Part 5 cont. and Part 6 – Shirata’s Essay Continues.

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 cont. & Part 6


Personal opinion. Concerning the principle of non-resistance in accordance with the previous remarks: ① The movement of the fudōshin to a position of invincibility and metsubushi ② then the optimal attack comes in a flash and consequently the opponent is defeated from the start. I am Masa Katsu Agatsu.

The budō of invincibility = the movement of the fudōshin to a position of invincibility and metsubushi—a distracting blow from the side or metsubushi while moving behind them.

The specific non-resistance of bujutsu is taisabaki. The movement of the fudōshin. Causing the opponent’s attack to hit empty air. Diverting. Missing. Passing.

Atemi within movement and taisabaki:
1. Atemi like metsubushi
2. Atemi that is distracting
3. Atemi that is a killing blow isn’t done

Optimal Attack

Reasons. Aiki is harmony and the budō of living together. It is the divine martial art that does not kill, the budō that lets the opponent live, and is not the bujutsu that defeats.

Certainly movement of the fudōshin and the atemi of metsubushi are bujutsu characteristics of aikidō. Without them there is no bujutsu of non-resistance. Therefore, aikidō is the bujutsu of moving the fudōshin to an invincible position (movement to the flank) and simultaneously delivering the optimal attack.

Advice. You must have the posture of fudōshin. Do not bend the midsection, do not slouch, do not look down. Even after controlling them maintain an immovable aspect.

Dōka
The beautiful shape of heaven and earth is a single household made by the lord.
美しきこの天地の御姿は主の創りし一家なりけり

Beautiful posture is Aikidō. Do not bend the koshi.
美しい姿が合気道だ。腰を曲げるな。

Gaka
The true victorious path is surely the beautiful shape of aiki, taisabaki and non-resistance.
美しき合気の姿体捌無抵抗こそ正勝の道

Aikidō as the Concept of Victory and Defeat in Traditional Bujutsu
I let you cut my skin and I cut flesh. I let you cut flesh and I cut bone. I let you cut bone and I cut marrow. This was called the determination to win [hisshō].

Aikidō as the Optimal Attack
“I am victorious from the start because I am non-resistant.” as quoted above.

The opponent is unable to oppose non-resistant taisabaki with a simultaneous attack nor an attack of their defenselessness. They cannot avoid becoming non-resistant. They become non-resistant. They don’t have the spirit to oppose. They agree with me. That is the divine martial art that does not kill. Living together. Letting the opponent live. The budō of love. True budō. A genuine loving attack. Manifesting the expression of restoration.

The opponent feels joy. I do not fight. Non-resistant, I do not injure even one combatant and I am in harmony with them. The opponent also becomes non-resistant, their belligerence is extinguished, and they are at peace with me. Performing misogi and receiving misogi calms the soul.

Dōka
True victory. Self victory. With loving concern, I do aiki and salvation, my soul is revived!
正勝吾勝 御親心に合気して 救い生かすは 己が御魂ぞ

The divine work of ki, the calming of the soul! Kami of heaven and earth, please guide our misogi technique.
気のみわざ 魂のしずめや みそぎ技 導き給え 天地の神

Aiki is using the power of love from the start and love will increasingly flourish.
合気とは 愛の力をもとにして 愛は益々栄えゆくべし

Aiki is the myriad powers of harmony. The people of the way must tirelessly perfect themselves.
合気とは よろず和合の力なり たゆまずみがけ道の人々

Things like the brush and mouth cannot express aiki. Proceed toward satori without speaking.
合気とは 筆や口にはつくされず 言ぶれせずに悟り行へ


COMMENTARY BY ALLEN DEAN BEEBE

(This one may be a bit rough.  I am going to go ahead and publish it for the sake of time and then clean it up more later.)

We pick up again in the middle of part 5 with a continued discussion of Non-resistance.

 Personal opinion. Concerning the principle of non-resistance in accordance with the previous remarks: ① The movement of the fudōshin to a position of invincibility and metsubushi

Again, the body is in a state of “fudoshin” or immovability.  Not that the body cannot move, just that it cannot be moved by an outside force.  That movement itself (for humans this is a co-or sometimes-tri-axial spiral) is what places one into a “position of invincibility.”  The result is “metsubushi” or a “blinding” strike.

