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The meaning itself word to numerous, "aikido" breath or is life though written energy; similar, with and three translations. do, characters: ai, for harmony; ki, for the way. Thus, aikido lends The most common are "the way of spiritual harmony," "the way of universal harmony" or "the way of harmonizing one's spirit with the spirit of the Universe." Just as numerous are the ways the art is perceived and understood, both by its practitioners and the uninitiated. I was once told by an instructor at a jujitsu school that aiki- do was really just "watered down daito-ryu," just as I once read a fervent pub- lished discourse by an aikido practitioner who insisted aikido was never meant to be a method of practical self-defense, but solely a spiritual pursuit.

While both opinions contain elements of truth, neither is wholly accurate and both demonstrate a basic lack of understanding of the art, most notably its history. The prevailing opinion seems to be that aikido is either a wholly spir- itual pursuit without practical self-defense value or a purely physical one, effective only if regressed to its more brutal daito-ryu roots with spirituality relegated to off-mat contemplation.

Before one can reconcile these divergent perceptions, one must first understand their origins, to wit, by examining the life of Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido, and the more contemporary history of one of its most cele- All photos courtesy brated practitioners, Koichi Tohei, founder of the International Ki Society and of R. Suenaka. Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido.


Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba was born December 14, 1883, in Tanabe City, Wakayama prefecture on the main island of Honshu, Japan. A rather sickly child given to frequent illness, O'Sensei ("Great Teacher," as he is known by aikido practitioners) was more inclined towards academic and spir- itual pursuits than physical ones, studying Shingon Buddhism beginning at age seven, then later Zen Buddhism, as well as demonstrating an aptitude for mathematics. Even at this early age, Ueshiba's spiritual bent was evident. Because of his frail nature, his father, Yoroku, a respected local businessman and political leader, encouraged his young son to engage in more physical activities, such as swimming and sumo.

When Ueshiba was twelve years old, Yoroku Ueshiba was roughed up by some local toughs employed by one of his political opponents. Intent on aveng- ing his father's beating, young Morihei vowed to develop himself to the peak of physical power and martial prowess. To this end he traveled Japan, learning as much as he could from the masters he encountered before moving on. As a result, by his early twenties Ueshiba had studied arts as varied as kenjitsu (particularly the Yagyu-ryu school of swordsmanship), jodo, aioi-ryu and hozoin-ryu spear and bayonet arts, and jujitsu.

Many features of these diverse arts would later help to shape aikido. Ueshiba also saw active combat duty as a soldier during the Russo-Japanese War. As his martial prowess increased, so did his physical strength until in his prime, five-foot one-inch Ueshiba weighed nearly two hundred pounds. Photographs of him from the 1930's and 1940's show a solid, squarely-built man with massive shoulders and wrists and forearms thick as two-by-fours.

The most significant stage in Ueshiba's martial development occurred in 1912, when t~ent~-nine-~ear+old Ueshiba led an expedition of settlers to the frigid northern island of Hokkaido. It was here that he encountered Sokaku Takeda, acknowledged master of the unforgiving art of daito-ryu jujitsu, whose fierce appearance and temperament were reflected in his martial tech- nique. Ueshiba studied exclusively with Takeda, serving as the master's per- sonal disciple and receiving his menkyo-kaiden teaching certificate some five years later. More than any other art, it is daito-ryu that would most pro- foundly affect the development of aikido.

In late 1919, upon receiving news that his father was gravely ill, Ueshiba departed Hokkaido for home. This journey marks the beginning of the most significant phase of the founder's spiritual development. Along the way, he stopped in Ayabe to meet Onisaburo Deguchi, leader of the new Omoto-Kyo Shinto sect, known for its meditation techniques designed to unify one's spir- it with the Divine. Though this visit lasted barely a month, Deguchi made a deep impression on Ueshiba and, upon his father's death the following January, Ueshiba returned to Ayabe and began a relationship with Deguchi and Omoto-Kyo that would last the rest of his life.

