So here is the figure we drew with in the previous article:
Now let's begin with the beginning and rigorously apply the very first point of Morihei Ueshiba's teaching.
In the only book he ever wrote, "Budo", the following fundamental point is the subject of the very first sentence of the first page of the chapter devoted to selected techniques. This shows how important this was for him and the amount of care we need when approaching it. He explains:
(…) adopt the hanmi position with your feet, opened with sixty degrees angle (…)
Two lines below, he insists again on that absolute necessity but writes it differently this time:
Each of the two feet must be opened with a sixty degrees angle.
It is clearly specified each of the two feet:
both the front foot and the back foot should be open at a sixty degree angle.
— English edition, Kodansha International.
Louis Boileau et Emmanuel Charlot, the French translators who worked on the English edition haven't seen that nuance. For when they translate:
The front foot and the back foot must absolutely opened with a 60º angle.
... they only repeat O sensei's first sentence, although he had voluntarily added in the second part of his explanation that important precision.
And indeed, let's put tori's feet according to O sensei's recommendations, ie the right foot with a 60º angle and the left foot also with a 60º angle:
We notice that if both feet are each in a 60º angle (sector 2 and 1) then they are also between them in a 60º angle. This is a consequence of the fact that this 60º angle divides the circle in six equal parts.
Now we have to say that John Stevens, in the English translation, was somehow slightly unfaithful to the Japanese text.
As a matter of fact, O sensei does not write "adopt the hanmi position", he writes "adopt the roppo position" as it can be checked on the original text below:
As it happens, the word "roppo" means « six directions ».
One can clearly see below that tori can use six different directions to leave the opponent's (red arrow) axis of attack (dotted line).
Let's not finish this third article without noticing what O sensei writes in the footnote of the picture illustrating the explanations he just gave on the Aikido position:
When the movement is over, it is essential that your feet remain opened in a 60º degrees angle.
In other words, in less than a dozen lines, O sensei has underlined three times, explained three times that using that 60º angle from the beginning to the end of the Aikido movement is essential.
Maybe we would be wise to pay attention to what he wants to transmit here with so much emphasis.
Post war, when Aikido started its international expansion, the word roppo disappeared and was replaced by hanmi. Let's not draw any conclusion yet but let's keep in a little corner of our memory that roppo is a word that draws attention to the notions of directions and angles, while hanmi only indicates a rather imprecise opening of the body. Maybe the clear vision of that lost knowledge will have some importance on this journey.
Philippe Voarino, march 2012.
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.
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.
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.
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.