Principles and Perspectives

Principles: Personal
1. Being calm, presence of being.
2. Relaxing, being supple.
3. Centring, lower abdomen.
4. Grounding, sinking.
5. Being whole and total, unified.

Principles: Inter-relational
1. Ki and Kokyu, energy and extension with intention. Being soft and strong.
2. Balance, coordination.
3. Awase, blending, communication.
4. Timing, synchronisation. 
5. Distance (ma-ai).
6. Awareness, receptivity and sensitivity. 

Perspectives: from Narrow to Wide.
Personal: Kihon, Suburi, Kata, self development. (“I” and "it"). 
The Other: Awase, responding, blending, participation. (“You”). 
The Whole: Ki-no-Nagare, flowing in unity with all things around. (“We”). 

Perspectives: View and Vision.
View: Present, being here and now. Clarity, non-judgement and objective. Still and calm.
Vision: Direction, intention and purpose. Volition and choice. Seeing the bigger picture. In motion.

Dynamics and Elemental Fields
Heaven: Spaciousness, openess and freedom.
Air: Wind, movement and lightness.
Fire: Heat, passion and emotion.
Water: Flowing, pliable and soft.
Earth: Grounded, firm and steady.
Iron: Strong, direct and clear.

Uke and Nage Relationship

Uke (Defender, Receiver): Receiving (ukemi) and blending (awase) in Aikido are the most important aspects. To be able to accept into the body, to receive without resistance an incoming force. To blend with the conditions at hand. To soak up, to absorb and to neutralise and incorporate outside changes. Releasing tension, letting go of weight. Awase is derived from the root Ai in Aikido, meaning blending or merging. Ukemi meaning to receive with the body.
Nage (Attacker, Thrower): Atemi (strike) and kiai (shout) are used to deliver power with coordinated and synchronised precision. Using your breath and voice to fully utilise your inherent strength maximises the delivery of one-pointed intent and attack. Kiai and aiki use the same kanji (transposed) and can be thought of as the inner and the outer aspect of the same principle. Kiai relates to the manifestation, emission or projection of ones own energy (internal strength), while Aiki relates to the merging of one's energy with the energy emitted from an external source (blending). Thus kiai is union with our own, internal energy while aiki is union with an attacker's energy.

Yamabiko 山彦 The Echo of the Mountain

In Iwama we learned of the notion of Yamabiko, the mountain echo, that refers to the natural response in the blending in Aikido. In the dojo we train this interaction. We "call out" and receive an answer. We initiate and blend with the response. Instead of waiting, for example, for a shomen (frontal attack, like in the old days or like in Daito Ryu) O Sensei changed it to become pro-active. So he would initiate the shomen movement to bring out the response from the opponent. In this way we are able to stay with the opponent from early on, taking the initiative away from the attacker. This understanding is crucial in practicing awase, or blending in Aikido. It is a natural response just as when you reach out to shake someone's hand, they respond in kind almost automatically. It is an inherent, pre-conscious reflex of the body. Someone smiles at you and you smile back, someone puts a fist in your face and you pull back or raise your hands. There's a wonderful secret in this that is deeply human and spiritual. It's all about a relationship and being alive to the world around us. Once we are keenly aware we'll be able to read the situation and respond or initiate appropriately. Once we're fully awake this will come naturally to us. A perfect response in any situation. The event lending itself to a match that completes and fulfills. Yamabiko reflects the harmony of the world in detail. It is ultimately a deeply spiritual perspective and a perfect way to engage with others.

Aiki no kurai (aiki consciousness)

This quality is an alive field that supports the body and the movement. Common is for the 'I' to be so engrossed in the movement or trying to do it through the body that the quality is not touched. Smoothness, efffortlessness, loving, nurturing are some sample qualities. Apparently one of O Sensei's major qualities was purity. As the 'I' becomes easier, the quality is allowed to show more and more. Truly there is a turnaround where the quality leads both body and movement. The quality as an alive field helps complete both the body and the movement. Uke and nage go into a state of unity and experience a field of harmony. (O Sensei did not use leverage a la judo. Nor did he uproot as in Chinese internal arts, nor did he lead his mind. This was something totally different from better technique, more speed, greater strength).

© Aikido Alive London 2017