “Ahh, so there is Ki, there is Aiki!”. Also, there were those who, even when shown “This is Ki. This is Aiki.”, would think “That’s just another technique”.

Training in Ki cannot progress well without a clear spirit of nothingness and concentration. That progress can be made is because that person’s spirit is in a state of clarity.

The state of nothingness is not “indifference” (無関心), it is to be able to see clearly that which is not visible. The “Ki” which was invisible to that point becomes visible. One comes to see it with their spirit. They come to see it clearly.

When one become capable of that one becomes capable of seeing Ki all of the time. To grasp this one time is simple, if one cannot grasp it then of course it is difficult. Those with idle thoughts have a difficult time grasping this.

Even if I teach “If you do this than you will see!”, there are those who are impatient and think “It’s not this, it’s not that”.

The basic techniques are the same, if you do that then you  will not be able to see it. It’s quick if you focus on what I am teaching, but people can’t seem to focus.

The Resilient Aiki Body

It is written “Aiki”, but it is read “Ki wo gassuru”. That is what Kodo Horikawa Sensei said. (*See the more detailed explanation towards the end of this article).

In order to use Aiki, the body must become the Ki Body. The entire body becomes the Ki Body, and is used through the unification of Ki.

To become the Ki Body means not to use physical strength. When one does correct basic training in Aiki they will naturally become the Ki Body.

If one does not use physical strength then their strength will degenerate. When physical strength degenerates the muscles also become weaker. It’s difficult to maintain physical strength. In order to triple one’s physical strength they must really participate in a large amount of physical training. But in order to develop the Ki Body it’s acceptable to throw away that physical strength. Normally, in order to achieve the Ki Body, a normal person would take twenty to thirty years at the earliest. When one uses this with unified Ki, the Ki fills the body. As one further unifies and uses this Ki they become more and more filled with Ki. That is even further unified and utilized.

This is Aiki training. This is Aiki conditioning. For that reason, there is no end to Aiki conditioning. And thus, it builds a resilient Ki Body.

When one becomes able to use Aiki the Ki Body becomes even further developed. Even when training in the basic techniques of Aiki the Ki Body becomes further developed.

There is no other bujutsu like this. From basic techniques to a training method that build the Aiki Ki Body.

Sokaku Takeda and Kodo HorikawaThe Aiki bodies of Sokaku Takeda and Kodo Horikawa

Once one becomes capable of using Aiki, then one becomes able to build the Aiki Body with Aiki. Not the Ki Body, creating the Aiki Body.

Horikawa Sensei’s techniques were incredible, but his body was also incredible. His body was filled full with Ki. Not a soft, fluffy Ki. He was filled full with a sharp, intense Ki.

Since Sensei was a school teacher, he had never done any kind of physical labor. I always wondered “How did he develop such an incredible body?”. He didn’t have the shape of a Ki Body, his body was in the form of an Aiki Body.

Sokaku Takeda and Takuma Hisa

Sokaku Takeda and Takuma Hisa
Receiving Menkyo Kaiden in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, 1939

Sokaku Takeda’s body was also firm and sharp. There are pictures of them together, but when compared to Sokaku Takeda’s body Takuma Hisa still looks something like a child.

I think that Takeda Sensei must have handled Takuma Hisa Sensei like a child. Horikawa Sensei’s body was incredible, but Takeda Sensei’s was far and above even that.

Development of the Tendons and Ligaments

All schools of bujutsu build a resilient body through severe training. It is through that that one can become capable of using techniques such that are called “divine techniques”.

Aiki as well was born at the end of the struggles of our ancestors devoting their entire body and souls to their training.

There are several hundred schools of bujutsu in Japan, but the name “Aiki-jujutsu” exists only in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu.

No matter how weak one’s body is, if they truly understand Aiki and train correctly then they will develop a resilient Aiki Body.

In Daito-ryu one first develops the Ki Body through training in basic techniques, and then begins to use Aiki. When using Ki the tendons and ligaments of the body don’t work very much. However, when one begins to use Aiki after developing the Ki Body the tendons and ligaments begin to work.

There was a time when Horikawa Sensei was admitted to the hospital after he cut his Achilles tendon two-thirds of the way through. At that time one of the doctors in the hospital said in wonder “This person’s Achilles tendon is three times as thick as a normal person’s!”.

Horikawa Sensei’s toes and fingers were also incredible.

Even normally when nothing was happening they were all stretched out wide. Just the same as I when I am stretch my finger and toes out wide to their tips.

The tendons in Horikawa Sensei’s Achilles tendon and his toes and fingers were the result of sixty years of Aiki conditioning. In other words, the tendons and ligaments throughout Horikawa Sensei’s entire body were strongly developed.

When the tendons and ligaments throughout one’s entire body are worked through Aiki training (conditioning) the tendons and ligaments start to develop and one can build the resilient Aiki Body.

Muscles, when one takes even a short break from muscular training, soon become weak. When one becomes of an advanced age their deterioration becomes visible. However, once tendons and ligaments are developed they do not deteriorate. Even when one reaches an advanced age that resilient body is preserved, and one can remain with a youthful appearance indefinitely.

Horikawa Sensei told me “Even if you’re sick in bed for a week or ten days, it’s no hindrance to using Aiki”. Even if you’re sick in bed for a week or ten days, the conditioned body does not deteriorate.

Gassuru Aiki

This happened one day in the third year of receiving instruction from Horikawa Sensei, the first year of receiving individual instruction in Kitami.

I asked Horikawa Sensei loudly “Sensei, Is Aiki kokyu-ho (a breathing method)?”. Horikawa Sensei was very hard of hearing.

Sensei said “What? Kokyu-ho? Hahaha…” – he just laughed and that was the end of it.

Then, after a few days had passed I was having tea at Sensei’s house after morning practice and an Aikido demonstration was being broadcast.