② then the optimal attack comes in a flash and consequently the opponent is defeated from the start. I am Masa Katsu Agatsu.

The “optimal attack comes in a flash” because the “optimal attack” is first contact.  There is no physical resistance only a resultant force vector.  Therefore, “the opponent is defeated from the start.”  So there is no enemy for one doing Aiki, there is only the discipline of doing Aiki.  That discipline takes place within one’s self.  Therefore “I am Masakatsu Agatsu.”

The budō of invincibility = the movement of the fudōshin to a position of invincibility and metsubushi—a distracting blow from the side or metsubushi while moving behind them.

As illustrated earlier, if one stay on center and the other leaves on the resultant force vector, one will end up behind them.

The specific non-resistance of bujutsu is taisabaki. The movement of the fudōshin. Causing the opponent’s attack to hit empty air. Diverting. Missing. Passing.

The specific type of non-resistance in bujutsu is a specific type of body movement.  Specifically a co-axial spiral or Aiki 1, 2, 3.  This is also the body movement that produces fudoshin.  It is this movement that causes the opponent’s to hit empty air, divert, miss, and pass.

Atemi within movement and taisabaki:
1. Atemi like metsubushi
2. Atemi that is distracting
3. Atemi that is a killing blow isn’t done

Atemi within movement and taisabaki is body contact with an Aiki body.

  1.  Body contact that causes blindness, the state of “not seeing” what is happening
  2. Body contact that is distracting, it diverts one from one’s original goal
  3. Body contact that is not “one strike, one life.”  Aiki does not produce a lethal outcome.  It produces a resultant force vector.  What one does with the advantage that the Aiki gives is up teach each individual.

 

Optimal Attack

 

Then there is this illustration.

optimal-attack.gif

The illustration is addressed directly in the sense of we know that our “optimal attack” is going to arrive at the flank or 90º.  We know that we are going to end up behind the opponent.  We know that we are going to be rotating clockwise or counter clockwise to the oncoming force.  What hasn’t been mentioned is the san kaku or triangle or 45º.

To understand that one must first understand that one cannot simultaneously enter at 90º or 180º.  So that indicates that this illustration is depicting multiple layers (of time).  In other words, if one were rotating counter clockwise when one made contact (at 90º) with the on coming force (atemi), if both forces were equal, there would be a resultant force vector at 45º in the counter clockwise direction for the opponent, and the self would rotate in behind the opponent at 180º.  But Shirata sensei is depicting a bit more here than he is explaining.  (This makes sense in that this is a martial application illustration, but this is an essay about the Way of Aiki which doesn’t necessarily imply martial application in the conventional sense, but it is asserted that it does imply that Bu is Love in a larger sense.)

Keeping a similar focus on the Way of Aiki as opposed to Aiki applied in a more conventional martial context I will only briefly touch upon the significance of sankaku.

When we look at this familiar representation of three symbols:

Blank.gif

This represents the Self.  The square represents Fudoshin or the immovable body.  The Circle represents how the immovable Aiki body moves, it moves in a co-axial rotation.  And the Triangle represents the Aiki Body itself.  The then the Aiki Body rotates around its central axis the vertices form a circle.  When this occurs coaxially the body becomes “immovable.”

In the conventional martial context there is another lesson to be learned from this symbol. It is about the Aiki Body.  “It enters triangularly.”  This is fairly commonly known in Aiki arts, but not in the manner that most consider.  Most look at the vertices and think that these are the points of entry.  That is incorrect,  the vertices are YANG points and oncoming force is YANG.  So this would lead to collision.  (Although it must be pointed out that there is positive expansiveness in all (symbolically 6) directions.)  So one enters on the Yin lines indicated by the triangle.  In the symbol it is an equilateral triangle.  This means that each angle is 60º.  The oncoming force bisects the 60º angle so the angle of entry indicated by the triangle in the illustration is 30º.

Shirata’s illustration indicates a triangular entry at 45º.  This works better in the illustration.  Obviously, one isn’t going to whip out a protractor in combat, so these measurements are approximate .  These are conceptual rules.  One takes the Aiki Body which is moving coaxially and therefore immovable and enters triangularly at an acute angle, the result on contact is non-resistance that is blinding, distracting, non-lethal.  Shirata’s illustration and the symbol are both 2D representations but what is represented is understood to be possible in 3D.  If one continues to realign and follow the path indicated by the triangle it results in locomotion that is acred.  It can travel in a circle or it can change direction at any point along the arc.

