The following article has been used with the kind permission of Seiji Tanaka Sensei of the Japan Aikido Association.
There are many kinds of Budo (martial arts) in Japan. In recent history, kendo and judo have been the major ones and, as Gakko Budo—martial arts systems taught as part of the PE curricula—they have been required courses in schools, including primary schools, since the Meiji period (1868-1912). And, as is well known, both kendo and judo incorporate competition and sparring. However, the training in ancient Budo consisted only of kata practice, the practice of forms and pre-arranged movements that one masters through numerous repetitions. Kendo and judo training were not kata alone. In order to make shiai (tournaments) possible, an etiquette and structure for competition was devised. I think that competition developed for two reasons, one philosophical and one practical. First, the saying “tournaments are possible” suits the expansive essence of budo. Second, the educational effect of tournaments is enormous.
Aikido is much the same as judo because the origins of both reside in the ancient schools of jujutsu. If we generally classify the kinds of techniques (waza) in the ancient schools of jujutsu, there are four categories:
- Nage-waza (throwing techniques)
- Katame-waza (locking techniques)
- Atemi-waza (striking techniques)
- Kansetsu-waza (joint techniques)
Among these, many nage-waza and some katame-waza have been collected into the system of training that is “competition judo” (judo kyogi), and various atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza have been collected into the system of training that is “competition aikido” (aikido kyogi).
Although one group of kansetsu-waza are included among the katame-waza of competition judo, the many varieties of kansetsu-waza (and their implementation) should be combined with the atemi-waza into a system of training so that these two groups of techniques will be sufficiently revitalized. Although the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza can be viewed as techniques that can inflict a severe injury on an opponent, if we study the principles of the martial arts well, we realize that they are exquisite techniques for toppling (taosu) or controlling (osaeru) an opponent without necessarily harming him. In the same way, the nage-waza and katame-waza of competition judo—in the way they are taught and used by Judo players—are superb techniques that have the same purpose, namely controlling the opponent without injuring him. In this shared sensibility, both competition judo and competition aikido have been derived from the essence of the ancient schools of jujutsu and developed in to modern, competitive sports.
From both an educational and historical point of view, aikido has a meaning and content which is inferior to neither kendo nor judo. Generally speaking, few people understand that. The position of aikido within Japanese budo also is not well understood. This treatise will provide a summary of these points in order to clarify the situation.
Chapter One: The Distinctive Features of Budo and the System of Jujutsu Training
What are the distinctive features of Japanese Budo? They are surely matters of spirit and philosophy. It has come to be said quite often that if we diligently develop our waza, our minds and spirits (kokoro) will be improved. Since ancient times, this budo shugyo, or martial arts training and apprenticeship, has proceeded from “techniques” (waza) to the “Way” (michi). The aphorism, “The act of perfecting our waza is equal to and achieves that act of perfecting our minds,” applies in its entirety to modern competition, as competition rightly engaged in helps us to perfect our waza, and so our minds. But a more thorough consideration of the distinctive features of budo and its philosophy is necessary here.
It has been handed down to this generation that the secret principle of martial arts techniques in kenjutsu (cf, The Book of the Five Rings) or in jujutsu (cf, The Heavenly Scroll of Kito Ryu Jujutsu) is to study thoroughly the principles of the arts so that we will ultimately arrive at “no posture” (mugamae)—that is, we will develop true natural posture (shizen hontai). In the same way that thoroughly mastering the principles of the arts leads the body to mugamae, such mastery leads the soul to mushin, which is often termed “no heart,” or “the quietude of spirit”. Although there are various terms for mushin, such as the unmoving heart, the non-living heart, the soft and pliable heart, and the every-day heart, they all mean exactly the same thing. And arriving at this state of mushin is congruent with the goals of the religious and moral systems that have existed in all eras and in all places.
The deep secret of ancient jujutsu is embodied in the saying, “True natural posture is the manifestation of mushin. Control strength through gentleness. These are the principles of jujutsu.” Master Jigoro Kano (1860-1938), the founder of Kodokan Judo, well explained the subtleties behind this principle when he formulated his Principles of Judo—judo meaning gentleness—so that the original jujutsu principle would be understandable to the people of the current day. He did this by analyzing this single jujutsu principle quoted above, and dividing it into three subsidiary principles.
