Category Archives: Dojocho Talks

Kimbal Anderson-Sensei: Audio, video and essay

…on Hara-gei…

 - – - by Kimbal Anderson Sensei

So… we were discussing tonight, in practice, the idea of the art of the hara. And I think that all practices – but especially aikido – come down to this one thing: haragei.  Without understanding this, we can get into all kinds of discussions about techniques, and all kinds of factional arguments… “that’s jiu-jutsu…that’s not aikido…” …all that kind of stuff…

But essentially, aiki-ju-jutsu in the widest sense, this “aikido kind of stuff”, you might say – the grappling, and all that – is where it all started.

The slightly more sophisticated sumo.  And sacred, too.

Call it “the nameless art”.

And then, down the years, judo branches off as a sport, jiu-jutsu as a kind of civilian application…and when the Butoku-kai wants to define, as a utilitarian category, all the tai-jutsu that’s still martially effective…  well they come up with the name: “aikido”.  And you notice that they are very definite that it’s a “-do“.

So.

My own experience of this.

I started doing judo when I was 10.  I’m 62.  So at 10, some fifty years ago, I started practising throwing… and all that…and in  t i m e ,   w h a t   I began to understand is that we’re looking at developing a moral character that exactly matches the way we perceive the world.  It cannot be in opposition.

And that’s why contests, to me, make no sense: they often just re-inforce ego-separation and such…

But. no-one knows the outcome of a battle. No-one. If you’ve ever been in an actual situation where people are trying to harm you…the weather, the stray thing, the bullet, the person… who passes out…no water…all the things that you don’t even think about really, truly control the situation. All you can do is develop a center that’s capable of feeling, understanding, coping… and – I want to say – anticipation,  but I don’t mean that in a normal sense… I mean that your hara informs you of the proper state of being.

So when we train, a lot of the things we do, other martial arts students… well,  they can’t even see what we’re doing. Because we’re really focussing deeply on this stuff. Because we know it’s more important than some MMA battle, where someone gets some money for beating some other person up.  While we are looking at:  “how does this transform our experience as a human being”, and “how do we hook up to the  Universal?”

So – particularly for our dojo -  my desire is to make your life better My desire is to make you feel better about yourself,  from a true place – not self-esteem like “Oh…  I can do this… or that… ” or “I have this belt”… or whatever… But you really get on a gut level, on a hara level, that you are a part of the universe. And it makes you capable to live well, to die well, but also to be a true friend.  You know, a dojo, is somewhere you should develop true friendship. If you’ve never had it, this is the place to find it.

Arigatou gozaimashita.

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,…

read more:

…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…

read more:

…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  - – - – - – - – - -

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

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

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