That may be all a bit confusing, but don’t worry about it for now.  Remember the essay isn’t focused on the application of Aiki in a conventional martial encounter, but rather the Way of Aikido as a whole.

Reasons. Aiki is harmony and the budō of living together. It is the divine martial art that does not kill, the budō that lets the opponent live, and is not the bujutsu that defeats.

Now we begin part 6 of Shirata sensei’s essay which, again, is about, “Aikido is – Bu is Love.”  Aiki is harmony or the bringing together of forces in a balanced Yin/Yang relationship.  The result of this is the Budo of living together  because there is no opposition and therefore no conflict.  It is a divine martial art because it is the unity of Ten, Chi, Jin or Unity with the Universe.  The result is that it does not kill, lets the opponent live and does not defeat.

Certainly movement of the fudōshin and the atemi of metsubushi are bujutsu characteristics of aikidō. Without them there is no bujutsu of non-resistance.

 

Tactical movement of the immovable body and the striking body that blindsides, distracts (from one’s goal of opposition), and does not kill are martial characteristics of Aikido.  Without these characteristics there is no non-resistance, and without non-resistance, there is, by definition, no Aikido and consequently no martial characteristics relating to Aikido.

Therefore, aikidō is the bujutsu of moving the fudōshin to an invincible position (movement to the flank) and simultaneously delivering the optimal attack.

In other words, any bujutsu that is NOT moving the immovable body into an invincible position to the flank while simultaneously delivering the optimal attack is NOT Aikido.  These are the characteristics that define a bujutsu as Aikido or not.

Advice. You must have the posture of fudōshin. Do not bend the midsection, do not slouch, do not look down. Even after controlling them maintain an immovable aspect.

As stated previously, in order to a bujutsu to be Aikido one must move the immovable body.  Immovability is a characteristic of Aikido.  Shirata’s advice for attaining or maintaining fudoshin is to not bend the midsection, don’t slouch, and don’t look down.  (all of these can introduce slack which can weaken or eliminate Aiki 1 and there by disrupt Aiki 2 and/or 3.  Even after controlling, maintain fudoshin (immovable mind and body).  This is Zanshin.

Dōka
The beautiful shape of heaven and earth is a single household made by the lord.
美しきこの天地の御姿は主の創りし一家なりけり

This is a Macro Cosmic referent

Beautiful posture is Aikidō. Do not bend the koshi.
美しい姿が合気道だ。腰を曲げるな。

This is a Micro Cosmic referent.

Heaven and Earth formed into a Singularity by the Lord is beautiful.  Heaven and Earth formed into a unified posture by Man is likewise beautiful.  Don’t bend the Koshi.  (The Koshi is the midpoint of man akin to man’s place between Heaven and Earth.  Therefore it should be aligned (actually held or connected) in such a way as to unify all into a singularity.)

Gaka
The true victorious path is surely the beautiful shape of aiki, taisabaki and non-resistance.
美しき合気の姿体捌無抵抗こそ正勝の道

Masa Katsu is the beautiful shape of Aiki exhibited in body movement and non-resistance.

Aikidō as the Concept of Victory and Defeat in Traditional Bujutsu
I let you cut my skin and I cut flesh. I let you cut flesh and I cut bone. I let you cut bone and I cut marrow. This was called the determination to win [hisshō].

In Aikido one benefits from the same level of determination  as in Traditional Jujutsu, but that determination is aimed and the correcting and uniting of the self with the universe.

Aikidō as the Optimal Attack
“I am victorious from the start because I am non-resistant.” as quoted above.

The opponent is unable to oppose non-resistant taisabaki with a simultaneous attack nor an attack of their defenselessness. They cannot avoid becoming non-resistant.

Because an opponent is unable to oppose or resist they cannot avoid becoming non-resistant.

They become non-resistant. They don’t have the spirit to oppose.

Their spirit is blindsided, and they are distracted.

They agree with me.

That is they too are non-resistant.