- The principle of natural body (shizentai no ri), which concerns posture. This is a natural, unrestricted posture from which it is possible to attack and defend, adapting to any kind of assault.
- The principle of gentleness (ju no ri), which concerns the position of defense. It says, do not oppose the offensive power of any kind of antagonist with force. Rather, render that force ineffective by moving your body out of the way (taisabaki).
- The principle of breaking balance (kuzushi no ri), which concerns the position of attack. This says to go and build a chance of winning by taking advantage of the breaking of your opponent’s balance or by adhering to his body.
I have taught both the kata and randori training methods together, as a unified system of practice which can help the student to understand each technique in light of the three principles listed above. I have also pointed out in my teaching that the nage-waza and katame-waza belong to randori training, while the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza for the most part belong to kata training.
Jujutsu, which had techniques for hand to hand combat, studied “true power.” In order for each us to experience personally the “core principles of the martial arts,” we must not stop at the mere, repetitious practice of kata. Randori and sparing help to lead us closer to both the core principles of the martial arts and the true power that they generate by letting us experience the techniques studied in kata as they were meant to be performed: against a smart, resisting, and aggressive opponent. As an added benefit, randori training leads to an indispensable and highly prized sense of security. We have to admire the foresight of Master Kano for having expounded and promoted the benefits of randori training.
In reflecting on the evolution of Kodokan judo over the past century, one notes that those atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza that belong to just kata training have lagged behind those nage-waza and katame-waza that belong to randori as well as kata training. The gap separating them is large. I suggest the following reasons for this differential. First, a systematic classification and arrangement of materials relating to the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza has not been made. Second, an analysis of the characteristics of the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza, on the basis of the principles of judo, has not been performed. That is, these techniques are largely thought of only in terms of their original, bloodthirsty jujutsu interpretations. Third, a systematic method of practice for the atemi-waza and the kansetsu-waza has not yet been established. Although there were important categories of atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza in each of the jujutsu schools of the Edo Period (1603-1867), after the Meiji Restoration in 1868 these categories of techniques became formalized and staid, and their vitality wasted away.
It was during this time of general decline that Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu was revived, first by Takeda Sogaku (1860-1943) and then by Morihei Ueshiba,who was Takeda’s leading disciple and the man who would succeed Takeda as the head of aikido. Daito-ryu was a school of jujutsu that had been handed down for many generations in the old Aizu prefecture and was justly praised by Master Kano. Kano’s praise was natural, as it takes genius to see genius. Indeed, the achievements Kano and Ueshiba are, in the annals of Japanese budo, stupendous. Kano’s work as a martial artist is more well know, but Ueshiba, who was an especially pious person, expanded our understanding of the limits of enlightenment and of the unity of god and man. He also changed the name of the art from aikijujutsu to aikido, established a dojo in Tokyo in the first years of the Showa period (1925-1989), and propagated aikido both in Japan and around the world.
It is the case, though, that the method of training used in aikido today is not only based upon the practices of long ago, but is indeed just about unchanged from what was done back then. If we consider the matter from the standpoint of an up-to-date education in budo, however, a system of randori practice ought to be added and should be based upon a method of training that incorporates both kata and randori. When one is young it is important for one’s budo training to pass through rigorous bodily and spiritual ordeals in randori and, further, tournaments. And as for the vast array of techniques that cannot be incorporated into randori training, the profound martial arts principles embodied in those techniques can be—must be—mastered thoroughly through the practice of kata. In this way, one may develop one’s body to the wonderful state known as mugamae or shizentai, and thence through further exertions reach the ascetic practice of mushin. This is “the Way” for the practitioner of austerities.
When we compare the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza with the nage-waza and katame-waza, we note that the element of a feat of strength is minimal. That is, the former require less power than the latter. For this reason too, randori is needed to impose rigor. The practice of kata, as a lifelong physical discipline, is, however, an appropriate method of practice for older people.
Through the short treatise below, I want to elucidate historically and through the principles of the martial arts the indispensability of both kata and randori in any aikido training system.
