Author: Bret Gordon
Since their inception, martial arts and healing arts have always been intertwined (think inyo/yin yang). Some of the best martial artists have been doctors, healers and bone setters. Basic first aid should in fact be required to teach any form of martial arts in my opinion. When discussing internal power and energy, the connection between martial arts and healing arts becomes even more apparent.
In Japanese martial arts, the concept of internal power is known as aiki (commonly translated as "joining energy"). It's a term that has as many definitions as it does practitioners. Thanks to the popularity of Aikido, most people characterize aiki as merely blending with the opponent's force and redirecting them into a soft lock or throw. However, as an instructor of Aiki Jujutsu I tend to define aiki at another level. Ultimately to me, aiki is a pre-conditioned state of being. Internal power is generated in the way you stand, the way you walk. Aiki is learning how to use the body in its most efficient state so that anything that comes into contact with it is affected. In a defensive scenario, aiki is the systematic process of receiving the force of the attack, processing it and returning it through the point of connection. True aiki is characterized by instant kuzushi (off-balancing) that affects the attacker's entire body. This is accomplished through proper breath control, timing and a relaxed yet focused structure within our own bodies.
But the concept of joining energy is hardly unique to martial arts. Everything in the universe is comprised of energy, so in reality whenever you come into contact with anything you are joining your energy with it. In the healing art of Reiki, you are joining your energy with that of the recipient to enhance the body's natural healing powers. This may sound like pseudoscience but the principles of Reiki are instinctive in all of us. When you injure yourself, your first reaction is to grab whatever you just injured and apply pressure. Often this is accompanied with thoughts like "Please stop hurting" and shortly after, the pain begins to subside. This is the basis of Reiki. The body intuitively knows what's wrong and has the power to heal it. However, if something is off (such as Chakra misalignment which is very common) then the healing powers may be hindered. That's where the Reiki practitioner comes in. When a Reiki practitioner lays their hands on the recipient, their healthy energy overpowers and supercharges the recipient's energy flow to assist in the healing process. But how does it work and how is this even remotely related to Aiki Jujutsu?
Author: Bret Gordon
Ok, so it's technically called Shodokan Aikido (also referred to as Tomiki Aikido) but of all the Aikido branches, the line founded by Tomiki Kenji is probably the most devoid of any aiki. By aiki, I am specifically referring to the biomechanical processes by which internal power is generated. I am not talking about simply manipulating the opponent's energy and blending with it. You see, while Tomiki Kenji did study under Ueshiba Morihei and attain the rank of 8th Dan, his background in Judo certainly took precedence. Directly contradicting O'Sensei's wishes that "there is no competition in Aikido," Tomiki instituted a type of tanto randori (knife sparring) that is all too reminiscent of a Judo shiai. In fact, the Aikikai urged him to pick a different name for his art because it contradicted everything Aikido taught. So where did it all go wrong, and why do I call it Tomiki Jujutsu?
As we all know, Kano Jigoro formulated his system of Kodokan Judo by removing so-called "dangerous" techniques from practice. Instead, we are left with 40 original throws (now expanded to 67) that use leverage and body mechanics to effortlessly throw an attacker. The problem is that he removed some of the key techniques of jujutsu: small joint manipulation. There is no standing technique in the Kodokan curriculum that attacks any joint. Now, there's nothing wrong with that. It's what Kano wanted, and that is his right as the founder. However, it must be noted that when Kano visited O'Sensei's dojo, he is quoted as saying "This is my ideal Budo."
All Tomiki did was reintroduce the joint manipulation of Aikido to the body movement and throwing techniques of Judo. Well, when you combine joint manipulation with throws, what do you get? Jujutsu!
About Our Blog
The articles posted here have been shared from the US Association of Martial Arts website, run by our headmaster Bret Gordon, for their relevance to Aiki Jujutsu. For more of his writings, please click here.