In order to understand the origin of aikido's spiritual aspect, it is essential to note that as Ueshiba's study of daito-ryu profoundly affected his martial technique, his study of Omoto-Kyo equally affected his spiritual development. In 1922, Ueshiba formally incorporated the two, the brutally physical and the transcendently spiritual, into a system he called aiki-bujitsu, which may be translated as "the martial system of spiritual harmony." Despite its forgiving



name, the daito-ryu influence was readily apparent in Ueshiba-ryu aiki-bujit- su, which relied heavily on the former system's excruciating joint-immobiliz- ing techniques and bone-shattering throws. Whereas the aikido of Ueshiba's later years relied much on evasive, indirect turning and blending techniques (tenkan) now widely identified with the art, this infant version of aikido relied more on forceful, direct entering techniques (irimi) (however, irimi tech- niques still constitute a substantial portion of the aikido repertoire). Yet, throughout it all, the physical and the spiritual were inextricably intertwined; rather than creating conflict, one served to illuminate and feed the other, like two flames burning atop a common candle.

Just as essential to the evolution of Ueshiba's technique was the inex- orable changes in society during his life. Born less than twenty years after the start of Japan's Meiji Restoration, Ueshiba witnessed the rapid, forced decline of the militant feudal samurai state and the political rise of the mercantile classes. Although the samurai code of bushido was still very much alive, ingrained as it was into the basal fabric of Japanese cultural consciousness, solving disputes and satisfying honor with the strike of the sword was no longer acceptable. The traditional techniques were forced to redefine them- selves, evolving with and adapting to the changing times, or perishing. Thus, kenjitsu, the martial system of swordsmanship, became kendo, the way of the sword; the hoary roots of jujitsu bore the new fruit of judo, and so on.

Likewise, as he studied under the martial masters of his day, gaining in physical ability and wisdom, Ueshiba recognized the necessity of this change. Daily practice of martial systems, even when great care was taken, often resulted in serious, sometimes crippling injury. Ueshiba saw this as self-defeat- ing. Rather than viewing the attacker (uke) and defender (nage) as separate entities, he viewed them as a whole, for without one there was no need for the other. "To injure an opponent is to injure yourself," wrote Ueshiba. "To con- trol aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace" (Ueshiba, 1992:64). This should not be seen as an argument for complete passivity nor renunciation of the necessity for physical self-defense. More directly, Ueshiba recognized the need for physical technique to evolve in a way that accommo- dated his philosophy while remaining an effective martial system.

In 1925, the third most profound experience of Ueshiba's life took place. Challenged to a wooden-sword (bokken) duel by a visiting naval officer, Ueshiba declined, instead meeting the officer's challenge by merely moving out of the way of his increasingly more frantic strikes until the officer lay exhausted on the mat, defeated by his own aggression, while Ueshiba was vic- torious, having never once landed a blow or injuring his opponent. Afterwards, Ueshiba walked out into his garden and, in his words, experi- enced a "golden light" descending on him from heaven, accompanied by com- plete clarity of thought and a unification of mind, body and spirit. It was then Ueshiba realized that "the true nature of bud0 is in the loving protection of all things," a philosophy that, to this day, lies at the heart of aikido (Stevens, 1987:32-33; Ueshiba, K., 1984:98).

To this end, in 1936, Ueshiba changed the name of his system from aiki- bujitsu to aiki-budo, "the martial way of spiritual harmonyv (Ueshiba, 1991: 14). Around 1941, spurred in part by his profound despair at the



increasing militarism of the Japanese government, Ueshiba began calling his system aikido (ibid, p. 18).

To see films for the first time of Ueshiba in action in his later years is a curious experience. Attackers come charging in, only to be dispatched with what appears to be an ineffectual wave of the hand or a light, guiding touch to the attacker's body. Many observers are skeptical, concluding that the attack- ers must be "faking it," merely pretending to be thrown and agreeably taking the fall, in deference to their teacher. Yet those fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to study under the founder will tell you that attacking Ueshiba was like being caught up in a whirlwind.

Many times they were hard-pressed to figure out how they'd been thrown. That Ueshiba was able to repel attackers without touching them, merely by leading their mind and their ki, is eloquent testimony to his extraordinary spir- itual and martial development, attained only after a lifetime totally devoted to arduous, ceaseless study.

As students studied with Ueshiba, so too did they leave and open their own aikido schools. The technique they taught was not only flavored by indi- vidual skill, but by the state of Ueshiba's martial and spiritual evolution at the time of their study with him. One who studied with Ueshiba in his pre-war days will demonstrate a much more aggressive irimi (direct entering) style of technique, more akin to daito-ryu, than one who studied with the founder in the 1960's. Similarly, what these students comprehended of the founder's technique and philosophy, regardless of when they studied with him, equally affected their teaching.

