The science of training

Primary movement patterns.

2895036Humans have several primary movement patterns that are learnt and refined throughout early life. Many of those primary movements are learnt by a baby without an example of another person. The baby has no role model.
When the baby starts to discover other people movements, a mirroring process starts in the brain of the baby and copies the movements of other people. Refer to the book written by Marco Iacoboni.


During your early years of life, your brain records and refines several primary movement patterns that it will need again and again. These patterns, once ingrained, allow your brain to quickly put them in to action and modify them slightly as the environment dictates.

Learning or modifying basic movement patterns

Primary movement pattern is learned without a role model, basic movement pattern is learnt by using a role model like parent, other children…..Or martial arts instructors.
Using walking as an example. Your brain is recalling the basic pattern known as ‘gait’ and could modify this to uphill or downhill or over uneven surfaces or in a crowd with shorter steps than usual.

The patterns are used in many variations but in the brain, the basic movement pattern is always the same. So a strike with the hand-blade, a fist or a knife is a replica of a basic movement pattern in the brain. What changes is the speed at which they occur, the loading in the movement (due to the weight of a weapon), and other minor refinements (where the target is and the timing of the start of the movement).
With a basic movement pattern the relative timing of the body segments stays the same. So, in striking with the hand-blade, if the action took one second the timing and sequencing of the joint movements would all be proportional to that one second. If in a strike with a weapon, the action took half a second the timing and sequencing of the joint movements would still be in the same proportion as in the hand-blade strike.

This allows us to ‘slow down’ and perfect a movement if someone is having a hard time with it, and as if by magic, when we speed the movement up again the improved movement should prevail. This is one reason that getting it right is more important than getting it done. The purity of the movement greatly increases the forces that can eventually be developed and can significantly reduce the injury risk simultaneously.

0.5 seconds for the mind to recognise what has occurred

libet bookBenjamin Libet states in his book, “Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness (Perspectives in Cognitive Neuroscience),” that it takes 0.5 seconds for the mind to recognise what has occurred.
When someone attacks you, you usually try to defend with your hands, but this is just a conditioned response. However, if you enter into your opponent as your opponent is about to attack, your opponent will be turned back on himself and his attack will suddenly stop. This is because you are entering in before 0.5 seconds and entering the unconscious mind of your opponent. That is why you can control your opponent. Once your pre-0.5 seconds unconscious mind is controlled, you cannot break free from that condition. Usually, after 0.5 seconds, both you and your opponent are in the conscious world, and because such pre-conscious control will not work, it will become a simple exchange of power and technique.

Sen or pre-emptive action

5 rings011There is only “one” pre-emptive action, but we discern three types in pre-emptive action.

• One is a pre-emptive action from me to the opponent, and it is called the active pre-emptive action.
• Another is a pre-emptive action when the opponent is to strike me, and it is called the reactive pre-emptive action.
• The last is a pre-emptive action when both the opponent and I are to strike each other, and it is called the interactive pre-emptive action.

There are no other type in pre-emptive actions.
A pre-emptive action is the decisive factor in victory, it is the most crucial in martial arts.
There are many details in a pre-emptive action, but as it is up to the logic of the moment and you need to see the mind of the opponent and use the skill of martial arts to win.
In the “Fire” book (The book of 5 Rings) by Musashi Miyamoto, you will find a similar explanation.

Chikara wo Nuku 力を抜く

In a Japanese dojo, you hear sometimes the expression. Chikara wo Nuku. Chikara means power or force. Nuku means to pull out or withdraw. You may hear for example `katana wo nuku`, to pull out (unsheathe) your sword. It means start of the action.
The “chikara wo nuku” concept is not only important in martial arts but also in everyday life when there is friction between 2 people. Finding the timing to remove the tension is a skill very useful for quarrelling people. There is also an expression when a fighting couple makes up, moto no saya ni osomatta – the sword is sheathed back in its scabbard.

Chikara wo nuku is the ability to drop or release power in a proper manner and timing when you feel resistance in an exchange with the opponent. In toshu randori (unarmed randori), you can either create a tension or pressure and release it or you receive tension from your opponent and skilfully direct and release it. Properly executed, you can create moments of great surprise for your opponent. When the opponent is surprised, his power is often disrupted and creates moments of receptivity in him.

The function of muscles

The most serious mistake that people have about body movements is that they believe movements are primarily generated by conscious contractions because they have consciousness and muscle.
Basically there are 2 kind of using muscles in the training for Tomiki Aikido.

• bridging the distance
• manipulation of opponent

Bridging the distance

In bridging the distance, the function of muscles is not to generate the main power of body movements, but to trigger the start a movement (to lose balance) by using gravity, to control it (to create new balance), and to redirect into the opponent. Using gravity is an economic way of using energy and is certainly according Kano’s maxim :

“Seiryoku-Zenyo” (maximum efficient use of energy)


Manipulation of the opponent

Manipulation of the opponent is the result of the body communication by using the concept of “sen” or initiative.
Besides “sen”, we must also consider the distance between the 2 bodies. The attack of the opponent has to be controlled by using “mikiri” or the manipulation of the distance by an extremely thin margin. This action of control must be very precise. By using the tenshikei skill we can transmit our power into the opponent.
Pulling or tensing the muscles will destroy the capacity of listening to the communication of the 2 bodies

autopietic system

Jukozo – Flexible structure – Tensegrity

Tomiki wrote many articles and books about Budo, mostly Judo and Aikido. In his writings, but also in his lectures he stressed a lot “shizentai” or natural posture.
Shizentai is a posture neither limp or neither rigid. From shizentai we can move in any direction. If someone is pushing we can move away without changing the distance in our relationship with the opponent or partner.
Flexibility is a concept prevalent in all parts of Japanese society. Even in Japanese architecture, flexible structure is a basic concept due to the many earthquakes.
The old temples were built on a principle of flexi­bility, with thousands of interconnecting wooden parts that absorbed and dissipated the force of an earthquake as it traveled up and down the structure. Unfortunately this concept was overlooked by early 1900 Japanese architects until there was a major earthquake in 1923. From a modern architectural perspective flexible structure or “jukozo” was a revolutionary concept, and reinvented by Japanese archi­tects as the only defence against earthquakes.
In Western society, tensional integrity or floating compression is a similar concept (see Tensegrity on Wikipedia).
In martial arts, skill of “jukozo” or the interconnecting parts of the human body is one of the basic premises of study from the beginning in your training. Jukozo is direct related to “rendo” (interlinked movements) which will be discussed later.

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