Category Archives: Ame-no-Torifune

O’Sensei no kuden: Ame no Torifune

These rhythmic movements that I perform with accompanying sounds show the way in which with each movement I am absorbing and expelling the energy of the universe.

– – – translated (and possibly paraphrased in translation) by Itsuo Tsuda, reported by André Nocquet Shihan in  Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message  p.77

…close to the source: Ame-no-Torifune…

Shrine Shinto instructions for Ame-no-Torifune…

….from Kami No Michi The Way of the Kami, by Yukitaka Yamamoto Guji pp.117-121, and Shinto Norito a Book of Prayers,  by Ann Llewellyn Evans pp.128-132.

O’Sensei’s relationship with Tsubaki O-Kami Yashiro in Mie Prefecture is well documented, and there are some beautiful reminiscences recounted in Susan Perry’s  Remembering O-Sensei.

Seiseki Abe Shihan lineage instructions for Ame-no-Torifune…

…from Shaun Ravens Sensei,  courtesy of a post by jgrowney on Aiki-web.

It seems overwhelmingly likely that O’Sensei experimented in various dojo and over the course of his life-time, with the sequence of kotodama, and with the kami  invoked during furitama. One might guess, too, that he finessed these aspects of Ame-no-Torifune to suit particular students and lineages.

It also seems worth mentioning that the kotodama should be thought of as pairs of syllables, with the first of each pair co-inciding with the inward pull of ki-energy and of the arms. Do not let the mind migrate to thinking of the syllables as starting with the outward movement.

Koichi Tohei Shihan on Ame no Torifune (i)…

…take half a step forward with your left foot…

toheifunakogi1CROPAt count One, push your [koshi] forward as though to push your one point forward horizontally and thrust your arms forward forcefully, keeping the wrists bent. The upper body is kept vertical, bending neither forward nor backward. The arms are not thrust forward so much as brought forward with the feeling of extending Ki from the [koshi]. The right leg should be stretched easily to the rear.

toheifunakogi2CROPAt count Two, draw back your [koshi], at the same time pulling back your wrists to your hips. It should be a pulling back with the [koshi] and not a pulling back with the arms. The right leg then is slightly bent and the left leg is straightened.

*

Bear in mind that this exercise is more for the [koshi] than for the arms.

– – – Koichi Tohei Shihan,  “Supervised by Morihei Uyeshiba [O’Sensei]” Aikido the Arts of Self-Defense,  pp. 61-2

Andre Nocquet Shihan’s first student: on Ame-no-Torifune

Tama no Hireburi                          Fune kogi

1> Calming
Entering a state of receptivity

2> Left foot forward. Hypate.
Bringing the energies of Fire to yourself.
Birth, growth of the tree towards the Zenith.
red          TRIANGLEUPcauhepeSMALL

EI-O

3> The accumulation of knowledge
and virtue only happens with gentleness.
Rising of Fire corresponding to receptivity to the
complementary Element, [Water]..

4> Right foot forward. Mese.
Bringing the energies of Water to yourself.
Life develops harmoniously through the reciprocal interpenetration of the two Elements [Water and Fire]. Heaven and Earth become unified. The branches of the tree deploy.
TRIANGLEDOWNcauhepeSMALLgreen-blue 

E I-SA

5>  The ‘ethers‘ of Heaven and Earth
fuse to produce internal fire which will rise.

6> Left foot forward. Nete.
Air is born of the union of Water and Fire in an
unceasing continuum. The “Child” of this union
Ki-Lightning-THunder” is let loose, and “bursts out”, spreading peace in the 4 directions. The sound is the “result” of the shock between the yang of the ether and the yin of the internally  accumulated submission. Blossoming of the tree’s blossom.
TRICIRCLESYMBOLcauhepeSMALL

White-golden.

EI-EI  1)

 

7>  Peace engenders humility and the
seven  successive modifications of being.

1) which curiously evokes its Japanese homonym: “Ei-ei” – “eternally”.

Le jeu des energies réspiratoires, gestuelles et sonores dans la pratique de l’aikido,   J.-D Cauhépé and A. Kuang,   p. 167

O’Sensei no kuden: Furitama

You are standing with one foot put on the rock of the sky, and the other foot on the rock of the earth.

– – – recorded by Tamura Nobuyoshi Shihan,  reported by Jim Baker of Aikido of Norfolk (retrieved May, 2014)

Gérard Blaize Shihan on Torifune…Furitama…

CHINKON KISHIN NO HO:  the method for calming the spirit – – –

Most practioners of aikido still begin each practice with exercises combining body movement, the chanting of names, and breathing associated with vizualisations, similar to those which the Founder of Aikido used to practise.

These exercises are, in Japan, designated by the term “CHINKON KISHIN NO HO” – which translates as: “the method for calming the spirit”.  This definition will come as a surprise to many aikido practitioners, who undoubtedly have no suspicion that such is the goal of these exercises.

But what are these exercises?  Why are they still practised today?   What utility do they have?

*  The CHINKON KISHIN NO HO exercises and their origin

We owe these exercises to a Shinto/Buddhist [sic] monk,  KAWATSURA BONJI (1862-1929).   It was he who brought back into current usage a system of self-purification (misogi) which had existed in pre-Nara Shinto practice: at a time when it had not yet been influenced by Buddhism or Confucianism. This system consisted of a series of exercises with names that are difficult for a Westerner to pronounce: FURUTAMA [FURITAMA] – OTAKEBI – OKOROBI – IKUBI NO HO – AMA NO TORIFUNE. [AME NO TORIFUNE]

FURITAMA: this exercise is done sitting seiza. After reciting the NORITO SOJO,…

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On Torifune and Furitama…

TORIFUNE

 I’ve heard it called  “the rowing exercise” and “bird-boat of heaven”… all these different names for it,  and I’ve heard it explained as being like the single oar Japanese style of rowing…but for me, thinking of aiki on a yogic level, it’s like winds and  channels:  you need to understand Heaven and Earth,  and the idea of the exercise is to create a really harmonic connection between heaven and earth:  and then you can understand kotodama.

The body itself is like an Aeolian harp – and in this vibrational  understanding of the body, the strings of the harp have to be correctly tuned.

So when we set it up, I really focus on softening the feet.  I think in earlier times,  when people farmed and lived on mountains, this was just the way you were – because you’d fall down if you weren’t.  And I learned a lot of this because I had a farm, and although I’m not a huge person,  I can still pick up a couple of hundred pounds and haul  it around because I knew how to receive energy….  and so for us, the idea of relaxing and getting  the feet to open up:  that connects us to  chi no kokyu  “the breath of the Earth”.  Just as the palms open,  the feet can open, and when you move your feet, the soles of the feet should open, then the ankles flex, then the knees flex, and then the hara moves – so it’s like a kinetic chain.

I always teach that if you walk on a crust of snow,…

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