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Old 04-20-2005, 07:49 AM   #60
Mike Sigman
Location: Durango, CO
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,123
Re: Shioda, Tohei, and Ki Things

Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Compare, if you will, the "lightning fast feel for one's empty spot", with the 'explosive power' talked about earlier in this thread. In my opinion, Yamaguchi's trademark was the first and Tada's trademark is the second, though of course they are two sides of a larger whole.
Hi Peter:

Actually, this can be looked at on about 3 levels of understanding. At the moment I'm going through a "duh" phase with myself, but the real problem was that I hadn't had anyone actually define the specific part of "aiki" before, the way Inaba did. Using that, I go back and see that Shioda wasn't just "delighting in kokyu tricks", as I earlier said, he was focusing on what "aiki-do" actually meant to him. It's an honest epiphany for me. Not that I missed what he was doing, I missed what it meant in the grand scheme of things because we all get confused in trying to pick out what is the important information when so much is always being paraded in front of us (that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it). I had already decided that what Shioda did was like an exquisite riff on a guitar that I had never thought about, even though I'm a "guitar player" as well. And I was already beginning to concentrate on accomplishing the riff the way he did it.

What Shioda did was being missed by his students that attempted to emulate him. They saw it on the first level. The second level would be after you got some kokyu skills and you emulated it on a gross level. The third level would be an extension beyond just the kokyu skills but how you move them outside of your body. Suddenly I see a whole art built around that concept (well, I see it after reading Inaba's enlightening comment) and I see even more clearly than before why just a few techniques are necessary if you have that particular skill. In a way, it's the same basic idea in real Taiji, but I again missed the focus because I was engaged in developing the extent of my powers and overlooked the four-leaf clover. Duh.

The point being that "explosive power" is just one way you can apply this concept (or you can just use it to show off) and that's somewhat aside from "finding the empty spot" (which is important, but more complicated than I'm making it). Shioda did somewhat more than just "find the empty spot" but I figured that was accurate enough for the purposes of these discussions.
Inaba was greatly influenced by Yamaguchi, who never divorced kokyuu training from aikido training in general. Tada Shihan, on the other hand, practised a whole load of standing exercises, which he called "Ki no Renma" and insisted that kokyuu power could come only via very intensive training. As I intimated in a previous post, Tada supplemented his aikido trainig at the Hombu with training outside.
The level of kokyu is, as I've said before, a matter of degree. It goes from the coarse "driving with the whole body" stuff that some people do (they're sure they've "arrived", though) to the fairly sophisticated levels. At the fairly sophisticated levels you can do what Shioda did without actually having a lot of the true "ki" (and it's quite possible that Shioda didn't really understand what that is, given his definitions) or you can do what Shioda did and have in addition the actual ki-things the body can do, the ones that Tohei likes to focus on. In terms of the essence of Aikido, as I'm seeing it now, it can be effected without going to the full limits that Tohei does, but it's not simple and it does take some practice. So it could be that Tada was going for the full boat in addition to the essence of Aiki and Yamaguchi was focused only on the essence of Aiki. If that makes sense to you. I only offer it as a possibility since I don't know either person.
In aikido taking ukemi is a good way to sense what is happening and I have done this regularly over the years with both shihans. With Yamaguchi it was like grabbing hold of water. He found the empty spot, but then allowed you to fill it and then controlled your own ki/kokyuu until the next empty spot, and so on. With Tada it is more like entering a whirlpool, since he controls the 'kokyuu field' from the very begining. Tada expects you to keep up with his kokyuu, whereas Yamaguchi matches yours and draws it out, at every step.

Does this make sense?
Well, it makes sense, certainly, but it sounds like different usages of the same basic concept that Inaba called "aiki". I.e., once you understand it, you can play variations on the same theme. In fact, that's what Shioda was doing with his "riff".... it was a series of variations on the central theme; the way he did his ura, omote, leading, etc., would also be variations of that same theme, without a doubt. So someone being uke for Tsuki-Kotegaeshi with Shioda might have described a "whirlpool" or whatever feeling, but the essence of what Shioda did would have been this use of "aiki" throughout the throw, regardless of the feeling his particular variation of aiki induced on uke. IMO. Email me at mikesigman at so I can get your preferred email address and I'll try to lay it out more clearly, when I get a few minutes.


Mike Sigman
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