Editorís note: I asked Mark Crapo to write an article describing how Judo and Aikido relate. Mark is a long time Judoka and has extensive knowledge of the martial arts. I feel it is useful to see how Aikido relates to other types of training in Budo.
The traditional Bujutsu of ancient Japan were the martial techniques used in combat. They evolved over the centuries and became very specialized. There were both armed and unarmed ryu, or traditional schools, as well as those dealing with auxiliary arts such the proper way to tie up an enemy or to swim in full armor. Even such things as flower arranging, poetry, the tea ceremony and calligraphy were often linked to rounded training. These jutsu, or techniques, can be likened to the roots of a tree. These deep and powerful roots gave rise to not only the trunk but also the branches.
As time passed and Japan entered "the modern age" the techniques of combat gave way to "the way," or the ways of fighting, Budo. Modern Budo are those branches and the very fruits of the tree. While Budo came from the fields of battle, it evolved into something more than how to kill an opponent, more than a way to control an enemy. It became a method (or methods) to control oneís self, betterment of the individual and thus society. We would say that the jutsu arts emphasized Satsujin-Ken, or the sword to kill while the do arts became Katsujin-Ken, or the sword to give life.
Professor Jigoro Kano was the epitome of a "modern man" in turn of the century Japan. He led the charge from one age, the age of waza or pure technique, the way
of power, into the modern age of do or the way. Specifically, he founded
the Way of Gentleness or the Yielding Way, Judo. While the
jutsu arts focused on how to survive in combat, the do arts
focused on how to survive in the world around us; to survive in harmony
and with dignity in a modern age, a modern way of life. He also served
as a sort of ambassador to the world, making almost 15 trips to countries
around the globe.
Kano Sensei was born in Mikage on October 28, 1860. As a young man he studied the ancient ways of combat. He particularly focused on two styles of Jujutsu, Tenshin Shiníyo Ryu and Kito Ryu. While both were methods of primarily unarmed combat, Tenshin Shiníyo Ryu dealt more with atemi (striking vital points) and ne-waza (ground techniques), what we now refer to as grappling. Kito Ryu was an art that concentrated more on tachi-waza (standing arts) and randori (free practice). Kano Sensei combined the best, most scientific arts in them to form what was to become modern Judo.
Jigoro Kano also earned his degree as a teacher. He became the headmaster of small school, but because of his innovations in education was soon promoted. After several posts he finally became the headmaster of one of the finest and most elite schools in Japan and an advisor to the government in the area of not only education but sports. In addition to Japanese he spoke English, German, and some Spanish. He applied an educatorís skill and knowledge of learning into the formation of his modern art of Judo. He was also known to apply the stern discipline of the martial arts to his classroom students.
As an educator, Kano Sensei saw that the disciplines of the past could be used for discipline and betterment in the changing generation. But modifications would have to be made if the arts of self defense were to be broadly and safely practiced by the youth of the day. Eventually he combined the best elements of tachi-waza and ne-waza into one art. He eliminated the more dangerous atemi-waza and limited joint locks (kansetsu-waza) to just the elbow. Shime-waza (choking arts) were also allowed. Thus in 1882 Judo was born. (It should be noted that while Kano Sensei eliminated the more dangerous arts from what is now called sport Judo, he did retain them in kata and the methods of self defense.)
While 1882 is the official "birthday" of Judo, the by-laws werenít written until two years later. It was in 1882 that Kano Sensei started his first dojo (at a Zen temple) but at that time what he was teaching was mostly jujitsu. His Kito ryu teacher, Iikubo Sensei, came a couple times a week to instruct at his new dojo. This continued throughout í82 and part of í83. At this time Kano earned his first teaching license (in Kito Ryu), after founding Judo!
In the early years of Judo, many Jujitsu masters were recruited into the Kodokan (the Judo Hombu Dojo). They brought with them skills from the various ryu they represented and the repertoire of the Judoka grew. The legitimacy of the Kodokan itself was questioned early on, and a challenge match was fought against a combined jujitsu team (several different schools). The winner would go on to become officially sanctioned instructors to the police force. While Judo won the match, it was the efforts of these newly recruited Jujitsu practitioners that turned the tide.