After the demonstration was over Sensei said this – “They call it Aikido, but they aren’t using the slightest bit of Aiki!”. As one would expect, at that time I asked “Sensei, what is Aiki?”.

When I did that Sensei stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and said “Aiki is…”. I held my breath and watched Sensei’s face. And then this is what he said next.

Sensei told me “Aiki is written Aiki, but the meaning is Ki wo gassuru, it is read Ki wo gassuru.”.

“Sensei! Aiki is Ki wo gassuru?”, I said without thinking. Sensei said, nodding, “Yes, that’s right.”. I said “Thank you!” from the bottom of my heart.

Until that time I had read a number of books about Aikido, but most of them wrote about Aiki as something like “Ki wo awaseru”.

Translator’s Note: Horikawa Sensei appears to be distinguishing between “awaseru” (合わせる) and “gassuru” (合する). “Awaseru” is commonly used in modern Aikido in the meaning of “matching” or “harmonizing” with the opponent. “Gassuru” in this context is used in the sense of “unification” within the body, without relation to the opponent.

Morihei Ueshiba also used this reading of the kanji for “Ai”, both in his 1933 technical manual Aikijujutsu Densho and his 1954 technical manual Aikido Maki-no-Ichi, but slightly more explicitly, as when he used the term “Inyo-gacchi” (陰陽合致) – “the unification of Yin and Yang”.

He later (1963, from a speech at a demonstration at the Hibiya Kokkaido) stressed that this process occurs within one’s own body when he stated that “In Aikido Izanagi no Mikoto Izanami no Mikoto enter and move through this old man’s body”   (「合気道は、イザナギの尊 イザナミの尊が爺の体内に入り行っているのだ」) – Izanagi and Izanami standing in for Yin and Yang.

He also presented this in his use of the phrase “Ten-chi-jin Aiki”, the classical Chinese model that “unifies the forces” (“Aiki”) of “heaven and earth” (“Yin and Yang”) in man (‘jin”).

“Aikido is the way and the principle of harmonizing Heaven, Earth and Man
(Morihei Ueshiba – from “Takemusu Aiki”, edited by Hideo Takahashi).

This also lends some elucidation to one of the core principles of Daito-ryu – Aiki-inyo-ho, the “Aiki Yin-Yang Method”, or in this light, a “method for unifying the forces of Yin and Yang”, the classical Chinese union of opposites also cited by Morihei Ueshiba above.

One last point – Nishikido Sensei titled his book 合気の極み, “The Height of Aiki”. But the character used for “height”, 極み, is also the character used for “polarity” in Taiji – 太極 – “supreme polarity”, the union of the opposing forces of Yin and Yang. In the classical Chinese model, Wuji – “nothingness” (無極) becomes Taiji (太極), the manifestation of Yin and Yang. This process was also described by Morihei Ueshiba in terms of the Kototama.

For that reason, when I heard Horikawa Sensei’s explanation I thought “As i suspected, it’s different.”. When I understood that it was “Ki wo gassuru” it became clear to me.

At that time I had already understood the basics of Aiki. I had already realized the concept of the Ki Body. For that reason, I was able to understand “Ah, so that’s what it is!”.

If I hadn’t heard those words from Horikawa Sensei, It may be that I would not have been able to grasp Aiki. I was extremely thankful for that single sentence. Even now I can’t forget the joy that I felt at that time. “Sensei, arigatou gozaimasu!” – I thanked Sensei from the bottom of my heart.

And so, that was how I was able to grasp the principle of Aiki.

There was also another event. One day I was watching Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s demonstration at Horikawa Sensei’s home. I watched, thinking “Ah, incredible!”.

I was able to see clearly how Ueshiba Sensei was moving. “Ah, I can see how Ueshiba Sensei is moving!”, I felt.

Previously, I had not felt that way. I just thought “Ueshiba is incredible. Aikido is incredible.”.

But I was able to see it. I saw clearly what Ueshiba Sensei was doing and how he was doing it.

It must be that when one arrives at that level, things that they hadn’t been able to see before become visible, don’t they?

Kodo Horikawa - Aiki-ageHokkaido, 1974 – Aiki-age with Kodo Horikawa

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, Hawaii

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Aikido, qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … [Spanish Version] Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:32:31 +0000 “Takemusu Aiki” de Morihei Ueshiba, editado por Hideo Takahashi This is the Spanish translation of the article “Aikido and the Unknown“, provided courtesy of Juantxo Ruiz . Qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … Cuando Sam Chin visitó Hawaii el año pasado, nos dijo (estoy parafraseando) que no es tan malo no saberlo, siempre y cuando usted sepa que no lo sabe. Eso me llamó … Continue reading Aikido, qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … [Spanish Version] »

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“Takemusu Aiki” de Morihei Ueshiba, editado por Hideo Takahashi

This is the Spanish translation of the article “Aikido and the Unknown“, provided courtesy of Juantxo Ruiz .

Qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos …

Cuando Sam Chin visitó Hawaii el año pasado, nos dijo (estoy parafraseando) que no es tan malo no saberlo, siempre y cuando usted sepa que no lo sabe. Eso me llamó la atención: ¿no es esta la primera parte del problema?

Cuando comencé en Aikido, había muy poca información disponible en inglés. Lo que estaba disponible era, lo sabemos ahora, altamente desinfectado (nota de Juantxo: vamos, que esa información no era completa y llegaba solo cierta parte): he aquí un buen ejemplo en el sitio web de Aikido Journal, y en el de Meik Skoss en su sitio web Había muy pocos no japoneses que podían hablar japonés en ese momento, y mucho menos leer las fuentes originales, y la mayoría de los japoneses en el ojo público presentaban una representación más o menos uniforme de la historia y los detalles del Aikido.

Ahora, por supuesto, hay cientos de libros en inglés sobre el tema del Aikido, entonces, ¿cuál es el problema

Pues bien, el material en inglés, especialmente el de fuentes originales, es más un resumen que un análisis detallado del material: todavía no se ha realizado una verdadera traducción académica.

