During the seminar in the UK this year sensei talked about the importance of developing Ki-Gata. Recently I have been reading a lot of the founders lectures on Aikido and am truly astounded that the truth of what sensei is teaching us has been in plain sight for such a long time. Of course, over the course of time people that have had their own agenda, including the founder’s son have conspired to change this message, what a shame that the founders lamented even as he lived……
I have posted a section of one of the founders lectures in english where he talks about KI-Gata, why it is important and what it takes to develop it. I will attempt with apologies to his enduring spirit to help those of you that want to understand his idea for Aikido to be to interpret his talk.
“The aikido which I am doing now is a path that builds people A WAY OF FORGING AND TEMPERING THE BODY AND SPIRIT (this is TANREN).
It is not a way that injures others, nor is it one that wields against them the evil sword of death.
I humbly ask that you, too, give deep thought to these considerations.
The training in Aiki concerns itself most with the practicing of KI-GATA(the forms and movement of Ki) and the method of perfecting them.
The most important element in true Ki-gata is the quality of shinken shobu(quite literally a fight to the death with real swords – it implies a certain seriousness of your attitude whilst training).
In budo there is no so called “Shiai” or competitive matches of the type seen in sports.
If we were to have matches, in true Budo they must become life and death situations.
Nonetheless, the vain striving after victory is a big problem since in point of fact, destruction, injury and murder are major crimes against human life.
Balancing the budo which has come down to us from the ancient days of our country has stood the Buddhist commandment ‘thou shalt not kill’ and ‘thou shalt not destroy’. The true bodo of our country is of great reconciliation and pacification.
IT IS MISOGI, ritual purification, of the spirit/mind and body.
In instituting on earth the rules of heaven and the purport of humanity, the first commandment of bu(concerns of a martial nature) is to PUT THE SELF IN ORDER AND TO BE ABLE TO PROTECT ALL THINGS.
On the contrary, though, in these times, we often find that those responsible for teaching bu have descended to passing on the not true budo of ancient Japan, but a later(more modern) militaristic budo of the medieval period.
This is deplorable and causes me sadness”
Morihei Ueshiba, The founder and creator of Aikido.
So we start of by the founder of Aikido talking about Tanren, I have spoken elsewhere ad nauseum about what tanren means, the process of change that the process is meant to bring about to the individual and their character. This process is ingrained in the ukemi of Aikido, in understanding the symbolism hidden within it of death and rebirth, and striving within the self to overcome fears and preconceived ideologies. It is important to note the founder speaks of not injuring the person, this is the reason ukemi deals only with connection, ki musubi, between uke and nage, and not with offering up resistance so as to cause conflict.
He then goes on to humbly ask that deep thought and consideration is given to what he is saying, yes, to him, his idea of what Aikido was supposed to be was that important, this my friends is Aikido, without personal agenda of misconstrued ideas or misinterpretation…….
He then tells us quite clearly that Aikido is about understanding Ki-Gata, the movement and intent of ki, quite literally, Aikido is about developing the intuition to understand and respond to energy, physical, mental and spiritual………
And now comes the most contentious part for the majority of people, and either the part that is disregarded or interpreted and not relevant to modern times, he tells us AIkido is about a fight to the death will real swords, he doesn’t say love he says a fight to the death. What he is trying to say is that train in an earnest manner, with every moment every interaction having the seriousness of a fight to the death, to train in a martial minded way, Sunao, means to be honest and earnest in your actions and interactions on the mat. See and know where you are vulnerable, experience the frailty of human existence, realise the preciousness that is life by facing the vulnerability of death, and do this over and over again….
I am not trying to say that the idea of love is not important, of course it is, but why do we feel we have to use the art of Aikido as a vehicle to teach human morality?
A person that studies Aikido should already have an understanding of morality. In the past to enter the founder’s dojo a person needed two referees that would vouch for their character before they were even allowed to enter the dojo. Perhaps this is the reason that they were made of the right stuff, they were of a quality that the tempering process would create a blade of exceptional quality, their character was either tempered or they left and never returned.
Love towards fellow human beings is not an ideology of Aikido per-se, it is just a high moral standard as a human being, it is a character that all humans should posess.
The love the founder spoke of was beyond morality.
To understand and fulfil your purpose for existing in this world is far higher than human morality, it is the very definition of benevolence, an all encompassing love that protects and nurtures all things in nature.
If we all find our true nature, our true self, then we will fulfil our purpose in this world. If all humans were to do this, then this world would truly be a world of peace, not a peace of morality, but a peace of universality.
The heart or essence of Aikido is not shallow enough to be dealing with what is relative, though it does use what is relative, but rather the essence of Aikido deals with what is absolute. Universal principle is absolute, man made morality is relative….
The symbolism hidden within the fight to the death is that each time we train the human being in us is struggling in battle between its human nature and its true nature. Through Tanren and with time and correcting of the heart and mind the victory of the true nature of the carnal nature is assured.
Next I need to address a larger issue as the founder brings to us the essence of what it means to train in this way based on his strict upbringing in the confucian doctrines, and namely the four books, which children of his era were drilled in with military precision at school. Actually recently I read a lecture by Hiroshi Tada shihan where he confirms exactly what I just had to say, (9th Dan Shihan, may know a little bit about the founder and Aikido).
Reconciliation of the world starts with the reconciliation of the self.
Above, the founder clearly states that Aikido, the art that he devised has only to do with reconciliation of the self.
Let me explain.
Confucius talks a lot about these things, a pretty smart guy that thought, as all great leaders and thinkers do, that world peace and universal harmony where pretty good ideas. He even created a formula to do this.
It’s actually quite simple really.
Reconcile the self, then reconcile the family, then reconcile the city, then reconcile the country, the reconcile the world.
Aikido, under the founder’s own admission deals with the first of these principles.
Anyone can see that if the first principle were to be obeyed in every household in the world what the flow on effect of this would be, he didn’t state that Aikido was going to jump right to the end, and where he does state this he supposes that people that study Aikido would have been morally educated enough to get what he was actually implying.
THAT TRAINING IN THE WAY THAT HE PROPOSED WOULD ELEVATE AND CHANGE THE HUMAN CHARACTER OF THE INDIVIDUAL DOING THE TRAINING.
I think the saddest thing for me in the context of modern Aikido training is what he states at the end. That he finds people that teach a watered down more modernised version of his creation fills him with great sadness. He wants and expects those that study this great art that he created to know that there are no better ways than the ancient ways where men of high moral character were forged in the fiery crucible of a life that went beyond what was thought possible.
Aikido is the vehicle if we just commit to the process, sensei says Aikido Yuishinkai is about making the impossible possible,
the revolution starts here…….