While Judo is often translated as Gentle Way, these early years were anything but gentle. These were rough and tumble years with many injuries. (Speaking of rough and tumble, our President, Teddy Roosevelt, had a portion of the White House converted into a dojo, and a representative of the Kodokan taught Judo classes for a short time. After the White House instruction ended, the teacher, Maeda Sensei, traveled the US engaging in challenge matches. He later settled in Brazil and became the teacher to the Gracies.) Yielding Way is probably a more accurate translation of Judo. The basic Judo philosophy is: when pushed, pull; when pulled, push. If you and your partner each have 10 units of strength a contest would result in a stalemate. But if your partner pushes with 8 of his units of strength and you pull with only 3 of yours, that equals 11 units - more than either of you alone possess and your partner can not win. That is also Seiryoku Zeníyo or Maximum Efficiency With Minimum Effort, one of the two maxims of Judo. (In Aikido this is simply called Aiki or blending.) The other is Jita Koíya, Mutual Welfare and Benefit. (In Aikido we would call this the Spirit of Loving Protection for All Things.)
It was Jigoro Kano that developed the present belt ranking system used by most Japanese and Korean systems today. There are two basic groups: Mudansha or the beginning ranks and Yudansha, the black belt ranks. You start as a white belt Mudansha with a rank of 6th kyu and progress up to the 1st kyu. You then start all over again in the Yudansha ranks as a shodan (1st degree and move up towards 10th.) The color changes resemble a white belt gradually becoming old and worn, white/brown/black. Originally there were 3 white belt levels and 3 brown belt levels. While this is still seen in some dojo most have expanded into what is called the rainbow belt system with blue, red, purple, green, yellow, orange, and even camouflage belts. Today it is also common that while adults still start out as 6th kyu, children start as 10th.
Jigoro Kanoís interests were not limited to only Judo, but encompassed all Budo. He had many prominent teachers from other styles teach at the Kodokan. He was even responsible for Funakoshi Sensei staying in Japan to teach Karate - later to become the Father of Japanese Karate.
It was Kano Senseiís wish that Judo become an Olympic
sport. He worked to spread Judo around the world, even visiting the US.
He also worked as a member of the Olympic committee. It was after a visit
to the Olympic committee in Cairo in 1938 that he died (he was actually
on his ship, returning to Japan). He had hoped that Judo would be accepted
as an Olympic event in 1940 (and this was accepted), but because of the
war this was not realized until 1960 when Judo was an exhibition event.
In 1964 it gained status as a regular event.
The Judo we see today is not exactly what Jigoro
Kano would have hoped for. While it has achieved world wide status and
is part not only of the Olympic games but of many World competitions, changes
have been made that Kano Sensei would not be entirely happy with. First,
Kano Sensei believed in open tournaments -- no weight classes. After his
death, Judo started having competitive divisions, light weight, middle
weight and heavy weight in response to international pressure. Today it
has basically the same weight divisions as collegiate wrestling. However,
many tournaments will take the winners of the individual weight classes
and pit them against one another to determine a grand champion.
There are basically two ways to win a Judo match. One is by submission. You place your partner in a choke, joint lock, or hold down and they give up or submit. If they donít, they may legally be choked into unconsciousness or you can break their elbow which usually ends the match. You may also win by points. Up until the 1970ís, you could win by ½ or 1 point. You were awarded ippon (1 point) for successfully throwing your partner with a recognizable technique, with force, largely on his back. If one of those elements was missing, you could be awarded wazari (½ point). Two wazari did equal an ippon. You could also hold your partner down, in a recognizable hold for 30 seconds and be awarded an ippon. For less than 30 seconds but at least 25, you would be awarded a wazari.
In the mid 70ís, in an effort to make Judo more of a spectator sport new points were added; yuko (¼ point) and koka (1/8 point). However, these points do not add up. That is while two wazari or ½ points equal ippon, four yuko (¼) donít equal ippon and two yuko donít add up to one wazari. You can have 10 or 15 yuko or koka. One wazari beats any number of lesser points and one yuko beats any number of koka. While the intention was that this was to encourage more Judoka to become less defensive and liven the action up, it often results in them attempting very crude techniques, trying to trip or force their opponent down anyway possible, and results in some very sloppy Judo. Iím sure Kano Sensei would not be pleased.
In many ways the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was the direct opposite of Jigoro Kano. While Kano Sensei was the modern gentleman, Ueshiba Sensei was the ancient mystic. Jigoro Kano studied modern literature and politics. Morihei Ueshiba studied the ancient classics and religion.
Morihei Ueshiba was born in Tanabe on December 14, 1883. He did enjoy some of the same wealth and privilege that the young Kano grew up with. His father, Yoroku Ueshiba was a town councilman and businessman. As a youngster Morihei demonstrated some affinity for numbers and studied the abacus and accounting. However his real love was the martial arts. He was drawn to them and studied them with a passion that many found to border on the obsessive. He is known to have spent some time studying various ryu of bojutsu (staff arts) and kenjutsu (sword arts) along with sojitsu or yarijutsu (use of the spear). While he did become quite proficient in these, eventually teaching bayonet techniques in the military, he spent most of his efforts learning jujutsu.
