Tomiki Aikido is most commonly associated with a “competitive” version of the Aikido. In a way, this is correct because this kind of Aikido is created at Waseda University for the purpose of holding competitions among the different universities in Japan. As with other martial arts, Tomiki Aikido is also known as Shodokan Aikido has become a sporting activity throughout the world.
Every martial art also has a component of maintaining health, the same goes for Tomiki Aikido.
Maintaining a strong and supple body is an important condition in order to live a happy life. Our minds and thoughts have an important role to play here and this cannot be underestimated. Unfortunately, our sedentary life is a great danger to our movements, physical as well as mental. Such a life does not give us much chance of moving our body or using our creative mind. We can forget how to move our body in a rational way and our mind becomes in a state of unmindfulness.
Some people begin with a movement program to solve the problem of inactivity. Martial Art can be such a program for better movement.
The image of a martial art with the people in general, is an image of violence and aggressive behavior. Of course, people are aware of the Japanese art of Aikido or the Chinese art of Tai-chi-chuan. Most of the time, they consider these arts to be a watered-down combat system, without any connection to the real world.
The purpose of martial arts can be described as 2-fold
- Civilian purposes
- Maintenance of health for everyday life and well-being.
- Self-cultivation of the mind/spirit
- Martial purposes
- Simulated combat (sport/randori/shiai)
Basically, the main concept in the so-called soft martial arts is to find and improve the balance between relaxation and tension. This is not only a physical matter. The balance in the mind has also to be accomplished.
When the balance is created, the movements of mind and body can be describes as: “The rational way of using the mind and body.”
To understand this, two concepts come forward: Ju and Go.
- Ju: the body is flexible, movement is smooth without blockage, force can be transmitted in the body without difficulty
- Go: a physical state, mostly associated with martial art practice in which the body or movement is strong but not rigid.
In other words, a balance between flexibility and power is needed to produce an efficient action in your life.
For example the action os simple standing and trying to relax. Relaxing is associated with some kind of softness and flexibility. We also need some power to overcome gravity and keeping the body up. Too much power creates a stiffness in the body and mind, too much relaxing creates a kind of collapsed body (mind & body).
Balance between “Ju” and “Go”
The balance between the Ju and Go, the 2 physical qualities of the body create a detached mental state, in other words a state of emptiness, also called “mushin mugamae”, a famous quote frequently used by Kenji Tomiki/
You become an observer of the movements produced by yourself without any urge to bring your “ego” into play. Your mind and body comes into a state of balance between flexibility and power.
So, when you start to practice, you should first focus on relaxation in order to remove any stiffness in your mind and body. Stiffness is the condition of muscular movements in which your mind cannot lead your body movement.
Or the muscular force is blocked at a certain point even though the mind wants to reach a certain objective. In other words, there’s a lack of coordination and alignment between the body and the mind. The disharmonious state between the physical movement and the mind is the root of stiffness.
To practice “relaxation”, the best way is to put yourself in an upright posture, also called “shizentai”, and start to get rid of all unnecessary tension by scanning the body. You can find more on this matter if you do a search on “ritsuzen“.
The next step is making the body strong by using the optimal muscle tone to generate power for you movement action. Be aware, movement is always guided by the mind, but never forced by the mind.
Solo training consists of several components that cannot be omitted.
- Warming up – loosening up mind and body with soft stretching and flexible movements
- Energetic exercises – Kiko or Qigong – Shin-kokyu exercises (reverse breathing exercises)
- Winding/unwinding exercises – Tenshikei exercises (Chansi-gong)
- Sword-hand exercises with displacement – tegatana-dosa and unsoku-ho
The purpose of partner exercises is to test the efficiency of the skills developped during solo training.
Katachi and Kata training
Martial art techniques using the skills developped during solo training and partner training
Testing the accumulation of the skills developped during training of tandoku renshu, sotai renshu and katachi/kata.