Category Archives: Kotodama

…Masamichi Noro Shihan: O’Sensei and the Jo…

As for myself, I am more a man of the jo than a man of the sword. This is not by my own choosing:  one day, while I was still in Japan, and Ueshiba Sensei’s uchideshi, he asked me to go fetch my bokken. I took up a kamae in front of him, my bokken horizontal. He struck with a great blow that shook my whole body – and I let go of the bokken. “This will never do,” was all he said. “Go get your jo,” he added. I said to myself: “he’s going to do the same thing again,” and this time, I ‘organised’ my body, and then I waited for the blow.  He struck again, very hard, and I think that this time it was he who felt that “electric shock”. He didn’t say anything, but looked at me and left. From that day on he asked me to practise with the jo.  I believed that he thought I would be good at the jo, and so I practised hard. There were almost no jo techniques. From time to time, Ueshiba Sensei would give a public demonstration, and I would record it, and afterwards learn to embody his movements. When he was working alone [with the jo], at least from what I understood, he was trying – using the jo and sounds – to actualize or manifest the life of the universe. Actualizing or manifesting life, and love, with those movements…

read more:

The Transmission of the method of Water…

by Shido Yamaguchi,  MIZUHO-NO-TSUTAE,  Hi no Maki  fascicle II…

Our normal human voice goes no further than the human ear: beyond that it dies to nothing and is extinguished.  But the breath – iki – that is bright with the light of the kami, being the breath of the universe, does not die out and is not extinguished.  People of the four seas and the ten thousand nations,  although their utterances are many and varied, when [utterance is made with] this breath,  bright with the light of the kami, [and it] is heard,  they become – because it comes from heaven – one people, all as one  in justice and equality.   And so the dharani of India, the eki divination-traditions of China,  the [fire-kokyu and water-kokyu] iki-traditions of Japan,  each of these varied utterances, because they transform [the normal human voice] into the spirit of the universe,  become a way to obtain the heart of heaven.

– – – from the   Kototama Hissho,  by Shido Yamaguchi,  p.29

Tenchi no hajime no toki…

Heaven and Earth are here-and-now ceaselessly creating and beginning again and again.  The beginning of Heaven and Earth that is laid out in the Kojiki is not the origin of physical matter that is discussed in astronomy, physics or history. And this is not because the Kojiki’s chapters on the Age of the Gods naturally deal with things that happened, spontaneously,  a long, long time ago – but nevertheless after that point in time. Now and – for that reason – here  – which is to say “in the here-and-now” – is the place where all the time Heaven and Earth are beginning. That is to say:  Heaven and Earth in reality are ceaselessly – both here and now – continuously being formed and are continuously creating. This “now” is called “the eternal present”.

– – – Koji Ogasawara,   Kototama Hyakushin,  p. 17

…at the dojo (25) – windchimes…


O’Sensei no Kuden: Kototama

Our words,  [as utterance,]  are an  expression of our animal spirits – but kototama is the way they reverberate – with the kind of reverberation that goes clear across the whole sky and becomes the Pillars of Heaven.

– – – O’Sensei,  probably audio-recorded by by Masatake Fujita, transcribed by Sadateru Arikawa Shihan,  published in Aiki-Shinzui,   p.51

…a feeling that wells up and comes out naturally…

by Motomichi Anno Shihan 

The ability to explain the spirit [of harmony and love] can be called kototama…  If a conversation is truly something wonderful, it is kototama.  If it goes no farther than ordinary conversation, it has not reached the level of kototama.

When the desire for everyone to be in harmony is present in what you say, I feel your words are kototama. If the heart of love and gratitude permeates every word, that is kototama. I felt that spirit consistently present in what O’Sensei said…He didn’t waste a single word. Whenever O’Sensei spoke, he gave us something to be treasured.

When O’Sensei chanted the sounds A…O…U…E…I… and other kototama, he would say that the sound had to emerge naturally, of its own accord.  “A”…is a feeling that wells up and comes out naturally in a sound.  While O’Sensei was sounding the kototama, he would say, with “A” the sound emerges naturally, and with “ME” the sound goes out and circulates. The sound a-me means “heaven,” as in Ame no uki hashi, the Floating Bridge of Heaven.

The way I understand it, the sound expands and moves circularly, naturally, like the movement of the universe. The movement of the Great Universe is expressed in sound, as a small universe. Then, moving with the feeling of oneness with all things, that feeling is expressed in the techniques of Aikido. It is natural movement, expressing yin and yang, Izanagi and Izanami, water and fire.  O’Sensei often said, “Suika musunde, tate yoko o nasu:  Uniting water and fire, create vertical and horizontal.” …

O’Sensei showed his kototama to us, but he did not teach us specifically how to do it ourselves.  We understood that his kototama, what he voiced, was the expression of the spirit; and we simply watched and listened. As I reflect back, it seems to me that O’Sensei’s kototama was neither mind nor heart, but rather something that welled forth from O’Sensei’s spirit, as a result of the [shu-gyo] of mind and heart that he had undertaken over the course of his life.

– – –  Journey to the Heart of Aikido,   pp.248-9

O’Sensei’s kotodama practice in the 60’s…

When O’Sensei intoned kotodama, he usually did the following:

  1.  First, he intoned the kotodama of creation once:  SU-U-U-U-U-YU-MU.
  2. Next, he repeated the kotodama of existence three times:  A-O-U-E-I.
  4. Then,  AIKI O-KAMI (the Great Spirit of Aiki) was said once.
  5. O’Sensei would then return to the saying MASAKATSU, AGATSU, KATSUHAYABI, and intone the sounds that make up the words thirteen times.
  6. Lastly, he would say the following expression thirteen times: NAMU AME NO MURAKUMO KUKI SAMUHARA RYU-OO.

– – – Walther van Krenner,  Following the Martial Path,  p. 183

…kid’s aikido: concentration!!! …

…the resonance that precedes the thought…

Kotodama is different from simple utterance. What is called kotodama is when the red blood is seething in your belly”

That is what Ueshiba Sensei taught me. Goi Sensei explained to me that kotodama is the resonance that precedes the thought and which leads to the character and the sound….

– – – Takahashi Hideo, Takemusu Aiki  French translation vol. 2, p. 119

cf:  “Kotodama is not sounds. It is the echo of ki which precedes the emergence of sounds…”  – – – Rinjiro Shirata Shihan in Aikido Pioneers, p. 126

O’Sensei no Kuden: Kototama(2)

Understand the relationships between sounds and incorporate them into the physical techniques of aikido.

– – – translated (and possibly paraphrased in translation) by Itsuo Tsuda, recorded by André Nocquet Shihan in his Hombu training diary, 1955-57. Published in Maître Morihei Ueshiba: présence et message p.77