While he may have studied more than one jutsu style, he was mostly influenced by Daito-ryu. This is also called Daito-ryu Jujitsu and today even known as Daito-ryu Aikijujitsu. He met his teacher, Sokaku Takada, in 1915 and studied with him, on and off for the next 7 years. Today when we think of studying an art, we often think of attending a class at the dojo lasting an hour, an hour and a half or in some dojo, two hours. While it is common for some students to attend classes three times a week, others may only go once or twice. It was not uncommon for Ueshiba Sensei (and many other students of his era) to study for 8 hours a day, for days on end. Practicing 6 or 7 days a week was more the rule than the exception. It was not uncommon for someone to rack up more practice hours in a week than some of todayís students earn in 3 or 4 months. Progress came rapidly. (Former Hombu Chief Instructor Koichi Toheiís first promotion in Aikido was to Godan - 5th degree black belt.)
In 1922 Ueshiba Sensei earned his Menkyo or teaching license in Daito-ryu. In his early years of teaching he started blending his knowledge of other arts, sword, staff, and spear, into his empty hand techniques. He was gradually developing his own "style." Such experimentation and evolution was very common among instructors of that era. Even though Takeda Sensei would visit and teach at his student Moriheiís dojo, gradually a split occurred between the two men. This may have been a split more for philosophical reasons than any other. The art Ueshiba Sensei was teaching gradually became known as Ueshiba-ryu and Aikijujitsu.
The early years, of what was to become Aikido, were as rough and tumble as those of Judo. The Aikijujitsu dojo became known as Hell Dojo. Workouts were often brutal. My experience in the martial arts 25 to 30 years ago was that you were not so much taught a technique as you "stole" it. Instructors werenít much at "instructing" as we would know it today. Rather they demonstrated a technique several times, at best, and you were expected to copy it. You learned over time to take in everything you could of the short demonstration and tried to "steal" what the teacher showed. Ukemi was taught in much the same manner. Let someone throw you a few hundred times and eventually you get the idea. . . or you quit.
In the early Ď30ís Jigoro Kano visited Ueshiba Senseiís dojo to observe his young art. After watching his techniques Kano declared that Ueshibaís art was the true Judo, the best martial art. In the following years Kano Sensei sent many of his finest students to study Aikido. Some switched completely, others continued to study both. Professor Tomiki, who I believe was an 8th dan in Judo, became an Aikido Instructor at Waseda University. Much against the wishes of O-Sensei he combined elements of the two arts and started Tomiki Aikido, a style that includes competition. This was done because of pressure from the college. They demanded some sort of competitive sport. Today this style is little known in Japan, but it is still popular in England and there are a handful of dojo in the US. Another such student was Mochizuki Sensei. He went on to combine elements of Karate, Judo, and Aikido to form Yoseikan Budo. This style is also little known in Japan today but is still popular in France and has a small number of dojo in the US.
The art O-Sensei taught underwent a transformation
during World War II. Rod Kobayashi Shihan was fond of pointing out that
the name Aikido was formally adopted in 1942, prior to Japanís defeat.
This signified a shift; Aikido became an art of timing and finesse and
less of one that concentrated on power as Ueshiba-ryu or Aikijujitsu had.
The transformation was not instantaneous though. Even today, the slow evolution
of technique continues. O-Sensei was quick to point out the he was still
a student following a path, continuing to learn. The art he taught became
softer and yet more powerful as he aged. Unfortunately there are those
instructors today that forget the living art Ueshiba Sensei taught was
still growing. They attempt to fix the techniques in time. They teach the
arts he taught in the 30ís, 40ís, 50ís, or 60ís. One teacher shows a waza
as he learned it in 1954 saying, "This is the way." Another says, "No,
Sensei showed it this way. . . in 1967." The true practitioner says, "He
was leading in this direction. Let us follow."
Aikido training focuses on both techniques and principles. Techniques are bodily movements designed to defend against and control physical attack. Typically, an instructor demonstrates a technique of self-defense against a specified attack, and the student learns by imitating the instructorís movements. Further refinements are made under the guidance of the instructor, and the movements become established with repetitive practice with a partner.
Teaching of principles is somewhat more problematic. O-Sensei stated that the principles of Aikido come from nature. Nature is presumed to be an infinite field of energy (ki), constantly flowing and changing, and like water, essentially formless. It is also presumed to be more of a process than an entity, and the principles refer to consistent patterns within this formless process.
It may also be said that reality at this level is beyond our ordinary senses, and principles are identified, not through direct perception, but by observing or experiencing their effects.