De hecho, los materiales originales producidos por el fundador del Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, son tan difíciles de leer que incluso la mayoría de los japoneses declinan leerlo en su propia lengua materna. Si lo leen, sin un fondo particular y experiencia, simplemente no hay decodificación. Peor aún, cuando lo leemos en inglés, no solo es a través de la lente del traductor y su comprensión, sino que está completamente fuera del contexto del mundo en el que vivió el Fundador, que es altamente especializado y complejo, y fuera de la contexto de ciertos otros campos especializados que son realmente esenciales para descubrir qué está pasando.

Dan Harden Sangenkai WorkshopDan Harden en el Taller Sangenkai 2015 en Hawaii

Lo sé, lo intenté, y no tuvo ningún sentido hasta años después a través de la lente de un mayor conocimiento en ciertas áreas, y por eso estaré eternamente agradecido a la generosidad de Dan Harden, que ha sido tan amable de compartir su entrenamiento con nosotros.

Eso no es para denigrar lo que se ha hecho hasta ahora en términos de traducciones al inglés, todo tiene que comenzar en alguna parte. John Stevens me dijo que consideraba que su traducción de “Takemusu Aiki”, que sigue siendo la colección más completa del fundador en sus propias palabras, es una especie de “Takemusu Aiki – Lite”, por lo que sería al menos semi -comprensible para una audiencia general.

Aún así, nos quedamos con una situación en la que la mayoría de los instructores y estudiantes de Aikido, ya sean hablantes nativos de japonés o no, no tienen idea de lo que el Fundador de su arte dijo o escribió de manera detallada.

Aha! Usted dice que su maestro es un alumno directo del Fundador, un uchi-deshi, y aprendió a los pies del maestro. Desafortunadamente, la mayoría de los uchi-deshi eran niños pequeños sin los antecedentes para comprender el contenido de las conferencias, o la paciencia para soportar el dolor de sentarse y escuchar al Fundador en las frías mañanas invernales, lo decían ellos mismos. Aquí hay algunos ejemplos: estos son de entrevistas en japonés que aún no se publicaron en inglés, pero Stan Pranin tiene varias citas similares en entrevistas en el sitio web de Aikido Journal:

Nishio and Ueshiba

Shoji Nishio

P: ¿Por qué se ha perdido la sustancia (de la técnica de Aikido)?

A: Nadie escuchó lo que O-Sensei estaba diciendo. Simplemente intentaron recordar la forma externa de la técnica. Aunque O-Sensei dijo “¿De qué sirve copiar mi técnica? Si haces una técnica una vez, ya está terminada “. Debido a que hablaba como un Kami-sama (Dios), pensaron que nada de lo que él decía podía ser entendido, y ni siquiera intentaron prestar atención cuando escuchaban. Mucho más tarde, cuando olvidaron todo, a veces recordarían “Ah, eso es lo que eso significaba”. Es por eso que la práctica de la mayoría de las personas hoy está vacía. No miran otros tipos de Budo. Desde el principio, el valor de un Budo se determina mediante comparaciones con otros Budo.

Yoshio Kuroiwa, koshi-nage

Yoshio Kuroiwa

P: He oído que las conferencias fueron bastante largas.

A: las odiaba (risas). Hablaba sobre los Kojikki y otras cosas, pero mis piernas se quedaban dormidas y no podía entender nada, solo me hacía llorar. Pensar en esto ahora realmente trae cosas de vuelta.

Yasuo Kobayashi

Yasuo Kobayashi

P: ¿Es cierto que no hubo discusión técnica?

R: En términos de cómo aplicar técnicas específicas, algunas personas dicen que O-Sensei dijo esto o aquello, pero en lo que a mí respecta, nunca escuché ninguna explicación.

Nobuyoshi Tamura

O-Sensei venía al dojo, mostraba algunas técnicas y luego se iba. Si tenia ganas, hablab un rato. Todos éramos jóvenes, por lo que en su mayoría solo queríamos seguir con la práctica. (sobre el contenido de las conferencias) Hablaba sobre los dioses: Izanagi, Izanami, etc. En Sakurazawa-shiki (Macrobiótica) tienen algunas ideas parecidas, así que pensé que estaba hablando de algo relacionado con In y Yo (yin y yang en japonés), pero eso es todo lo que yo entendía.

Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei

Nobuyuki Watanabe

P: El Fundador solía hablar mucho sobre el Kojikki (“Un registro de asuntos antiguos”), ¿no?

A: Sí. Una vez, el Fundador trajo un diagrama del cuerpo humano y dio una explicación mientras sostenía una copia del Kojikki en una mano. Mientras señalaba los músculos y los huesos en el diagrama, dio una explicación muy detallada, diciendo cosas como “Esto es Naohi (espíritu correcto)”, y así sucesivamente. Sin embargo, en ese momento solo me preguntaba qué significaba todo eso. Fue solo una vez, así que no puedo recordar los detalles muy bien.

Yoshimitsu Yamada in his twenties

Yoshimitsu Yamada

P: ¿No hubo ninguna explicación de las técnicas?

A: No, no. Solo discursos difíciles sobre el Kojikki, y luego él te proyectaba y decía “¡Así!”. Sin embargo, a menudo dijo que el Aikido cambia todos los días.

Así que aquí está la primera parte del problema: la mayoría de las personas ni siquiera saben que no saben. Lo que eso significa es que la mayoría de la gente está haciendo alegremente lo que está haciendo sin tener idea de que hay, o debería haber, algo más; el entrenamiento en el que Morihei Ueshiba desarrollaba todos los días desde el día en que conoció a Sokaku Takeda en la posada Hisada en 1915 hasta que falleció en Tokio en 1969.

Ahora bien, ¿por qué no lo sabemos?

