Aikido underground

The underground is what is beneath and makes root. It is the seed nobody sees. It is a thought that gathers his strength and prepares under the feet of conventional consensual wisdom. The underground is for example the birth of the ecology movement in the sixties, at a time when humankind polluted shamelessly and cared nothing about the planet. One had to be crazy to believe in such things! And yet it is that craziness that led nations to the Kyoto Protocol. The underground is the alternative culture, it is thinking differently, it is what raises against that weak colossus: consensus. For consensus, and the authority, the order which go with it, is heavy like a lid.

Like everyone else, I was "federal" (AIkido in France is very centralized around two main "federations", TN), and I swallowed every bit of the pre processed food I was served. But then when I came back from my first trip to Iwama in 1986, I sent to all FFAB clubs a small text entitled " Aikido = tai jutsu + buki waza." I naively tried to explain that Aikido was not only an empty hands discipline, and that aiki ken and aiki jo were equally part of Aikido. I was young and I did not realize I was throwing a firecracker against the great wall of China.

The federal government made me understand. The concept of buki waza, the very word, created confusion, the label of subversion was hooked on me forever. I disturbed them, I was the shadow in the picture, the itchy feeling… This when Tamura sensei threatened to cancel his participation in the Colle sur Loup seminar (a very large seminar / Gasshuku centered around Tamura sensei during summer holidays, TN) if I taught aiki ken and aiki jo.

Today, twenty years later, the term buki waza is in federal and State Degree of Aikido teacher programs of study.

I do not take pride out of it. That bubble brought to the surface is a small progress. Almost everything remains to be done. So many obstacles still hinder O Sensei's Aikido! So many things are still underground! For O Sensei's Aikido is underground. He knew it he who said that nobody wanted to practice his Art.

What has happened in this world of Aikido? A banal event: an heritage captation, a grabbing. The temple of Aikido O Sensei was not yet out of land that already had a church been erected, The Pope of that church was also called Ueshiba and everyone thought it was a guarantee of legitimacy. But Aikido is not hereditary. When O'Sensei died, Ueshiba Kisshomaru took charge of the Aikido world after an uncertain election. Koichi Tohei was a candidate and he came very close to become Doshu.

He collected the votes of all students of O Sensei, that is to say the oldest ones: the sempai. Kisshomaru for his part received the votes of his students, that is to say the new generation of all young people who learned Aikido with him in Tokyo and who regarded him as their teacher. Kisshomaru, one might say, was the teen idol. Through them he became the idol of the new church: Doshu. In this role, he did to Aikido what Paul of Tarsus realized for Christianity: he recovered a message that was not his own, transformed it according to his own interpretation, and organized the spreading worldwide, using the logistics of the international organization that the Founder, meanwhile, was unable to manage and certainly even to conceive.

I do not bow before the idols, but I respect men, and I have for Kisshomaru Ueshiba, with whom I shared meals more than once, a very high consideration. What this man has accomplished in a lifetime commands respect: he has expanded across the world an abstruse and elitist art born a few years earlier in the aristocratic circles of Japan. Hats off ! That is an achievement ! And if the father created Aikido, it is unquestionably the son who has made him known. Without him, I who write, would I ever have done any shiho nage?

However, in the same way that the Roman Church created a secular power, using Paul's genuine faith in Christ's, Kisshomaru founded the power of the Aikikai World Headquarters on a forgery which bares only a superficial external resemblance with the AIkido his father created. And here I'd like to make myself very clear: it was probably necessary. It is likely that he could not be otherwise. For the transmission to happen, it was necessary that O sensei's Aikido had to modified, transformed, distorted. There is nothing to regret about that. All is well.

Doshu has fulfilled its mission flawlessly. Everything is in order. Saito sensei's mission was to be keep the tradition. Mine now is to try and amend what can be. Harmony is a balance of opposites, these are no empty words. The path by which what must happen actually happens is unpredictable, but afterwards understandable.

Meanwhile, Kisshomaru Ueshiba has become the reference of the Aikido world instead of the one who should have been the true focus: his father, Morihei. Of course, we hang O'Sensei's portrait with great deference on the walls of every dojo in the world, but then, merrily, an Aikido is taught which is not his, but his son's.

When such reversals of values happen, when everybody walks upside down, those who walk on their feet are called fools. So they have no alternative but to shut up or go underground. That's the only place where they can act and perhaps disseminate the seeds of the future. It is in the underground that future values will develop, values that drive the wheel of life.

Working on this heading of "Common Errors" which appears on the site TAI, it became clear to me that most of the errors that are taught today as Aikido share a common origin. So I focused my efforts on that single source.

I can hear: "He's lost his head! ". No, I have found it. And that's where I concentrate my energy. Because this head has trained all the teachers who have trained all the teachers who have trained all the students who practice today. It is useless to try to act on anything if we do not tackle the causes. This is the rational method. It is true that this is perhaps not the most diplomatic method. This is not the less dangerous method. But it is urgent. If I were Japanese, my culture would dictate to draw back or commit seppuku. Mishima opened his own abdomen on TV to remind Japan of traditional values order. This is a radical means to compel the others to think. For my part, I will only offer arguments. But I will honestly and without limitation do so, from the place which is mine, underground, repeating to myself the old formula of the West: "Do what you must, come what may."

Philippe Voarino, October 7, 2006 Takemusu Aikido Intercontinental

What is Traditional Aikido?

Aikido is not a sport, it is a martial art which laws (takemusu) are in harmony with the laws of the universe. Studying them allows the practitioner to understand his place in the universe. Aikido was born in Iwama, O sensei achieved in that village the synthesis of tai jutsu, aiki ken and aiki jo.

Where to practice Traditional Aikido?

The International Takemusu Aikido Federation (ITAF) brings to the practitioner the structure he needs in order to work as close as possible to the reality O sensei MU defined. The official national representations are the guarantee of a teaching faithful to the Founder's.

The weapons of Aikido, aiki ken and aiki jo

In modern Aikido, weapons are hardly taught, if taught at all. In O sensei's Aikido, on the contrary, aiki ken, aiki jo and tai jutsu are unified and form together a riai, a family of harmonious techniques stemming from one unique principle. Each techniques helps understand all the others.

Aikido, a martial art or an art of peace?

Peace is a balance between a human being and the world around him. The true martial art's goal is not to become stronger than one's opponent but to find in that opponent a way to realize harmony. There is no enemy anymore as such, but an opportunity offered to reach unified ki.
Copyright TAI (Takemusu Aikido Intercontinental)