Part 5 of Shirata’s Essay : Aikido as Budo of Harmony, Aikido as Budo of Non-Resistance

Short Topic Introduction (Feel free to skip this if you read last week’s)

Due to the esoteric terms, analogies, and metaphors that Ueshiba Morihei commonly used in his lectures, many, if not most, of the individuals present at his lectures stated that they could not understand what it was he was talking about. These statements were so ubiquitous, that it became commonly assumed, or common “knowledge,” that nobody could understand Ueshiba Morihei’s lectures.

This is a rather convenient assumption, isn’t it? It allows for the re-interpretation, and translation of, his message, by all that followed afterward. If one understood his lectures and could explain them, the bar would be raised for all others that attended the lectures to show an equivalent level of understanding, or suffer loss of face. If one understood his lectures and could explain them, the die would be cast. There would be Ueshiba Morihei’s explanation of Aikido, and everyone else’s.

Shirata Rinjiro was a pioneer in the early days of Aikido. He taught in Ueshiba Morihei’s place at Omoto’s paramilitary branch, the Budo Senyokai. rinjiro-shirata-1912-1993He taught in Ueshiba’s Osaka dojo, and at the Asahi Dojo in Osaka. Shirata was around for the publishinrinjiro-shirata-c1935g of Aiki Jujujutsu Densho, which later was renamed Budo Renshu. And, he also took ukemi for Ueshiba in the 1935 film udo. Before being called up to become the Commander of a Division in the war, Shirata was tapped by Ueshiba to become a ‘Professor of Aikido’ at the University in Manchukuo. (Tomiki Kenji went to Manjukuo instead.) After the war, he was repatriated to Japan. And in time, he was eventually called back into Aikido service by his teacher Ueshiba Morihei. Ueshiba asked him to look after, and support, his son Kisshomaru. So, he became head of the Tohoku region, head of Yamagata prefecture, and President of the International Aikido Federation, for a time. Unlike Tomiki, Mochitsuki, and Shioda senseis, Shirata chose not to distance himself from, and continued to work in support of, his teacher Ueshiba Morihei and the Ueshiba family throughout his life.

:In the last years of his life, Shirata sensei both wrote and taught until he could no longer do so. During this time, he finished the katas that were the summation of his study of Sho Chiku Bai Ken and Jo. He also wrote the essay that will be presented over the next several weeks.


The continuation of Shirata Rinjiro’s essay translated from:

Renewal Through Keiko

Create A New Self With Daily Keiko[i]

Shirata Rinjirō, Kaichō, Tōhoku Aikidō Renmei

Misogi ©1992 Yamagata Ken Aikidō Renmaei and Tōhoku Aikidō Renmei

Part 5 of Shirata’s Essay


iki

Aikidō as a Budō of Harmony

If it comes, meet it, if it goes then send it along. If it opposes, harmonize. 1 • 9 is 10, 2 • 8 is 10, 5 • 5 is 10. One must harmonize by using this.[i] This is the legendary master swordsman, Kiichi Hōgen’s[ii] elementary explanation of harmony.

When the Kōbukan Dōjō opened in its current location in Tokyo,[iii] the founder often quoted this explanation of harmony by Kiichi Hōgen and recited it for us. Mr. Okumura of Honbu Dōjō has published it in Aikidō Shinbun.[iv]

More specifically, if a guest arrives you must go to the entrance and receive[v] them. You must show the guest who is leaving out. Harmonize if you are opposed, that is harmony that is not defensive[vi]. Stand at the ready, meet them, and strike.[vii] You must not chase after things that are leaving. If opposed you must not fight against it.[viii] Starting a fight is useless for aiki in martial technique.

In the period when the founder preached, “War is love.”[ix] and “The universe is me.”[x] it turns out he didn’t use this explanation. Because aikido has the idea of not using technique that defeats the opponent when in conflict with them, he proclaimed that it is in harmony with the universe[xi] and didn’t bother with Kiichi Hōgen’s explanation of harmony.

Aikidō as a Budō of Non-Resistance 

I am victorious from the start because I am non-resistant.[xii] Takamusu Aiki Chapter 12

Aikidō is a budō that does not oppose,[xiii] therefore it is a budō of non-resistance. Because it is a budō of non-resistance it is not hit, it is not cut, it does not receive, it does not stop things.[xiv] The opponent’s sword and spear are not received or stopped and do not contact.[xv] The opponent’s fist and kick are not received or stopped and do not contact; everything misses, drains away and is caused to hit empty air.[xvi] This is what is called non-resistance.