Creo que es posible defender firmemente que gran parte de los registros históricos fueron deliberadamente alterados u ocultados. El trabajo de Stan Pranin muestra mucho de eso.

También es posible prestar atención a un detalle que los estudiantes del Fundador omiten mucho: que lo que obtuvieron lo consiguieron al sentir, al ser proyectados directamente por el Fundador. Una corroboración de esto es que aquellos estudiantes que obtuvieron un poco o mucho de algo del Fundador tuvieron problemas para transmitir esas cosas a sus alumnos. Es fácil ver cómo esto lleva a un colapso en la transmisión, una degradación constante de habilidades donde los estudiantes del Fundador nunca igualan el nivel del Fundador, los estudiantes de los estudiantes nunca alcanzan el nivel de sus maestros y etc.

Peor que cualquiera de esas cosas es que muchos de nosotros nos hemos sentido cómodos sin saber realmente ni entender de lo que el Fundador estaba hablando. Pídale a la mayoría de los instructores de Aikido una explicación clara de los términos y objetivos expresados en “Takemusu Aiki” y obtendrá … muy poco. Es increíble, para mí, que un instructor en un arte se sienta cómodo al no entender claramente el discurso del Fundador de su arte.

Por último, por ahora, “¿por qué no nos importa?” – esta es otra cosa que me resulta increíble, pero supongo que es típica de las personas en general y no es un problema específico del Aikido. En general, las personas están contentas de hacer lo que hacen y lo que han estado haciendo, y cuanto más tiempo llevan haciéndolo, menos cuestionan.

Me sorprende cómo pocas personas, por ejemplo, cuestionan el sistema de clasificación “tradicional” en Aikido, aunque la “tradición” solo comenzó en la década de 1940 y realmente comenzó a ajustarse al intento del gobierno japonés de regular las artes marciales bajo el Dai-Nippon Butokukai.

Debería ser responsabilidad de todos y cada uno de nosotros en Aikido ser activos en el descubrimiento de lo que no sabemos, y cómo podemos aprender esas cosas, y preocuparnos por el proceso.

Además, creo que nos corresponde a cada uno de nosotros tener una comprensión clara de lo que el Fundador pensó sobre su arte, cuáles fueron sus objetivos técnicos, filosóficos y espirituales y poder expresar esas cosas de una manera clara y convincente.

De lo contrario, ¿cómo puedes decir que estás entrenando el arte de Morihei Ueshiba?

Morihei Ueshiba meditates on top of Haleakala, Maui, 1961Morihei Ueshiba medita sobre Haleakala, Maui, 1961

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

The post Aikido, qué no sabemos y por qué no lo sabemos … [Spanish Version] appeared first on Aikido Sangenkai Blog.

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A Letter from Kenji Tomiki to Isamu Takeshita Mon, 19 Mar 2018 02:40:31 +0000 Morihei Ueshiba and Isamu Takeshita on the train Isamu Takeshita (竹下勇) was an Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Imperial Navy and a diplomat who helped negotiate the end of the Japanese war with Russia. A patron of the Japanese martial arts, he introduced President Teddy Roosevelt to his Judo instructor Yoshiaki Yamashita. A student and patron of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, he was instrumental in … Continue reading A Letter from Kenji Tomiki to Isamu Takeshita »

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Morihei Ueshiba and Isamu Takeshita on the trainMorihei Ueshiba and Isamu Takeshita on the train

Isamu Takeshita (竹下勇) was an Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Imperial Navy and a diplomat who helped negotiate the end of the Japanese war with Russia.

A patron of the Japanese martial arts, he introduced President Teddy Roosevelt to his Judo instructor Yoshiaki Yamashita. A student and patron of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, he was instrumental in convincing Ueshiba to move to Tokyo and also introduced him to the inner circles of Japan’s military elite.

Admiral Takeshita also gave what was most likely the earliest demonstrations of Sokaku Takeda and Morihei Ueshiba’s art in North America.

Admiral Isamu Takeshita in Hollywood with child actress Jane Withers, 1935Admiral Isamu Takeshita in Hollywood with child actress Jane Withers, 1935

During the summer of 1935, Admiral Takeshita made his fifth visit to North America. Stops included New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Seattle. His purpose was to tell US audiences that the international press misinterpreted Japan’s role in China. The Japanese objective, he said, was not to spread the Japan’s Co-Prosperity Sphere but to stop international Communism. “No Japanese warship has ever crossed the Pacific except on a mission of peace,” he said during a radio broadcast in San Francisco. “No Japanese soldier has ever come to these shores except on a similar mission.”

While in the United States, Takeshita demonstrated aikibudo to judoka and reporters. “I spend at least two or three hours a day with my pupils,” he said. “Ju-jitsu or kendo is an art as far as a foreigner is concerned, but it is also in character-building… Character is the most important thing from beginning to end.”

According to Takeshita, there were 3,500 holds in his style. Rather than using force to overcome an opponent, the idea was to throw him almost without touching him. The way this was done was by using the opponent’s own energy against him. While Takeshita believed that aikibudo was a dangerous art for a young man, he thought it an excellent method for older men and women. He concluded by saying that it provided excellent training for politicians, as without it he would have become exhausted from all the handshaking Americans expected!

In Washington DC in September 1935, US newspapermen asked Takeshita about his “jiu-jitsu”. “Flexing the muscles of his arms and grinning,” said the New York World Sun Dispatch afterward:

The admiral offered to illustrate what he called a more effective manner of combat known in Japan as aikibudo.

One man, allowing curiosity to overcome caution, volunteered. Like a flash the admiral had the newspaper reporter on the floor, too surprised to do more than gasp.

‘I was very gentle with you,’ Admiral Takeshita said. ‘You see, I could very easily have killed you instantly.’

On his way back to Japan in October 1935, Takeshita also demonstrated aikibudo to Japanese American newspapermen in Seattle. His partner in the demonstration was Yasuyuki Kumagai, 5-dan, the head instructor of the Seattle judo club known as the Seattle Dojo. “The admiral smiled and told Kumagai to get set,” the Great Northern Daily News reported afterwards.

