Kokyu and Movement

Kokyu and Movement
George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside & Defensive tactics Options, Bellevue, WA
Source: E-budo.com

This article was originally a response by Ledyard Sensei to the article Hooker Sensei wrote entitled “Kata-dori: A few thoughts…”.

Good point! Let me enlarge on what my friend Hooker sensei has abley pointed out. This whole issue has to do with kokyu power. Kokyu power is often thought of as related to breathing. It does, but that is the narrow interpretation. In the larger sense it has to do with the natural flow of yin and yang back and forth in the universe. The flow of yin and yang is created by rotation.

So in the context of technique a useful concept is found in the Book on the Kashima Shin Ryu by Karl Friday. “Motion and Stillness are one”. Not having studied this style I can’t comment on exactly how they view this concept but from the standpoint of an Aikido practitioner I find the idea very useful.

When you are standing still you are not completely still. There is movement in the Mind. When O-Sensei stated that when he was surrounded by many attackers with spears he didn’t worry because he was already behind them I think this is exactly what he meant. Even though he appeared to be in one place standing, his mind was moving, the physical technique of irimi was already done in his Mind before his opponenets ever saw the physical manifestation of the movement.

So in the case posed by Hooker Sensei of katatetori it is important to realize that it is the movement of the Mind that becomes the ki extension in the physical arm and when coupled with the most minute rotation of the hips, almost invisible at times, becomes a manifestation of kokyu. In other words the rotation is already happening when the attacker makes contact. At that instant his own energy catches the rotation and he is moved, his center caught. (If you have trained with Ikeda sensei you will recognize the familiar “Just catch it!” that can be so frustrating).

The reason the great senseis like Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei can do this with very small, almost unobservable movement is due to what I call the “multplier principle”. Imagine that you hold your bokken in one hand extended straight out. A one inch movement in your hips makes a several foot movment out at the tip of the sword. When your partner moves to grab you, the instant he connects he has become a part of your extension. So the smallest movement in your center becomes much larger by the time the wave of energy travels out to the extremity of the partner.

But this only happens with rotation. Rotation resolves conflict. If the attacker cathes you at a moment when your are static or passive, in Body and / or Mind you are caught by the energy of the attack. It is too late to attempt to engergize after the fact. And that starts with movement of the Mind and then becomes physical movement. So the movement of “pushing” that Dennis Hooker Sensei has pointed out is a reaching out of the Mind first, then becomes physical extension before the physical attack has even reached you. Then, if there is rotation at the moment of physical contact the will be no “conflict” and the attacker’s center will be one with the defenderand will be moved almost without effort.

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