That is the divine martial art that does not kill. Living together. Letting the opponent live. The budō of love. True budō. A genuine loving attack. Manifesting the expression of restoration.

All of this takes place in the middle of now.

The opponent feels joy.

I’ve felt this a couple of times.  It is different from the Joy one feels executing or receiving a perfectly executed throw or the like.  Rather it is more akin to surviving a potentially lethal accident.  There is a kind of euphoria at having touched the reality of death without dying.

I do not fight. Non-resistant, I do not injure even one combatant and I am in harmony with them. The opponent also becomes non-resistant, their belligerence is extinguished, and they are at peace with me.

So, this is the ideal.  Certainly this can be provably manifested in physics in relationship to forces.  As to whether or not it can be manifested at the macro level remains to be seen.

Performing misogi and receiving misogi calms the soul.

Here again, Shirata equates an Aiki interaction to misogi and meditative prayer.

Dōka
True victory. Self victory. With loving concern, I do aiki and salvation, my soul is revived!
正勝吾勝 御親心に合気して 救い生かすは 己が御魂ぞ

Masa Katsu Agatsu, out of loving concern for self and other I Aiki which is salvation.  My soul is revived (along with others.)

The divine work of ki, the calming of the soul! Kami of heaven and earth, please guide our misogi technique.
気のみわざ 魂のしずめや みそぎ技 導き給え 天地の神

Divine work of Ki is the Universal Ki of Heaven and Earth in an Aiki relationship.  This as described above is misogi.  This can only be brought about within ourselves if we accord our will with that of Heaven and Earth, or the Universal will.

Aiki is using the power of love from the start and love will increasingly flourish.
合気とは 愛の力をもとにして 愛は益々栄えゆくべし

Aiki uses the strength of love from the start.  Therefore, through Aiki, love will increasingly flourish.

Aiki is the myriad powers of harmony. The people of the way must tirelessly perfect themselves.
合気とは よろず和合の力なり たゆまずみがけ道の人々

Things like the brush and mouth cannot express aiki. Proceed toward satori without speaking.
合気とは 筆や口にはつくされず 言ぶれせずに悟り行へ

As I have pointed out many times in this blog, words either spoken or written are only a model of the reality of Aiki.  Aiki is invisible and therefore cannot be depicted in picture or film.  When it comes to Aiki, experience is King!  One usually begins by experiencing Aiki (the manipulation forces into a Yin/Yang relationship in specific ways).  One will only experience Aiki through physical interaction with one that can manifest Aiki.  This can be a bit tricky due to the fact that the number of people that can demonstrate the traits of Aiki vs the number of people claiming, or thinking, that they can demonstrate the traits of Aiki are inversely proportional.  Few vs Many.  Next one must begin to experience what is necessary to take place in one’s own mind/body to produce Aiki in order  to begin to develop the capacity to Aiki.  Finally, one must increasingly experience the ability to Aiki with one’s own body/mind.  If we are to take our predecessors word, even after beginning to experience the ability to manifest Aiki within one’s one body/mind, one can continue to develop and improve for the rest of one’s days.


We’re not quite done yet!!!  Next week we will continue as Shirata Rinjiro begins to write about a specific technique in relationship to what has been previously discussed :

After we finish with Shirata sensei’s essay I would like to begin sharing his solo body movement exercises.  There is a couple of catches though.  First, I need a digital camcorder.  Second, it would be ideal if I could post video directly within the blog instead of linking to yet another media entity (I have too many irons in the fire as it is.)  It would also be nice to have software like Scrievner to organize, collate and publish future blogs.  All of the above costs money though.  Not a lot, but I have no budget for this.  For that reason, I have begun to make it possible to donate.  Wouldn’t it be nice if True Aiki was at least self-sustaining?  Well, it would be nice for me at least!

True Aiki is free for all to read, but it is not free.  As little as $1 can help to cover expenses and possibly add features to True Aiki.

Thank You!

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7 thoughts on “Part 5 cont. and Part 6 – Shirata’s Essay Continues.

