There is someone who is not me in my little left finger, in this finger which closes my sword-grip. You can sense it during CHINKON. The way in which you go from “cupped, round hands” to “triangle hands” [the chinkon mudra]…
If you put yourself into KAMAE and close your eyelids, for example, alternatingly: close them, then re-open them, slowly, then close them, and so on… you notice each time you close your eyes, at that moment, precisely, all your attention goes down to your hara, automatically. It’s strange to notice that! It’s like a little “explosion of the instant”: ISSHUN-BAKUDEN. From this I draw the conclusion that the ideal would be to do Kokyu-ho with open eyes, but with the same feeling as with the eyes closed….
< Sensei suggests an exercise: :> In seiza, lean your torso forwards, slowly: the whole torso up to the point where your balance breaks… then return to normal and start over, and so on, continuously, very slowly.
The thing that you feel when your balance is about to be broken, is exactly the same thing that I was talking about last week: alternately closing and opening your eye-lids (MABATAKI).
Because, just as when you close your eyes, in the case of t h i s exercise, when your balance is about to be broken, all your attention returns to your hara and its center.
So in this way, the living being finds the center of its vitality. Because it is “the center” (CHUSHIN) that is the center of vitality. And so it is because your center is strong and vital that you can live with strength and vitality: centered.
And so, quickly, we get to a movement such as ikkyo <Sensei demonstrates>, which comes out of this center of vitality. So you have to understand this place where it comes from, [then] the “possible axes of movement”, and finally the creative openings that follow after…
You don’t raise your hands and raise your ki at the same time. And so you don’t start Shiho-nage by raising your shoulders, or your ki!
If you don’t control your ki, your body, and your attitude, you’ve got it all wrong! (KANRIKI WA NAI TO DAME!) [tr: OR – “your intuitive sense, your mind’s activity, and your ki“]
And it’s the same for KOKYU-NAGE, and for suwari-waza-KOKYU-HO. Forgive my imagery, but when a man stands up, or rises, he doesn’t raise at the same time…his balls. And the same when he sits or kneels… he doesn’t pull downwards, in a downward direction.
And so, it’s the way you use your shoulders that will determine the shape of your body (KATA KARA KATACHI KIMERU).
From your shoulders comes the form (KATA KARA KATA HE…). Right from the start: be thinking about that! (SAISHO KARA: KATAGARO!)
It’s like when you’re walking calmly, letting your arms swing naturally alongside your body, with just the weight of your hands going forwards and back, and this weight goes to the end of your little fingers on either side. And it is precisely that amount of force that we use in aikido, nothing more.
And ki-strength (KI NO TSUYOSA) is precisely that.
And so, it is with this feeling… that we do SHIHO-NAGE, and without raising our shoulders! (SOIIU KIMOCHI DE… SHIHO-NAGE: KATA AGENAI!).
When you are doing a movement, if your fingers can move freely, fluidly, that means that your Ki is flowing (KI NAGARETE IRU).
When you sit, your heart (KOKORO) rises. But when you get up, your Kokoro must sit down.
And again, when you sit, you mustn’t sit with your mind and your body at the same time. Because in order to sit, you must make your Kimochi (feelings) rise. And conversely, when you get up, you must make your Kimochi sit down. You have to have a good understanding of this: a direction has to be made up of its inverse, too, in order to be balanced.
And I already said: when you’re sitting on your heels in Seiza, you must not turn your energy inwards towards your interior. On the contrary, you must feel this energy coming out of you towards the exterior, as if you were sticking your elbows out.
Observe how, when you walk, your arms swing forwards and back, while your body itself goes forwards. This is what is necessary in order to be well-balanced when you walk. O’Sensei used to talk about the mirror that you have h e r e <Sensei points at his stomach, his hara>. There is even that painting where O’Sensei’s stomach is shown as a mirror. What does that mean? Well, that means the thing that I’ve just been explaining to you: that every gesture is the mirror of its opposite gesture, and that the body itself in its movements must include the opposite movements in order to successfully function correctly.
So in response to a reverse hold (MUNADORI [sic]) and as you start to move, you must back up… while going forward! And that is what creates an effective unbalancing. It’s not at all about leaning on their arm in a single direction: if you think that, you’re wrong.
Another thing that it’s important to understand: wherever the tips of my fingers are, that is my location, that is where I am.
Tomorrow it will be a beautiful day (ASHITA WA AKARUI HI).
It’s in that “tomorrow” that I place my consciousness (ASHITA NI ISHIKI SURU).
You must put this “tomorrow” (ASHITA) into every movement. The success of today depends on it. Do you understand? In an aikido movement I am going towards tomorrow – towards the instant right after, always towards the instant right after. You must never stop at “today”, ever.
Be thinking about tomorrow: it’s this “tomorrow” of yours that I take hold of in its entirety when I do KOKYU-HO. Tomorrow lives in the present instant of time (ASHITA WA IMA IKIRU), because “tomorrow” is included in the present instant of time.