Often in his later years, Ueshiba was said to comment, "This old man is still learning." Aikido for him was never static, never meant to be a finite cat- alog of techniques of which one can take a mental snapshot at any given time, but rather a lifelong spiritual journey along the path of Aiki, of harmony with the Universal spiritual force, the energy of Creation, with progress both aided by and manifested in competence in physical technique, not separate elements, but one and the same, continually evolving and born from a cultivated, fun- damental connection with Aiki. "When the myriad variations in the universal breath can be sensed," Ueshiba wrote, "the individual techniques of the Art of Peace are born" (Ueshiba, 1992:22). He expressed this philosophy as take- musu aiki, a spiritual state in which perfect physical techniques arise sponta- neously out of this connection with the Universe. It is not an evolution of technique in the sense of modifying the mechanics of the techniques them- selves or discounting their martial value, as is often mistakenly thought, but an evolution of skill and spirituality so that Ueshiba's techniques become so ingrained in one's being that they evolve from a rote, conscious, ~h~sical maneuver to a natural, unconstrained, pure expression of spirit (Stevens, 1987: 11 1-1 12). Again, in the words of Ueshiba, "In essence, the sword is the soul of the warrior and a manifestation of the true spirit of the universe; thus, when you draw a sword you are holding your soul in your hands" (Ueshiba, 1991:31).

This was aikido as envisioned and expressed by the founder: a fundamen- tal blending of the ~ h ~ s i c a l and spiritual designed to bring mind, body and spir- it into perfect harmony so that one may live perfectly and spontaneously.



Though it is the intent of all earnest aikido practitioners to truly embody the philoso- phy of takemusu aiki, it can be a daunting pursuit, a goal perhaps none but the most gifted can attain. It is inevitable that the primary students of Ueshiba, those most responsible for spreading aikido across the world, latched onto that which they best comprehended of the founder's philosophy and concentrated their energies there, sin- cerely espousing that this or that was the essence of the art, ignoring or perhaps dis- counting what they could not grasp or bring to their technique. This should not be taken as a criticism but viewed simply as human nature, and one of the reasons there are so many different aikido styles and philosophies today, as there are varying styles within other martial systems. However, there is another reason, born as much of political as philosophical differ- ences, which can be traced to the first delib- erate effort by Ueshiba to spread aikido beyond Japan.

In February of 1961, Ueshiba was invited to Hawaii to preside over open- SUENAKA (R) AND

TOHEI ing ceremonies of the first aikido dojo established there. At a farewell party AT A PARTY HONORING held in his honor just before his departure from Japan, Ueshiba briefly UESHIBA'S HAWAIIAN

VISIT addressed the assembled well-wishers, summarizing his feelings thusly: AT


The reason I'm going to Hawaii is to build a Silver Bridge of understanding. I have been building a Golden Bridge, within Japan, but I also wanted to build bridges overseas and through aikido to cultivate mutual understanding between East and West. I want to build bridges everywhere and connect all people through harmony and love. This I believe to be the task of aikido.

- Ueshiba, K., 1984:121

Although Ueshiba's first and only visit to Hawaii did not occur until 1961, construction of his Silver Bridge, or "Shinbashi," began with Koichi Tohei's visit there in February of 1953, at the invitation of Dr. Katsuzo Nishi, owner of the Nishi Kai health club in Honolulu (Tohei, 1976:89). Born January 17, 1920, Tohei, a former judo practitioner, had just turned thirty- three years old at the time of this historic first visit. Having begun his study of what was then known as aiki-budo in 1939, by 1953 Tohei was ranked eighth degree and was chief instructor (shihan bucho) at the Aikikai Hombu, all of which made him a natural choice to introduce this relatively new mar- tial art to the Western world. Among those attending this first formal U.S. demonstration of aikido was Roy Yukio Suenaka.