Both men took the judo pose, and with a sudden movement that was faster than most of the witnesses could catch, Takeshita thrust out an open hand, fingers rigid and pointing to Kumagai’s mid-section.

That was all, but Kumagai, who knows a little of vulnerable spots on the human body, was startled as well as convinced.

‘One inch more and I would have been unconscious or be writhing on the ground in pain,’ said the husky judoist. And most of the bystanders believed him.

Aikido Comes to America: September 1935
Journal of Combative Sport November 1999
By Joseph R. Svinth

Ueshiba Morihei and Kenji TomikiThe young Kenji Tomiki with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba

Kenji Tomiki (富木謙治) began training under Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1926 after being encouraged to meet Morihei Ueshiba by Hidetaro Kubota (who later changed his name to Nishimura), a fellow Judo student at Waseda University.

The first known book published by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba (“Moritaka Ueshiba” at the time of publishing) was the 1933 training manual published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“. This manual was initially given to his students as a kind of a teaching license (the full manual is available for free download from “Aikijujutsu Densho – AKA Budo Renshu, by Moritaka Ueshiba“). It is filled with illustrations depicting techniques taught at the Kobukan Dojo which were drawn by Takako Kunigoshi, a student at the Kobukan who began training shortly before her graduation from Japan Women’s Fine Arts University. The text portions of this work were largely compiled and edited by Kenji Tomiki.

In 1938 he became Morihei Ueshiba’s representative at Kenkoku University in Japanese occupied Manchuria (replacing Rinjiro Shirata, who had originally been chosen, but was conscripted into the military in 1937), and would become Aikido’s first 8th Dan in 1940.

You may also be interested in these two previous articles about Kenji Tomiki:

In the current article, created with original materials in Japanese provided through the assistance of Josh Gold and Aikido Journal, is a letter from Kenji Tomiki to Admiral Isamu Takeshita from 1928 (there is a simpler version of this article, without some of the annotations, is also available on Aikido Journal). At this point in time Tomiki had only trained for a short time with Morihei Ueshiba before entering military service, and the letter is written close to the end of that service. He details some of his thoughts and impressions of Morihei Ueshiba’s jujutsu, and the thoughts that it raised concerning Kodokan Judo.

This letter is actually mentioned by Isamu Takeshita in his diary:

September 21, 1928

Received a letter about the Aiki-Jujutsu of Mr. Tomiki, in Hirosaki [Aomori]. Comparing this with Kodokan-Judo interested me. [Note: Tomiki enlisted in the army in Hirosaki since the beginning of January, 1928]

– from “Summary of Isamu Takeshita’s Diary”
translation by Fumiaki Shishida


Kenji Tomiki and Hideo OhbaKenji Tomiki defending against a front kick from Hideo Ohba in 1961

A letter from Kenji Tomiki to Isamu Takeshita

September 19th, Showa year 3 (1928)
To Mr. Isamu Takeshita, 3-5 Kuruma-cho, Shiba-ku, Tokyo-to

Sent by Kenji Tomiki, 31-5 Kachi, Hirosaki
Accounting Department Management Cadet

Heishin (“peaceful/ordinary news”, an honorific greeting)

Dear sir,

Since then I have not been able to send greetings for some time. I know that you and your wife have passed that time without difficulties, and I myself am still serving robustly in my employment by the army. The unusual heat wave that has been continuing in this area through the summer has gradually given way to autumn breezes and we can feel the chill in the mornings and evenings.

We will be dispatched to this year’s special war games that were moved up for the state ceremony to be held in the beginning of next month nearby Morioka, and fortunately we have been granted the honor of participating. I am attached to the headquarters for the 31st Regiment, 6th Battalion, and will be departing twenty-one days from tomorrow. We will start with combined arms training near Aomori and brigade and regiment level opposition, then directly after that proceed with provisional division opponents and finish with the Shinkyo large scale maneuvers (Note: possibly in preparation for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria).

Morioka Special War GamesPhotograph commemorating the completion of the
Showa year 3 (1928) Morioka Special War Games

Only a month after the war games are completed I will be separating from life in the military. After my military discharge, It seems that I will be returning to Tokyo to become a burden upon everybody once more.

The other day I received a letter from Ueshiba Sensei. He has returned to Ayabe for a short time and will be returning to Tokyo in September. I was certainly happy to know that all of you are researching as usual, and that the number of enthusiastic practitioners grows with each passing day.

Looking back to last spring when I first received instruction from Ueshiba Sensei, and the short period until my enlistment a few months after that, those were truly days that held great significance to me.

In addition to an extraordinary revolution in my outlook on Judo, which I had researched for more than ten years since my elementary school days, the instruction and insight that I received into many of the questions and dissatisfactions with Judo that I had felt until that time clarified my thoughts on the current situation of Kodokan Judo.

Of course the number of days that I have been able to learn jujutsu from my instructor were limited, and even now I am still far from being able to plumb the depths of the deeper techniques. However, and this is based on the research of a short time, here are some of the things that I have been taught up until this time, or that have been wandering through my thoughts, with the knowledge that I have much more to be taught in the future.

Firstly, I have thought a great deal up to this point concerning what is called the Judo philosophy. I was unable to understand Judo’s place in the midst of the greater meaning of budo, but now I have come to believe that this is clearly so, that is, it is not that I was completely denying Kano Sensei’s philosophy of Judo, but that there are some questions concerning the presuppositions.

Is the single path of Judo included in the greater meaning of budo? If that is so, then then there is no particular need for argumentation for the viewpoint of Judo. Perhaps it is not that traditional Kendo, Judo and other bujutsu formed as individual entities with individual viewpoints.

