The Butterfly Experiment

Author: Eddy Wolput °1948 – 7th dan Aikido (JAA-Tokyo/Japan) – 5th dan Iaido – 5th dan Jodo. 
Part of the material in this article is not directly linked to the Japan Aikido Association (NPO) program or Shodokan approach. Other concepts are incorporated into the study of the subject presented.

Chiko-go-itsu – Knowledge and action are one

Yoshida Shōin

The Rorschach Test

The Rorschach test is a projective psychological test in which subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

Rorschach’s test is/has been used as a tool to analyze “perceptions” of a patient.
“Butterfly Experience” is a tool to study your ability of a connected body. The perception you have about a connected body is not always truthful. But by using a partner, you may know whether you are connected is real or just an illusion.

The Butterfly Experiment

How can I experience the outcome of a “connected body?
The “Butterfly Experiment” is an exercise that is not directly related to any martial art situation. This exercise can make your body connected while working with a training partner.
The partner maintains an upright posture. The body is neither stiff nor too relaxed. The arms are in front of the body, the fists are lightly squeezed. The resistance to butterfly motion is structural.

When the body is connected, it generates a tremendous amount of power without relying too much on muscle strength. Rendo allows the flow of force to increase and transfer to the target efficiently.

Akira Hino on the concept of Rendo

The butterfly experiment is not part of a normal training routine. The experiment can be done from time to time experiencing your progress in the creation of a connected body and the associated power.

Kinetic Chain a Western approach to Rendo

A “Kinetic Chain” is a term used to describe how force is transferred through different parts of the body to produce movement.
The concept was introduced by Franz Reuleaux, a mechanical engineer, in 1875 and adapted by Dr Arthur Steindler in 1995.

Using power means moving your body. If the body does not have a synchronized posture, the power will be scattered and finally we may lose our stability and fall.
Moving the body can happen in a stationary or dynamic situation. Neither situation can be experienced properly if there is no balance or stability.

Our movement system

Our motion system’s got multiple subsystems. In general, we can talk about three fundamental things.

  • Stabilizer system
  • Mobiliser system
  • Our brain

The movement of our body is the result of the use of muscles and tendons and ligaments attached.
There’s a thousand ligaments and tendons all over the body. Ligaments and tendons are made of connective tissue.
Ligaments connect one bone to another. Tendons connect a muscle to a bone. Both, however, are vital for good body mechanics.
Another part of our system is fascia.
A fascia is a structure of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves binding some structures together, while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other.
And we cannot forget our brains, or else we cannot function properly.

Stabilizer system

During any movement, the stabilizing muscles act to stabilize the body or part of the body. It is also important to note that there are no specific stabilizing muscles in the body. The name just outlines exactly what these muscles do.

Mobiliser system

These muscles are found close to the body` surface and tend to cross two joints. They are usually composed of fast fibres which produces power but lack endurance. Mobilizers help with rapid or ballistic motion.
Biceps and triceps are examples of this.

Stationary training

Basically, this kind of training focuses on the stabilizing system of the body. The mobilizing muscles of the upper body and arms perform large movements without excessive tension in these muscles. The goal of these exercises is not to create big muscles, but to create a synchronous movement between the stabilizer and mobilizing muscles.

Footwork

Footwork is closely related to balance and stability. Footwork exercises are basically working on the stabiliser muscles.
Practitioners of an older age can have a lot of benefit of footwork to keep their balance and stability during dynamic training.

The mobilisers of the upper body are in general not used during our footwork exercises and are kept in a relative fixed position.

Why holding the arms in this position?
This exercise is a good workout to strengthen the stabilisers of the upper body.

Koshi mawari

Koshi-mawari is in general translated as turning the hips. Koshi-mawari is a very complex way of moving with the lower torso. Koshi-mawari can be considered as the movement of a ball (kyūten*). Korindo-ryu aikido is largery based upon this concept.

*Kyūten – 球転 Ball rolling, ball rotation

Koshi-mawari can be performed at any time without a break, when your koshi is lowered sufficiently, with slightly springy knees. This makes it easier to react spontaneously to changes in any situation.