Suenaka was born in Honolulu and began his martial education in 1944, at age four, under his father. He began his aikido study at age twelve upon Koichi Tohei's 1953 visit to Hawaii. As an Air Force ser- viceman in 1961, he traveled to Japan and Okinawa, studying for eight years directly under Tohei and Ueshiba at the Aikikai Hombu, where he was a live-in student (uchi deshi), then later a personal disciple to Tohei. When Tohei formally sep- arated from the Aikikai in 1974 to develop the International Ki Society, Suenaka went with him and was Southeastern U.S. Ki Society representative and a chief Ki Society lecturer before himself breaking away in 1976 to form his own orga- nization, the American Interna- tional Ki Development and Philo- sophical Society. During his life, his instructors have also included judo's Yukiso Yamamoto (who later him- self concentrated his study on aiki- do), Kazuo Ito and Kyuzo Mifune, Kodenkan jujitsu's Henry Seishiro Okazaki, kendo's Shuji Mikami, Kosho-ryu kempo master James Masayoshi Mitose, and Hakutsuru Shorin-ryu karate founder Hohan Soken. He is ranked second degree in kendo, third degree in judo and jujitsu, and sixth degree in Hakutsuru Shorin-ryu karate, his rank awarded by Hohan Soken him- self.

He received an okuden certifi- cate of advanced aikido proficiency from Koichi Tohei and a menkyo kdiden certificate of aikido mastery from Ueshiba. He is recognized as eighth degree in aikido by the International Black Belt Federation and was one of the first people to teach aikido in many parts of the world, including establishing one of



Although the well-documented split between Koichi Tohei and the Aikikai officially occurred in 1974 with Tohei's formal proclamation of Shin- Shin Toitsu Aikido, the underlying differences leading to the sundering of relations were apparent years earlier, even before Ueshiba's death in April of 1969. In the years following Tohei's initial Hawaiian visit, he grew in reputa- tion and in skill. As chief Hombu instructor, he was charged with overseeing and in many ways shaping the technique that was taught there, in addition to continuing to make occasional visits to the U.S. and other countries, while Ueshiba's son and successor, Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu, although an active teaching presence, primarily concerned himself with administrative duties. Koichi Tohei was a popular figure, a superb technician whose powerful tech- nique and undeniable command of ki were matched by his charismatic per- sonality. As such, he was an extremely effective instructor and salesperson for aikido, as history attests.

Over the course of his martial and personal development, as he distilled Ueshiba's spiritual teachings into language the lesseenlightened could compre- hend and codified the founder's techniques, Tohei began also to expand on Ueshiba's teachings. Much of this change was a direct reflection of Tohei's studies, beginning in 1946, with Shin-Shin Toitsu-Do founder Tempu Nakamura (Tohei, 1976:87; Pranin, 1991:78), who taught meditative tech- niques designed to unify mind and body and develop ki awareness (Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido, or "Aikido with Mind and Body Coordinated," is an obvious reflection of the strong influence Nakamura's teachings had on him). In many ways, Tohei's involvement with Nakamura mirrored Ueshiba's alliance with Onisaburo Deguchi, for just as Ueshiba's time with Deguchi further aroused and developed his spiritual nature, so too did Tohei's studies with Nakamura. While at first Nakamura's teachings served to augment Tohei's lessons



could not renounce his loyalty to Ueshiba's memory and teachings in defer. ence to his loyalty to Tohei. In 1976, Suenaka officially resigned from the International Ki Society and formed the American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society (AIKDPS), teaching a synthesis of what he learned under both Ueshiba and Tohei, which he dubbed Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku+Ho Aikido (Suenaka style, philosophical way). The use of the more modest hu to denote a branch of a style, rather than ryu to denote an exclu. sive style or system, was a deliberate choice. Aikido was not Suenaka's sys. tem, but Ueshiba's, yet the style was a conscious melding of Ueshiba's and Tohei's teachings, an offshoot, so to speak, of both. Similarly, using the word tetsugaku reflects Suenaka's belief in Tohei's ki training methods, excepting the body exercises, in concert with Ueshiba's philosophy of takemusu aiki, just as the name of Suenaka's organization, the AIKDPS, reflects Tohei's Ki Society influence. Ultimately, Suenaka was guided by Ueshiba's last words to him, in the months before his death: "Never stray from the Path of Aiki." Thus, in his severance from both the Aikikai and Ki Society, Suenaka brought the two back together, the martial and the spiritual, as Ueshiba intended.

