Re: Kokyu explanation
Everyone is so focused on physical metaphors and "get your arm just so..." advice I thought a little different exploraiton may also help.
Etymology means a lot in pictographic languages, and is very helpful in sorting through the richness of meaning and relationship between concepts. This is true in Chinese, which is my background, as well as Japanese kanji.
The kanji for "KOKYU" 呼吸 mean, respectively "welcome, invite" and "sip, suck, inhale."
The connotation is potentiality, with constraint, and anticipation of filling.
"KI" 氣 , "Qi" in Chinese pinyin notation, is best understood by breaking it down into its component radicals.
In Chinese this character is composed of two characters:
"MI" 米 which means uncooked rice, in the connotation of a measured quantity.
"QI" 气 which means"air, gas" with a connotation of force or anger, used in description of steam, typically.
So the component characters of KI 氣 , together have a denotation of uncooked rice under steam.
The connotation is of process, involving pent up force, as with steam contained for cooking, potentiality, conversion of substance, improvement, danger that brings goodness.
The word is also used in colloquial Chinese expressions that describe a person who is angry, as in the equivalent English expression of someone who is "steamed."
This set of concepts maps quite well upon the Shinto "shikon" or four souls, as in O-Sensei's phrase adopted from Omoto "ichirei, shikon, sangen, hachiriki." "One spirit, four souls, three origins, eight powers."
Aramitama is "the powerful soul";
Nigimitama is "the harmonizing soul";
Kushimitama is "the transforming soul"
Sakimitama is "the blessing soul"
These four concepts are etymologically implicit in the character KI 氣..
An etymologically accurate metaphor for KOKYU 呼吸 can thus be the hungry man's eager sucking up a few grains of just-served rice from steaming hot bowl, but just taking just a few kernels at a time or else his lips get seriously burned.
That is why kokyu techniques have to be practiced so gently. They are very, very close to the hottest, most dangerous fundamentals of the art, where the raw stuff is cooked and made edible, and can be terrifically damaging if applied with too much vigor or too quickly.
John will please forgive me, yet again, for having to teach me this lesson as my uke . . .
Kokyu, when you know have applied it, has these four simultaneous qualities of shikon: it is fiercely dominating; it is not confrontational; it transforms his attack into yours; it ends his desire to keep attacking you.