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Old 04-23-2008, 08:37 AM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,996
Yoshinkan and "aiki"

Tohei writes about "ki" and it's well known. But, I'm beginning to find that he didn't have the market cornered on "structure", "ki", or "aiki" as it relates to aikido. Shioda, in his own way, seems to have given everyone as much direction on gaining these skills as Tohei. The difference is that Tohei created a separate system for "ki development" while Shioda kept it within his teachings. I'll go through three key concepts that Shioda emphasized and point to where I see them overlap with core body skills/aiki/whatever you want to call it.

A: Chushin Ryoku.

Most translations give this phrase as "center power". I think I like Steven Miranda's definition better. He writes it as "The power of the center line. Keep your center line straight."

From a post here:

He goes on to quote Shioda

Shioda wrote:
Ki as it is manifested in the performance of techniques is what we have when the components of correct posture, center line, breathing, the explosive power of focused energy, timing, etc., come together so that we reach the highest state of perfect balance. It might be said that "ki" is the "the mastery of balance.
You can talk to quite a few people who are training these body skills and you'll be told that having a "correct" posture is sometimes critical. The body's centerline is very important. But, Miss Manner's Guide to Proper Etiquette and Posture isn't relevant at all. The former has specific training methods while the latter is societal hogwash. Anyway, the centerline as divided by the spine is an important concept. This actually will help the body deliver power from the ground through the hara. I have seen, and done, training from Dan, Mike, and Rob in regards to keeping proper alignment/posture. And I've found, even as a beginner, that it makes a world of difference when done correctly.

As Steven Miranda wrote, one must keep the center line straight. When doing any movement, the spine must be kept aligned straight between the feet. The upper body should not sway the spine, twist the spine, or turn the spine from *outside* that alignment. (Okay, I'm sure there are exceptions and such. But, in regards to my training and my experiences, I'm going from a beginner's perspective.) Doesn't mean you can't twist and turn -- just don't do it such that the spine is contorted out of that correct posture/alignment. If I had to describe chushin ryoku, I'd probably say it is the power derived from correct spinal alignment. That seems better than just center power.

B: Shuchu Ryoku.

I think most define this as "focused power".

As noted here:
Shioda wrote:
SHUCHU RYOKU - Focus all your energy to one point.
But, that really doesn't explain a whole lot. But, other places define this as concentration of all one's power at one point or at one instant. Not really a big help either. At least until other factors are included. Something I think hinders development of aikido is that there is no more frames of reference for most of us. In other words, all the giants are gone and no one can now gain direct physical experience of just how these people felt in their application of aikido. That direct hands-on experience could have provided a very important frame of reference for training. So, we have to make do with what we have now. And for shuchu ryoku, I find that Mike Sigman has a concept that fits very well. Mike talks about bringing the ground out to any point on one's body. So, for instance, if uke grabs katate dori, then the ground should be in the wrist at the point of contact. Although I don't believe that Mike's concept covers all of shuchu ryoku, for us beginner's, I think it is a very good start. There are concepts of bringing power from the ground through the point of contact and into uke. I think this, too, is part and parcel of shuchu ryoku.

I'll add a small part here that I've found shuchu ryoku defined as "energy of intent".

Given that intent is a very important training concept in structure/core body skills/aiki, then this phrase seems to make more sense. Because as some of us have experienced, when our energy of intent is working correctly, we can stand pushes to the chest, connections to uke's center happen automatically, "techniques" become "effortless", etc.