Stationary Tegatana Dosa

The posture is slightly deeper than the normal posture. This deeper position provides the opportunity to practice easier “Koshi mawari” or the so-called lower back rotating or hip rotating.

  1. Shomen uchi
  2. Shomen tsuki
  3. Uchi mawashi
  4. Soto mawashi
  5. Uchi gaeshi
  6. Soto gaeshi
  7. O mawashi

Numbers 3 to 7 are based upon the 5 original basic arm movements developped by Kenji Tomiki.

Power is generated by koshi mawari and directed into the arms and hands.

Footwork without Tegatana Dosa

Dynamic Tegatana Dosa

Mawari or turning/pivoting exercises

Applications of solo training

Without a suitable test, our solo practice may become an illusion. There are different ways to challenge your skills with a Training Partner. Some of these methods can be seen as an application of martial art solo exercises. Other testing methods can be considered as a learning tool to find out if our movement is effective in our daily life.

The first steps in Aikido as a martial art

Can one deal with an offensive action of the partner acting as an opponent?
First, we must find something from how far an offensive action can be effectively executed. Offensive action may consist of a strike, a push or a seizure.

How to deal with a simple offensive action is not at first glance a real street combat situation. This is a learning tool for finding the right timing, distance followed by a neutralising action with a “kuzushi” result. This may be followed with a “waza”.

Weapon training

Weapon training can be a great help in creating a connected body. Let me give you an example with a “Jo”.

Strategy, a secret

Without a strategy, victory in combat will be based on muscle power alone. Using “Chiko-go-itsu – Knowledge and action are one” is necessary to develop effective use of strategy.

Looking for the thruth

I’m not looking for the right answers in doing so,” . “I am just focusing on being able to do a certain task or technique. That is different from trying to be right.

Akira Hino

Tomiki Aikido Syllabus – Basic Framework Training Tool.

Author: Eddy Wolput °1948 – 7th dan Aikido (JAA-Tokyo/Japan) – 5th dan Iaido – 5th dan Jodo. 
Part of the material in this article is not directly linked to the Japan Aikido Association (NPO) program or Shodokan approach. Other concepts are incorporated into the study of the subject presented.

Study Group Tomiki Aikido – Shobukai Dojo Syllabus
This article outlines the “basic framework” employed in the Shobukai Dojo. The emphasis is mainly on “how to move the body” and “how to control the opponent”.
Members of the Shobukai Dojo study how to move the body and the methods of control of the opponent before being able to proceed with Tomiki Aikido Kata.

What Is a Martial Art Syllabus?

A syllabus is a document that presents all the necessary information on a martial art course. It lists the topics you will study while you practice martial art.
The course programme is a working document and a personal document. The syllabus can be used as a guide for the instructor as well as for the dojo.

Living Syllabus 

A syllabus is not fixed and basically a “living syllabus” can be updated as often as the teacher considers it necessary. This creates a vibrant, living document that students can interact with. Of course, the interaction between the instructor and the students is a major factor in updating the program.
Unfortunately, the emphasis is sometimes too much on a programme given by an international institute which does not allow much interaction between the institute, the instructor and the students. In this case, we cannot refer to a “living syllabus”.

An international institute program can be basically a policy guide to be used to generate a “living syllabus” for the local group.
So you can find a different program among the local groups while teaching the same concepts and principles.

Shobukai Dojo Syllabus

A Tomiki Aikido Syllabus can focus on various options for study and training, depending on the kind of dojo students.

  • Grading tool
  • Competition as the main goal
  • Sparring (randori)
  • Bodywork, efficient body movement
  • Self-protection and self-defense
  • Movement therapy
  • Other goals

The Shobukai Syllabus is based on the ideas and concepts of Kenji Tomiki and his nearest followers. There is an influence of other Aikido methods and Bodywork of independent instructors.

The program is built around various types of core concepts.

Basic arm movements

Our hands are one of the most important tools of our body. Tegatana translates into “sword hand”, but also includes the arm.

Basic arm movements can be performed either stationary or dynamically.
The stationary method emphasises the use of the “Koshi” synchronized with arm movements (tegatana). A dynamic version is integrating footwork.

Basic arm movements are based upon the basic arm movements developped by Kenji Tomiki.