Chapter Two: The Changes In Jujutsu And Its Modernization
Budo is not the only art that aims at mastery of the body. Others such as those on land or in the water or those games in which a ball is used all attain proficiency by repetition, and by trial and error. People who have become masters, experts and champions have spent long months and years practicing. They are people who well understand perseverance and who practice diligently. Their practice methods, of which there are an infinite variety, bear the stamp of their respective personalities and characters. However, of all the practice methods, the practice methods which excel in any given art are clear only if we objectify measure real capabilities by way of competition. Budo is no exception. The historical and developmental circumstances of Budo, however, were different from those in other arts. This, of course, affected the evolution of the practice of Budo, as well as the methods of determining efficacy.
It goes without saying that modern sports which use a ball were derived from recreational pastimes. Land and water sports were pragmatically designed as a means of physical exertion, and served well not only for the body but for the spirit in periods of cultural decline. The people who excelled in these activities occupied a superior position in life. Budo confers similar benefits. But, because Budo contains an element of danger, however, problems peculiar to Budo have to be dealt with. Since it was desired that one’s Budo would work in a fight, techniques were esteemed to the extent that they had the power to kill and maim. This, though, is a turn off. And the saying that necessity is the mother of invention can be applied to the modern development of the martial arts and how they came to allow a bloodless proof of skill and excellence.
When we consider the history of the development of Budo, its style and content went through changes according to the ebb and flow of history. At the beginning of the 17th century, the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate completely halted a long period of war. Both kenjutsu and jujutsu evolved to become self defensive martial arts during the ensuing period of peace. That is to say, research progressed from hand-to-hand combat wearing armour to hand-to-hand combat wearing ordinary clothes. It is said that kenjutsu developed into IAI and jujutsu developed into IDORI, that is into sitting techniques (suwari-waza). Moreover, the sense of values in bujutsu changed greatly. The martial arts that had formerly embraced the doctrine of supreme victory on the battlefield evolved into KYOIKU BUDO, “educational” BUDO. Their new goal was to promote the refinement of the warrior through the disciplined study of the martial arts. This was a great break with the earlier schools, which cared little for the warrior’s soul, concentrating, instead, solely on victory. That is, the emphasis of training shifted from waza (techniques) to the Way.
The “Way” in question was the Way of the Warrior (Bushido), which was founded on the religious beliefs of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shinto. The evolution of the Way of the Warrior allowed an evolution of the martial arts, from an emphasis on techniques of killing and maiming to those of submission and restraint. One can find documentary evidence of this shift of mind set in the records of several martial arts disciplines. It is reported that in kenjutsu the stated ideal was, “No sword” (cf, The record of Kenjutsu Theory for the Shin-kage School). In Yoshin jujutsu the stated ideal was, “Not to kill while using the art” (cf, The Scroll of Preparedness of the Yoshin School). In Aikijujutsu, it was, “Avoid being struck, but do not strike; avoid being cut, but do not cut” (cf, The Oral Tradition of the Daito School of Aikijujutsu). That is to say, the spirit of killing and wounding were disavowed, and, as they were, the techniques for throwing or restraining, and thereby controlling an opponent, developed tremendously.
At any rate, because Budo was in the ultimate position of standing at the cross-roads of life and death, instructors emphasized that there was strength in the conviction that one need not fear death. This conviction that one need not fear death became confused, though, with a conviction that one need not fear death because the instruction of one’s own school was superior. This conviction was easy to have during Japan’s Tokugawa era, when the nation enjoyed 200 years of peace: there were no wars in which to test one’s conviction of superiority. Because there was no way of gauging the credibility of one’s belief in the conviction, the martial arts community was divided into many antagonistic schools, each preaching an untested invincibility. But martial arts as they should be welcomed the Meiji Restoration and made a brand new start, eager to be challenged and tested, and to further the moral as well as technical evolution of Bushido.
The pioneer who modernized the feudal era schools of bujutsu and brought them to into the context of modern physical education was Master Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. When I say that he modernized ancient bujutsu, what I mean is that, first of all, he categorized and arranged the techniques so that they transcended schools. The main feature of this rearrangement was organizing and categorizing the major techniques according to the form of combat, so as to make tournaments (shiai) possible. Tournaments, of course, allow techniques and training methods to be compared for efficacy. Second, and with an eye to education, Kano philosophically and ethically examined the ancient martial arts schools. Though the schools were often quite antagonistic towards one another, and most of them expressed the opinion thatthey were different and unique, Kano came to regarded all the schools as all being fundamentally the same, all of them being based on the precepts of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. Their technical contents varied widely, of course, but by taking the best of each of the old ju-jitsu schools’ philosophies and technical expertise, Kano believe that the individual beliefs and creeds of the ancient schools could be holistically combined into a Way to educate all of mankind.