If this is so, how should it be done? That is, if it comes, meet it, in the martial arts. It is taisabaki,[xvii] that is fudōshin[xviii] standing erect in a momentarily invincible position that cannot be struck.[xix] It is the taisabaki exercise of irimi tenkan to the flank.[xx] While moving your fudōshin to an invincible position, start with a welcoming strike that blinds them [metsubushi].[xxi] The optimal attack, immediately.[xxii] Therefore, because the opponent has been attacked in a completely defenseless situation, it is non-resistance. While they are not able to resist they can be struck and controlled.[xxiii]

Moreover, the spirit to oppose is not awakened in the opponent. It’s a situation where even if they try to fight back they can’t oppose and it turns out there isn’t any spirit of opposition. That is, the opponent becomes non-resistant too and not only is there harmony for me without any kind of resistance, but neither combatant is damaged.[xxiv] The budō of mutual development.[xxv] The budō of misogi.[xxvi] There isn’t any maliciousness or spirit of opposition.[xxvii]

“Malicious people and people who have a spirit of opposition are defeated from the start.” Takamusu Aiki Chapter 12

美しき合気の姿体捌無抵抗こそ正勝の道

[i] 来らば、即ち迎え、去らば即ち送る。対すれば相和す。一・九の十なり、二・八の十なり、五・五の十なり。之を以って和すべし。

Actually from the Tiger Chapter of the Chinese military classic, Six Secret Teachings or Liu Tao 六韜, compiled circa 4th cent. BCE. See Chris Lee 2012

http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/archive/2012-02-22/kiichi-hogen-and-the-secret-of-aikido

and Chinese text: http://www.cos.url.tw/book/1/O-1-001-1d4.htm

[ii] 鬼一法眼

[iii] This is the forerunner of the current Aikidō Honbu Dōjō. See note #10

[iv] Aikidō Newpaper

[v]玄関先まで出迎えなさい go as far as the front entrance or door to meet, greet or receive

[vi] Alternatively, is not passive 受身ならず

[vii] 満を持するis an expression which means to have readied a bow and stand at the ready i.e. watch for an opportunity. It can also be read as: have or maintain fullness, meet and touch, move or strike them.

[viii] Alternatively, must not oppose it 争うべからず

[ix] 武は愛なりBu wa ai nari.

[x] 宇宙即我なりUchū soku ware nari.

[xi] 敵と闘い敵を破る術でないと観念して以来、宇宙との調和一致であると説かれ

[xii] 無抵抗なるが故に、はじめから勝っているのだ。

[xiii] Alternatively, not fight against 争わざる

[xiv] 打たれず、切られず、受けず [does not receive or does not accept]、止めず、なる故に無抵抗の武道。

[xv] 相手の剣槍を受けず、止めず、触れず。

[xvi] 皆々はずす、流す、空を打たせる。

[xvii] body movement 体捌

[xviii] immovable body 不動身

[xix] 一瞬不敗の位置、打たれざる位置に不動身が直立する体捌である。

[xx] 側背に入身転換する体捌き運動である。

[xxi] 先づにお迎の目潰し。

[xxii] the best or optimal attack 直ちに最良の攻撃。

[xxiii] 抵抗出来ないままに打たれ押さえられる。

[xxiv] 即ち相手も無抵抗となり、何等抵抗することなく我に和合し、相手も一兵も損傷なし。

[xxv] 相生きの武道。

[xxvi] みそぎの武道。

[xxvii] 邪気も争う心もなし。


ALLEN DEAN BEEBE’S COMMENTARY

Here again, Shirata is following the out line of:

“The essence of Aikido is Harmony or Unification with the Universe.”

“Aikido is the Way of Non-resistance.”

“Bu is Love.”

This week I have decided to cover only the 1st and first half of the 2nd part of this, due to space issues. Next week we will continue with the second half of “Aikido is the Way of Non-Resistance,” and conclude with “Bu is Love.”

So, let’s begin again!:

Aikidō as a Budō of Harmony

If it comes, meet it, if it goes then send it along. If it opposes, harmonize. 1 • 9 is 10, 2 • 8 is 10, 5 • 5 is 10. One must harmonize by using this.[i] This is the legendary master swordsman, Kiichi Hōgen’s[ii] elementary explanation of harmony.

Originally this comes teaching comes from the Chinese “Tora no Maki” or Tiger Scroll, and is paraphrased by Kiichi Hogen.  Kiichi Hogen is then again quoted by Ueshiba.  There is an important distinction, however.