This is what I was taught. What is called budo is a single integrated path, and this path is now expressed in an unbroken form as Kenjutsu, Sojutsu…the Bugei Juhappan (Note: the 18 traditional types of martial arts used by samurai in Tokugawa Japan, based upon earlier Chinese traditions)In past times all bujutsu was, in the end, the manifestation of a unique path of war. Therefore, both Kenjutsu and Jujutsu return in the end to a single path, and it is not necessary to divide Kendo from Judo in order to explain them. Actions of advance and retreat, body posture, breathing – they all must match with each other. However, the Judo and Kendo of the present day are virtually all in the process of becoming increasingly different from each other. Judo is not the same as something in which one holds a weapon, but both of those arts must adhere to the same basic principles. I gave myself up to the clarity of this truth through Sensei’s jujutsu.

In the ideal budo, as one progresses along the path their technical side progresses in parallel. This varies from what occurs in sports. In comparison to sports, in which records are maintained for the few years of one’s youth in the sport, in budo there comes a gradual increase in skill that accompanies mental conditioning continuing to old age. If we are looking towards this as an ideal, then there are a plethora of questions that arise concerning current Kodokan Judo. If we instead consider the case of Kendo, there are many practitioners who have the spirit to keep striving vibrantly past their 60’s, a better match with the ideals of budo.

These weaknesses have all been resolved by Sensei’s jujutsu.

It can be thought that Kodokan-ryu only hopes for growth within an extremely limited area. Therefore, with the drawbacks caused by the introduction of things such as modern boxing and Tode-jutsu (Karate) it can be felt that it has reached a practical dead-end in modern times.

If that is so, then from where do those weaknesses emerge? In the end, I think that it returns to the fact that the current Kodokan-ryu has grown based upon games for physical education rather then self-defense techniques. In that lies a great deal of the fault.

This can be understood through research into the origins of jujutsu and the sources behind the establishment of Kano Sensei’s Kodokan Judo. In the past the general jujutsu which has divided into many different schools was all for the purpose of shinken-shobu (Note: 真剣勝負 – a match with a live blade. In other words, a fight that determines life and death). Then, from those ryu-ha various schools that focused on throwing techniques such as Kito-ryu (起倒流) and Yoshin-ryu (楊心流), or those which specialized in striking (atemi) and holds such as Tenjin Shinyo-ryu (天神真楊流) and Yoshin-ryu (楊心流) differentiated themselves. However, the long and short of it is that defense against attacks was the primary focus, so that joint techniques were the most common. Consequently, Kano Sensei removed the joint techniques from those schools, avoided striking (atemi), chose the least dangerous strategies and established a Kodokan Judo that was appropriate for modern times. Then a variety of competitive methods were established from the most interesting principles and finally we have what is thriving today. On the other hand, it ended up as being completely a sport. Ueshiba Sensei would often say “Are things like Kodokan Judo useful? That’s not real bujutsu.”, and actually the reality is just that. Looked at from the viewpoint of self defense it’s completely powerless. And then, looked at from the viewpoint of true bujutsu it’s at the point of heresy. However, if one looks at it from the point of view of a sport then I think that it functions very well. I believe that here are the current reasons for modern Judo.

So in the end the problem must become “Which reason for Judo’s existance is most common in modern times, as self-defense or as a sport?”. Putting this problem aside for the moment, I would like to talk just a little about clarifying another side of the problem, the start and end of the controversy that engendered the Kodokan method of competition.

Sankaku-jime applied at the 1920 Kosen Taikai.Kosen Judo – at the heart of the controversy over groundwork in Judo
Sankaku-jime applied at the 1920 Kosen Taikai

In former years there were rival Judo matches between Senior Dai-ichi High School and Senior Dai-ni High School. As a result, although Dai-ichi High School had a leading third dan and a number of black belts, Dai-ni High School, who never had more than one or two black belts, would place higher in the competitions. What it came back to is that Dai-ni High School trained thoroughly in ground techniques, so Dai-ichi High School had no space in which to attack them. Kano Sensei was extremely critical of this:

“The foundation of Judo is shinken shobu. In times past ground techniques were used after the first opponent was fully overwhelmed in order to completely control a second opponent. In comparison to those times Dai-ni High School responds to an attack with ground techniques from the very beginning. This is not a proper thing to do for shinken shobu, extremely cowardly..”

A great controversy grew surrounding this.

We didn’t like ground techniques and we felt that the behavior of Dai-ni High School was underhanded. However, in terms of theory we knew that they were absolutely correct. That is, modern Kodokan Judo is sports. Therefore, as long as something does not violate the rules of the decided upon method of competition the goal is to win. Things such as shinken shobu were outside of the equation in this case. Accordingly, I believe that the use of Dai-ichi High School’s weakness in ground techniques to get the win is only reasonable. This problem of ground techniques versus standing techniques is a continuing problem, even today.

However, just delaying to a draw by responding unconsciously with ground techniques lacks an aggressive mindset – there is a great deal there that contradicts the warrior’s “battle to the death without surrender” attitude. And further, the fact is that one can practice throwing techniques for three or four years without developing real skill. In comparison, combining ground techniques with physical strength one can achieve significant results in only six months or a year, so they are very effective when going into competitive matches. What is prized in paired sports is victory in competitive matches rather than shinken shobu, so if the same mental and physical conditioning, sacrifice and effort is necessary to achieve that then I believe that it is best for us to take the route towards ground techniques rather than throwing techniques.

In the midst of those valued words from Kano Sensei that I mentioned before, modern Judo is gradually developing as a sport. Furthermore, I know that there is a dilemma in its gradual separation from shinken shobu (life or death attitude/intent.)

