Kajo #5

As I begin this fifth article, I realize I have been using the name "Kajo" since the beginning without mentionning why.

It is still early for a definitive explanation of that notion which will become clear once we achieve a more global understanding of what is at stake here. But the time has come for some clarifications.

Between 1952 and 1960, France was lucky to welcome a man who can be considered as the pioneer of Aikido in Europe: Tadashi Abe. A former student of O sensei, he wrote with his student Jean Zin, before going back to Japan, a technical book divided in two parts. As far as I know, it is the only book in which techniques are studied through the concept "kajo". I use the word "concept" for some books exist where techniques are called kajo (for instance Dynamic Aikido by Gozo Shioda) but kajo is not more than a word. One says ikkajo instead of ikkyo and that's it.

Tadashi Abe's book is divided in 5 parts: ikkajo, nikajo, sankajo, yonkajo, gokajo. These five words are close to ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo. They are so close that soon, the latter were used rather than the former. When I began Aikido in the seventies, the only answers I could get to my questions on kajo were: "these are the old names of the techniques !" " they got no interest anymore!" "Now we say ikkyo, nikyo, etc". I kept satisfied with those dubious simplifications for more than thirty years. Mea culpa. Maybe the time has come to catch up on these years and pay tribute to Tadashi Abe through the point of view I will follow with these articles.

In Tadashi Abe's books, if one reads them carefully, it clearly appears that kajo are not techniques but categories. The first category does not only comprise ikkyo as it is commonly thought after a quick reading, it actually gathers two technical principles: ikkyo and shiho nage. The question is: why are they linked?

Ikkyo sets uke's arm in rotation from high to low (ue kara shita made) and shiho nage in the symmetric direction, from low to high (shita kara ue made). Therefore, uke's elbow is used in strictly symmetrical ways. It becomes obvious on O sensei's pictures below (please notice the symmetry in uke's reaction):

That relation is already quite remarkable but is it enough to found a category on these sole two techniques?

There is more to it. it is the angle of entry in the technique: ikkyo and shiho nage respect the same angle as a careful observation reveals. O sensei's front foot is opened in hito e mi, with a 60º angle for shiho nage and ikkyo as already analyzed in kajo # 4. Let's now study shiho nage in its whole flow and let's read what O sensei tell us in Budo after picture 1:

(…) Step forward with the left foot (picture 2). Then turn 180º (picture 3) (…).

One can clearly see on pictures 2 and 3 below that O sensei indeed rotates 180º.

So what can be concluded from these precisions on geometry given by the Founder himself? Since the angle of entry is identical in both cases with a 180º for shiho nage, the logical consequence is that shiho nage's direction is at the complete opposite of ikkyo: at the two ends of the same line where tori stands at the center

Let's represent on our figure O sensei's position as in picture 3 (the red arrow being the start of uke's fall):

At the end of shiho nage, O sensei's feet are in hito e mi (60º) and their direction is perfectly symmetrical compared to their position during ikkyo. Ikkyo and shiho nage are therefore opposed (or united) on the same line in the same way that their rotations directions are opposed on the same axis (contrary but complementary). Here is the deep reason why ikkyo and shiho nage belong to the same category: ikkajo. We can now confidently add shiho nage on our figure:

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)