Budo or Sport?

The emphasis is on Budo Aikido which includes randori geiko (not shiai). There is no “rules book” in Budo Aikido.

Frequently I am asked about the difference between Aikido as a martial art (Budo) and Aikido as sport (Kyogi).
Budo has 2 parts : Bu and Do
The word do means path or way, but refers to a special way – a path which its goals leads to nowhere, and is followed for its own sake. It becomes The Way. The Way follows no particular route, it is self-traveled, naturally individualized path to spiritual enlightenment.
Bu means “war” but it also suggest the sheathing of the sword or the cessation of struggle.
During the “Flower Power” movement in the Western countries Budo became less orientated to the idea of fighting.
Another evolution created a kind of Martial Art more orientated to the competition arena. Before the war, of course there were also competitions in Martial Arts. Examples are Kendo and Judo. Prewar competitions rules book was slightly different and not so elaborated as nowadays. Modern competition has a lot of “olympic” influence. In the past Budo training and competition were very close to each other, while today the difference is more obvious for practitioners.
Sometimes the general public cannot see or understand the difference between Martial Sport and Budo.
While in Kyogy-Aikido there are you versus the opponent, in Budo-Aikido you try to become one with the opponent and this is a precondition for using the concept of “Sen”, control of the movements.
Budo-Aikido people are generally more sensitive to the movements of the training partner. Technically precise movements are the goal in your training. Many Kyogi-aikido practitioners are relying more on muscle power, body weight, speed, combination techniques. In Kyogi-Aikido you can win by making half points, while in Budo-Aikido there is only total control of the situation.
Speaking about ethics, it is your choice how to finish a fight in a Budo environment. In Kyogi-Aikido, there are no ethics, only rules how to make points and prohibited actions. Ethics will vary according to the society people belong. Western people have different ethics than Japanese or other Asians.
Both methods have their merits and can be useful in daily life and can have a positive effect on our behaviour. The application of Aikido as self-defense or goshin-jutsu need of course some adaptation to become practical in real-life situations.
There are more similarities than differences when we compare both methods. Many Aikido methods will have a hybrid format with either the emphasis on the sporting side (Kyogi) or the classical side (Budo).

Budo or sport

Non-conscious body driven & conscious mind driven

The legendary Zen master Takuan Sōhō (1573-1645) said: “The mind must always be in the state of ‘flowing,’ for when it stops anywhere the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death. When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he cannot think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy’s sword movements. He just stands there with his sword which, forgetting all techniques, an is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man’s subconscious that strikes.

The big difference between Sport and Budo is in the use of the conscious and non-conscious mind.
In Budo Aikido, the body is driven by the patterns stored in the mind. These patterns are not mind driven but act as the circumstances are asking for it. In Kyogi Aikido, the practitioner is planning everything and actions are always according the rulebook.
The concept of mushin is a basic element of Budo Aikido, the mind is neutral and not interfering consciously with the martial action. Kyogi Aikido is a limited version of Budo Aikido the mind is always busy interfering with the action.

Hajime and Mate

In Sports Aikido there is hajime and mate. In Budo Aikido this doesn’t exist. If you ask a western practitioner about “hajime”, his answer will be probably : starting training, starting a technique or starting a match.

Yōso* – Fundamental elements

Kenji Tomiki was inspired by the ideas of Jigoro Kano in formulating his Aiki method. Kodokan Judo is based upon “principles”. Principles are concepts and are the essential characteristics of the system.
Man has formulated many laws related to our environment. The laws of Newton are such an example.
There are laws specific to the human body, rules specific to the relations between human bodies, as well as rules proper to the relations between the human beings within the framework of martial arts. All these laws are real and concrete realities, and together with the principles creates a system useful in the Eastern and Western countries.

Training in martial arts will take in account the laws and rules of

• Psychology, the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as thought.
• Physics, lit. knowledge of nature, the natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion and behavior through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force.

Yōso* : literally translated as “principle”, but in the context of our study we use “essential element” or “reality based upon laws and rules”.

Yōso in Budo-Aikido and Kyogi-Aikido

There are many fundamental elements in Aikido and most of them can be applied in Budo-Aikido and Kyogi-Aikido. There are 2 Yōso in both methods which are the most basic.

• The relationship between your mind and body
• The relationship between you and the body – mind of the opponent

From image to pattern

In order to understand laws and rules in human movements, many specific movements must be analysed to understand before we can create a pattern. There are many ways to put content into each of these movements. One of the content is for example the displacement of body weight during walking. In the brain there exist an image about walking.
How to use this image depends on our experiences during our life, and according these experiences we have created patterns.
Sometimes a pattern is corrupted or not suitable for use in martial arts situations. We have to (re)program a pattern.
Especially at beginners level, the conscious mind is used to remember the script of the movement.
Beginners level is not simply associated with “novices”, but also with experienced people who are learning new skills.
When starting with a new “pattern”, we start slowly and sometimes we exaggerate the movement by making it bigger. This gives us the opportunity to create a bodily sensation. At this point of your training you are going to use the unconscious mind.

The Standardisation or Guidelines?

Stylization and standardisation go hand in hand when an “Institution” creates a syllabus with techniques for grading or competition purposes. There is obviously a potential danger around the corner. The creativity of the practitioner will be killed when the Institution is taking too much the lead in the training process.
Of course, we need some guidelines depending on the characteristics of the martial art.
In this document is explained how to move the body. Don’t confuse guidelines with ”how to do techniques”.
The purpose of the guidelines is the creation of basic body movements patterns.

Pattern inclusive taikan (bodily sensation/experience) is your personal standard based upon guidelines practised during training. You will use taikan to sort out useful information and not becoming confused by an overload of information swirling around on the internet.
On the other hand, pattern is useful to understand diverse information from skilled bodywork teachers or martial arts instructors.

The parameters for basic movement pattern

How do we know our guidelines are correct?
To answer this question is necessary to understand the purpose of our basic movement. We have to set up the goals of our basic movement.
The efficiency of martial art techniques can be measured by the result we are obtaining after setting the goal of our manoeuvre. Stylization and standardisation can become a trap for you. Winning a “kata” by using stylization is a delusion. Your movement is maybe acrobatic but not efficient. Doing a grading using stylization and standardisation is a delusion and gives a signal you don’t understand what you are doing.
It is important from the beginning to start a body movement correctly. Ishiki or consciousness and awareness are necessary to develop efficient patterns.
Changing the pattern once ingrained requires more work (it’s estimated that 10 times the initial number of repetitions must be performed in the new way to over-write the existing pattern) than establishing the pattern in the first place. The implications of this are that spending time getting a pattern correct early on saves extra work later if you make changes to a problematic pattern.

Not all the knowledge can be written in books or taped on video clips.

Tacit knowledge (as opposed to formal, codified or explicit knowledge) is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it. For example, that Tokyo is in Japan is a piece of explicit knowledge that can be written down, transmitted, and understood by everybody. However, the ability to speak Japanese need also interaction with a person. There is non-verbal communication and this will be learned during conversation lessons.
Martial arts belong to the category with non verbal knowledge. This knowledge will be transferred by the teacher during one to one training. Taikan or bodily sensation is one of the secrets.

Bodywork in Tomiki Aikido

Bodywork existed in the original Tomiki Aikido and included solo & partner exercises. The use of the body was extensively explored in these exercises. Of course studying these exercises is time-consuming and if the focus is solely (for university students) on competition much of the knowledge will not be taught.

Published by

Eddy Wolput

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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