When there is less contact between the two, the muscular strength component becomes less important.
Tomiki, who meticulously analyzed all jujitsu techniques, proposed “rikaku-taisei-no-randori“, i.e., randori in the non-contact position, in addition to kumi-randori. Kumi-randori is the standard way of fighting in Judo.
Fighting from a distance, an expression with simple words but the content is a lot more complicated. In the situation of grappling, most of the people are successful when using a lot of muscle power. When there is less contact between the two, the muscular strength component becomes less important.
Kenji Tomiki once said the Ki of Kendo is one of the most important elements of Japanese Budo. Kendo in this case is not limited to “the sportive way”, but includes all the arts where weapons are used. (Kendo, Iaido, Jodo, Naginatado……..Yagyu Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu)
Taikan : a non-verbal way of communication
An unconscious bodily feeling process to create communication with an opponent. Without communication we cannot feel the intention and power of the opponent. Relaxation is a major component of the Taikan skill.
The ultimate intention of taikan is the feeling of the opponent’s Ki. We cannot explain Ki by words, only by non-verbal communication. Ki can be felt by an intermediate of the body. The more the ego can be pushed to the back, the better we can have Ki sensations. Feeling the Ki is closely linked to the ability of relaxing mind and body.
Ki is a living entity and gives shape to our world. Ki is not only spiritual or mental power, but also the energy which gives shape to the world around us, including our opponent in martial arts.
On a very primitive level, we can see, hear and feel the body of our opponent, on a more advanced level we can sense the more subtle forms of Ki.
Seme : pushing with Ki
In Japanese sword martial arts like Iaido, the concept of Ki-Ken-Tai Ichi or the concept of the integration of Ki, sword, body and technique, can be studied by using Seme or pushing with Ki.
It is the spirit which guides the body, but sometimes it is the body which guide the spirit by using the subtlety of the Ki. If the body (and mind) is relaxed, we are made aware of the Ki in the body and this Ki is guiding the body and also the spirit.
To study Seme, some postures and movements are utilized to express the concept of Seme. Don’t confuse Seme with a feint. A feint like metsubushi (blinding the eyes) is provoking a movement in the opponent (his spirit), while Seme is pushing the opponent in a position where he cannot move (his spirit).
Ma : the space for the “moving” KI
If you hold a sword and you concentrate on holding the hands on the handle, the space of your focus (and your muscular power) is very small. If the opponent hit your sword for example with a stick (jo) and at the same time project his Ki to control your spirit, your sword will be wiped away and you will expose yourself to his attack. This is the key to success in the “hiki-otoshi-uchi” of Shindo-Muso-Ryu Jujutsu.
If you hold the sword and you use the concept of Seme, your space will become much bigger and your spirit will not be disturbed by the movement of your opponent. The key is to empty the mind for better sensing the mind of the opponent.
Becoming aware of “Ki” is easier when you hold a weapon in your hand. It is more difficult to sense the subtlety of Ki when you are in a situation of “close combat” or grappling situation.
In the situation of grappling you don’t have the time to detect the subtle forms of “Ki”, you are confronted immediately with raw muscular power. Only when you bring “Ma” into your training, you can learn about Seme or pushing with Ki. The more skill you acquire in sensing the Ki, the better you will cope with the opponent.
Tomiki emphasized the “Ki of Kendo” and “The principle of judo” as the essence of Japanese martial arts. His view on randori in aikido is heavenly influenced by these thoughts. It was always his dream to create a full scope of randori.
Picture of Tomiki around the time he entered the dojo of Ueshiba.
According to Tomiki’s recollection of his experience 50 years ago (1927), Tomiki tried to grasp Ueshiba’s collars or sleeves when was asked to attack him. Ueshiba was not there at the moment he thought to do it. Tomiki tried it again. The same thing happened. Tomiki was thrown by him at the same time he was struck by a blow. Then, Tomiki’s wrist was twisted. After that, Ueshiba said: “why have you learned only grasping techniques?”
1977 – Tadayuki Satoh visit to Kenji Tomiki
The secret of aikido is in the use of “atemi”
When Tomiki tried to grasp Ueshiba, he was struck by a blow (atemi), then Tomiki’s wrist was twisted. This episode (1927) in the training of Tomiki with Ueshiba is the origin of “rikakutaisei”.
Don’t grasp the wrist or dogi of the opponent when the opponent is not disturbed in his mind. Maybe you can have some victory, but mostly it will depend on muscular power.
Yawara (Judo) Taiso, the art of fencing without a sword
Aikido is closely related to the use of the sword and Tomiki Aikido is not an exemption. Use of the tegatana resembles the use of the sword. Even in martials arts which are not directly linked to the use of the sword we can find teachers who are using a sword to teach ways to discover Ki. Below an article describing the use of weapons in Karate-do by Mitsusuke Harada, MBE (原田 満祐, Harada Mitsusuke, born 16 November 1928) is a prominent Japanese master of Shotokai karate. Harada holds the rank of 5th dan, personally awarded by Gichin Funakoshi in 1956.
Harada encourages his senior students to work with a heavy bokken and Bo Staff. What is the point of this? It promotes an understanding of how to use ones own body when not using a weapon. Not just from a technique point of view, but most importantly it gives the correct feeling necessary, the feeling of energy projection. Harada wields his Bokken using projected thrusts that transmit their focus outwards. Then at a given signal a student would remove the bokken and another would attack him. Harada, still using the feeling of the Bokken, would destroy the advancing oi-zuki in mid-attack using a Bokkenless thrust of his open hands. In his hands, Harada explains, is still his Bokken (even though it has been removed).