So what place, then, does the ki that is at the heart of aikido really have in physical techniques? Is it, as some assert, simply universal love for all things, with no place in physical techniques, by definition, incompatible with a martial philosophy? This, by Tohei's estimation, would seem to be the view taken by the Aikikai and what led to his separation. Suenaka makes a specif- ic distinction between ki in the broader sense of Universal love and ki as it pertains to the practical execution of proper aikido technique:

Ki in terms of aikido means the latent energy within a person. For instance, if someone is excited, or if someone is afraid of something, his body auto- matically produces adrenaline to make him stronger, to make him faster. That's what ki is all about in aikido - the ability to call upon this energy, to utilize it and control it without having to be excited or scared and, in so doing, to perform a technique with the proper amount of strength necessary for that technique to work against a certain size person or in a certain situation. Of course, at the same time you have to utilize proper technique, to use the attacker's force also. I do not mean to say that ki is adrenaline, but it is like adrenaline. For aikido purposes, you can define ki as spiritual adrenaline. It is a very real energy, energy of purpose and of intent, of focus, of uniting body, mind and spirit together in one moment, to allow ki to flow through you and through your technique (personal interview).

"In our techniques we enter completely into, blend totally with, and con- trol firmly an attack," Ueshiba wrote. "Strength resides where one's ki is con- centrated and stable; confusion and maliciousness arise when ki stagnates" (Ueshiba, 1992:93). Therefore, without a conscious application of ki and ki principles, aikido becomes simply the physical manipulation of joints and limbs, a battle of strength against strength, or speed against speed, a purely physical contest, contrary to Ueshiba's philosophy. On a more practical plane, it's a good way to get hurt or to cause unnecessary injury to your attacker, the same situation that led Ueshiba to place Aiki at the heart of his martial phi-



1 losophy. Ultimately, aikido technique without ki is much less effective than

aikido with ki, as Suenaka explains:

I have met some people who have studied purely physical aikido for a number of years, who say, "Aikido does not need ki to work." These same people have no real power in their technique.

They have no knowledge of the true mechanics of aikido, the subtlety. They move physically, and that's it. They use all muscle. If they're extremely strong, they might get it to work, but not likely. Even a weaker person will be able to resist against a stronger person who does not use ki in his technique, and of course, a stronger person won't be affected at all, and no matter how strong you are, there is always someone out there who is stronger. So strength alone is insufficient. But, if you know the mechanics of proper technique, and proper flow of ki, you can throw someone very easily, no matter how strong they are. Even if you have good technique, but no ki, it isn't aikido, and it won't be as effective (personal interview).


Accepting this, how then does one reconcile effective physical technique with the "softer" aspects of ki?

It's true that aikido is an art that should enable you to be able to put down an attacker, for good if you have to. But that's not the aim of aikido. You have to resolve the situation, but in a way that will not harm the attacker. That's part of what Ueshiba meant by "the loving protection of all things." It doesn't mean you don't hurt your attacker at all, because aikido is a method of self-defense. It means that you do only what is necessary to gain control of a situation, causing as little harm to the attacker as you can in the process.

Some people go to the opposite extreme, and say aikido should be only love, and not meant to hurt anyone. But if you practice a philosophy such as that, and you are attacked, then you have no means to protect yourself. And "the loving protection of all things" includes yourself and your loved ones. You must be able to make aikido work for yourself before you can make it work in any other situation (personal interview).

Thus, in aikido there must be a conscious development not only of phys- ical technique, but of ki. This martial and spiritual development cannot occur separately for aikido practitioners: "The heart of martial valor is true bravery, wisdom, love, and friendship," Ueshiba wrote. "Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited" (Ueshiba, 1992:59). Difficulty in reconciling martial intent and spiritual love on the mat and in daily life should not be viewed as a flaw in aikido itself, an "either-or" situation, but as a sure sign that the aikido practitioner is pro- gressing on his or her journey towards takemusu aiki. In confronting this seemingly contradictory ideology, one draws that much closer to the perfection not only of martial technique, but of self. As expressed by Ueshiba, "The pen- etrating brilliance of a sword, wielded by a man of the Way, strikes at the evil enemy lurking deep within one's own body and soul" (Ueshiba, 1991:29).



The effects of Tohei's split from the Aikikai and the events which pre. saged it had a profound and lasting effect on aikido technique. Many of Suenaka's peers soon followed his example, severing ties with the Ki Society to form their own organizations, or renewing ties with the Aikikai.

Whatever their reasons, this further division and restructuring of aikido alliances certainly was not conducive to a unified perception of the art and its underlying principles. Moreover, the introduction of the body exercises (taigi) into the mix and, more importantly, the philosophy they embodied, only added to the confusion. Whereas before, students who left the Aikikai to teach on their own essentially held fast to aikido's founding principles, with Koichi Tohei there was a complete and very public renunciation of aikido's martial foundation by the man who, perhaps more than any other, was responsible for disseminating aikido worldwide.