Ueshiba is quoted as saying:

八力は、対照力「動、静、解、凝、引、弛、合、分、」「9-1、8-2、7-3、6-4」をいいます。

“The 8 powers are opposing forces: Movement – Stillness, Melting – Congealing, Pulling – Loosening, Combining – Splitting / 9-1, 8-2, 7-3, 6-4″

You will notice that Ueshiba pairs the four sets of oppositional forces with four sets of equations equalling 10.  blankPlease notice that 5 + 5 = 10 is omited.  This is important.  5 + 5 implies a static balance and that is to be avoided as it does not lead to Fudo Shin (Immovable Body) and Fudo Shin (Immovable Mind.)  I’ll be bringing this up again when I begin to present Shirata’s excercises for developing an Aiki body/mind.

iu-3
This is an example of the type of balance scale that both the Chinese and Japanese used in the past.  One would put the item to be measured on the plate and then the counter weight is moved right or left until balance is attained.  This illustrates the principle described by: 9-1、8-2、7-3、6-4

When the Kōbukan Dōjō opened in its current location in Tokyo,[iii] the founder often quoted this explanation of harmony by Kiichi Hōgen and recited it for us. Mr. Okumura of Honbu Dōjō has published it in Aikidō Shinbun.[iv]

In the early 1930’s this is how Ueshiba would teach Aikido in Tokyo.  It is important to remember that the Kobukan Dojo was not under the Omoto Kyo umbrella, and as such, teaching and explanation would not necessarily be given in that context.  This was a dojo that included the military, political and business elite of the day.

More specifically, if a guest arrives you must go to the entrance and receive[v] them. You must show the guest who is leaving out. Harmonize if you are opposed, that is harmony that is not defensive[vi]. Stand at the ready, meet them, and strike.[vii] You must not chase after things that are leaving. If opposed you must not fight against it.[viii] Starting a fight is useless for aiki in martial technique.

This is the beginning of Shirata’s explication of Ueshiba’s teaching relating to the practical application of Aiki in a martial context.  During the “Kobukan Period,” practical application of Aiki in a martial context was highly relevant, and therefore routinely addressed.

“If a guest arrives you must go to the entrance and receive them.” That is, when a force comes within one’s sphere of influence, you must “greet” it.  Not resist it, nor avoid it, you must “greet” it as in Aiki 1, 2, 3.

Blank.jpg

“You must show the guest who is leaving out.”  That is, when a force is leaving one’s sphere of influence one must “show it out.”  Again, one does not resist it, avoid it, but there may be resultant influence “showing it out.”

Blank.jpg

“Harmonize if you are opposed, that is harmony that is not defensive”[vi].  This is, if the force tries to resist in opposition to one’s one force, harmonize with it, as in Aiki 1, 2, 3.  This is harmony that is not defensive.  It does not resist nor does it avoid.

Blank.jpg

“Stand at the ready, meet them, and strike.”  Standing “in the ready” means that one must already be exhibiting Aiki 1, 2, 3.  If not, one is not “ready.”  Meet them is to make contact without opposition or avoidance.  “Strike” bodily contact.

“You must not chase after things that are leaving.”  You must not “chase after things that are leaving.” You must not chase after, or try to add to the resultant force vector, the result of Aiki.  You must not try to extend beyond your natural sphere of influence.

iu-2
Everyone has a sphere of influence.  Outside that sphere of influence we are powerless.  “Chasing after leaving things.” is when we try to exert power outside of our sphere of influence.

” If opposed you must not fight against it.”  Fighting against, or avoiding, is anathema to the Way of Aiki.  It is not Aiki 1, 2, or 3.

“Starting a fight is useless for aiki in martial technique.”  Starting a fight is ending Aiki.  Therefore, “Starting a fight is useless for aiki in martial technique.”

“In the period when the founder preached, “War is love.”[ix] and “The universe is me.”[x] it turns out he didn’t use this explanation. Because aikido has the idea of not using technique that defeats the opponent when in conflict with them, he proclaimed that it is in harmony with the universe[xi] and didn’t bother with Kiichi Hōgen’s explanation of harmony.”

Here we see that later Ueshiba didn’t bother with Kiichi Hogen’s explanation of harmony.  Instead he jumped straight to the implications of the embodiment of Aiki.  That is, “Bu is Love,” and “The Universe is me.”  The methodology is the same, but the emphasis changed.

Again, in both cases, “Aikido does not have the idea of using technique that defeat the opponent when in conflict with him.” Again, Aikido is not a collection of techniques!

