Category Archives: Dojocho Talks

Kimbal Anderson-Sensei: Audio, video and essay

On the heart of the hand (ta-na-gokoro)…

paragraph 2: Irimi:  “….thrust the heart of your hand upwards, at a slant, and to the right….”

When we discuss kamae we often don’t look at it on the level of small things, small teachings: but the kamae of the whole body can be reflected in the kamae of the hands.  And so this idea of the hollow of the hands – the heart of the hands [ta-na-gokoro]… as I was instructed, the hollow of the hand has a sense of drawing in the universe, a turning spiral that pulls everything into your own connected center. And the outer part of that spiral – the fingers – return to that shape, so while they’re extending outward, their arc is to draw back into that point in the center of  the palm.

And so just simply holding that sort of energy, one can take correctly: so when the wrist is going to be grabbed, or a jo, or spoon or  whatever else you might be taking,  you connect it to your center, and you lose the separation between yourself and the object.

So we say like in our sword school: “muto“:  there is no sword,  because you have totally joined with it… it is the perfect reflection of your being.

You can do this with any object or any process: you can cook this way, you can act this way… I was showing the actors studying kigaku-ho

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On Yamabiko-no-Michi: Irimi…

Morihiro Saito Shihan wrote:  “Irimi technique…was considered to be a secret technique to escape from multiple attackers. The other name for this is ‘Yama-biko-no-michi’, [the way of the mountain echo]…. As you extend your Ki, the Ki of your opponent will return to you like an echo. However you do not receive your opponent’s Ki because you have instantly moved past him to his rear.”

The quality of movement that this is about is like a drop of water hanging on a leaf in the forest – it reflects everything around it perfectly – it’s not static:  it’s actually circulating – you can see the whole forest in the drop – the tiniest breeze and the droplet falls naturally like an arrow let loose from a bow. Your uke:  their thought, even their ki movement can be just enough – so that their movement, their impulse even, makes the droplet begin its motion…

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On martial learning and acting – Sen, Sen no Sen

In the following audio essay Anderson-Sensei discusses the classic link and reasoning between the study and practice of the martial arts and the application of those skills in the performing arts.

The audio can be found here.

On martial learning and acting (2) – Suzuki, Kigaku, Budo, Shugyou

…a conversation between Kimbal Anderson Sensei and Dwayne Blackaller of Boise Contemporary Theater about the classical Japanese budo practices preserved in Suzuki acting training – and about the intersecting philosophies of the traditional Japanese martial arts and contemporary theater practice .  A student of a student of a student of Tesshu talking to a student of a student of Marcel Marceau.  The conversation is  here.

On Torifune and Furitama…


 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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Training in the spirit of Embu

So I’ve been talking about the spirit of training – and sometimes we use the term “embu“, as in – for example – we do aikido and someone’ll say it was an embu for something – an event or whatever… well, I think that if you can use your time and training to connect with that sacred life aspect: having the thought that your life has value and meaning and is a gift, a sacred thing, and you practise from there, then you can say that all your training is, in essence, an offering of thanks and recognition to the universe.

Now, there are some things that can help you connect to this spirit of embu in the way you participate: so in class…

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On Kamae…

There is no separation to my understanding and in my experience, between your philosophy and how you’re going to move, your own inward view of how stuff works: -  is that person your enemy?  am I too close?  am I too far?  what do I pay attention to?  what do I ignore?

And I think it’s a unifying place for us as aikido-ists, I think that’s where we come together….

And on a large scale, if your kamae… and I’m sitting here in the dojo, on the center of one of these grids: a taped out mandala of the eight compass-points inside a square…If you have embodied one of these grids – – – meaning that in an empty room you still feel it, where your center line is and how all these different points of movement are, then you can put it into three-dimensional rotation, and you start seeing the spiral nature where everything’s spinning around, and you can flow down those spiral lines and then you’re naturally carried by your kamae – your observational view – to the correct place, every time…

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…a short talk on Kamae…