One day in the Fall of 1962, when I attacked him, I understood that the Aiki practised by this apparently frail old man had nothing in common with anything I had seen or learned up to that point. Because, of course, given the strength I had built up in training, and from being in the military, and from being uke for several expert practitioners, I attacked him with a certain moderation, given the great difference in size between us, and out of respect for his position. But then, emboldened by the way he avoided me while remaining apparently motionless, I redoubled my assault with power and with spirit – having seen that he was a great master. And it was the most wonderful, the most extended, and – truly – the only “fall into the void” that I was ever lucky enough to experience… because it left me – after I had regained on auto-pilot my place with the other students – no longer “myself”, for several minutes that appeared to me to be hours…
This experience is one that it is, certainly, impossible to convey clearly, but it compels the one who has lived it to acknowledge and recognise the power that emanates from the “magical” procedures of “Hojutsu” – the method of silent kiai, the ability to influence, and the true “revelatory atemi” administered by a master – and which K. Tohei showed us twenty years later.
This anecdote can lead us to think about the term “throw” used in Aiki-jitsu, Judo, and wrestling. This word means “throw a projectile forwards” and can only be used if there is volition to perform this act. It belongs to a vocabulary that is dualist, and corresponds to “project”, “launch”, “expel”, “repel”, “rid oneself of”, and, finally, “have won”! This, we must agree, is far removed from the spirit of letting aggression disappear into the void, and so it is far removed from the proper action of aikido correctly understood.
In true aikido practice, a throw happens when a strong attacker discovers only emptiness before them, loses his/her balance and “throws themself,” as it were – in order to regain their balance and get free of their adversary.
In the example that I just cited, the person attacked “did nothing” – except to create an emptiness by being empty themselves – an emptiness in which the intensity and strength of the attack is melted away. The more violent the strike, the stronger the “throwing themselves”. We can see that this is a very different way of thinking of attacker and attacked than the previous.
So right from the start: as long as the person attacked becomes physically and mentally unbalanced, then we cannot say that there is aikido happening.
– – – Métamorphose de la violence par l’Aikido de Sumikiri, J.-D Cauhépé and A. Kuang, p. 143-4