Category Archives: Dojocho Talks

Kimbal Anderson-Sensei: Audio, video and essay

…there are some things I want to talk about (7)…

- – - – - – - – - – ukemi, receiving and blending – - – - – - – - – -

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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…there are some things I want to talk about (1)…

Real aiki is difficult to see unless you already know what it is.  If you don’t know, you tend to take your own personal view of it and put it on top.

Now,  I’ve spent most of my life studying aiki,  so there are some things I’d like to record – they are not new, they are not something I made up: they are my own understandings, taught to me through the very same process you’re involved in: doing movements a million times, and learning to understand the physics of the world, and then the larger forms of physics… which is to say:  how things work.

Once you see it,  and someone explains what’s going on, it’s possible for you to explore it.  Otherwise it looks pretty magical,  and you either think,  “that person’s full of shit,” or you understand that something’s going on that you don’t get – and you want to get it…

So I thought to show you – and hopefully we may some time add video – some of the things I’ve learned.

And the first thing, right off,  is this…and I always use this metaphor…
when you learn to drive, you do not drive into the other cars – you learn to drive in the spaces. So, in the same way, if we think about Samuel’s structure as having spaces in it, and fullness in it, like traffic…

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…there are some things I want to talk about (2)…

- – - – - – - – - – The Importance of Ki-Waza – - – - – - – - – -

…there are some things I want to talk about (3)…

- – - – - – - – - – How to Grip and Take Hold – - – - – - – - – -

…there are some things I want to talk about (4)…

- – - – - – - – - – Moving with the jo – and without – - – - – - – - – -

…there are some things I want to talk about (5)…

- – - – - – - – - – proper stance and good grounding  – - – - – - – - – -

 

…there are some things I want to talk about (6)…

- – - – - – - – - – basics of go-no-sen irimi  - – - – - – - – - -

Omoto-kyo version, Tokyo version, Iwama version…

August15CROPCOLORIZETIGHTER…I think we had O’Sensei’s  Omoto-kyo version and his Tokyo version and his Iwama version and we don’t understand that:  but his Omoto-kyo version was actually about penetrating the universe.  And people in Tokyo,  recovering from being utterly bombed  out by American B-29′s… well,  it’s tricky to get them interested, because they’re trying to eat. And the guys in Iwama are out in the country, going “I’m so glad we’re out here!” and most of them are high school kids…  But Omoto-kyo folks would have been ready to start setting the whole world aright, and to start raising people up…   They would have remembered what Deguchi said: “everything happens first to Omoto-kyo, then to Japan, and finally to the whole world…”   And they would have understood the aikido that O’Sensei was showing them to be a part of this…

calligraphy by Onisaburo Deguchi: “August 15th DAY” – being the date of Japan’s surrender, the character for “DAY” being drawn in the archaic style that also means “GOD”,  and,  with a variant center:  ”SU”. SUcrop

- – - Kimbal Anderson Sensei

There are many swords in aikido (5)…

So… talking about our dojo:  one of the advantages, I think, for what we do  -  is that I’ve had good encounters with itto-ryu teachers, and with the special sword techniques that come from that whole system.  And in particular that thing that we  r e a l l y   work on -  that figure-of-eight motion, built into our actual te-gatana  -  is pretty much the powerful, central concept of all the other techniques.  It stabilizes the sword, in such a way that it adapts completely to the other person’s movement, and strike, and whatever.  So in essence… that shape, in itself,  is aiki.

I really appreciate the way that Nishio Shoji Shihan talks about swordsmanship and aikido being synonymous.  I think O’Sensei frequently was alluding to that.

My feeling is – just being, I guess, an archeologist of time – that the root of all the confusion surrounding this is that:  after World War II,  the chances of some-one having a sword -  in Japan – to practise with were pretty minimal.   They confiscated everything.  So then that shifted it into bokken,  and sticks,  and various things.  Because you couldn’t do sword with an occupying army that forbade you to own a sword.  It even got to the point that you could hardly hold a knife without being a problem.

So I believe that there’s an adaptation that occurred.   An adaptation that lost something pretty essential to what we do.  But in our case,  because I  had Hisaya Shoji Sensei to teach me – who was such a good teacher, and he was transmitting the original thing – - – a  similar thing to what O’Sensei received…  in fact Hisaya Shoji Sensei actually trained with O’Sensei:  he showed me a kotegaeshi from him and it looked very similar to the Nishio Shoji Shihan technique…  We,  because we practise sword, because  we  seriously practise sword:  as swordsmen, I think, we have a really good advantage in understanding aikido . And we don’t need to re-interpret it into the post-occupation, safe mode, which, I believe, has changed the form, considerably.

I think about what we learn:  about center-line, how we train to be able to put the kissaki exactly where we want , and how this relates to our mind…

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