by Roy Suenaka & Christopher Watson, B.A.
Originally published in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts ? Volume 7 Number 4 ? 1998
Digital Edition ? 2010
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who study judo are intimately familiar with the term nage. Nage essentially
means a throw, or to throw (although in aikido it also means the defender, on
(entering throw), sayu-nage (sideways throw) and
shiho-nage (four directions throw). Still, all of AIKIDO
these throws, and even those that do not end with (ENTERING THROW).
the nage designation, such as sumi-otoshi (corner drop), are kokyu-nage. It is apparent that the key All photographs courtesy
to a better understanding of kokyu-nage rests with- of R. Suenaka & C. Watson.
in the definition of kokyu.
The most often encountered
definition of kokyu is breath, or to breathe. Indeed, many martial disciplines,
including aikido, pay great atten- tion to the meditative discipline of
kokyu-ho, the way of proper breathing. Yet still, kokyu, even in this sense,
means much more than simple respira- tion. Though the literal translation of
kokyu-nage is “breath throw,” kokyu in the context of aikido technique refers
to the unimpeded flow of ki through on
Ki is the heart of aikido. The very designation aikido clearly demon- strates this: ai, meaning harmony or blending; ki, meaning vital life energy, the energy of the universe; and do, the way. Thus, aikido is most-common- ly translated as “the way of universal harmony.” This admittedly sublime definition is interpreted by some aikidoka to mean there should be zero con- flict and resistance when engaged in aikido training, and that in this way they are demonstrating universal love for all things in accordance with aiki- do founder Ueshiba Morihei’s guiding doctrine, while simultaneously fos- tering ki development. On the other side of the debate are those who firmly believe that such an apparently passive philosophy has no place in martial study and that if this philosophy is the result of incorporating awareness and development of ki as part of their training, then ki has no place in a martial system; and so, they train without this awareness.
This dichotomy can be at least partially resolved by removing the def- inition of ki from its lofty, esoteric shelf and bringing it down to a more prac- tical, accessible level. Mind you, more esoteric definitions of ki are valid: an earnest discussion with a quantum physicist concerning the increasingly accepted theories of universal “superstrings” and the immutable, intricate vibrations of space-time will set even the most ardent ki skeptic’s mind reel- ing with previously unexplored explanations of what ki might be. But for purposes of this discussion, let us focus on the more practical aspects of ki; let us define ki as it relates to the successful execution of aikido techniques, and therefore its relationship to kokyu.
KI: A PRACTICALD
practical defense purposes, on
than being a mystical force few can ever hope to even understand, let alone
make manifest within themselves and their technique, practical ki awareness and
control is born of diligent training with an eye towards its conscious
development. This development may be accomplished through exercises
specifically designed to nourish the intrinsic and instinctive sense of ki born
within us all, as well as through sincere and consistent waza train- ing. The
point to be made is that no matter what on
KI AND KOKYU As noted earlier, kokyu, in the
context of aikido technique, refers to the unimpeded flow of ki through on
Capturing and leading an attacker’s
ki depends on several variables. Again, let us focus on the more practical
What follows are four examples of
aikido kokyu-nage, demonstrated by Roy Suenaka. Study these examples to observe
IRIMI When on
means to enter. Irimi is to move into the attacker’s offensive sphere. This may
appear to fly in the face of aikido convention, to clash and conflict rather
than harmonize, but it does not. While tenkan depends on waiting until an
attacker has fully committed to his strike, irimi is to move into the heart of
the attack at the moment of commit- ment but before the attack has the chance
to fully manifest itself. On
? ? ?
A simple analogy illustrating the primary difference between
tenkan and irimi can be found in striking a match and holding on
Journal of Asian Martial Arts ? Volume 7 Number 4 - 1998
KATATE-TORI KOKYU-NAGE TENKAN (wrist grab attack, breath throw defense, turning)
A-1 As the attacker grabs Suenaka’s wrist (katate-tori), Suenaka moves to the attacker’s right, taking the attacker off-balance. A-2 Suenaka continues moving to the side out of range of any possible counter strike and further off-balancing the attacker. He simultaneously captures the attacker’s head with his left hand and brings it into his right shoulder securing control. Note how the attacker’s grasp on Suenaka’s right hand is broken as Suenaka has full control (kuzushi), blending the attacker’s ki with his own. A-3 Having led the attacker off-balance, Suenaka reverses direction, moving forward on his right foot as he begins rotating his right shoulder forward, re-directing the attacker’s balance and ki to the attacker’s rear. At this point, it is the attacker’s head, rather than his body, that is being thrown. A-4 Suenaka completes his move forward on his right foot, dropping his hips and directing his ki downward A-5 thus completing the throw.
YOKOMEN-UCHI SUMI-OTOSHI TENKAN (side of the head strike attack, corner drop defense, turning)
B-1 The attacker strikes toward Suenaka’s head (yoko-men-uchi). Suenaka begins moving rearward on his left foot, turning away (tenkan) as he raises his hands B-2 and captures the attacker’s striking hand with his left while striking (atemi) with his right to the attacker’s head. Note that this capture is not a block, but a blend. Simultaneously, he continues turning while initiating control of the attacker (kuzushi).
C-1 The attacker intends to strike toward Suenaka’s head (yoko-men-uchi), moving his right hand backwards, chambering for the strike. Suenaka moves in (irimi), sliding with his left foot C-2 and cutting down and back with his left hand on the attacker’s striking wrist. Simultaneously, he slides his right hand up the attacker’s chest and C-3 over his shoulder, close to the attacker’s head, while continuing the
IRIMI-NAGE (side of the head strike attack, entering throw)
Suenaka continues turning, further capturing and blending with the attacker’s
ki as he lays his right hand to the side of the attacker’s head and cuts
downward B-4 propelling the attacker off his feet B-5 and on
downward/rearward cut with his right arm. Note how Suenaka continues moving in (irimi). At this point, he has blended with the attacker’s ki and re-directed it rearward. C-4 Suenaka continues the downward cut, dropping his hips. The attacker is thrown.
The attacker grabs Suenaka’s wrist (katate-tori) and SAYU-NAGE IRIMI
prepares to move in to strike with his left hand. (wrist grab attack,
D-2 Suenaka moves to the attacker’s right side, simultaneously turning his sideways throw)
body to the left, leading (not pulling) the attacker off-balance and blending with the attacker’s ki. This also removes Suenaka from the attacker’s offensive sphere. As he does so, Suenaka strikes, further destroying the attacker’s focus (kime). D-3 Suenaka continues to move in, extending his left hand into the center of the attacker’s sphere/center of balance, until his left shoulder is beneath the attacker’s chin. At this point, Suenaka has blended completely with the attacker’s ki and has re-directed it, leading the attacker even further off-balance. D-4 Suenaka rotates his left shoulder rearward while dropping his hips and
bringing his right hand down atop the attacker’s chest. The attacker is thrown. It is the hip drop and shoulder rotation that effects the throw. Without this, the additional strike to the chest has less impact.
TENKAN VERSUS IRIMI The following examples illustrate the
difference between tenkan (turning away) and irimi (entering), using the same
technique. Refer to the sidebar TENKAN VERSUS IRIMI