Aikidō as a Budō of Non-Resistance 

“I am victorious from the start because I am non-resistant.[xii] Takamusu Aiki Chapter 12″  This is a quote of Ueshiba taken from Takemusu Aiki.   Here we will focus on what exactly is “non-resistance.”

“Aikidō is a budō that does not oppose,[xiii] therefore it is a budō of non-resistance. Because it is a budō of non-resistance it is not hit, it is not cut, it does not receive, it does not stop things.[xiv] The opponent’s sword and spear are not received or stopped and do not contact.[xv] The opponent’s fist and kick are not received or stopped and do not contact; everything misses, drains away and is caused to hit empty air.[xvi] This is what is called non-resistance.”

iur

 Here again is a precise description of the results of the application of Aiki 1, 2, 3.  They are produce a result that is literally and empirically non-resistant.  Force is not received in the sense of diminishing one’s own force.  Force is not stopped in the sense of diminishing another’s force.  Force does not contact in the sense of one impeding one or the other.  The result is that an oncoming force “misses,” it “drains away,” and “is cause to hit empty air.”  “This is what is called non-resistance” in Aikido.  This is very, very different from “getting of the line” of a contrived attack, and then either trouncing one’s partner or counting on them to fly off on their own accord.

“If this is so, how should it be done? That is, if it comes, meet it, in the martial arts. It is taisabaki,[xvii] that is fudōshin[xviii] standing erect in a momentarily invincible position that cannot be struck.[xix] It is the taisabaki exercise of irimi tenkan to the flank.[xx] While moving your fudōshin to an invincible position, start with a welcoming strike that blinds them [metsubushi].[xxi] The optimal attack, immediately.[xxii] Therefore, because the opponent has been attacked in a completely defenseless situation, it is non-resistance. While they are not able to resist they can be struck and controlled.[xxiii]

“If this is so, how should it be done? That is, if it comes, meet it, in the martial arts. It is taisabaki,[xvii] that is fudōshin[xviii] standing erect in a momentarily invincible position that cannot be struck.  Taisabaki means body movement.  It does not necessarily mean moving the body from one place to another (locomotion.)  It does not imply at all the idea of “getting of the line of attack.”  It simply means moving the body!  So, one can move one’s body in place or in locomotion.  But Shirata clarifies the exact type of body movement.  It is body movement that is Fudoshin.  Fudoshin in this case means immovable body.  As one can see from the terminology used Fudoshin is a particular Taisabaki. ueshiba-push-test It is moving one’s body in such a way that it is immovable to others, or Fudoshin.  The taisabaki that is fudoshin was demonstrated regularly by Ueshiba.  Shirata’s tells us that this is. “standing erect.”  Or, in other words, it is not hunkered down so as to lower one’s center of gravity.  It is a “momentarily invincible position.” It is momentary because it is ceaselessly changing.  It is invincible because it “cannot be struck.”  How is it that the “immovable body” cannot be struck?  It is due to the fact that the body is expressing Aiki (1, 2, 3) that it is both “immovable” and it “cannot be struck.”  

“It is the taisabaki exercise of irimi tenkan to the flank.[xx] While moving your fudōshin to an invincible position, start with a welcoming strike that blinds them [metsubushi].[xxi] The optimal attack, immediately.”

Blank.jpg

This is a very accurate and precise description of the execution, and result of, Aiki (1,2,3).  It is the body movement that enters as it turns.  Contact will be orthogonal, that is 90° or to the flank. Moving the immovable body in this manner automatically places one in an invincible position, one that cannot know defeat because there is no conflict or fight. One starts with a welcoming (happy to make contact) strike (body contact) that blinds them (they don’t know where it came from or how to resist it, there is no force feedback). This is the optimal attack and it happens immediately at the moment of contact.

“Therefore, because the opponent has been attacked in a completely defenseless situation, it is non-resistance.”  When contact is made orthogonally the “oppositional” force cannot “defend” because forces that meet orthogonally do not impede each other, they are “non-resistant.”

While they are not able to resist they can be struck and controlled.”  The oppositional force cannot resist, but it clearly can be struck (orthogonally) and therefore can be controlled in that non-resistant manner.

“Moreover, the spirit to oppose is not awakened in the opponent. It’s a situation where even if they try to fight back they can’t oppose and it turns out there isn’t any spirit of opposition.”  The initial oncoming force may have been generated by a spirit to oppose, but upon contact that goes away because they are inexplicably sent into a resultant force vector.  Even if they try to fight back they cannot since there is no opposition when forces meet orthogonally.