  1. Thanks again. Some great additional stuff in this section of the essay.
    Is entering on the lines of the triangle considered Yin because combined with rotation of the Fudoshin, there is harmony and no clash? When we think of entering directly on an acute angle in a linear fashion (triangle as a wedge), there is a clash as most of the force vector is still against the force of attack with only a weak vector to the side, which would be very Yang.
    “We know that we are going to be rotating clockwise or counter clockwise to the oncoming force.” There has been some emphasis on the rotation being on axis and not necessarily ‘getting off the line’. In the diagram, with the positions of Self indicating multiple layers or positions in time (with movement), can it be assumed that the circle representation isn’t to be taken as a literal map of movement, as in a 1,2,3 footwork diagram? Is it right to see it more as movement relative to the opponent (so the opponent isn’t necessarily traveling on the straight arrow shown either) or is it still locomotion of the self’s body following a circle of sorts on the floor, but moved in a particular way?

    Like

    1. Hi Craig,

      Thank you for your question and support!

      There is an underlying assumption when doing Aikido that one is always doing Aiki within one’s self (Masa Katsu A Katsu), with or without an outside attempt to oppose. So, optimally there will always be some form of Aiki present. That is taken as “understood” by most of those writing about Aiki.

      A consequence of that assumption of understanding is that these individuals often only mention the more acute applications of Aiki. For example, “Apply Aiki to X,Y, or Z.”

      You are correct in understanding that entry points illustrated are not meant either in a, “Move here, and then there, and finally there.” fashion. Nor are they meant to imply three separate singular choices of points of entry. Also, the arrows around the circle are not indicating the path that one would follow to arrive at any of those points of entry.

      First of all, anybody with experience in combative sport, for example, knows from experience that arrive at another’s flank or rear without being (at the very least) re-addressed, is highly unlikely. Nor is the ability to do such a maneuver claimed. (I’m putting disappearing and reappearing, as both Takeda and Ueshiba have been claimed to do at times, in a different category.)

      So arriving at 90º to another is a product of meeting an oncoming force orthogonally, if fact it is the definition of that. Also, arriving behind another is the outcome of that initial meeting. This all is happening at the point of contact.

      When we are thinking in terms of one human’s body in relationship to another’s that is when the triangle appears. One takes one’s body which is already Aiki and moves it in such a way as to form a tangent to the the other. So there is the immediate tangent formed on contact (small and likely invisible), and there is the larger tangent formed by moving the immovable body such that that occurs.

      This has little to nothing to do with “getting off the line of attack.” Rather, this continued mode of movement is martially expedient. One may or may not end up at another’s flank or back (depending upon the ability of the other) but this mode of movement presents other martially expedient outcomes that can be taken advantage of in a conventional martial encounter.

      Make no mistake, this sort of application is very highly unlikely to look (or end) like the Aikido most are familiar with. Which explains why Ueshiba didn’t want to “demonstrate a lie” before Japanese royalty. The fact that he did was due to being told to “show the lie.”

      This isn’t the sort of thing that Ueshiba liked, or even wanted, to demonstrate. Nevertheless, he was fully capable performing and teaching such actions, both of which he did in the earlier stages of his life.

      Here again we see the differentiation between Aikido in the larger sense and Aiki in application in a real martial context.

      BTW, did you notice that the fact that this essay explains quite nicely the statement that Aikido is 90% atemi?

      Thanks,
      Allen

      Like

  2. Allen, really appreciate your very detailed reply. And yes to the 90% atemi! It’s been in the back on my mind for the last couple of posts.

    Like

  3. Hi Allen,
    Just a small note about the joy. To my experience it has less to do with the euphoria of survival (which I know by first hand experience) but more to the ability of nage to completely include and absorb your attack rendering it null and making the intent and aggression melt away. Yet controlling you splendidly all the way. Also if nage manages to bring you into his unified perspective through the attractive force we are compelled and amazed by it to the extent where we ‘give up’.

    Like

    1. Dear Bob’s Elbow,

      I am so sorry that your owner did not tell me to stop, when asked repeatedly if I should. Please rest assured, that in the future, I will listen to to you and not your owner when it comes to matters of your personal safety.

      After all, without you, your owner wouldn’t be the International Karate Hero he is today! He may be “the Big Cheese,” but you are the burger upon which he sits. Bob’s elbow, you deserve appreciation, respect, and recognition for all that you have done, and all that you do.

      Sincerely,
      Allen

      Like

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