"ichi go ichi e"

"One Encounter,
One Chance"

An Introduction to Jiyushinkai Aikibudo


"Hikiotoshi" A. Clark, tori & K. Slatoff, uke

Aikido as practiced in the Jiyushinkai (freedom of heart / mind / spirit organization) stresses systematic explanation and understanding of principle along with the practice of ki hon dosa (basic principles) in sotai seiteigata renshu (prearranged standardized forms practiced by two people) and then the application of these basics in randori (free practice). Jiyushin randori consists of one person attacking (setting up a real conflict with strong intent), and if the answering technique is not successful, then countering techniques (brought about through intuitive, creative decision making processes) are made by each person until a technique happens that can not be countered. This practice is initially done in slow motion with both partners keeping the original rhythm and pace.

  It is essential in this practice that excessive force and speed not be the deciding factors in the success of the techniques.

If a technique will not work for the smallest person against the largest person with minimum force and speed, it is not being practiced properly or it is not a viable technique. Large, fast, and strong people should not rely on these assets because there is always someone bigger, faster, and stronger. We know that we all are less capable of strong athletic skills as we grow older. We must practice principles that do not require great strength and acrobatic skills while young in order to attain the skill necessary to overcome hardness with softness when we are older.

  Randori must lead us past the seteigata learning tools into instantaneous intuitive, creative decision making of an infinite variety of tecniques. Instead of reactive decision making, we learn proactive or creative decision making skills.

Quality randori practice leads us to the true essence of Ueshiba Morihei's concept of Takemusu Aiki (the never ending flow of creative aikido that is appropriate for that instant). 

Students must learn and practice in ways that give them the proper tools so that their practice is a positive learning experience. Ueshiba Sensei said that he did not know how to teach aikido. He said that the techniques came from the kami (universal spirits). I agree. However, there are systematic ways to understand, communicate, and practice the fundamentals that make up these infinite techniques. Intuitive practice and learning come much easier when we have internalized these basic fundamentals and have developed good practice habits. Imagine trying to learn music in the following manner.

  A great master is playing a beautiful piece and you are observing intently. You ask to become a student and are accepted. The master plays again and then says to you, "okay, now you do that. Relax and flow your energy... Center yourself... This piece of music will come to you from the kami sama (universal spirits) if you are practicing properly." 


I do not think there would be very many great musicians if we taught and practiced music that way. 

I know that in certain circles such dismissal of tradition is heresy. That is okay because I am an iconoclast by nature. I mean no disrespect for the genius of Ueshiba Sensei. I think he wanted us all to learn and find our own aikido and even outgrow him, if possible. He invited us to "stand on his shoulders" as the saying goes.

Aikido principles have been hinted at by some teachers as if they are some mystical secret. Traditionally, these "secrets" were not explained. The student had to find them on their own. When they were mentioned, they were passed on through vague oral stories, allegorical poems on scrolls, and line drawings. These hiden (secret teachings) were given after the student had spent years imitating his sempai (seniors). All learning was meant to take place through intuitive channels. These kohai (juniors) were raised to follow their elders without questions.

The feudal class system fostered these teaching methods because there was no other model. However, there were some notable instances of other methods such as Chiba Shusaku's sword school called the Genbukan (the largest school in Edo at the time) teaching his Hokushin Itto-ryu (style), in the 1820's. He taught a rational curriculum that emphasized theory and body mechanics as well as individual techniques. Also, there was Kano Jigoro's Kodokan Judo in 1882 using similar methods.  

Although there are still many budo teachers who follow the classical traditional method, there are some who have teaching styles that combine the old with the new. I see myself as a modern educator and do not want to take part in a feudal lifestyle with others. All a student has to do is come to practice with an open heart, an educable mind, and the will to learn and then practice with sincerity. I will do my best to pass on the system to all who want to learn and will do the practice. My intent is to uplift all beings as much as possible while doing as little harm as possible. At some point in time, we can not let the feudal mindset live and exist in our relationships. 

  We must understand that we learn best when motivated by interest and train in a joyful state rather than through obligation and fear.


Of course, at times, this joyful state will be working hard, be experiencing frustration, be happy, be sad, etc. I believe in communicating basic principle as simply as possible in ways that are easy to understand. We need to employ all of our senses in an efficient, balanced way to internalize this knowledge. If we can develop sound practice habits, good posture and movement, and cultivate the inner picture of what the "sweet spot" of good technique feels like within two to three years, then our intuitive, forging practice will take place with good tools.

Proper practice habits are hard enough to maintain due to our human frailties. We do not need to engineer other barriers into the experience to protect the knowledge or create an elite group who has the knowledge and control of who else gets it. It should be free for anyone that has the will and courage to get on the mat, learn to give an attack filled with energy, commitment, and love, take the falls, and go through the process of being vulnerable, doing it wrong and learning. We must all take part eventually in "teacherless knowledge". 

There has been a lot of mystery connected with aikido. These principles are not mysterious when understood as physical / mental applications of natural laws that we are all part of. What is mysterious is how anyone can have the patience, perseverance, and good training habits long enough to acquire the skill, sensitivity, and intuitive understanding necessary to apply these principles during normal practice with a well-meaning partner, let alone in an unanticipated incident. 

Jiyushinkai is an effective systematic way of practicing the principles of aikido. We follow the progressive syllabus of this system by internalizing the kihon dosa, learning to randori effectively, and practicing for the sake of the practice. Eventually we come to a state of muga mushin (no thought of self or actions). It can take us past the worries of winning and losing. We end up practicing jodan budo (budo in its highest form). We can find: self-defense skills, physical culture, discipline, self-confidence, stress management, aesthetic pleasure, and tranquillity. These add up to mental, physical, and spiritual oneness and harmony. Self Realization and Freedom of Spirit in each instant are the True Practice. 

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