That is, the opponent becomes non-resistant too and not only is there harmony for me without any kind of resistance, but neither combatant is damaged. The opponent becomes non resistant because there is no force to resist.  The same is true for me, and in addition there is continued “harmony” for me because I remain in a continuous state of equilibrium.  Neither combatant is damaged via the initial interaction.

The budō of mutual development.[xxv] The budō of misogi.[xxvi] There isn’t any maliciousness or spirit of opposition.”  In this way Aikido is a budo of mutual development.  It is a budo of purification because all discord is erased.  And, there isn’t any maliciousness (if there were, it would lead to conflict and the Aiki interaction would not have occurred) or spirit of opposition (for the same reason.)

“Malicious people and people who have a spirit of opposition are defeated from the start.” Takamusu Aiki Chapter 12 This is true because if one is malicious they are out of balance (against the will, law, or Way of the universe)  and if they have a spirit of opposition they cannot, by definition Aiki.


Next week I will pick up where we left off.

Thank you for continuing to read and think about what and how Ueshiba communicated what Aikido is.

Allen

8 thoughts on “Part 5 of Shirata’s Essay : Aikido as Budo of Harmony, Aikido as Budo of Non-Resistance

  1. Hi Allen,

    Again great depth in a small package.

    The short explanation about irimi tenkan explains more to me than hours of practice with certain shihan.

    Well done, eagerly awaiting the next installment.

    Fred

    Like

  2. Hi Allen:
    I can see other implications in the translations, but it would take too long to get into it. I think a lot of what Ueshiba said was fairly simple and adhered to classical Chinese thought in the way it described using Ki and Jin/Kei and how jin is manipulated, etc.

    The initial “extremes” or “poles” are the force of Up from the ground (the solidity of the ground derived from Gravity) and Down toward the ground (the pull of gravity/weight). In the body those are the two extremes/poles and it’s what they mean by Tai Chi or Taiji (both are pronounced “Tai Jee”, not “Tai Chee”). Body movement goes from Open (until you can open no more) to Close (until you can close no more) to Open to Close to Open and so on. That is what the Taiji symbol is showing: how maximum black implies minimum white and then the gradually shift to maximum white where there is minimum black (the two poles are called “liangyi” meaning Yin and Yang). Taiji implies this constant Change of forces/situations/poles. It’s not meant to imply “mutually opposing forces”, BTW … that just a misinterpretation/misunderstanding.

    Without getting too pedantic, the general idea is that everything starts from nothing, “Wuji”, meaning there is no differentiation; no poles. From Wuji comes Taiji; from Taiji comes Liangyi (two poles); from Liangyi comes Si Xiang (four shapes/poles); from Si Xiang comes the Ba Gua (the eight trigrams/gates/poles). And so on. The point that I wanted to convey is that what you called Eight Powers is traditionally called the Four Poles in the Chinese cosmology. Ueshiba was simply parroting something from the standard cosmology. The Four Poles are: hard and soft, powerful and relaxed, motion and stillness, contraction and extension. The general idea is that once you have accomplished moving your body with the forces of Open and Close you then move on toward practice of the Four Poles.

    Anyway, hope that helps.

    Best.

    Mike

    Like

  3. This bit came from my Japanese friend correcting my language translation in his ever so gentle and respectful manner ;-P

    Sabaku means ending up in an advantageous position.
    Tai sabaki is not tai sabaki unless you end up in a better place at the end of the movement…

    If we wanted to say body movement then it would be tai undo….

    I cut out the parts not rated “G.”

    Allen

    Like

  4. Thank you again. It’s starting to come together. I look forward to your posts every week.
    I came across an article the other day on Chris Li’s blog which had a photo and description of ‘henko’ also called ‘tai no henko’. The difference between what was shown and is ‘typical’ Aikido tai no henko really struck a chord with me. Correlates with the leg axis info on the Aunkai DVDs. Also relates to your commentary leading to “This is very, very different from “getting off the line” of a contrived attack”.
    Even without/before any decent time with solo and paired Aiki development exercises, taking the concepts into the dojo over the past few weeks of just orthogonal force vectors and using leg axis henko instead of sweeping the back leg around has given some interesting results.
    http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aiki-rentai-conditioned-body-yukiyoshi-sagawa-part-1/ (henko – about half way down)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Allen,

    I’ve been working my way through your posts and have enjoyed the perspective you share. I sometimes have difficulty “unpacking” some of the information and applying it to my own practice. I was wondering if you had any advice or best practice for digesting the information you present in your posts? Any help is appreciated and thank you for the information you have been sharing on this blog.

    Best,

    JZ

    Like

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