Translator’s Note: Jigoro Kano himself apparently had misgivings about Judo as a sport, expressed here to Gunji Koizumi in 1936:

I have been asked by people of various sections as to the wisdom and possibility of Judo being introduced with other games and sports at the Olympic Games. My view on the matter, at present, is rather passive. If it be the desire of other member countries I have no objection. But I do not feel inclined to take any initiative. For one thing, Judo, in reality, is not a mere sport or game. I regard it as a principle of life, art and science. In fact it is a means for personal cultural attainment. Only one of the forms of Judo training, so-called Randori or free practice, can be classed as a form of sport. Certainly, to some extent, the same may be said of boxing and fencing, but today they are practised and conducted as sports. Then, the Olympic Games are so strongly flavoured with Nationalism that it is possible to be influenced by it and to develop ‘Contest Judo,’ a retrograde form as Ju Jutsu was before Kodokwan Judo was founded.

Fulfilling His Duty as a Member: Jigoro Kano and the Japanese Bid for the 1940 Olympics
By Joseph R. Svinth

The benefits that come from Kodokan Judo are usually explained by the following four points:

  1. Methods of physical education. (“taiiku-ho” / 体育法)
  2. Methods of cultivating the spirit. (“shushin-ho” / 修心法)
  3. Methods of consoling the spirit. (“ishin-ho” / 慰心法)
  4. Methods of self defense. (“goshin-ho” / 護身法)

Shusaku Kiryu, University of TsukubaShusaku Kiryu, University of Tsukuba Judo Team

The purpose of this study is to clarify the background and intent of Kano Jigoro when he introduced the concept of ishinho (method to console the spirit) as one of the objectives of judo. Kano initially described the purposes of judo as taiiku (physical education), shobu (martial arts), and shushin (to master one’s spirit). Later, Kano add ishinho as an additional objective, but the reason he did so is unknown. Upon examining Kano’s writings and the aspects of judo popularized during this period, I was able to clarify the following:

  1. After 1883, judo penetrated schools as an extracurricular activity. Later, many judo clubs were established and they began holding inter-school matches.
  2. Kano showed that people who trained in the discipline of judo reaped the benefits of judo- taiiku, shobu, and shushin.
  3. In 1911 , judo became a standard subject in Japanese high schools. Later, Kano announced the inclusion of ishinho as an objective of judo, and added additional, factors (including the pleasure of exercise; the enjoyment of watching randori, competitions, and kata; and kata as an art form) to judo.
  4. Kano generated a new concept of ishinho against the background of his knowledge of dissatisfaction with normal gymnastics, the various benefits of judo, and the merit of athletic sports. With increasing inter-school matches, ishinho disappeared from Kano’s works, and students became involved in many scandals. Instead of ihsinho, Kano appealed to all people to improve this situation, whether they practiced judo or not.

The Introduction of the Concept of “Ishinho” to Judo
and the Thoughts of Kano Jigoro
– Shusaku Kiryu, University of Tsukuba

When I attempt to compare Ueshiba Sensei’s jujutsu to these points the following thoughts arise:

  1. There is certainly a danger of harm when elementary and junior high school students train normally for competition. If the instructor exercises appropriate caution then it can be suitable even for those who might be considered unsuitable for Kodokan-ryu such as the elderly and women. Therefore, I believe that on that point, or as concerns Judo as exercise, that it is by no means inferior.
  2. As a budo with a goal towards cultivating the spirit its goals are the some, so in the end it returns to a problem of the instructor, but I believe it to be far superior in terms of its great emphasis on spirituality.
  3. As for “Methods of Consoling the Spirit”, it is said that Kodokan-ryu appeals to feelings for the fine arts, but conversely, these things can also be seen in this jujutsu. As an example of a refined and elegant kata in Kodokan-ryu there is “Itsutsu no Kata” (五つの型), which expresses the feelings of the rushing of the waves, but in this jujutsu this is expressed, not in kata, but in the course of normal practice. Further, it is the same for “Ju no Kata” (柔の型), there are many points in this jujutsu that are extremely similar. However, in “Ju no Kata” the Kokyu is completely missing, making it end up spineless. It is the same for the movement postures – it is thought that when those are mastered by the women in Kodokan-ryu that they are able to able to attain a beautiful posture. However, the kamae of the legs and hips in this jujutsu and the movement of the body matches precisely to Noh dance, so I think that on this point it is actually ideal.
  4. Needless to say, as method of self-defense there is a remarkable difference. Firstly, as a conditioning method (鍛練法), and I was taught an enormous amount about this point. As a conditioning method there are two different methods. That is, one method favors randori over kata, and one method favors kata over randori. In addition to Kodokan Judo, modern Kendo also makes use of the former method, and this point can be thought to reveal a weakness of current-day bujutsu. In the end, this can be thought to be a consequence of the development of bujutsu that focuses on competition.

The harm of a focus on randori is that one tends towards the few techniques that one is skilled at and strays from the path, degenerating into simple physical strength. Although that is fine in terms of physical education, in order to grasp the true spirit of bujutsu I believe that clearly maturing the meaning of that bujutsu through kata before entering into randori is the way to eliminate mistakes. In this jujutsu the focus is on kata, but what seems to be a rather roundabout way to understand the meaning of that bujutsu is conversely a shortcut, and can be thought to eliminate mistakes. However, what I think is even more superior here is that although it is called kata it is not the same as the fixed fifteen throwing kata or the joint locking kata limited to so many techniques of Kodokan-ryu. They are flexible and freely adaptable to whatever situation arises – they are kata that are themselves randori.

When actually observing Kodokan-ryu and others and researching into their historical origins I was able to clearly ascertain the points of superiority of this jujutsu. Thus, the desire to understand the value of this jujutsu from the wider perspective of Nihon Bujutsu has been continuously on my mind.

As I said before, I have trained in Judo for many years, but in the end I never took it a single step past the point of view as a sport, and accordingly I researched it as a superior method of physical exercise, but when I emerged from my academic studies limits on my time, stamina, and location made me think that Judo was something that I would have to distance myself from. However, through an unexpected chance I was able to observe Sensei’s technique, and found a place for the Judo that I had thought to abandon and came to believe that here was something that I could continue to practice and improve forever as another form of exercise and a training interest. I enlisted just as I graduated last spring and leaving my classroom and my home behind then had the time to devote myself to Sensei’s instruction.

