Footwork, stretching and releasing, winding and unwinding….all of these separate patterns must be combined in one smooth movement, called rendo.
How to use the body is an important item in the training. Especially at beginners level, the mind needs to be 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.
All the tandoku undo exercises need “repetition” to create the bodily sensation of rendo. It is this state of connectivity called whole-body-movement.
Rendo is the pathway to “hakkei”, sometimes called explosive or sudden power. When using hakkei the opponent has no time to react, because it is a “sudden” power.
Before we can emit “hakkei” we have to memorize the smoothly connected motions by performing the movement(s) continuously without stopping or getting stuck.
Stopping and repeat is in fact lining up one pattern of movement after the other.
When Kenji Tomiki created tandoku undo, he used for example the pattern of “uchi mawashi”, and performed it as one exercise, left and right, forward and to the side. Later he combined for example uchi mawashi and soto mawashi as one continuous movement.
To create waza, there are no limitations to include other movements. The skill is to make Rendo.
Besides the basic movements to create waza, there is also the interrelationship with the opponent. The skill of Rendo is necessary in order to cope with the movements of the opponents.
A study of the opponents weak points or zones is necessary.
Schematic presentation of Rendo in Aikido waza*
1. Learning the script – the different movements in waza.
2. There is a logic in the different movements, if no logic it becomes impossible to create effective waza.
3. Performing the different movements without stops.
4. Integrate the different movements to create 1 effective movement or waza = Rendo
* Waza is mostly translated as technique. Rendo is the bodily sensation of waza.
Non-moving is a part of moving
During the performance of techniques or waza, depending on your level, there is in many cases a “pause”. This is not a stop, but your physical movement is not moving although in your mind it is still moving.
Takuan Soho wrote in his famous book “The Unfettered Mind”:
The interval into which not even a hair can be entered.
This kind of linked movements we also find in iaido, a Japanese kind of sword fighting.
Below there are 4 patterns linked together. Between each pattern there is what is called zanshin, keeping the mind alert. It is not a stop but a pause between 2 patterns.
The advantages of circular movements
Circular movements are not “rendo” but can be very helpful in acquiring a smooth continuous technique.
1.An easier transition from one movement to another as the completion of one movement would blend into the one that follows. In other words, a series of movements can be made without stopping between the movements.
2. A whip like motion like gyaku gamae ate could generate a lot of speed and a great impact as it hits a target.
Circular movements are like a brush writing of a kanji sentence. From one kanji to another, the brush must have a connection even though the stroke is not visible (sometimes you may see a line of small drops of ink from the ending point of one kanji to the beginning of the next one that shows the connection is indeed there)
Kata are extremely important. Kata imposes a precise movement with a precise reason. And we must seek to understand the meaning with our own bodies.
In kata we will move with the body and not the conscious mind, we need to understand the reasons of all the movements with the subconscious mind.
The Koryu no kata is not a tool to demonstrate at a grading test or embu-kyogi (competition or sports demonstration) but to improve your skill, so we have to be keen to study the internal mechanisms. On the other hand the koryu no kata can be an instrument to evaluate the progress of a practitioner. The kata or katachi demonstration at a grading shows the depth of understanding.
Kata contain essential pedagogical elements. If you integrate bodywork into your waza of the kata, it will stimulate your brain to find new ways for a fixed form.
Training without the restraint of fixed forms
In contrast with a meaningless embu of techniques, your training has to be based upon principles found in the kata, but studied without the fixed form harness.
This is a paradox for you. Is kata a fixed form? And why study kata?
Some performers demonstrate kata as a collection of movements in an artistic manner, these movements pleased the aesthetic sense by giving a kind of abstract quality. If this is your reason to study kata then of course you are not studying Budo Aikido, but some kind of martial gymnastics and in some degree a limited form of “rendo”.
But we cannot forget completely the aesthetic element, we have to change the asymmetrical into the symmetrical, the irregular into regular. Kata can teach you alot about awase or bodily communication.
Every kata contains practical elements for use in randori or confrontation with an opponent. Don’t confuse these elements with brutal or harmful actions towards your training partner or opponent.
Efficiency is not depending on raw power, but on skillful applications of body movements ruled by internal mechanisms and bodily communication.
Shu Ha Ri
Budo Aikido has a progression called “Shu Ha Ri”.
You wil find this also in Zen training under a different name. (1-Development of the power of concentration (Joriki) 2-Satori-Awakening (Kensho) 3-Actualization of the Supreme way in our daily lives (mujudo no taigen).
Taisen Deshimaru, the author of The Zen Way to the Martial Arts, wrote about Zen and Budo and the similarities between them.
But what is the meaning of Shu Ha Ri?
Shu suggests progressing to a good technical understanding.
Ha suggests a ‘break-through’ in the understanding of technique. Usually this happens in a flash of insight, sometimes after discovering a small detail. Ha-period will extend until you understand all the basics with your body.
Ha creates Rendo, everything is on the right spot, you feel the movements of the technique. After Rendo the target of the training will be Hakkei.
Ri has multiple interpretations, but one … is freedom. No more ego…..