Ariga Sensei’s 2020 European Autumn Tour of Slovakia, Austria and Germany was also cancelled due to the Pandemic. JuShinKan Aikido took the initiative to instead organize another multidojo online event with Ariga Sensei… over 100 joined from all over the world! One of the questions during the event provoqued some thoughts that Ariga Sensei wanted to shared with us.
Again, about words and practice… it is a balancing act to know how much, or even which words to use when trying to convey a feeling when explaining something during practice… sometimes even the sound of the words have clues, like Uki Uki Yaru (うきうきやる) which google says means ‘exciting’ but is meant as ‘do cheerfully’. Here are Ariga Sensei’s thoughts about the subject, do keep this in mind for future online pratice, packed in a layer of inner cheerfulness! Enjoy! – Jacqueline von Arb
—-written by: Ariga Sensei, Saku Dojo, 22 October 2020—-
There are many expressions using the words “Kokyu”.
Su-u (breathe in), Haku (breathe out), Awaseru (synchronize), Yomu (read), Matomeru (collect), etc. In Aikido, we also use the words Kokyu-ryoku.
Generally, I think the words “breathe in” and “breathe out” are the expressions for our movements . We also use the words Kokyu wo awaseru in our daily life, and it expresses our movements and intensions with our partners. In Budo , we use the words “read Kokyu”.
In my keiko, I use the words “breathing off”, Hotobiraseru (let it melt and expand), Hodoku (unwind or release) or Tokasu (let it melt). These words also came from my internal sense, like other words, and you may not be able to find clear meanings even if you use a dictionary. Some words are not described anyway.
As a way of Kokyu, I think it is not only doing “inhale” or “exhale”, but also it is “circulating” the breath through the body. When I am moving, I perceive that I am not breathing in or out, but circulating the collected breath through my body and using it. When I heard the story of women divers that they try to circulate their retained breath through their body during their dive, I was certain that “circulating the breath” was real.
From here, I will try my best to explain these sense words and would like to share with you. I will use “Water” as an example.
Kokyu wo matomeru (collect Kokyu) Solid –> Ice
The state of collected breath in Tanden. Breathe in <Step1>
Hara (Tanden) will rise, like a ball full of air.
Kokyu wo Hodoku (unwind or release the breath), Hotobiraseru (let the breath melt and expand), Tokasu (let the breath melt) Liquid –> Water. The process of circulating the collected breath. Breathing off <Step2>
(In Japan, the word “off” is sometimes used when one is at ease. Here the word “off” comes from this feeling).
If you let this melted breath explode, it will become a gas and Kokyu-nage, and if you wrap up your partner in, the gas will become a “Spring sunlight” and it will not be “he or I” but a sense of unity, I believe that it is the state of Aiki <Step3>
I think it is important to explode the Kokyu just a little before the Spring sunlight (still your partner’s core exists) when thinking about the timing for applying the technique. When you reach the state of Spring sunlight, you will be able to build a peaceful and comfortable relationship with your partner, and the border between you and your partner will be blurry and become one, then it will not be necessary to do Kata any more. The important thing here is that either Explosion or Spring sunlight, they don’t have a certain direction. They will expand toward all directions. If they just expand toward a specific direction, this will cause a tension or stiffness.
Take a breath in and collect it in Tanden (Step1), circulate the collected breath through the body. (The things occur between Step1 and Step2, how to use Step1) Unwind and release the circulated breath, and let it melt (Step2). For Step2, if you let it explode and apply technique, it will become a gas. It will change from Ice (solid) to Water (liquid), and become the state of Spring sunlight (gas), that is Step3. The state of Step 3 is just to exist as it is. There is no intention toward your partner, or attachment or need toward the techniques, it is a unity of a harmonious world.
There is a clear border between Step1 and 2, but not between Step 2 and 3, because some of them become a gas in the process of melting. When you use a melted breath to apply technique, it will become a “gas”, but if you don’t use it, then it will become a “Spring sunlight”.
For example, the movement from Gyaku-hanmi Katatedori.
- Do tenkan and position yourself next to your partner, collect kokyu. ( Step1)
- Melt the collected breath (unwind or release, and melt and expand), try to be the state that you are connected to your partner. (Step2)
- If you explode your breath in a early stage of melting ( still your partner’s core exists), it will become Kokyu-nage.
- If you expand the melted breath and wrap up your partner in, it will become the state of Spring sunlight and your partner will be empty. * This is a state of a unity, no border between others.
If you write it down, it looks like a long period of time but please try to think that 2,3 and 4 will happen within a second.
My study for now is, to have this state of Spring sunlight always. This is “Doing myself”
We tend to be aware of outward things, like your partner or the outcome. I feel the importance of the words that Endo sensei sometimes uses during keiko “Recognize yourself, do you know what you are doing right now?”. For those who can’t do contact Aikido because of COVID, or those who are doing online-keiko, I think there are many things that we can’t do right now, but it is a big chance that we can bring our awareness inward. Now, it may be the time to work by being aware of “Kokyu” and “Being comfortable”.
October 22, 2020 Saku dojo Ariga Kaname