C: Kokyu Ryoku

"Breath power". Not going to go into this one. I can begin to understand the first two and how my training relates to the concepts. But, I think, that this one is a step or two beyond my current level. I think having a structured body with correct spinal alignment and being able to bring the ground to any point with energy of intent is a prerequisite of being able to do kokyu rokyu. I don't think that kokyu rokyu has much to do with most people's understanding of "breath" or "breathing", though. This isn't just meditative breathing, or zen breathing or deep breathing like most people think. This is a way of breathing that helps the body to store energy in the hara so that it can be released explosively. In other words, if you do reverse breathing (sort of like sucking the stomach in as you breath in) and at the same time, your intent is bringing the perineum upwards, you will get a sort of compressed hara. Once you have that compression, it's like having static energy. Then, you release, or convert that static, compressed energy downward into the ground through the front leg. Doing this while attached to some point with an uke allows all that kinetic energy to transfer to uke as power. Anyway, that's a beginner's view of it. I could be wrong.

More research/readings:

Tomoo Yawata wrote a reply (about middle of the page) to Ellis Amdur's article on Aikiweb and I think it provides some very relevant information in regards to Shioda and his training. You can read the reply here:

I'll repost part of it:

Tomoo Yawata wrote:
First I will tackle a problem which plagued me from the beginning of Aikido. Why on earth are we using the word "Kokyu-ryoku(breath power)" without getting instructed how to breath properly ?
On July 29th , I've asked in E-Budo forum creating a new thread which title was ‘about the origin of the word "Kokyuryoku"'.
My question was
"They are several "Key words" in aikido. For example "Kokyuryoku", "Aiki" and since I am a practitioner in Yoshinkan Aikido, I think also "Hiriki"(elbow power).
Does anyone has any clues when these words were introduced to aikido?
I know that there are many discussions about the word "Aiki" recently, I think this would shed some important lights about the relation between DTR and aikido but I am interested when O-sensei began to use the word "Kokyuryoku" in his career.
Having some experience in DTR, I thought always that this word is somewhat original to O-sensei. I had always the impression(maybe I am wrong) that Shioda sensei maybe felt some difficulties with this word, as he tried to explain aspects of "Kokyuryoku" in other words, like "chushinryoku(central power)" and so on."
I was asking the right question ,and all the discussion here and on Aiki-web, Mr.Amdur's thesis, Mike's guess all were a hints for the answer but I couldn't recognize it.
In Yoshinkan there are six basic movements (Kihon-dosa), which are important characteristics and distinctive points of Yoshinkan to other Aikido schools.In fact Takeno sensei, one of the top student of Shioda sensei, said to us in a demonstration that the 6basic movements are the hearts and soul ,the crown and jewel of Yoshinkan Aikido and we should be proud to have this. The purpose of this six movements are written in all Yoshinkan text books as follows,that the aim of these movements are to enhance "KOKYU-RYOKU(BREATH POWER). Kancho sensei and Inoue sensei have stated for various occasions that the origins of these movements were all from training methods from the Kobukan dojo era.
I had a rare occasion to train with an former uchideshi of Yoshinkan who left Yoshinkan in 1960, and continued to teach on his own. The six basic movements were a bit different from today but the interesting thing was that the old movements were all identical with the basics in Iwama-ryu (morote-dori kokyuho, and so on).
Now the six basic movements of Yoshinkan are Hiriki no yosei 1,2 (enhancement of elbow power ,1 is for the "omote", and 2 is for the"ura" in other aikido schools), Tai no Henko 1,2 (step and change of the body,…maybe), Shumatsu-dosa (finishing movements).Well, a beginner will mostly first bother what the meaning of the name of movements and waza's, so I became curious why we do a movement called "Shumatsu-dosa(finishing movement)" with the other basic movements rather at the beginning of our classes, so I asked my instructor. "Back when Kancho sensei was training under Ueshiba sensei at the Kobukan dojo, this movement was done at the end of a training session as a relaxation method. But Kancho sensei found out that this movement has more training value as only a relaxation method and included to the basic movements".Tai no Henko needs no explanation. The name and movement accorded. Not