Kinetic energy – Idō-ryoku

Using the necessary muscle strength adequate to the minimum.

Kenji Tomiki has created a free play form (randori) for techniques that are not permitted during Judô randori. These prohibited techniques include atemi waza (striking techniques) and kansetsu waza (joint techniques). Many of these techniques are derived from Morihei Ueshiba’s Aiki method. Nevertheless, these techniques can also be found in the many old Jujutsu schools (Koryu Jujutsu).
The word Jujutsu is made of 2 kanji 柔術. Most of the time the first kanji is translated as “soft and flexible”, the second is translated as “technical or techniques”.
Many Aikidō practitioners don’t like the idea of doing Jujutsu, but basically they do this in their training.
Jujutsu can be seen as a method to handle power during a confrontation. When we add a more philosophical aspect to the training, we can say Aikidō is born.

“運動エネルギーundō enerugi”

Some Japanese texts contain an expression “運動エネルギーundō enerugi”, which translates into “kinetic energy”.
Kinetic energy is the result of moving your body using your muscles.  In the situation of doing an Aikido technique properly, this is nothing but using the necessary muscle strength adequate to the minimum.
Some Aikido practitioners deny the concept of muscle strength, so the word muscle strength may appear strange to some. They believe in the power of whatever magic force, called Kokyu-ryoku or the power of breath. However, even if a trained practitioner takes an electromyogram, the muscles are still in action. It is therefore scientifically impossible for humans to move without the use of their muscles.

The expression “idō-ryoku” is another expression that translates as “momentum” or “driving power”. This can give the impression of useless steps and especially with a lot of muscular contractions in the upper body.
Idō-ryoku should be considered as the transfer of body weight to the adversary, this can be done with or without movement. By keeping the body in a neutral state, we can achieve optimal results.
However, any body motion is the result of some muscle action. Even breathing calls for muscle contraction and relaxation.
And, even thought or action in the brain relates to muscular action, pumping blood.

Tomiki Aikidō Atemi Waza, an example

Shomen ate & Gyaku gamae ate
After making contact with the face of the adversary, by dropping the hara** “kinetic energy” is transferred into the body of the adversary. Kinetic energy becomes a driving force.

**when using hara -> hara-tanden-koshi

What is kinetic energy?

Kinetic energy is the energy an object has because of its motion.

If we want to accelerate an object, then we must apply a force. Applying a force requires us to do work. After work has been done, energy has been transferred to the object, and the object will be moving with a new constant speed. The energy transferred is known as kinetic energy, and it depends on the mass and speed achieved.

An example of the force of the impact being derived from the kinetic energy coefficient is evident during performing “shomen ate” (atemi waza). Both opponents can have the same mass, but one of them can be faster in the moves. In this way, the kinetic energy coefficient will be higher in the one with greater acceleration, ensuring greater impact and force in the stroke.
Of course, kinetic energy is not the only element for an efficient technique.

Potential energy and kinetic energy

Kinetic energy is the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its movement. Potential energy is the energy possessed by a body by virtue of its position or state. The better compression in the hara, the more potential energy.

To learn more about hara/tanden/koshi.

Taïjū no idō and Taïjū no dendō

*taïjū = body weight, idō = movement, dendō = transmission, conduction

We must make a distinction between movement and transmission. In general, when using a kind of footwork we can talk about Taïjū no idō, when there is no footwork involved we talk about Taïjū no dendō.

Taïjū no idō

By using footwork, we can bridge the distance between you and your opponent.
Fundamentally in Tomiki Aikidō some wellknown footwork methods are used to to create idō-ryoku.

  • Ayumi ashi
  • Suri ashi
  • Tsugi ashi
  • Mawari ashi

These methods may be used while performing the techniques.
Unfortunately, these approaches are not always effective as there is in most cases a sign of intention toward the adversary.
We need to step (move) without giving intent to one’s adversary.

Musoku no ho – Empty foot

In seminars with Akira Hino, he always emphasizes the freedom of the legs. We shouldn’t push with our knees. Freedom of movement is limited when your knees are not loose.
Akira Hino mentioned in his book the theory of Musoku no ho, one of the important principles of Kuroda Tetsuzan martial art school.

Musoku no ho or Mu-ashi no ho 無足之法 is a method to walk without the leg kicking the ground (relying on muscle strength).

This method is based on the power of a falling body (gravity). The skill is to loosen the knees.
Of course, you can use this method in Tomiki Aikidō as well. A simple example can provide a glimpse of this method. Tsugi ashi, or forward shuffling is used in shomen-ate or similar actions.

Taïjū no dendō

The transmission of the body weight is the action of putting the weight  into the opponent without giving access to the own center. For example when one is grasped at the wrist, use this point of contact to transfer body weight to another. It is not pushing or pulling! By performing tenshikei, an internal line of movement (運動線, undō-sen” is created, this internal line of movement is needed to be able to do body weight transmission without body displacement.

Although we speak about putting the weight into the opponent, basically it is the power of the transfer of bodyweight. By dropping the hara into the legs, power is generated and transmitted to the arms.

How to drop the hara into the legs

Dropping the hara must be felt in the heel of the foot. There is no power in the knee which is free to move when doing footwork.

Dropping the hara in your legs gives you potential power. You need flexibility of the groins, the knees and the ankles. When the lower body and legs are frozen, you cannot drop the hara into the legs.

The “pushing” image internal line of movement (運動線, undō-sen”)

For practising purposes, you can use an image how the power is traveling.

First you have to drop the hara creating potential power. When we use rotational movement, kinetic power is traveling at the front of the body to the opposite armpit. Next, the power is transmitting via the back into the arm. When the arm start the forward movement, the sternum is moving slightly inward to open the back for the power transfert.

Using back leg

Using front leg

Tenshikei – Using a straight line to rotate.

The above examples concerning the use of the front leg and the rear leg should be considered as a straight line of kinetic power following a circular trajectory.
When using the back leg, the knees are moving 1 or 2cm to each other. With the front leg, the knees are moving out for about 1or 2cm.
The knees are not bent or straightened, the power is started with the hara.
We do not push or fix the ground with our legs, we are always capable of moving our feet.
Using the weight of your body allows you to move faster and more freely than you can with conscious muscle strength.

Once we understand how it works, the use of tenshikei is not limited to those two examples.

Tenshikei doesn’t use the hips to twist around. This can be harmful to your knees.

Shotei awase

Shotei awase is an exercise with many explanations.
Fundamentally, it is about transferring the power from the legs to the hand.
The body must be kept straight, a slight inclination forward is possible.

In this exercise, a leg is frequently used to stop the incoming force. If we shut down the incoming power, we cannot use that power to return to the training partner.

When using this exercise as an isometric one, focus must be on the forward movement and not on the blocking of the incomng force. Both partners must try to find the balance to create an isometric situation.

Another metod is to use the idea of a pendulum, one partner is pushing and the other one is receiving. The receiving is a kind of dynamic resistance.

Funakogi undō – rowing exercise

Funakogi undō or boat rowing exercise is often done during warm-up exercises at traditional Aikidō dojos. Ame no torifune no kami or a Shinto god is at the origin of funakogi undō and is said to have originated from the Misogi practice handed down by Kawamo Bonji, an ancient Shintoist in the Meiji period, and passed down by Onisaburo Deguchi, the founder of Oomoto, to Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikidō.

This exercise is not a regular one in Tomiki Aikidō dōjō. Nevertheles, it is a good idea to introduce this in your training.

There are different explanations for this exercises, some are very physical, other are more metaphysical.

Published by

Eddy Wolput

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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