Aiki in Kishin Juku Jujutsu
Origin of the word « Aiki »
According to Shishida Fumiaki research  (8th Dan Tomiki Aikido and professor at Waseda University), it is already possible to find traces of the use of the word “Aiki” in many writings of the Edo period, including, for example, “Toka Mondo” 灯火 問答 (Candlelight Discussion) of Kito Ryu Jujutsu school published in 1764. It was written 相 気 and was used to refer to the difficulty of attacking and defending when two opponents are linked by a kind of synchronization called Kisetsu 気 節.
合 AI : suitable, compatible, assembled, connected
気 KI : atmosphere, mood, spirit, energy
The first appearance of “Aiki” written 合気 would be in “Aiki Budo Hiketsu no Jutsu” (Secret Methods of Budo Aiki no Jutsu), the oldest publication dates from 1892 (Meiji 25), in which “Aiki” rather takes the meaning of “having a step ahead of the enemy” 敵より一歩先んずる or “the technique of reading the enemy’s mind” 敵人読心の術.
Thus, it says, “the most powerful and mysterious art in the world, is the art of Aiki. This is the secret principle of all martial arts of Japan. One who masters this technique, can be an incomparable martial genius”. The promise is enticing and this book was probably one of the main vectors popularizing the myth of “invincibility of Aiki”.
In the early twentieth century, it became the “major” principle of Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu which was taught during multiple trips throughout Japan by Takeda Sokaku. This school gave birth to many others, like Aikido from Morihei Ueshiba or Hakko Ryu from Okuyama Ryuho.
Kishin Juku Jujutsu from Makoto Kojima Shuhan is one of the inheritors of Takeda Sokaku Daito Ryu with the following lineage:
– Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu from Takeda Sokaku
– Daito Ryu Matsuda Den from Toshimi Matsuda
– Hakko Ryu from Okuyama Ryuho
– Kokodo from Yasuhiro Irie
Aiki studied and practiced in Kishin Juku Jujutsu school is partly inherited from these schools, but also from Makoto Kojima Shuhan personal research.
Aiki nature of Kishin Juku Jujutsu
In Kishin Juku Jujutsu, « doing Aiki » is preventing aggression at the first contact, by neutralizing the strength of the opponent.
For this, there is an essential principle to respect : “Cho Fu” 張 封 which determines the use of body and mind in order to act at the earliest moment on the body and the mind of the opponent.
張封 CHO FU : Tension to stop the aggression.
張 CHO : spread, stretch, put into tension
封 FU : to seal, to neutralize
Physically, the aim is to achieve control of the opponent’s body structure, so he loses his ability to move as he would like; mentally, the goal is to take a psychological advantage.
In theory, Aiki wants to be the most efficient response, necessary and sufficient, an action perfectly adapted to the situation, like a lid perfectly capped the pot for which it was designed, origin of Kanji 合 AI.
Positive Aiki and negative Aiki
The breakdown of the opponent at the first contact can be done in two ways.
One is the positive Aiki, which is characterized by a return of energy towards the aggressor; the other is negative Aiki, which is instead, absorption.
In both cases, we connect our structure to the one of the opponent, with positive Aiki, under the principle Seme 攻 to immediately neutralize its power to prevent it from being transmitted to our body, and with negative Aiki, under the principle Hiki 引 for him to fall into an empty space, or to join with him in order to deflect the force favorably.
Against an opponent who grabs and pushes, negative Aiki by absorption will be the most favorable. Instead, with a static attacker who fixes or pulls, a positive Aiki action will allow a more efficient destructuration. It is also possible to chain both, in Kishin Juku Jujutsu, the more one advance in the program, the more one will try to alternate positive and negative Aiki to dramatically increase the disorientation of the adversary before even starts the actual technique (key lock or projection, for example).
It is likely that Ueshiba Morihei has developed its Aikido mostly around negative Aiki concept, even if positive Aiki also exists, especially in the form of Kokyu Ho, at the opposite, it looks like Okuyama Ryuho favored positive Aiki in the Hakko Ryu, although negative Aiki is also present, for example, with such technic like Hiki Nage or Hiza Gatame from the Shodan Gi.
Train Aiki with Tanren Waza 鍛錬技
One of the basic Aiki training exercises in Kishin Juku is Ryote Osae Shuto Seme Tanren Waza 両手押手刀攻 鍛錬技. This is the exercise that starts every training session.
The idea is to firmly lock the wrists of his partner; he must then successfully raise his hands and move keeping connection.
At the beginning of learning one is unable to do so, and then gradually as you progress you manage to counter an increasingly significant pressure (Uke’s job is to find the right pressure to make his partner work).
Concretely, this exercise teaches how to apply the principle Cho Fu, mobilizing good muscles chains, activating the right connections that start from Tanden to the ends of the fingers, and this by keeping a natural and regular breathing.
Of course, when the objective is to work and acquire skills, complete blockage is counterproductive, but when it comes to test his progress, one need a non-complaisant Uke, which firmly locks the wrists.
Beyond this basic exercise, there are several other exercises whose main goal is to gradually develop a sense of Aiki :
突身手刀攻 鍛錬技 Tsukimi Shuto Seme Tanren Waza
打込掴四方崩 鍛錬技 Uchikomi Tsukami Shiho Kuzushi Tanren Waza
前蹴手刀攻 鍛錬技 Mae Geri Shuto Seme Tanren Waza
Some of these Tanren are visible in the available Kishin Juku videos.
Train Aiki with Kokyu Ho 呼吸法
Tanden Kakusei Kokyu Ho 丹田覚醒呼吸法 are breathing exercises for the internal development of the abdomen (as the name suggests).
There are three exercises:
– Kan Soku 緩則 : relax breathing
It teaches to breathe naturally with the lower part of the lungs and to become aware of the air travels in the body.
– Atsu Soku 圧則 : pressure breathing
This is a blocked breathing that raises awareness of the compression created by the inspiration and therefore the ability to generate force on exhalation.
– Cho Soku 張則 : spread breathing
This is the most important exercise, which helps develop muscles and connections that come into play during exhalation from the Tanden to the fingers.
Kojima Makoto Shuhan
« No Kokyu, No Aiki. No Aiki, No Jujutsu ».
The breathing work is paramount in the school curriculum; it can build a strong Tanden, suitable for the implementation of Cho Fu principle, and therefore necessary for the realization of Aiki.
Kishin Juku Japan Hombu Dojo
Kishin Juku France
Written and given permisson to republish by Christopher Tommasini of Jikandojo