Kajo #13

We had arrived in kajo #12 to the conclusion that there are three fundamental axis: ikkajo, nikajo and sankajo and that all Aikido techniques we have analyzed since the beginning of our research are positioned symmetrically two by two on these lines, at the crossing of the spirals with these axis. Two observations must guide us on the way left in front of us. First, a few Aikido techniques haven't been taken into account and are still missing. Second, Tadashi Abe states in his book that there are five Kajos and not only three.

Let's see if gokyo could bring some light on these questions.



We clearly see on these pictures from Budo that O sensei, after he entered in uke's rear back, rotates 180º, thanks to irimi tenkan, in order to bring uke in his right forward imbalance.

We can check that angle with the two pictures below, also extracted from Budo:



1 - The sliding pannels in the background give a reference point which confirms that uke's imbalance is clearly oriented forward,

2 - O sensei' s position, beyond than the tatami line when uke is in front of it, indicates that uke is unbalanced and brought to the ground on the forward right.

3 - O Sensei could not pull uke straight forward, in the axis of uke's supporting leg, without conflicting with uke's strenght.

Now this is made sure, let's put that direction on our diagram:

We can immediately see that gokyo's angle is the same as shiho nage's and ikkyo ura's, ie the opposite, symmetrical angle of ikkyo omote (cf kajo #4).

The visual comparison between the two techniques, beyond the confirmation of that angle, will also bring remarkable elements of complementarity:




(ue kara shita made)





(shita kara ue made)


The pictures 2 and 2' are symmetrical on the ikkajo axis.

The pictures 2 and 3' show the rigorously identical effects of gokyo and ikkyo on uke.

We can check here a characteristic of ikkyo: the extension of uke's arm, parallel to the ground with a right angle. That specificity, as we saw, does not happen with nikyo or sankyo, let alone yonko as we will see in the next articles.

It is only with ikkyo and gokkyo that uke's arm is controlled that way.

Which brings us to the surprising discovery that ikkyo and gokkyo omote are not different techniques, they are two aspects of the same thing, like the two sides of a sheet of paper. Everyone can understand that even if a coin has heads and tails sides, it remains one single coin.

Do we have any added information which could back the discovery we have just made?

Yes there is one magnificent confirmation.

O sensei's very comment on the pictures about gokyo.

He ends up his technical explanation with this note about uke:

(…) and bring him down with Pin Number One.
(Kodansha International English version)

Following that sentence, one can read that little translator's note which is quite tasty:

The technique described here is called Pin Number Five in modern Aikido.


Go means five of course. Therefore fifth immobilization... Of course. Too easy.

Question : why on earth did O sensei write immobilization number one when talking about gokyo? (and he wrote it several times in his book, which rules out the printing mistake).

He who was an abacus expert, who could calculate faster than a moden machine, who taught the Japanese abacus in his youth, the soroban, could he not count to five ? Or is there another reason here than modern Aikido might have not understood?

If ikkyo omote and gokyo omote are one single thing, as it has been proven enough, then it seems only natural that the Founder called these movements with the same name, for one generally uses the same word to talk about the same thing... O sensei did not say "immobilization number five" to distinguish from "immobilization number one" for there was no significant difference for him between the two movements. He just used to say "immobilization number one" to name the two techniques.

This is now clear and that represents a significant progress but let's dig further... who knows? This word "immobilization number one" is only the English translation of Budo by Rinjiro Shirata, with John Stevens' help... Sorry, I mean John Stevens' translation with the assistance of Rinjiro Shirata... How far can we trust that translation? Are we certain of that word "immobilization"?

Here is the original text on gokyo and this may help us:

The ideogram the Founder uses in his book (blue arrow) is as follows:

Which is read HŌ and originally means to contain, "to hold in a sure manner".

The expression :

can indeed mean first control as it was translated in English. In that case, it is easily understandable that the Founder who considered ikkyo and gokyo as the same control named the same movement with the single word "first control".

But that explanation is only a first level.

For that same ideogram has a second meaning, just as common and strong as the first one: it means law. And it seems that with this research on the kajos, we are discovering some of the organizing laws of Aikido - for instance that this law, the first law wants that ikkyo and gokyo are on the same line (ikkajo) and represent, relatively to the center, the two aspects of the same reality.

In that case, it would not be surprising in the slightest that O sensei would use the single expression of first law:

when speaking of both ikkyo omote and gokyo omote and to define each of the two, or more precisely, to show why these two techniques are in fact one. Since noone in Japan understood that unity, that harmonious link and the meaning behind that word "law", the students' first natural translation which became the official one after O sensei's death, turned out to be "first control". The problem is that they also restricted the meaning to ikkyo only. The practicioners who had lost the awareness of the identity between ikkyo and gokyo just came to the conclusion that gokyo was different from ikkyo and could not logically also be the first immobilization. This is how gokyo became the fifth immobilization.

What was one has been since taught by modern Aikido as two different things. Hence the translator's note which illustrates the general misunderstanding.

It isn't over. Things become even more surprising.

ICHI HŌ, is not pronounced as such in Japanese, it is contracted in IPPŌ.

As it happens, IPPŌ is also the pronunciation of the following expression:

How bizarre: we are confronted with the ideogram ( HŌ)

We have already met it, remember. It is used in the expression ROPPŌ (six directions) we have explained in kajo #3 concerning the kamae. The translation of IPPŌ in that circumstance is therefore: first direction. And there is a deep meaning here for the first law clearly indicates the first direction of work: the axis ikkyo –●– shiho nage or ikkajo as Tadashi Abe used to teach it.

We come to this bewildering but inevitable conclusion: ** the same phonetic expression IPPŌ has three meaning in Japanese**:

First control
First law
First direction

This could be funny and anecdotal, no more. But in Aikido that conjunction has a bigger meaning. For the meanings are not exclusive, on the contrary, they are intertwined, resonate one with each other and collaborate harmoniously to describe a superior level of reality.

The conclusion is stunning but it allows us to understand how the interpretation mistakes were born and here is the hard fact: when O sensei said IPPŌ, none of his japanese student could know or decide if he meant first control, first law or first direction because it was pronounced the same way.

First law and first direction were abstract and obscure notions for these young practitioners. Just try to imagine what the students would understand if a high rank of modern Aikido started to explain gokyo by saying "bring uke to the ground according to the fist law"! O sensei's students took the habit of listening what they could understand, ie first control, aka ikkyo, a reassuring tangible, accessible technique. That's how the deep meaning was rather quickly lost and became hidden.

That transformation of O sensei's art deserves more thinking. But one thing is certain on our patient path: we now know where to position gokyo omote on our reference figure. For the one and only interesting thing which gives us the wish to work is not modern Aikido, far from it, it is O sensei's Aikido, God bless him:

Philippe Voarino, May 2012.

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)