This renunciation has particularly affected aikido in the U.S., since Tohei aggressively expanded his Ki Society base there, most notably in California (like Suenaka, many of the first instructors there were introduced to aikido through Tohei in Hawaii). Although many Ki Society-affiliated dojos have re- incorporated the martial aspect into their techniques, the two schools of thought remain. Yet through O'Sensei's example, we can see that this division is not proper and does not reflect the true spirit of aikido. Through Suenaka's example and others, we can see that reconciliation is possible.



of I

aikic pages cai1 in two

in a nat e. idly, wit1 3r . . his as! SOURCES As Morihei Ueshiba's life is already well-documented in numerous sources, some text references were not footnoted. For those wishing to read further, John Stevens' Abundant Peace: The Biography of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido; Kisshomaru Ueshiba's The Spirit of Aikido; and Mr. Stevens' translation of O'Sensei's Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido are recommended.

Biographical information on Koichi Tohei was taken primarily from his Book of Ki: Co-ordinating Mind and Body in Daily Life, with additional back- ground drawn from The Aiki News Encyclopedia of Aikido.

Roy Suenaka's comments and recollections were taken from the forth- coming Aikido no Kyohan. All photographs are from Suenaka's personal col- lection.

REFERENCES PRANIN, S. (Ed.). (1991). The aiki news encyclopedia of aikido. Tokyo: Aiki

News. STEVENS, J. (1987). Abundant peace: The biography of Morihei Ueshiba,

founder of aikido. Boston: Shambhala Publications. SUENAKA, R. & WATSON, C. (forthcoming). Aikido no kyohan. TOHEI, K. (1976). Book of ki: Co-ordinating mind and body in daily life.

Tokyo: Japan Publications. TOHEI, K. (1974a). How to unify ki-Coordination of mind and body. Tokyo:

Ki no Kenkyukai H.Q. TOHEI, K. (1974b). Ki meditations. Tokyo: Ki no Kenkyukai H.Q. TOHEI, K. (1978). Ki in daily life. Tokyo: Ki no Kenkyukai H.Q. UESHIBA, K. (1984). The spirit of aikido. Tokyo: Kodansha International. UESHIBA, M. (1992). The art of peace. (John Stevens, Trans.). Boston:

Shambhala Publications. UESHIBA, M. (1991). Budo: Teachings of the founder of aikido. (John Stevens,

Trans.). Tokyo: Kodansha International.

Journal of Asian Martial Arts 0 Volume 5 Number 1



hantai tenkan

CORRECT 0 After the attacker strikes, Suenaka moves to the opposite side. He steps back from the attacker at a 45-degree angle, out of range of the strike, while simultaneously redirecting it with his left hand. He thus propels the attacker off-balance and delivers a counter-strike at the same time. Q Suenaka continues by sweeping the attacker's right arm away and out, capturing the attacker's wrist with his right hand and turning away, moving to the attacker's blind side and keeping him off-balance. His left arm moves beneath the attacker's right, bracing it and further preventing the attacker from bending his elbow, regaining his balance, or striking. Note how Suenaka maintains a proper distance (ma-a/?. 0 Reverse angle view shows how Suenaka moves beneath the attacker's arm, turning 180 degrees while keeping the attacker's arm extended and the attacker off-balance. 0 Suenaka cuts the attacker's arm tightly into the attacker's shoulder, as if making a sword cut, leading the attacker even further off-balance and precipitating his fall. Notice that the cut is not taken to the outside, where it might dislocate the attacker's shoulder or break the elbow, and that Suenaka remains centered. O Having been kept off-balance from the beginning of the technique, the attacker falls to the mat. Suenaka remains upright and centered, maintaining his own balance.