Master Kano’s insight must further be placed in a historical context. Master Kano lived and developed Judo (in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) at a time when Japan was struggling to cast off feudalism and become a modern, democratic state. It was clear to him that pure, unmodernized Jujutsu (precisely because it had long had as its main purpose the sole issue of victory or defeat) did not comport with the modernizing spirit of the period after the Meiji Restoration. Master Kano’s creation, Judo, the Gentle Way, sought to bring together the best of the Japanese martial tradition into a system of physical education which would improve the minds and spirits of Japan’s youth, in addition to their physiques. But, more philosophically, Kano, having examined winning and losing, and having discoveblack the principles behind each, imbued his creation with the insights gained, both spiritual and technical.
Judo is a way to refine our spirit by using the Way of those principles. The sentence, “The main purpose of jujutsu was the issue of victory or defeat,” means exactly what it says: the highest goal of jujutsu was nothing more than actual victory. Yet, because jujutsu techniques have a dangerous and bloodthirsty nature, they are inappropriate for modern times. Judo, however, manifests the deep significance that is embodied in the principles that are mentioned in the phrase, “Having examined winning and losing, and having discoveblack the principles behind each,” and makes those principles into a Way for the evolution of magnanimous human beings. And the way for you to examine victory and defeat yourself is to apply yourself diligently to both randori (sparring) and kata (forms) without favoring one over the other; as one should not set out favoring victory over defeat, but should look to them both for insight.
Chapter Three: Techniques learned through kata can be revitalized by randori
The method of practice traditionally used to ensure the safe study of dangerous techniques was the kata system of practice. In ancient bujutsu, 99% of practice was completed by kata alone. That is to say, in order to cope with an opponent’s unlimited attacks, each response was practiced by means of kata. That is the reason for the extreme number of kata in ancient jujutsu. For example, in Tenjin Shinyo Ryu jujutsu there were 124 kata sequences, each comprising many techniques, and there were over 100 ranho (unstructublack captures). To become masterful in the practical applications of the techniques requiblack innumerable months. Then, someone would be challenged and would go directly from kata to a violent shiai (literally a street fight) called tsujinage or tsujigiri. This gave life to kata and was the place to try to gauge objectively one’s own real ability.
But, a martial art that has no rules is nothing but violence. The street fights of that day bordeblack on being nothing but violence. It is true that for a warrior, in addition to cultivating the mind set of being prepablack for death, must participate in shiai to hone and gauge his skills; but the shiai of that time, being as unstructublack as they were, were rightly seen by martial arts instructors as violent and detrimental. In the traditional budo writings there is a prohibition against shiai. Novices entering into shiai unprepablackly were rightly admonished about the very likely danger of losing their lives.
Times changed after the middle of the Edo period, when shiai that could cause injuries resulting in death was rigidly proscribed by the authorities. There would be no more street fights. Consequently, it was decided by some that bujutsu training would be done from first to last only by kata. Soon afterward, that bujutsu which by the loss of the street fight had lost the opportunity for shiai training showed signs of degeneration because it was impossible for its practitioners to experience personally the true power of the martial arts and the core of the principles of the arts. As a means of correcting this decline, the bamboo sword practice of Kenjutsu and the free sparring practice (randori geiko) of Jujutsu were invented.
For an example of the decline in skills incumbent upon the loss of shiai, note that within Kenjutsu in the middle of the Edo era, schools such as Kempo-Kaho were ridiculed. The ridicule stemmed from these schools being revealed to have kata-only practices that made it easy to develop weak points. It is said that the rigor of bujutsu training was forgotten, that training sank into easy-going ways, that real power was not sought, and that pretentious, bombastic activity increased. In short, history sadly reports that the sword kata of Budo degenerated into the sword kata of the stage.
This scorn that was heaped upon the kata-only schools, though, must be kept in perspective. Ju-jutsu techniques were designed for—and were very good at—maiming and killing. Kata practice is performed to avoid the ultimate power of the techniques, and for many of the techniques, this aversion is wise. Yet, even when studying sword fighting using the comparatively safe weapons of the wooden sword or the bamboo sword of Kendo, it is still necessary to one’s full development as a martial artist to experience the moment of the ultimate clash in a fight. Even here, though, in nine cases out of ten, one could have absorbed the principles taught by the ultimate clash just through studying kata. But for that tenth point, one must dare the moment of the ultimate clash.
