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Old 05-13-2012, 12:50 PM   #1
ChrisHein
 
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Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

In our Dojo we have a picture of Saito Sensei on the wall. It's a formal picture of him, looking very dignified. Years ago, I noticed that in the picture, he had tucked his thumbs into his fists when the picture was taken. I always thought it was interesting, and wondered if it was just something he did, maybe some part of his personality.

Then I noticed another formal Japanese picture, of a non martial artist, and he had his thumbs tucked in to his fists as well. I thought that was a strange, and wondered then if it was some kind of cultural thing. Then I noticed that the statue of Ueshiba has his thumbs tucked into his fists as well. That really seemed strange to me, because the artist must have specifically chosen to put the thumbs in the fists.

Is there a reason for this? Or is it just a strange coincidence?

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Old 05-13-2012, 03:37 PM   #2
graham christian
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

I would guess some kind of mudra related to shinto.

G.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:29 PM   #3
PeterR
 
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

Or the equivalent of that annoying finger V made by Japanese children when posing for pictures.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:51 PM   #4
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

Hi Chris,
This is fairly common in Shinto practices as far as I know; I've seen a number of priests doing the same thing. Also, in the Ame no tori fune undo, the first two rowing sequences include the thumbs tucked into the fists.
I couldn't say exactly why, but I have always guessed it relates to the idea of having your center and ki in the hands. I'll have to find out for sure now.
Take care,
Matt

Last edited by mathewjgano : 05-13-2012 at 07:56 PM.

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Old 05-14-2012, 01:40 PM   #5
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

I don't know about Japanese traditions, but if you ask a girl to make a fist, 9 times out of 10 those thumbs are getting tucked under the fingers!
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Old 05-14-2012, 02:05 PM   #6
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

Quote:
Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
I don't know about Japanese traditions, but if you ask a girl to make a fist, 9 times out of 10 those thumbs are getting tucked under the fingers!
Oh, please. Let's not get started with the gratuitous gender stereotypes, ok?
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Old 05-14-2012, 02:07 PM   #7
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

I was thinking about the superstition involving hiding the thumbs (oyayubi) to ensure one's parents (oya) won't die prematurely.

Although I remember during breathing exercises, the late Sugano Sensei and his students at Aikikai Australia would tuck their thumbs in. Followers of Asai Sensei do likewise.

Warning: Do not bend, fold or otherwise abuse... until we get to the dojo..


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Old 05-14-2012, 10:53 PM   #8
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

It's interesting.

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Old 05-15-2012, 07:34 AM   #9
graham christian
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

I think if Matthew asked his teacher would be best. My guess would still be to do with mudras, common throughout all religions and within asia of old specifically to do with Ki or (prana).

As he also has his hands like this in funo cogi undo exercises it fits with such things as in yoga for example. In yoga it is related to breathing and the 'spirit body' and Ki (prana) pathways of energy through the body. This particular one would be to do with breathing and particularly the chest area.

I think if you are interested in the deeper significance of these things you should look up mudra.

This particular one would be the first mudra or 'adi mudra' .

Peace.G.
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:15 PM   #10
Don_Modesto
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

FWIW, I read somewhere that it related to keeping your thumbs safe so you could grip your weapon. Evidently, thumbs were a favorite target as one couldn't wield weapons without them. The mudra thing makes as much or more sense, though.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:58 PM   #11
Chris Li
 
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote: View Post
FWIW, I read somewhere that it related to keeping your thumbs safe so you could grip your weapon. Evidently, thumbs were a favorite target as one couldn't wield weapons without them. The mudra thing makes as much or more sense, though.
Katsuyuki Kondo gave that reasoning (vis-a-vis budo) when I was at his dojo in the early 1990's.

It's also pretty standard for formal pictures (for everybody, no relation to budo) - just the way to stand, I don't think that there's any particular meaning. If there is, Japanese people don't seem to know.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-17-2012, 12:08 PM   #12
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
I think if Matthew asked his teacher would be best. My guess would still be to do with mudras, common throughout all religions and within asia of old specifically to do with Ki or (prana).
I'll ask as soon as I see him next week. I have a feeling we've probably covered the most common meanings, but I'm also curious about the understanding kannushi-san will have...it would be cool if there was somethng else going on apart from dangerous puns and protecting the thumbs, not that those aren't interesting in their own right.

Thanks everyone for sharing their understanding; I've been curious about this myself!
Take are,
Matt

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Old 06-09-2012, 10:34 PM   #13
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I'll ask as soon as I see him next week. I have a feeling we've probably covered the most common meanings, but I'm also curious about the understanding kannushi-san will have...it would be cool if there was somethng else going on apart from dangerous puns and protecting the thumbs, not that those aren't interesting in their own right.

Thanks everyone for sharing their understanding; I've been curious about this myself!
Take are,
Matt
I managed to ask Barrish Sensei his thinking on this and he said essentially it means to keep energy in; close to center...as opposed to the very expansive hand shape commonly seen in kokyu nage, for example. He also mentioned the Ame no Tori Fune no Gyo in relation to it as well as a similar method used by some folks in fire-walking where they put the thumb knuckles against their hips.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 06-10-2012, 02:03 PM   #14
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Re: Is this a Japanese tradition of some sort?

Thanks for the replies!

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