Kajo #19

In Kajo #18, we have established the relationship between omote and ura for the five immobilization techniques, and showed, using geometry, that the spiral movement of the feet defines the successive angles which determine the directions of the techniques.

Let's underline here a very remarkable point:

The five omote immobilizations are all located on the blue spiral between ikkyo omote and gokyo omote. This part of the blue spiral is an inner spiral that unfolds inside the omote half sphere. Indeed, beyond gokyo omote, the blue spiral expands and techniques are no longer immobilization techniques (Hearth), but only throwing techniques (Heaven). After this point, it loses its nature of inner spiral to become a outter spiral.

All this is symmetrical with the five ura immobilization techniques which themselves are all located on the green part of the spiral between gokyo omote and ikkyo ura. This part of the green spiral unfolds inside the ura half-sphere.

Those who read these kajos from the beginning are aware that the knowledge we manage to build up does not come out of the blue. To reach the point where we stand today, we first decided that there was not any higher authority than O sensei. That's why we have used his demonstrations and technical explanations. Before saying anything, we scrutinized the elements of information he has left, and we compared each of them with various information so that this confrontation allows to progress on a solid ground, one step after the other. Thus, in an experimental manner, so to speak, through a cascade of logical consequences, we can now assess the existence of an inner spiral and an outer spiral. And that obvious fact is revealed by nothing or no-one else but the structure of the system which has appeared over the weeks and months...

But,
if there could be suddenly a confirmation from O Sensei himself, a clear and unequivocal confirmation that there is an inner and an outter spiral, an unexpected confirmation like a gift out of Aikido history's lucky dip...

then,
that confirmation would come at this point like a seal that would authenticate in an unexpected but undeniable way the structure we have revealed.

This confirmation does exist. O Sensei wrote it with his own hand.

I have only recently discovered it, far after having started studying the kajos, with the impression of understanding for the first time that saying: "God helps those who help themselves".

It is located on page 9 of the original edition of Budo.
You will not find it anywhere else because the English version of Budo is censored, and the French version is translated from the English version.

The original text written by O Sensei was edited during the translation, the following sentence, incredible as it may seem, has not been translated at all:

Regarding the way to walk, there are the six directions outside, the six directions inside, the outter spiral and the inner spiral.
— O Sensei, Budo, 1938, page 9

The original text is below, highlighted in yellow, and can be checked by anyone who can read Japanese:

In order to get all ura-omote couples of Aikido, one must add shiho nage to the five main techniques. Indeed, shiho nage is the only technique that has an omote and an ura application, along with ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo and gokyo .

To avoid any confusion, it is useful to define what is meant here by this omote-ura opposition. If we consider a man, there is a space in front of him and a space behind him. The space in front of him is omote, the space behind is ura:

Now let's be very precise with words: All the techniques that can be performed in uke's omote space can also be performed in his ura space.

However, there are movements which, for technical reasons, can not be executed in front of uke, in the omote space, and can be only be done in his ura side. These movements are kote gaeshi , kaiten nage, tenchi nage and irimi nage.

Careful here, we reach a tricky point. Everyone understands that without light, darkness would be a meaningless concept, and that equally, without darkness, the light shines endlessly and we could never identify it as the energy that pierces darkness. The same thinking applies to omote and ura: they have no meaning without the relation they have one with each other. All things under the sun have an omote and ura, and Aikido techniques are no exception.

We also commonly say that ikkyo has an omote and an ura version, just as nikyo does, etc, all well and good, up to shiho nage as we have seen. But we are obliged to note that the four techniques above have no omote version (for instance for irimi nage or kaiten nage, we always go in uke's back and never in front of him). It would be wrong to say that these four techniques have only an ira side since ira ha no meaning without omote, which in that case does not exist.

Is this an exception to the general rule of the universe? I do not think so, and this is a good example of a situation when it is wise to consider that our vision of the world may imperfectly reflect reality.

The problem stems from the belief that the technique itself is described as omote or ura, depending on whether we go in front or behind uke. This position can't be defended, it is contradicted by kote gaeshi, kaiten nage, tenchi nage and irimi nage.

In reality, the technique is the technique, period. The technique is equal to itself, always. It can of course be developed in uke's omote or ura side, but that fact does not confer an omote or ura nature to the technique itself.

How then can we reconcile this with the notion that any Aikido technique, in agreement with the cosmic model, has necessarily an omote and an ura side ?

The kajos once again will enable us to understand.

Our study has revealed and identified five couples of techniques opposed at 180 °.

If I take the example of nikyo, when I put this technique under the spotlight it becomes omote, regardless of whether I pass in front of uke or behind. Omote is what I put into light, make alive. Nykyo's ura is then kote gaeshi. But if I perform kote gaeshi, kote gaeshi is what I highlight and it becomes omote for that reason. Nikyo then becomes kote gaeshi's ura side.

Each technique has a sister, such is the teaching of the kajos, and this technique is its sister's ura or omote depending on the circumstances and the activity of the observer. Everything constantly reverts in its contrary, this is the deep relationship that unites the omote-ura couple in Aikido and in the world.

I am aware that this material shakes without much consideration half a century of approximative teaching of Aikido. My only excuse is that Aikido is much more than what it has been reduced to. I have nothing against sport, and I believe in the virtues of physical effort, but Aikido is not a game or if it is a game, with due respect to Pierre de Coubertin, its rules have not been written by men.

Philippe Voarino, July 2012.

Comments

Mr Voarino,

Many thanks for writing a brilliant series of articles. I acquired a Japanese text of Budo some years ago and I am well aware of the problems of translation. The articles have provided a spur to going back and starting all over again.

Once again, many thanks.

P A Goldsbury

Hello Peter.

We never had opportunity to meet each other, but I know you of course.

For sure "Budo" needs a new translation. French aikidoist are lucky because they now have a french translation of O Sensei's speeches, it is called Takemusu Aiki and the editor is "Cénacle de France". The authors have done a very good and useful job.

I am happy if the kajos can be of any help.There is a deeper meaning in the techniques than just breaking somebody's neck.

Philippe Voarino

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.

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