So it was that from early on jujutsu, feeling the need for sparring and fighting, devised midare geiko (unstructublack practice) training for the nage-waza (throwing) and kansetsu-waza (joint locking) techniques that are used in the final moments of close-in hand-to-hand fighting. It was on the basis of this kind of practice that Master Kano completed his randori system of training during and after the Meiji period. His system is modern competition Judo, which places emphasis upon the nage-waza, the throwing techniques.
Randori practice, sparring practice, is something that is done to give life to, and demonstrate the real power of, those techniques that were first learned by the student through kata. That is to say, randori provides the means to complete a painted dragon by filling in the eyes. The martial arts techniques of the old jujutsu schools, however, were quite varied and had numerous styles of hand to hand combat. Thus, it was impossible to incorporate all of these styles, let alone their accompanying techniques, into a single system of randori training. In emphasizing the nage-waza, the throwing techniques, Judo had perforce to largely leave out the atemi-waza, or striking techniques, and the kansetsu-waza, or joint locking techniques. Accordingly, I have brought together the important parts of the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza, and the organization of another system of randori training is the subject that remains before us.
Chapter Four: Jujutsu requires two systems of randori training
At its heart, jujutsu, of whatever kind, is for protecting oneself against the attacks of an opponent. Kenjutsu protects a person by the use of a sword, and jitte-jutsu protects a person by use of a jitte, which is a short metal truncheon. Jujutsu protects a person without using any weapons whatsoever. Moreover, jujutsu must be able to protect a person from an opponent’s attack, whatever it may be, and whenever or wherever it is made. As a result, in order to cope with an opponent’s unlimited and unqualified attack without using a weapon, jujutsu made avoiding the brunt of an attack by the use of agile movements the first priority. This foremost principle of jujutsu is taisabaki, moving your body out of the way. Its relevance can be grasped if we categorize the attacks against which one may have to defend.
When we analyze the essence of attacks, they fall into two general categories :
- An opponent, from close in, tries to topple (taosu) or restrain (osaeru) you.
- An opponent, from a distance, tries to strike, lunge at, or kick you, or with a weapon tries to cut or stab you.
Whichever of the two categories an attack falls into, you must protect yourself first by using taisabaki to avoid the strong points of the attack. In evading, you must avoid the attack by using the speed of locomotive power. Another secret principle of jujutsu, true natural posture (shizen hontai or mugamae), was developed because of this need for quick taisabaki using forceful locomotive power, and applies to defense against all attacks, whether made from close in or from a distance. The system of randori practice that Master Kano formulated is for the situations described in point 1 above; it is the category of nage-waza, where from close in you apply a waza at the collar and sleeve of a Japanese style judo jacket. A system of randori practice where you would avoid your opponent’s attack from a distance (as in point 2 above) and then apply a technique would utilize the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza. Against this latter attack, the attack from a distance, there is a need to establish such system of randori training.
When we look at the history of budo, it is recorded that there were once 718 schools of kenjutsu and 179 schools of jujutsu. Comparing kenjutsu to jujutsu, the former used to have far more schools, but because the form of kenjutsu combat—no matter what the school—was simply sword against sword, it was easy to modernize kenjutsu successfully, and have competitive shiai: one just brought the students from the various schools together and let them sword fight. From a practical point of view, however, it is impossible for the student of jujutsu to receive sufficient training in the practical applications of the myriad techniques that he studies through just one form of shiai. (For him, doing Judo shiai is a very good way to improve his throwing and his ground work, but gives him no chance to practice defense against a lunging, or kicking, or stabbing opponent.) At the very least it is necessary to have two kinds of practice for the two kinds of attacks described in points 1 and 2 above.
In 1926, Master Kano spoke during a radio broadcast upon the subject of, “The Judo of Old and the Judo of the Future.” During that broadcast and in the next year in an address to his students he touched upon the need for another category or randori. He remarked as follows: “I think that there must be a method of randori and shiai that includes the atemi-waza, provided that we devise it gradually and only after thorough investigation. That system, however, will not be as easy to formalize as ones in which the relative abilities of the competitors are decided by throwing (nage) or restraining (osae) an opponent.” It is clear from this remark that randori and shiai training that would include the atemi-waza was contemplated by Master Kano; sadly, such a system was not realized during his lifetime.
