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Old 12-12-2003, 09:22 AM   #4
Dojo: Rochester New York Aikido Club
Location: Rochester, NY
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 44
This is taken from another post on this board and is written by Shaun Ravens Sensei.

The following information was taught to me directly by Seiseki Abe Sensei, 10th dan, at his Osaka dojo. He explains that this is the direct way O-Sensei taught him.

For those who may not know, beginning in 1952, O-Sensei spent about 1/3 of every month at Abe Sensei's home and taught aikido in the Osaka dojo that Abe Sensei built for him (next to his home). For those who aren't familiar with him, Abe Sensei was also O-Sensei's calligraphy teacher, and thus had a unique Master-Student, Student-Master relationship -- although Abe Sensei would never say that, and always said he did not teach O-Sensei in the traditional manner...

Torifune no gyo is one of the eight "gyo" (literally - austere training methods) or practices of Misogi-no-Gyo (austere training methods/practices of Misogi), as taught by O-Sensei. Many people use misogi as a spiritual practice. Although there is this aspect, that is only a tangential part of the overall picture.

The actual reason O-Sensei practiced Misogi was not because it was a mystical Shinto practice, by any means. There is a real basis for this practice, one rooted in a clear physical science that has been observed in its true form and practiced by a limited number of followers for thousands of years. This training directly relates to our aikido practice. Simply speaking, it is used to develop "Kokyu" or breath power.

Kokyu is made up of two Kanji, "Ko" - meaning to breath out, and Kyu" - to breath in. There is also an advanced "bugei" aspect having to do with "hiding" ones breath from one's opponent. However, this is an advanced level of this training accomplished after years of companion breathing exercises. This is also a key aspect of advanced aiki-ju-jitsu.

Each of the eight specific Gyo of Misogi come from Kojiki. According to Abe Sensei, O-Sensei created aikido from kojiki. He states, "The two are inseparable."

They are:

1. Misogi-no-gyo (purification and breath training with cold water)

2. Torifune-no-gyo (rowing exercise to "actively" train the breath during movement)

3. Furitama-no-gyo (shaking hands in front of hara to passively train the breath while in standing meditation)

4. Norito-no-gyo (chanting of long prayers to further train and control the breath)

5. Otakebi-no-gyo (Lifting the hands over the head, and body up on the toes, bringing hands back down to below the tanden while shouting "eee-aaaay" and forcing all the breath from the body, again, breath training.

6. Okorobi-no-gyo (two different practices using tegatana "two-fingered sword" cutting, shouting "eee-aaaay" and forcing all the breath from the body, for breath training.

7. Chinkon Kishin-no-gyo (seated meditation, with specific hand postures, hand gestures, and specific meditative visualizations)

8. Shokuji-no-gyo (specific dietary measures designed to distinguish the body's physical power and change the blood from acidic (typical) to alkaline [to promote proper breathing, and correct mind/attitude/heart - kokoro-e])

According to Abe Sensei, the importance of this last Gyo is that its practice is paramount to understanding O-Sensei's mind - specifically as to directly realizing for one's self how and why O-Sensei developed aikido. However, due to the difficulty eating only 4 small cups of rice gruel a day in combination with the sincere undertaking of practicing all 8 Misogi-no-gyo for long, extended periods of time, it is usually left out - much to the detriment of the entire process. My personal experience of this training had me lose 35 pounds in less than 5 weeks.

With specific regards to Torifune, there are three different components or movements. Each are to be followed by furitama, thus creating a pattern of "active/passive" breath training.

In the first movement, while moving the hips forward, the emphasis is on moving the hands forward very quickly (fingers pointed down to the ground, active with "ki" and one's wrists are bent - note the rotation of the forearm from the ready position to the forward position) while exhaling (kiai) with the compound vowel sound "Eeee-Aaaay!" As the hips move back, the wrists follow (soft movement) with the vowel sound "ho!". This 2-part sequence of forwards and backwards should be repeated upwards of twenty times. This is the male aspect, or giving "ki" exercise or "Irimi/Kokyu-ho" (triangle/square) based techniques. You should notice that you are breathing hard as you change to furitama-no-gyo exercise.

The second Torifune exercise reverses the emphasis, starting with a forward hip movement, a soft hand movement and kiai with "ho!" followed by the return of the hips, quick hand movement, while exhaling (kiai) with the compound vowel sound "Eeee-Aaaay!" Then furitama-no-gyo. This is female, or accepting ki exercise or "tenkan/Kokyu-ho" or (circle/square) based techniques.

The third exercise changes the hand movements from ones that are hip level to ones that are chest level. Starting with palms up (at your sides and chest level) begin with the forward hip movement, moving the hands forward very quickly, turning the palms down to the ground, and exhaling (kiai) using the pronouncing "saaaaaah!" this is followed by returning the hands to their original position, again moving the hands backward very quickly, this time exhaling (kiai) using the pronouncing "Aaaay!" Again, the emphasis is on both, moving the hands forward (very quickly) and back (just as quickly).

However, it is important to note that you should try this last part of the Torifune exercise in only one breath, pushing all of your breath out as you move forward and back until you can not kiai any longer. This is way to combine both the male/female and female/male aspect, for techniques based upong the ever-changing eb-flow of giving/receiving<---into--->receiving/giving "ki" exercise or "Irimi/Kokyu-ho" (triangle/square) or "tenkan/Kokyu-ho" (circle/square) based techniques. This last set is again followed by furitama-no-gyo.

Generally, furitama-no-gyo is practiced to warm the body up before misogi-no-gyo (dousing one's self with cold water). Then after misogi-no-gyo, the routine (in the above order) is followed. This is a daily practice, and should be done four times a day (early morning, late morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon - generally, not at night).

Last edited by jgrowney : 12-12-2003 at 09:28 AM.

Jim Growney
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