The Stationary Method

The 1st part of the videoclip gives a overal impression, the 2nd half focussing on the use of the koshi.

The Dynamic Method

The integration of footwork into the tegatana exercises is the first step for practising “hakkei” or sudden power.

Hakkei Tegatana Dosa

When practising tegatana dosa in a stationary or dynamic way, movements are relatively big. The performance is quite slow and with no explosive power.
After several years of training, sudden power or Hakkei may be introduced.

Footwork – Unsoku-ho

In the Tomiki Aikido method a formalized exercise is wellknown by most of the practitioners. Because the focus is more on the pattern or in which direction to move, the most basic ways of footwork is in the backround. In the syllabus, the basic ways of footwork (ayumi ashi, tsuri ashi and tsugi ashi) is mentioned as a basic exercise. The different methods are integrated in the dynamic tegatana exercises.
When practising footwork, the arms are hold high and the intention is to hold a big ball between the arms. The arms are not used to push or pull, the power comes from the footwork initiated by the koshi.

Ayumi Ashi forward

Ayumi Ashi backward

Tsugi Ashi

Testing the solo exercises

Sometimes during training, the instructor can test the posture and movement of the student or to give feedback (interaction). All the movements of the solo-exercises can be tested.


Some testing examples

Testing posture and tsugi ashi

Ko-mawari testing

Kumi Kata (Judo)

The definition of Kumi Kata is grip fighting. The word “grip fighting” means to take a grip that will give you an advantage over your opponent. But also not to allow your opponent to take a comfortable grip to be able to counter.

The mastery of Judo Kumi Kata is a critical component for any judoka to succeed in modern judo. Without this skill being very well developed it is difficult to see how any judoka can experience the ability to throw ones opponent cleanly, effortlessly and with grace and beauty.

Ridatsu ho & Seigyo ho

Grasping the wrist in Aikido is a kind of strategy skill similar to the strategy skill of Judo Kumi Kata. Without this skill, we are not able to perform kuzushi and waza.
Tegatana kihon dosa (basic hand and arm movements) can be used as a setting up for gripping skills and controlling the opponent: Seigyo ho
On the other hand, kihon dosa can be used as a defensive action when the opponent is grasping you: Ridatsu ho

Both methods will depend on a correct and powerfull gripping skill.

The are different ways to grasp the wrist of opponent.
The purpose of grasping the wrist is to control the opponent action.

The comments of holding the sword, the golf ball and the soft tanto apply also for grasping a wrist.

Some examples of grasping the wrist

The example shows an offensive way to capture the wrist of the opponent. When the opponent performs an offensive movement, you can apply a basic arm movement and then grab the wrist.

How to seize

A strong grip can be catogorised in 3 major metods. See picture.

In essence, grasping the wrist in Aikido is similar to grasping the hilt of a sword. 
The basic rule is to grip firmly with the middle finger and thumb, keeping contact with the base of the little finger.

A study performed by The University of Western Ontario on the Individual finger strength and published in Journal of Hand Therapy gives the following results:
The percentage contributions of the index, middle, ring, and small fingers to grip were approximately 25%, 35%, 25%, and 14%, respectively.

While the ulnar side of the hand (ring and little finger) is taught as the dominant side when holding the “tsuka” of a sword, there is a lack of control if you don’t use the middle finger and thumb. When you start grabbing with the middle finger and thumb and index finger, the ring and the little finger, you will have a strong grip with many possibilities of precision.

3 important points

  • Base of little finger
  • Middle finger
  • Thumb

Exercises to develop correct wrist grabbing

Using Thera Band Flexbar

Soto gaeshi & uchi gaeshi
As mentioned earlier, both movements can be used both offensively and defensively. When you grip a wrist to apply a technique, Soto gaeshi or Uchi gaeshi may be applied. An exercise with the Flexbar almost gives you the feeling of gripping a wrist with a certain resistance.

Holding a golf ball.
Holding a golf ball is a good exercise to power up the middle finger and thumb.
Index, ring and little finger just close, but do not put pressure. Do not tighten the ball or you will lose control of the ability to manipulate your hand and arm movements.

