View Full Version : Organizing the Body For Aikido

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Peter Boylan
09-15-2015, 12:22 PM
I got into a discussion about how you organize the body in budo and ended up writing this blog post:

Aikido is particularly interesting to me because even though it is ostensibly one art, I see very significant differences in the way most Aikikai people organize their bodies as compared to Yoshinkan, which is different again from the way Tomiki based systems organize the body. Ki Society has a clearer syllabus for teaching body organization than the Aikikai, but they seem to end up in a similar place. What do you think? Are these differences important?

Janet Rosen
09-15-2015, 12:49 PM
I think your essay is spot-on, Peter. I have not had time to extrapolate to styles of aikido but that is food for thought and I look forward to reading others' reactions while I ponder it myself.

09-15-2015, 01:02 PM
Would be interesting to see video of the founders of the various aikido styles and check to what extent their styles are reflections of themselves and possibly their pre-aikido training.


09-15-2015, 10:05 PM
You're a great writer, and your depth with the subject matter comes through.

Prewar styles seemed to make more use of structure. Tomiki Aikido's Shomenate and Yoshinkan's Kokyu Ho 1 I think are maybe the same movement with different teaching styles - one for the gross motor movement and timing, the other to develop integration and structure.

While I had understood that Ki Society was a later off shoot of Aikikai, I guess Tohei was the major Aikikai teacher before he broke off and he was a student in the 1940s. Many of the same body shapes, but a focu on imagery and how it affects structure. There are a few exercises like Ikkyo Undo or the Unbendable Arm that maybe are the same movement and application again as mentioned above with a different teaching method.

I wonder if Aikikai came into it's own after Tohei, or maybe developed in part as a reaction to Ki Society. Maybe the right teaching method is all of the above. The different systems all have a slightly different take on the same idea and instruction of the same application. Certainly there seems to be a continuum of concrete to formlessness over time, with the earlier systems clearly more interested in structure.

When I teach a Taiji class at my hospital, I make the point that the structural work used to be about, "How do I hit harder" but that this is now also how to carry groceries, open doors, or pick up grandchildren with less fatigue and less effort.