The “Martial Softness” problem

When “softness” is involved, there is the perception of weakness. Movement is of course an action performed by muscles.
Even if you increase your power and muscle strength, you need to relax in actual combat movements.
From the perspective that if you can “always move softly”, you will be able to increase your martial strength.

“Always move softly. Softness has a stronger impact and can respond to any changes in the opponent.”

Key points for softness training

  • Softness is the main principle to learn
  • Footwork cannot interfere with softness
  • Direction and circle are one
  • The internal speed is always the same
  • As Uke, don’t fight or don’t do ukemi too soon

Chikara o nuku – Release your strength

That sentence is most of the time translated as “relax” or “relaxation”.
Relaxation is not a state of being “loose”. It is in a state of being “powered down”. Both are totally different.
Don’t tense your muscles, don’t collapse. The true meaning is “to do nothing”.
When we speak of “Mushin mugamae”, we have to adopt the attitude of “not doing anything”. The mind and body can regulate the required muscular tone.
The centerline or seichūsen should remain alive. If you can do it, you have the possibility of attacking the opponent.
Remember, a technique is born “after” the basic actions required.

While taking a posture (kamae), you need to do nothing. Your mind and body will use whatever force is required to maintain posture (kamae).
Postural training can be very useful for learning a lot about “Chikara o nuku”.

Kata-geiko, a form of pairing with an opponent

The significance of kata can be understood as the learning the principles of techniques with a trainingpartner.

Kata is “born and raised in actual combat, but it is not a model for actual combat .

Because softness is the first principle to study, the performance of the kata has to be based on this.
When raw strength is used during training, your training partner will react to this raw strength and the opponent will adjust to your power.
The body is always aware of the magnitude and direction of an external force and changes its position in response to the force, for example by shifting the body’s centre of gravity in the direction of the force.
If you don’t let your opponent perceive your motion full of softness, the opponent will be unable to respond to force and will maintain his position.
Uke can use a lot of power, this strength has the purpose to indicate tori is using muscular strength or the wrong direction.

Although the origin of the techniques in the kata is combat, the performance of the kata is not combat. It is a training tool to create martial strength and insight in the movements and strength of the opponent.

Using gravity

Gravity has a very strong image of pulling our bodies toward the earth. Because the earth is a massive object, there will be a repulsive force. As a practitioner of Aikidō (or other martial art), we must use our body as a tool to transmit the repulsive power.
You only can transmit the repulsive power if you can feel the flow of this power.
Feeling the flow of power is an aspect of creating “Aiki” or harmonizing universal forces.

Heavy muscle force is not smooth, slows movement and is easy to detect.
The forces of the earth (gravitational force and repulsive force) are always present, sharp, and transmitted instantaneously, making them difficult to detect.

Chokei – Perceptibility

Chokei is translated as “audibility”, and is a human tool to perceive sounds. In the case of martial arts, it is a tool of perception of the actions of the enemy. It’s not just a matter of listening to a sound. Chokei as an expression is mainly used in martial arts with a Chinese background. Goju-ryu karate has a training method called “kakie” which is basically used as a strength training tool. But this training tool includes “chokei” to feel the strength and intent of the opponent.

You can touch the opponent, or you can perceive an opponent from a distance.
The simplest is of course when you touch an opponent’s body or when the opponent uses the power to grab a part of your body.

  • Opponent’s force direction
  • The starting point and ending point of the opponent’s power
  • Opponent’s intention


Tenshikei is the Japanese word for a Chinese expression “Chán sī jìn” or “coiling strength”. Akira Hino, a Japanese researcher on martial arts uses this phrase to describe a method to generate coiling strength.
“Tenshi” is about wrapping silk threads
“Kei” is a word that refers to the flow of power generated by “tenshi” movement.

Main principles for tenshikei

  • Softness
  • Direction and circle are one
  • The internal speed is always the same

There are various forms of tenshikei, such as forward and backward, left and right, up and down, inside and outside, forward and reverse, size, etc. Tenshikei cannot exist in isolation from each other, it is a multidirectional movement.