Other examples of grasping

  • Holding tsuka
  • Grasping softanto (soft training dagger)

Holding tsuka
Hold the tsuka with the middle finger, the thumb and the base of the little finger. Index finger and ring finger close without any pressure.

Holding softanto (soft training dagger)

Soft tanto is a safe training tool used during sparring (randori). Frequently used in a Tomiki Aikido training program.

More pictures
European Championship Antwerp 2014 – Zuiderpershuis

The same comments apply as for holding the ball or holding the tsuka of a sword.

Kihon no katachi – Basic Aikido Techniques

Kihon no katachi is not the ju-nana-hon no kata or ju-go-hon no kata (an early version of kihon no kata), but it is a collection of basic aikido techniques usefull during friendly sparring (randori). It is a basic techniques syllabus.
There are 4 different kinds of techniques in Tomiki Aikido. All techniques start from a “tegatana awase” situation.

  • Atemi Waza
  • Hiji Waza
  • Tekubi Waza
  • Uki Waza

Atemi Waza

Kihon dosa or basic movements is the source for succesfull applying atemi waza. The philisophy behind atemi waza is explained in differents posts on this blog.

  • Shomen ate
  • Ai gamae ate
  • Gyaku gamae ate
  • Gedan ate
  • Ushiro ate

Hiji Waza

The use of “seigyo ho” or seizing skills are necessary to apply a skillfull hiji waza.

  • Oshi taoshi – straight arm push down
  • Hiki taoshi – straight arm pull down
  • Ude gaeshi – entangled arm
  • Ude hineri- entangled arm
  • Waki gatame omote – elbow lock
  • Waki gatame ura – elbow lock

Tekubi Waza

The use of “seigyo ho” or seizing skills for control are necessary to apply a skillfull tekubi waza.

  • Kote Hineri (uchi gaeshi)
  • Tenkai Kote Hineri
  • Kote Gaeshi (soto gaeshi)
  • Tenkai Kote Gaeshi

Uki Waza

Generally, this type of waza is translated as “floating techniques”. Basically, kuzushi or balance disturbing is performed as a throwing technique. All examples of wrist grabbing can be used to throw the opponent.
We distinguish 3 area

Kihon no katachi describe 3 major throws using Uki-waza skill.

  • Mae otoshi
  • Sumi otoshi
  • Hiki otoshi

Sparring or Randori Ho

  • Kakari geiko – continious predescribed attacks, no resistance
  • Hikitate geiko – continious predescribed attacks, escape possible for uke
  • Randori geiko – both can attack and defend
    • Dojo sparring
    • Shiai format

Example kakari geiko

Tanto randori – competition format

Aikidō: A Matrix Budō

In 1976, I stayed for several weeks in Shizuoka Japan and practised mostly Korindo Ryu Aikido with Hakamatsu sensei, a Shihan of Minoru Hirai Korindo Ryu. I didn’t really understood very well the principles and concepts of this martial art. But I made a lot of notes in my martial art diary. From time to time I am re-reading my notes and I discovered some secrets which I didn’t understood very well in that time.

The ideas and concepts taught to me in 1976 by Hakamatsu sensei are not opposing the ideas and concepts of Kenji Tomiki sensei and Hideo Ohba sensei. I was thaught by Hideo Ohba in Okubo Tokyo a few years later and I didn’t realize the similarities at that time.

It was a shocking idea to discover the concept of “Matrix* Budō “. One of the most important principles is to apply a single set of basic forms of exercise, which contains all vital movement elements, to all types of combat. These forms are contained in the developed taisabaki (tandoku undo). This taisabaki is the basis of all forms of movement, from which all techniques arise. A botai-budō or matrix-budō.

This concept was in the mind of Kenji Tomiki, when he was rationalizing Ueshiba’s Aikido. He formulated unsoku-ho and tandoku undo, containing the basic information for further development of the practitioner. Together with some other fundamental principles, a unique system is created which included kata and randori.

*Matrix = Botai (母体) = whomb, uterus

Don’t become fixed on techniques. Create your own waza.

Matrix

Matrix: an environment or material in which something develops; a surrounding medium or structure.