to difficult to found out about the meaning even for a beginner.The next the most important movement in the basics.Hiriki no Yosei(Elbow power). At first, I couldn't even understand the word itself in Japanese but anyway it's meaning was elbow power. Why elbow power, it seems quite absurd to assume that the elbow contained some power. I've asked my instructor about that. "The elbow itself has no power, it means THAT YOU HAVE TO GATHER THE WHOLE POWER OF YOUR BODY UP TO THE FRONT OF ELBOW" That's in other word gather the whole power to the hand, isn't it? "No, if I instruct you to gather the power to the hand you will tense the fingers but that will stop the flow of the power." What is the relation between elbow power and Kokyu power? "Elbow power is an old word which derives from sword art. BUT O'SENSEI LATER CHANGED THE WORD FOR THIS POWER TO KOKYU-RYOKU"
Now after that I searched a bit about "Hiriki" and it was in fact once used quite common in sword art(although it seems to be not widely used today), today it is still commonly used in bow art. No wonder, how to use the elbow would be crucial for bow arts. Hiriki would be rather better understood not as a kind of power but it rather refers to how to use the elbow. Now someone who has the experience of suburi or to cut with the sword or to hit for example the tree with the bokken,would acknowledge that in transmitting power, the use of the elbow would be crucial to transmit the gathered power of the hole body movement, in other word you focus the power with the use of the elbow and transmit it to a point of the sword where you hit, cut the sword.
The basic standing posture (Kamae) in Yoshinkan is the equivalent of Seigan no Kamae of kenjutsu and kendo, without a sword.Now every Yoshikan practitioner knows that from the basic standing posture to Kihondosa to all the basic techniques, that it is designed to enhance this power( power from the ground which you transmit through your body to the sword, good maneuvering of the sword means also how to control this power).This power seems to be first called "elbow power" during the Kobukan era after that renamed by Oosensei to "Kokyu power".
So we in Yoshinkan do all the basic movements, waza to enhance this power which derived from sword movements and what we call now "Kokyu power"…..WITHOUT GETTING ANY INSTRUCTION HOW TO BREEZE!!!! That is STRANGE!!!
Such questions come of course in mind to every practitioner. I've asked several shihan what would be the best method to breath, after all we are trying to enhance Kokyu power. The answer was always the same, breezing follows natural movement, we should not engage in an unnatural breezing method and damage our natural body movement.I suspected for a while that Kancho sensei was hiding some breathing methods as secret ,but after hearing his explanation or reading it ,I've felt that Kancho sensei seems to have felt also some difficulties with this word so he tried to explain it in other term"Chushin-ryoku(Central power build by the formation of a strong central axis), "Shuchu-ryoku(Concentrational power or concentrated power through the central axis),and so on.And we were proud of it.In Yoshinkan everything was explained down to earth. I thought for a long time that what I've saw in the demonstration of Kancho sensei, his explosive sharp power with the very high level "Aiki" technique, which amazed some Daito-ryu masters, that combined must be something what Ueshiba sensei was calling "Kokyu-ryoku". Now I see things different. That was an internal power derived from the sword school PLUS "Aiki" skills.
I have never heard other aikido schools which used the term "Hiriki", so that was also what I wanted to discuss in this thread but I've found a Daito-ryu school that used the term, that was Sagawa dojo.
Now I think that there is a possibility that during the Kobukan era the terminology of Ueshiba's arts was in transition from a Daito-ryu based terminology to a another terminology using "Kokyu" and "Ki". Maybe "Aiki" in the term of Daito-ryu came also in disuse during this period. Anyway, there was something going on.
No Japanese martial art before aikido used the word Kokyu-ryoku to express its power, No Japanese martial art used the word "KI" as a kind of energy flowing inside the body. IT WAS AIKIDO AND UESHIBA MORIHEI who used it for the first time.The use of "ki" was common in sword schools but it was always as intention (Go no sen, Sen no sen etc.). There are no koryu schools as far as I know that used breath methods to create their martial power. As Mr.Valadez theory of culture influences suggest all this knowledge of Ki and Kokyu was known but not USED as some method in the martial arts.
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