Spiritual v.s. Martial Aikido 0 Christopher Watson



INCORRECT O Suenaka blocks, rather than redirects, the attacker's strike, effectively preventing his use of the momentum generated by striking. He fails to step out to the side, resulting in improper distancing, leaving himself vulnerable to a counter-strike. Q Suenaka moves outside as before, but without leading the attacker off-balance, again leaving himself open to a reverse technique or counter-strike. Q Suenaka moves beneath the attacker's arm, raising it as he does so rather than pivoting below it, further returning the attacker's initiative. At this point, all the attacker need do to escape is cut his right arm downwards, throwing Suenaka backwards. O Suenaka pulls rather than cuts the attacker's arm into his shoulder. Because the attacker is not off-balance, and the technique used relies on strength rather than momentum, the move is ineffective. O Suenaka pulls the attacker down to the mat, taking the attacker's arm to the outside, risking injury. The success of the throw relies exclusively on strength. Suenaka is slightly bent at the waist, sacrificing some of his own balance to complete the throw.





hansha tehkan

CORRECT 0 The attacker delivers a midsection strike. Suenaka immediately moves to the same side, redirecting the attacker's strike with his left hand while delivering a strike with his right. The attacker's momentum propels him forward. Q Suenaka captures the attacker's wrist, beginning the wrist-cutting lock, and pivots, leading the attacker around him, off-balance. Note how Suenaka keeps the attacker's hand in front of him while remaining at the attacker's blind side. 0 Having successfully led the attacker off-balance, Suenaka slides his right foot backwards, whipping the attacker out before him, further destroying his balance. Simultaneously, Suenaka places his right hand atop the attacker's fingers, bending the wrist along its natural, inside anatomical arc and completing the kote-gaeshi lock. O Suenaka cuts the attacker's wrist downwards -again, like a sword cut- propelling the attacker off his feet and completing the throw.

Spiritual V.S. Martial Aikido 0 Christopher Watson


l NCORRECT O Suenaka moves to the attacker's blind side, but without leading the attacker off-balance or striking, risking neutralization or a counter-strike. O While turning outward, Suenaka drags, rather than leads the attacker, allowing him to get behind him, sacrificing control and again opening himself to neutralization or a counter-strike. The attacker still is not off-balance. Q Suenaka cuts the attacker's wrist out to the side, against the joint, risking injury to the attacker. Improper distance and lack of lead allows the attacker to maintain his full balance and deliver a counter-strike, or himself move outside to neutralize the technique. O The attacker is forced to the mat by strength alone.

WRIST TURN-OUT A) Incorrect Kote-Caeshi Hand Position The attacker's hand is forced unnaturally outwards. Lack of lead forces the defender to rely on strength and the pain of the outside lock to effect the throw.


B) Correct Kote-Gaeshi

Journal of Asian Martial Arts 0 Volume 5 Number 1

Hand Position

I The attacker's hand is locked and bent backwards along the natural arc described by the fingers. With proper lead, this lock is always effective. I


hansha tenkan

CORRECT O The attacker delivers an overhead strike to the head. Suenaka side steps, redirecting the strike with his right hand and striking with his left. O Suenaka leads the attacker outside, capturing the momentum generated by the attacker's strike by sweeping his arm and allowing it to move him off-balance. Suenaka captures the attacker's head with his left hand as momentum naturally leads it there, guiding it into his shoulder, while continuing the lead with his right hand, arm out and palm upwards. Properly led, the attacker is unable to deliver a counter-strike. O With the attacker successfully led, Suenaka reverses direction, maintain- ing control of the attacker's head while using his right arm and shoulder to turn it, propelling him backwards. O Suenaka continues turning his right arm and shoulder while dropping his hips. It is the attacker's head, rather than his body, that is being thrown. 8 With the attacker off-balance, Suenaka releases the head and easily completes the throw.

Spiritual v.s. Martial Aikido 0 Christopher Watson


l NCORRECT 0 Suenaka blocks, rather than redirects the attacker's strike and fails to counter-strike or move to the attacker's blind side. The attacker maintains his balance and can easily counter-strike. O Suenaka moves outside and grasps the attacker's collar, rather than controlling his head at the same time, cutting the attacker's right arm downward. Again, the attacker maintains his balance. Q The force generated by the downward cut forces the attacker to bend at the waist, aided by Suenaka pushing on the back of the attacker's neck with his left hand. The right hand at this point is essentially useless. Note the open, improper distancing. O Suenaka pulls the attacker upright with his left hand, restoring the attacker's balance and leaving himself open to neutralization or a counter-strike. 0 The attacker is pulled, rather than thrown, backwards.

Journal of Asian Martial Arts 0 Volume 5 Number 1


by Christopher Watson, B.A.

Originally published in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts ? Volume 5 Number 1 ? 1996

Digital Edition ? 2010

All Rights Reserved by Via Media Publishing Company

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