Despite their differing nature, techniques and principles are intricately related. Principles without techniques cannot be expressed. Techniques without principles tend to be mechanical, insensitive, and lacking creativity. The capacity to adapt to changing conditions is diminished, and without humane values and principles to guide their expression, techniques can become potentially dangerous and destructive. Moreover, techniques in and of themselves have limited applicability in the sense that they are generally appropriate only to situations of combat or on the Aikido mat.
Principles, on the other hand, have unlimited applicability. However, because they are formless, they need a means to be expressed. In a circumscribed field of activity, such as Aikido, techniques provide the means of expression. Like a bowl gives shape to water, techniques give form to the formless principles of nature. When techniques and principles are one, as demonstrated in old film clips of O-Senseiís performances, the execution of techniques becomes spontaneous, flowing, effortless and yet very powerful, even magical. O-Sensei attained this level of development after many years of intense training in the martial arts and various religious practices, and his declaration "I am the Universe," following his enlightenment provides the defining statement for Aikido, the art he created. O-Sensei had indeed unified mind and body (principles and technique) and realized the oneness of the universe. It is from this realization that the ethic of nourishing life and promoting peace which characterizes Aikido emerged.
In practicing Aikido, each student works at an individual pace to understand the principles and purposes of introducing change into systems of energy. Initially students must focus their attention on the "method" of applying techniques. This denotes a procedure or specification of steps that must be taken in order to achieve a given end (the throw). However, once this understanding of "method" begins to gel, a second level of awareness must develop around the "methodology" of the application of technique; a concept that now deals with the plurality of methods applied in specific circumstances. Method and methodology are not the same thing. Method deals with how a specific goal is achieved, and methodology deals with the use of systems to acquire or impart knowledge.
In Aikido the throw, although important, is not the ultimate goal. In the ideal situation, the blend and application of an appropriate technique becomes a metaphorical lesson which imparts new knowledge or awareness to both Uke (the person being thrown) and Nage (the person making the throw). To dominate an individual in the moment is only of limited value, but if we begin to change the awareness of participants, the need for further physical intervention may vanish. We are not trying to develop awareness and strong Ki (energy) for the sake of power; we are trying to learn to listen carefully and observe keenly so we can apply appropriate Ki and step completely outside the immediate situation of aggression, inviting Uke into a world of possibility where both of us will discover new alternatives.
A simple example might be a car with a manual shift. If you want to
change the power or acceleration, you simply step on the gas (energy),
but this has its limitations within a defined range. Eventually you will
be forced to shift gears to achieve your desired results. Using more gas
is a first-order change, shifting gears is a second-order change that redefines
your options within a given range (allowing you to increase power or speed
while saving fuel). To accomplish this shift requires a jump or transformation
-- a change that in Aikido must begin with Nage, who opens a new door of
possibility through which Uke is then invited. The goal then, is not to
throw Uke, but to invite Uke successfully into a new system where aggressive
energy can be avoided and dissipated without injury to any of the parties
|Figure B: Solution to the 9-dots problem.|
Through this simple puzzle we are illuminated by recognizing that there are always alternatives if we just take responsibility for expanding our vision, and we can only do this if we truly know where we are as individuals. In Aikido our practice leads us to recognize that the rules of reality exist only to the extent that we have created them. This we share with Uke in the throw, and even if it cannot be articulated or defined, our ability to step "outside the box" is communicated to those around us, offering alternatives to violent confrontation and hope for the development of peaceful resolutions. As you practice your Aikido remember that the method of accomplishing a throw is a first step as we try to discover the methodology that allows us to step outside the standard definitions of aggression, taking Uke with us to a world of new possibility.
The Seidokan Communicator is published quarterly. Please remember, your submissions make this newsletter possible. Send articles about your dojo, your instructor, a recent seminar, philosophical insights, technical descriptions, and other Aikido related materials to me so we can keep up communication in Seidokan Aikido. Send materials to Doug Wedell, 501 Doncaster Dr., Irmo, SC 29063. Email submissions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 15, 16, 17, 1998: Ahsa Aikido presents a workshop with Kancho Stewart Chan Senseii. 1478 Santiago, #21, Salt Lake City, Utah 84121. For more information call 801-942-0487.
June 12-14, 1998: Summer Camp hosted by Cal State Long Beach Aikido Club. Summer Camp includes instruction from many Seidokan Instructors from Headquarters and around the nation. This is an excellent opportunity to train and share friendships with other Seidokan Aikidoka.
