View Full Version : The aikido experience and kotodama

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11-05-2008, 10:14 AM
O-Sensei Ueshiba's connection to the Oomoto religion has been well documented. Also, the influence Oomoto had on aikido's post World War II development is also well documented.

The dojo where I learn aikido does not practice kotodama at all. I've had to explore kotodama on my own (mostly using the materials created by John Stevens Sensei). Finding other materials on kotodama is a bit difficult (the main Oomoto website doesn't appear to address it at all and Oomoto America - a Yahoo group only talks about it a little).

Can a student really experience aikido without incorporating kotodama (and possibly Oomoto)?

11-05-2008, 11:06 AM
Isn't Gleason-sensei about to publish a book on kotodama? Or maybe already has?

11-05-2008, 11:30 AM
Here it is on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Aikido-Words-Power-Sacred-Kototama/dp/1594772452/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1225905998&sr=1-9) - looks like it's not quite out yet

Janet Rosen
11-05-2008, 12:48 PM
Can a student really experience aikido without incorporating kotodama (and possibly Oomoto)?
Apparently most of his direct students right at Hombu Dojo under him did manage to do so.

Nathan Wallace
11-05-2008, 06:36 PM
I can write up a pretty detailed explaination of it for you; from the point of veiw of shinto. It'll take me a little while. I'll email it to you.
Whether or not you need it? Well, I use a little bit here and there. Mostly only the stuff I have read O'sensei used though.

Kevin Leavitt
11-05-2008, 07:23 PM
Gleason Sensei does cover it also in the Spiritual Foundations of Aikido as well. that book was published a while ago and is available now.


Stefan Stenudd
11-05-2008, 08:43 PM
Our teacher Ichimura sensei had kototama classes with us, during my first years of aikido - both theory classroom style and exercises on the tatami. I still do it, now and then.
I also wrote a chapter about it in my "Aikido: The Peaceful Martial Art":

It's not at all a necessary part of aikido, but some simple kototama exercises can add perspectives. The aikido techniques can be done in a kototama manner, with the "chanting" and all. In my humble opinion, it doesn't have to be very complicated or include religious apparatus, but it does include a cosmology of sorts.
Well, it can be described as a cosmology expressed through sounds.

Nakazono sensei wrote several books about kototama. I don't think that they can be found on Amazon, but here:

Toby Bazarnick
11-06-2008, 03:49 PM
Sensei Gleason also does Okugyo seminars:


An Open Invitation to all Aikido Students

I am writing this as an open invitation to all aikido students who wish to participate in our training center.

In order to insure the highest level of training, the retreats will be limited to twenty participants and divided into the levels of fundamentals, intermediate and advanced. The word Okugyo indicates the advanced level, yet the training will go into depth at each level. Each student will be required to pass all aspects of one level before participating in the next.

The Okugyo training will emphasize the spiritual as well as the physical aspects of aikido. Students will participate in daily meditation, reading and discussion, and other activities designed to help the student move towards an integrated understanding of Aikido.

It has long been my goal to create an environment for this kind of personal training. Okugyo seminars will not make any distinction between affiliation or rank, but will be open to all who approach it with a sincere and humble attitude.


William Gleason

05-29-2009, 12:26 AM
Hi Scott, I have found my self in a similar position as you. My personal feeling is that Kototama is very important to my person practice for a number of different reasons.

Recently I have been in Iwama, for the past two months and lucky that the ichiban also practices kototama. When I came he had been practicing for a while teaching himself from John Stevens books and You tube clip. We practice kototama twice daily at the Aiki Jinga in Iwama. However there were a couple of fundamental flaws in his self taught practice that perhaps may be of use to you too.

He did not use a full voice. For me this is a must, it does not mean shouting but rather the vibrations emanating from deep inside your core from your Hara and as loud as is natural without forcing. As you practice and develop the full voice can become more quiet and still have a powerful resonance.

The next thing to be aware is that kototama should be practiced with your back passage held closed - firmly at powerful points end Kiai for instance. That is to say your pelvic floor should be shut. The powerful expansive force does not just go up and out of your mouth. This also applies to powerful Kiai or Kiai training.

There are some wonderful old clips of Nakazono practicing Aikido and Ichimura Sensei too (Henry Ellis Channel). Nakazono's Aikido is graceful fluid and full of understanding. Something to aspire towards.

Stefan Hultberg
06-14-2009, 03:13 PM
Hi Keith

And much do I miss hearing you and Chris doing your kototama in the budokan at 5.30 in the morning. I have been practicing some kototama myself since I came home from Iwama, went to my own holy tree and got stuck into it. By the way - you'll be pleased to hear I remembered to secure the "back passage".

I hear the shodan & yondan exams went well in Iwama. Congratulations to everybody!!

Ethan Weisgard
11-23-2009, 03:00 PM
Hello all!

Dr. Peter Goldsbury addresses many issues regarding Kotodama/Kototama in his column number 15 to be found here under "Columns" on AikiWeb. "Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 15"

It's fascinating reading. I recommend it highly.

In aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

George S. Ledyard
11-26-2009, 01:03 PM
You might consider doing some training with Rev Koichi Barrish at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. Aside from having a shrine / dojo that is probably the most beautiful dojo in the states, at least from what I have seen, he has a lot to say about the Founder's spiritual training and how it relates to Aikido.
Shrine Website (http://www.tsubakishrine.org/home.html)

He is a very nice man and has a combination of Shinto and Aikido training that is unique. Very interesting fellow.