The principle consists of colliding without colliding (BUTSUKATTE BUTSUKARANAI). It’s as if you were turning in two opposite directions at the same time: to left and to right (HIDARI HANKYU WA MIGI HANKYU). Because that gives no change of position: zero multiplied by zero = zero (ZERO KAKE).
When you work the blade of a Katana against the polishing stones, it’s the same thing: you go forwards as you go backwards, you make movement “without moving”: which is to say: you do not leave your place “while being constantly in motion”.
So it’s important to work at this sense of zero, and then aim with that at your partner’s center. Which is to say that for Kokyo-Ho as Tachi-Waza (a standing technique), you turn without turning, and then you will have enveloped well your partner’s center. It’s the arithmetical operation of the exchange of directions by simultaneous subtraction and addition, which is thus equal to zero (DOJI-SON-DAI).
It was O’Sensei who discovered that.
He said that whoever understood that, whoever had it in their technique, could perform any aiki technique without exception and without a problem at any moment.
For O’Sensei, Kokyu-Ho was the most important! It was the heart of aikido, it was all of aikido. You could say that Kokyu-Ho is what remains of aikido when you have taken everything away: just that – but it is the most important. So never forget that statue of O’Sensei: it represents exactly the form of Kokyu. And in this form you don’t push and you don’t pull. It’s “plus something, minus that same thing, equals zero” in operation. That is how Kokyu operates.
You have to work on, in aikido, in your movements… on what creates this essential zero of Kokyu.
It’s exactly like [the] DOGU (the Way of any particular tool OR the tools of any
particular Way: DO is Way, GU is tool OR utensil), which comes with any tool (GU). You see, GU, too, the tool, is “plus something, minus something, equals zero”, because the tool fabricates, but doesn’t exist either in that which is fabricated, nor as an integral part of the person who fabricates.
When you do HI-HO-HI-HO-HI-HO, for example, or if I do [that same motion] with a partner, what actually happens is that I go upwards (UE NI IKU). That’s what you should be feeling. Because I’m not pulling: I’m bringing it upwards, as I go backwards.
It’s completely different from what you see when you watch, it’s true.
Aikido consists of joining, tying together, linking (AIKIDO WA MUSUBI).
In a Kokyu-Ho movement, it’s the same thing: you must link your two hands together in their actions, not work with just one hand thinking that that will be strong enough.
It’s like the neck of a kimono: the two pieces on left and right in front are crossed over one another, and that crossing over is how they join together, and that which gives shape to the piece of clothing.
It’s the same thing, in Japan, when two people serve each other with whatever it is they’re drinking: just as courtesy requires: each of them pours for the other. And they create, in doing it this way, a joining together.
Play with taking hold of your partner’s sleeve like this. If you pull, or press down on it, your partner will have a reaction. He will resist or he will raise his wrist. It’s on this principle that O’Sensei built Kokyu-Nage. So Kokyu-Ho also is working with reactions.
…It’s exactly the same for Kokyu-Ho. You think it’s something you have to achieve, perform Kokyu-Ho, “succeed” in performing the required movement, and as you think this, it all gradually becomes an impossibility. Just thinking about it, Kokyu-Ho becomes a weight on your mind before you even begin.
Budo is situated at the very center of the Tao (MICHI NO NAKA NO BUDO).
Westerners are people with a tendency to “think about it,” and that is not good. Japan, on the other hand, is not a country of people who like to “think about it.” (DAIKOKUJIN WA RIKUTSU POKUTE [sic] DAME DESU NE, NIHON WA RIKUTSU NO KUNI DEWA NAI!)
To start with, when he enquired about an apprenticeship, Awa Sensei did not want to teach Herrigel for this [very] reason. He thought that it was impossible to teach him the art [of kyudo]. Then he took him on, and the apprenticeship began. He made him shoot and shoot and shoot again into the bale of straw (Makiwara), until the bow itself gave out. Then he explained to him some simple rules for shooting the target.
1. He made him close his eyes and shoot blind towards the target. That which you can not see, hit it with your heart (MIENAI TOKORO DE KOKORO DE ATARU).
2. Understand that which you hit through the sound [of it] (OTO DE WATARU).
3. “Achieving your goal” and “Hitting the target” are not the same thing (“ATERU” TO “ATARU” WA CHIGAU).
It used to be that the body was important. It was always the body that was right. We used to say: “Don’t do aikido with your head! Learn it in the marrow of your bones!” (“AIKIDO ATAMA DE YARUNU! KOTSUZUI DE OBOE NARU!”)
It’s there, in that phrase, that you can find the Budo of Japan: you have to learn with your body, you have to learn with your bone and marrow. And you have to teach like that, too, with that perspective, at any rate.
– – – reported by Olivier Gaurin Sensei, Aikido les secrets du Kokyu-Ho, pp. 21, 25-27, 30-32, 36-7, 51, 68-69, 77-78, 83, 93-6.