Seidokan member fees for camp:
$160 by April 1
$170 by May 1
$180 after May 2
For further information, contact Michiyo Kobayashi at :
Kobayashi Sensei visited our dojo in South Carolina four times between 1991 and 1994 to give seminars. During that period, I asked him to hold calligraphy classes so that my students and I could learn some of the basic kanji (characters) related to Aikido and its principles. In this feature of the Communicator, I would like to share with Seidokan members Senseiís lessons. Each installment will detail how to write a character. The first three installments will focus on Ai, Ki, and Do.
Many aspects of calligraphy cannot be gleaned from the diagrams provided here. For instance, learning the correct consistency of the ink, how the brush enters and leaves the paper, and the ki extension involved requires practice and observation of someone who is skilled at calligraphy. I always enjoyed watching Kobayashi Sensei write the characters and describe how a series of strokes might relate to a series of sword cuts. Naturally, he related the basic principles and movements in calligraphy to basic principles and movements in Aikido. We are fortunate that he left us some diagrams from which we could practice. In these diagrams, he outlined the sequential order of the strokes making up each kanji.
I hope everyone will try their hand at learning these
basic characters and enriching their study of the cultural background of
Aikido. We begin with the character Ai, which means harmony, oneness or
The first stroke is a cut down and to the left. The second stroke cuts to the right, trailing further right. Then comes the single stroke completing the "triangle." Notice how there is a hint of moving back down and to the left. Sensei emphasized that as one left the paper, one should already be preparing for the next stroke. This adds continuity to the calligraphy. Note how this is similar to happo undo, where we turn to face the next direction at the end of the current direction.
The "square" is begun with the vertical cut down, again ending in the direction of the beginning of the next stroke. The top and right sides of the square are joined together, starting out at 1, slowing at 2 where one changes direction, and cutting down and slightly back to the left. Then comes the final stroke.
Note how the last sequence of brush strokes is not unlike the movements in the tsubagaeshi sword stroke. Remember that all of the strokes should be generated from the one point and zanshin should be evident in each stroke. By the way, if you have any questions about these movements, please direct them to Mrs. Minoru Kobayashi. I am only relating here what I recall and am truly a shoshinka in this regard.
In this video series, the late Seidokan Kancho, Rod Kobayashi, shares his experience of over 35 years in the Way of Harmony With Nature. Each waza, or art, is not only clearly demonstrated before an actual class, but he offers an explanation as to why each movement was made.
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Eli Landau, (Ramat-Sharet Seidokan Dojo/AIA, Sandan, 10/12/97)
In November 1997, Seidokan Aikido of Tokyo hosted Joe Crotty Sensei (Co-chief Instructor of AIA) for a weekend workshop. This was a very special and significant event for everyone who attended. It was our dojo's very first guest instructor (not including a surprise visit in October by Ron Havilio, Chief Instructor of Aikido Institute of Jerusalem), and was also Joe's first visit to the birthplace of aikido.
On the first morning, Crotty Sensei emphasized proper movements of the aiki-taiso as well as testing for ki flow and centering. Students reviewed several basic arts including variations of enkei nage, shomenuchi kokyunage, and shomenuchi ikkyo irimi. Joe broke down each technique and clearly explained and demonstrated each movement for us. His easygoing manner and chatty teaching style put us all at ease, and his instruction was chock-full of amusing anecdotes and personal insights gained from his many of years of training under our late founder, Rod Kobayashi Sensei.
In the afternoon session (following a light lunch: Korean barbecue?!), Joe taught a few more basic arts and then introduced movements from aiki jogi #2. Rather than demonstrating all 22 movements in succession, he focused on a few specific movements, explaining them in context against a bokken-wielding opponent, as well as showing their applications for jonage. For many of the students, it was their first time to experience blends and throws using a weapon.
On the final day of the workshop, Joe started class
with several fun, dance-like, partner exercises that helped warm us up
and prepare us for techniques. We then spent considerable (and much needed)
time on tenchinage, both irimi and tenkan. Next, Joe showed us several
blends and throws from Doug Wedell's Systems Approach to Aikido Training
which aims at gradually introducing students to greater degrees of freedom
in the type of attacks and defenses used. Joe would teach a blend and then
demonstrate how the same blend could be used in response to a number of
different attacks. We really enjoyed this new way of training which left
everyone exhausted. The workshop closed with detailed instruction on kokyuho
and ki breathing.
Joe Crotty stayed in Tokyo for a week and many of us were eager to show him around the city: Asakusa, Ueno, Shibuya, central Tokyo, and Shinjuku (including a a visit to the Aikikai headquarters). Joe also visited historical Kamakura, outside of Tokyo. We'd like to thank Joe again for his visit and for conducting a very successful seminar.