Matrix Budō

Minoru Hirai was the founder of Kōrindō Aikidō, a martial art based upon older forms of Jujutsu, Kenjutsu and other Japanese martial arts. He was also during World War II a director of Kobukan, Morihei Ueshiba organisation. Minoru Hirai introduced the word aikido as a generic term for Japanese martial arts not associated with Judo or Kendo. Basically it can be said, aikido is a term to define martial arts auround the “aiki” principle. (see also Minoru Hirai Korindo Aikido). As usual, the information on Wikipedia is based sometimes upon the view of one person or group and can be controversial for other persons.

Hirai’s martial art developed over time into what he calls Matrix Budō “, which is not based on a multitude of different techniques, but is based on a single principle practised during taisabaki movements:

The harmoniously round circle (enten) and ball rotation (kyūten) expressed by koshi-mawari in a number of forms of movement called taisabaki.

Koshi-mawari taisabaki serve as the basis in order to acquire efficient natural movement.

From koshi-mawari taisabaki, you develop a natural, rotating-flowing movement mode. Out of this, techniques are created unintentionally and adapted to the constantly changing situation, with which the attacker can be controlled and thrown because one does not oppose the attacking force. In order to acquire the movement of koshi-mawari taisabaki the following forms of exercise are practiced in training:

  • 7 or 8 forms of movement (taisabaki), which are initially trained individually, then in combination, and finally with a partner;
  • Partner forms to deepen the correct posture and the approach of every movement;
  • Randori means free attack and free movements in order to spontaneously realize the principle of koshi-mawari.

Enten

円転 Smooth circular motion; spherical; rolling smoothly; (with) smooth circular motion

The principle of giving movements a circular, flowing, non-okori course. The circular movements can be thought of as horizontal and vertical rotations.

Okori: The approach or initial impetus that usually initiates a movement. As a result, an attack usually reveals itself at the moment it arises. This happens often when attacker lauch a strike by stamping his back leg into the ground to create momentum or using a stamping front leg to give more power in the (tanto)strike. This can be avoided by using ashi no korobi or rolling feet or using a short tsugi-ashi after adjusting ma-ai.

Kyūten

球転 Ball rolling, ball rotation

In Chinese martial arts, the concept of Dantian and Chan Si Gong (silk reeling exercises) is related to kyūten and tenshi & tenshikei (discussed earlier).

from: Narita Shinjūrō – Kōrindō Aikidō

The ball rotation is perfectly round at all times. It has no corners or edges. Thanks to the rotations of the ball with this form of movement, continuous changes in direction are always possible. One could also describe the rotations as the sum of all angles of a circle. In Budo, the angles at which the two opponents meet play a critical role for victory or defeat, since each of the opponents tries to avoid the attack of his opponent in some way in order to get to the target with his blow. How to design the relationship of the angles to an attack line for your own advantage is therefore one of the decisive questions in every style.

Hirai came to the conclusion that it was not necessary to deliberately choose an angle of attack or defense against an opponent, but it was enough if one acted on his rotational movements from the angular fullness of the rotations of a 360 degree circle. Because when you implement the circular principle in your actions, you move completely freely and unhindered, because every movement always includes all contact points as they lie on a 360-degree circle. The sum of the angles of a circle remains the same, regardless of its size, although the smaller the circular movements, the more favorable it is for our purposes. In the thousands of possibilities, any one of the opponents will always be captured.

Since a circle encompasses a total of 360 degrees, any other shape, no matter how polygonal, would be less favorable in any case, since it must inevitably always have blind spots. As a result, gaps arise in defense, where one is inevitably defeated. Without this principle as a matrix, there can hardly be any effective taijutsu, kenjutsu or jojutsu. If it is possible to acquire koshi-mawashi, everything else will follow naturally.

To illustrate the effect of the koshi-mawashi principle, one can imagine the following: hold a sword horizontally sideways and turn from the center, i.e. koshi. Each angular point of the circle will be full of energy.

This effect can also be shown by a partner exercise from 7hon no kuzushi

This is something that every human being is able to accomplish. Every student has the opportunity to learn aikido with sufficient effort, since everyone is naturally capable of these circular or spherical movements with their 360 degrees.