I would like to return to Tokyo after my military discharge and find some employment there, but I am also hoping to be able to spend a long time on research into everybody’s instruction in jujutsu, if it pleases you.

Chinkon KishinChinkon Kishin Training at the Omoto compound in Ayabe, 1921

Finally, there is the issue of Sensei’s faith, I felt some uncertainty just as I visited Sensei in Ayabe last summer. My uncle and Mr. Kubota are examples, but there was not much support for my trip to Ayabe. However, I believe that Omoto-kyo and bujutsu are completely separate. While I was staying in Ayabe I always heard talk of faith from Sensei and other people, and perhaps due to my sceptical nature and the many subjects that I could not fully comprehend I was unable to understand this Omoto-kyo that is filled with miracles that surpass modern science. However, I have great admiration for Sensei’s faith and Sensei’s humble attitude towards the Gods. and I have thus deeply considered many points concerning Sensei’s techniques and his faith. It is not necessarily limited to Omoto-kyo, but it may be that it is with faith that bujutsu first reaches that level, that I may be been taught at a visceral level that bujutsu shugyo is something that in the end returns to faith.

Day by day the weather is becoming colder, I am praying for all of your health. Finally, thank you for taking the time to consider my ramblings.

September 19th


Kenji Tomiki to the honorable Mr. Isamu Takeshita

Postscript: Please give my best regards to Mr. Shimoji and Mr. Yamamoto.

  1. This letter was transcribed by Professor of Intellectual History of the Japanese Martial Arts at Waseda University and Aikido Shihan of the Japan Aikido Association Fumiaki Shishida, from a copy received from Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu Hombu-cho Katsuyuki Kondo. Kenji Tomiki’s handwriting was deciphered with the assistance of Mr. Seiichi Saito, who studied under Kenji Tomiki during his time at Kenkoku University in Manchuria, but there were a few places that were unclear and I hope for clarification at a later date. There may have been mistakes and imperfections in the copy, but it goes without saying that the wording of the text is the responsibility of the editor. With deep gratitude towards Kondo Sensei and Saito Sensei, Shishida Fumiaki – January 18th 1991.
  2. The original materials in Japanese were provided with the assistance of Josh Gold and Aikido Journal.

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, Hawaii

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Happy New Year of the Dog 2018 from the Aikido Sangenkai Mon, 01 Jan 2018 17:22:26 +0000 Happy New Year of the Dog 2018 from the Aikido Sangenkai! Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. 2017 was a great year of training, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year! The past year has seen the number of articles on the Aikido Sangenkai blog pass the 150 mark, with more articles translated … Continue reading Happy New Year of the Dog 2018 from the Aikido Sangenkai »

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Happy New Year of the Dog 2018Happy New Year of the Dog 2018
from the Aikido Sangenkai!

Thank you all for your help and support over the last year. 2017 was a great year of training, and we’re looking forward to even more great training with you all in the coming year!

The past year has seen the number of articles on the Aikido Sangenkai blog pass the 150 mark, with more articles translated into more than fifteen languages. For the coming year, our Sangenkai workshop for February 2018 has registered attendees from Japan, Korea, the mainland USA, Sweden and our local and neighbor island Sangenkai members as well as a large group of New Zealand and Australia Sangenkai members coming for a special intensive workshop in addition to the regular workshop, making the Aikido Sangenkai the only Aikido group in Hawaii to hold regular workshops with an international attendance.


In three thousand worlds
The plum blossoms
Open all at once –
The stone door will
Open a second time.

Doka by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba
Journey to the Heart of Aikido:
The Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei

by Linda Holiday and Motomichi Anno

As you can see on our New Year’s card above, Morihei Ueshiba often described Aikido as the “second opening of the stone door”. But what about the first opening, and why was it related to Aikido? For the answers to that one – check out this post about last year’s New Year’s card.

On this year’s nengajo we have the first sun of the year (初日の出) rising over Mt. Fuji. The tradition of viewing the first rising sun of the year is also linked to the story of the stone door and the reappearance of Ama-terasu Omikami in the world.

Which leads us to our thought for the coming year – a frequently cited quote from the Founder (actually a paraphrase of a Chinese proverb which has its roots in India – which demonstrates the pervasive nature of the idea across nations and cultures), from Aikido Tankyu #29:


There are many paths to the peak of Mt. Fuji, but they all end at a single destination. That is, the path to love. Everyone has different methods of training, but they all arrive at the same destination. The martial arts of Japan are in no way the paths towards war, struggle or conflict. They are the paths which all people can take with joy as brothers and sisters.

 — Hau’oli Makahiki Hou
 — Happy New Year
 — 明けましておめでとうございます
…and much Aloha!

Izumo Taishakyo Mission of HawaiiNew Year’s Day at the Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii

Articles from the past year:

The Phantom Manual: Yamato Ryu Goshinjutsu
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei
Aikido und die schwebende Himmelsbrücke [German Version]
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 3
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 2
Budoka no Kotae – Talking to Morihiro Saito Sensei, Part 1
El grado importa – Cinturones Negros en Aikido [Spanish Version]
Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu [Spanish Version]
El Legado de Ueshiba – Parte 1, por Mark Murray [Spanish Version]
Cuatro Generaciones de la Familia Ueshiba [Spanish Version]
Ueshiba-ha Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu
Kiichi Hogen und das Geheimnis des Aikido [German Version]
The Ueshiba Legacy – Part 2, by Mark Murray
Aikido Shihan Sadao Takaoka – Meeting O-Sensei
Aikido Shihan Seiseki Abe – Meeting Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei
Interview with Aikido Shihan Yasuo Kobayashi – Part 2

Published by: Christopher Li – Honolulu, HI

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