It was about this time (1926) that I enteblack the dojo of my honoblack teacher, the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, and there eagerly advanced in my research on the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza. Since that time I have had 50 years of trial and error experience with the old schools of jujutsu that have survived into the present era. Part of that experience was the aikido club that I founded at Waseda University in 1958. At that club, aikido was introduced to the local martial arts community as a kind of proper, scientifically based form of physical training, one conditioned on the desire that it be a style of aikido brought to completion in competition. Since that time, my students and I have, as one, made strides towards the perfection of such a system of aiki-randori. This perfection, however, further awaits the cooperation of many people over many long years before it develops into a form of competition which may unblushingly stand beside competition kendo, with its 250 year history, and competition jujutsu, with its 100 year history. And this task will be a difficult one, as various knotty problems accompany changing bujutsu into a competitive martial art.
Despite the difficulties of introducing competition, however, doing so is a most appropriate endeavor for professional martial arts teachers. The reason for this is not only that competition, by allowing us to objectively gauge our ability, gives us confidence in our techniques and a justified feeling of freedom from danger. It also helps us to progress in our own self-examination through our reflection in others, and to expand without limit our circle of friendship in the profound harmony of budo.
The introduction of competition is necessary to master that category of techniques which are allowed in the chosen form of competition. Yet, as has been stressed above, no single system of competition will allow each and every technique. Those permitted will of necessity be of only a single type. Thus, if one were to devote one’s training energies just towards competition, one would be limiting oneself to the practice of only the constrained category of techniques allowed in competition. Such a drift, however, would be a one-sided inversion, so to speak, of our intention in introducing competition in the first place, which was of course to provide a means of honing one’s overall skill as a martial artist. The proper remedy for any such hyper-specialization in the competition techniques is, of course, the time honoblack method of studying kata—and kata of myriad techniques and variations, which may or may not be allowed in competition. It has been a special character of budo down through the ages that it does not tend to abandon either randori or kata, but rather embraces both, and sees value in both. So it is that my proposed system for training students in Aiki-randori embraces not only those techniques allowable in randori, but many others (as well as many principles of jujutsu) through the institution of kata practice and other training drills and exercises.
Chapter Five: A training course for Aiki-randori
In organizing a training course for aiki-randori, two points particularly warrant attention. First is the safety—or, rather, the potential danger—of the atemi-waza and the kansetsu-waza around which the said randori is to be structublack. Second is the relationship between kata and randori. Allow me to first treat the subject of the danger of the techniques.
To begin with, it must be remembeblack that the atemi-waza and the kansetsu-waza have up to the present time been excluded from judo-randori because they can be dangerous. What kind of guarantee of safety can be made to those practicing a randori, not to mention a shiai, that incorporates these techniques? This question can best be addressed, I believe, if we carefully consider the ways in which the applications of the atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza have been contemplated historically. Views on this matter fall, fundamentally, into two camps, one which interprets them as inherently injurious, and another which disagrees with this assessment. The two viewpoints are that,
- The atemi-waza control an opponent by hitting, trusting into, or kicking the physiological weak points of the body; while the kansetsu-waza control an opponent by inflicting a sprain or dislocation on a joint. That is to say, these techniques were devised with the purpose of maiming or killing, and so are fundamentally dangerous.
- The atemi-waza topple an opponent by applying force to the mechanical weak points of the attacker’s body in order to gain kuzushi, the breaking balance, and then push him over; while the kansetsu-waza restrain an opponent with a minimum of force by utilizing the limits of joint movement to pin the opponent down.
To date only the first interpretation of these techniques has generally been emphasized, while the second has been, for the most part, untrumpeted. The techniques of the aiki-randori discussed here were chosen and developed on a physical training basis to be executed so as to adhere to the second interpretation of the techniques, and to mitigate the dangers associated with doing them in the manner of the former interpretation. With the second interpretation in mind, I have selected as the form of hand-to-hand combat to be used in competition one in which an unarmed person defends himself against a person armed with a dagger. For safety’s sake, of course, the dagger used in the shiai is made of rubber. Furthermore, the shiai is regulated by specially designed refereeing regulations, designed with safety always in mind. By means of this competitive format, the important categories of atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza that existed in old style jujutsu can be safely revived as a new budo within the context of modern physical training and sport.