With this form of movement, you have an unlimited number of hit points on the 360 degree circle, at least one of which inevitably contains the opponent’s hit point location. With the circular or spherical movements (Kyūten), you reliably reach the crucial point. Everything depends on the skill of moving the body with a circular or spherical pattern and able to to generate power to the opponent from each point of circle created by koshi-mawari taisabaki.

An opponent who fixes his attack on only one point only has this one chance. On the other hand, if you trust in the infinite number of angular possibilities, you are definitely in an advantage, because you can generate power from any point of your circle to an opponent’s vulnerable point.

Beyond that, no further considerations or techniques are required. Because of the fact that, in contrast to the opponent attacking with only one possibility, you have this unlimited number of angles, and you are able to master it completely, you can overcome it. Since this can hardly be achieved with rehearsed, fixed and therefore rigid techniques (katachi), it is better to work with the kyūten principle. This in turn is inextricably linked to the term yawara (suppleness).

Kyūten can be considered as a yōso or fundamental principle and is used under different names.

Basic Tomiki Aikido Kata (Basic15 or 17…) can only be considered as an effecient method, when taking in consideration fundamental principles (yōso) and the evolution from katachi to kata. The different waza cannot be considered as techniques, but as an expression of fundamental principles of Budō. By using randori, waza becomes alive. As Tomiki sensei mentioned: we need randori to paint in the eye of the dragon.

Achieving smooth movements must be regarded as one of the most important prerequisites for successful Budō. Jerky, forcefully applied techniques have the disadvantage that each new movement starts from a standstill. The absence of circular or spherical movements needs a forcefully start of a linear movement, which is easily detected by an opponent. Remember, kyūten is a skill for instant power generation and movement. This type of movement cannot be learned solely through the appropriately determined handles and tricks

These rotational and smooth movements are inseparable linked to the concept of yawara (suppleness). Rather, this idea of yawara* (JU in JU-do or JU-jutsu) is the physical expression of an inner attitude, which is often expressed in terms of harmony. Internal tension and aggressiveness would prevent the development of suppleness. As it is free from tension, it represents the most natural of all forms of movement and finds its equivalent in the concept of enten-mukyu**, the endlessly flowing and spherical twists.

*The kanji for yawara and ju in jujutsu is the same (柔). For Tomiki sensei “ju or yawara” is the principle of gentleness and it is similar to “aiki”, which is an explanation of the principle from within. Remember it was Minoru Hirai who introduced the word “Aikido” to make a separate division in Dai Nippon Butokukai. The word “aiki” was used by different Ryuha and it was difficult to bring them under the banner of Kodokan Judo.

**Endless circular movements. Can be considered as a Buddhist concept of Karma. After Buddhism was introduced to Japan, people easily accepted the notion of karmic retribution but not the literal belief of rebirth as animals or lower life forms. Transmigration of the soul focused more on the practical path to liberation.

Koshi-mawari

Koshi

Physiologically the pelvic area of the human body. It is also related to the lower back and sometimes it is referring to the waist. It is often translated by “hips” and referring to the hip joints although this is not completely correct. See “Koshi or other blog post and do a search with “koshi”.

Koshi-mawari or koshi-mawashi

The difference between the two terms koshi-mawari and koshi-mawashi is a grammatical one and consists in the fact that this is a question of a transitive and an intransitive verb form.

In practical use, the transitive form “koshi mawashi” means that the rotations are deliberately started, while koshi-mawari points to automatic, naturally occurring rotations by koshi.

Taisabaki

Some practitioners believe taisabaki is just avoiding an attack. This is only a small part of taisabaki. Basically it means a moving body.

Taisabaki has 3 elements;

  • Ashi-sabaki – concerning the feet and legs
  • Te-sabaki – concerning the hands and arms
  • Koshi-sabaki – concerning the central body, especially the lower part

How to……?

In fact, your training is not about winning or losing a match or a combat. It is about your attitude towards an unknown territory named Budō. In Budō-land are no rules or descriptions how to do a technique. There are only Yōso or fundamental principles. If you cannot see them and understand, you will not be a real Budō-ka (a martial art practitioner). You will rely on brute force and driven by primitive desire to win.

In these blog-posts, there are many indications how to master fundamental principles. If you can integrate them into your martial art practise, I believe you are on the right path of Budō.

Anyway you can have more ideas here