Let me now briefly treat the relationship between kata and randori. It should be first noted that some have thought that kata and randori are separate from each other. Indeed, it has even been said by some that in order to cultivate real power, randori alone is fine. Upon this matter, I think it best that we take a lesson from history of jujutsu, which gatheblack both randori and kata into a unitary course of training so as to master thoroughly the spirit of atemi-waza and the kansetsu-waza.
Kata and randori were made so as not to be divided. You will find them together, as they should be, in the following training outline, which summarizes the aiki-randori which my students and I have developed.
The Training Course for Aiki-randori
The training course for aiki-randori is divided into 5 levels, aside from the preparatory exercises:
- Fundamental movements (kihon dosa)
- Fundamental techniques (kihon waza)
- The system of breaking away (ridatsu ho)
- The system of control (seigyo ho)
- The system of randori (randori ho)
Steps I through IV comprise the kata training of the system. Step V alone is randori training. Further, kata training can also be grouped into application practice (kakari geiko) and energetic practice (hikitate geiko), depending on the level of force and resistance used.
Preparatory exercises: to tune the body and forestall injuries
- Light calisthenics, done standing
- Flexibility and toning calisthenics, done sitting
- Falling (ukemi) practice: backwards, forwards, and laterally
I. Fundamental movements (kihon dosa): stressing fundamental principles found in old style jujutsu
- The principle of natural stance or posture (shizentai no ri), which is the posture for unrestricted attack and defense; and the method of movement.
- 1. Mugamae (neutral stance, both standing and sitting), migigamae (right foot forward posture), hidarigamae (left foot forward posture).
- 2. The method of unsoku-ho (footwork) and the method of shikko-ho (moving about while on one’s knee)
- (a) The practice of moving in 8 directions.
- Avoiding and accepting a thrust.
- Flowing gently with a force which you have grasped and with which you cooperate
- (a) Eye contact (metsuke) and proper distance (ma-ai): double hand-swords (tegatana) distance
- (b) Method of avoidance (kawashi-kata), and movement in six directions
- (c) Method of accepting (uke-kata) with the hands pressed together as during prayer (gassho no uke)
- (d) Method of flowing (nagashi-kata): the five hand-sword (tegatana) movements.
- Controlling the elbow
- (a) at a high level (jodan)
- (b) at a low level (gedan)
- (a) at a high level (jodan)
- (b) at a low level (gedan)
- (a) Avoiding an opponent’s cuts or stabs from a distance
- (b) Flowing with a force which you have grasped and with which you cooperate
II. Fundamental techniques (kihon waza): techniques derived from the old schools of jujutsu and categorized into atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza
- The 5 atemi-waza: shomen-ate, aigamae-ate, gyakugamae-ate, gedan-ate, and ushiro-ate
- The 14 kansetsu-waza
- Six elbow techniques (hiji-waza): 2 hip locks (koshi-gatame), 2 side locks (waki-gatame) and 2 arm locks (ude-garami)
- Eight wrist techniques (tekubi-waza): 4 wrist twists (kote-hineri) and 4 wrist turns (kote-gaeshi)
III. The method of breaking away (ridatsu ho): breaking away and practically applying the atemi-waza when grasped by an opponent
- Breaking away and practically applying the atemi-waza when the wrist, arm, collar or sleeve are grasped, when held bodily, or when grasped from the front, back, left, or right.
IV. The method of control (seigyo ho): controlling an opponent and practically applying the kansetsu-waza when grasped
- Controlling an opponent and practically applying the kansetsu-waza when wrist, arm, collar, or sleeve are grasped, when held bodily, or when grasped from the front, back, left, or right
V. The method of randori (randori ho): avoiding and controlling the cuts and thrusts of a distant opponent
- The kata for randori is the Basic 17 Techniques (ju-nana hon no kata). This is the basic kata that shows the process for avoiding and controlling a distant opponent who strikes, lunges, or kick, or who cuts and thrusts with a dagger (tanto). Studying this kata, and passing through the stages of kakari-geiko and hikitate-geiko, allows the student to progress to randori-geiko, and thence onto shiai.