In Japanese mythology the two deities are described as “god of yang” (陽神 youshin, male deity) and “goddess of yin” (陰神 inshin, female deity) influenced by the ideas of Yin and yang. Known as the male Izanagi and the female Izanami, was charged with creating the first land. To help them do this, Izanagi and Izanami were given a spear decorated with jewels, named Ame-no-nuboko (heavenly spear). The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Ame-no-ukihashi (“floating bridge of heaven”), and churned the sea below with the spear. When drops of salty water fell from the spear, Onogoroshima (“self-forming island”) was created. They descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island.
Izanami and Izanagi represents balanced creation occurring. By learning to identify each element of yin and yang and responding with the right one.
Male and Female principles union operate jointly and in accord, but each with its particular part to play in the cosmic order.
The names of these creator deities mean “He Who Invites,” and “She Who Invites.” This is reminiscent to the terms in aikido of uke and tori. “Uke” is derived from the verb “to receive, to accept.” “Tori” is similarly “to take, catch hold of.” In both cases we have complementary opposites who are nevertheless described by nearly identical terms. In all cases, there is the implication of receptivity.
The erotic element is key. Izanami has a part of her “which does not grow together,” while Izanagi has a part that “grows to excess.” As “aiki” is about proper joining. The pieces have to fit. When the Brother and Sister deities come together in the right way, Takemusu Aiki (creative or generative power) is the result. When the joining is out of order, there may be monstrous consequences.
Like aikido, one must be aware of openings and lines of resistance. making openings to accommodate an incoming force. Then extend ones own force into any safe opening. So long as the shapes continue to match one another, emerging spontaneously and organically. By learning to identify each element of yin and yang and responding with the right fit, the system remains in balance. Creativity and life sustaining activity emanates from the interaction.
Another important element of the myth is the central axis, at first manifested as a spear, later as a pillar. The heroes are unable to complete their task until first connecting with this axis which unites the upper and lower worlds. Only then can creation occur. In practical terms, this relates to our posture, as it is very difficult to move and turn effectively with a broken axis.
Like Aikido Ame-ukihashi is an art of protection, not of conquest. The hard discipline of aikido teaches us to correct ourselves rather than control others.
Much of the art is wandering around in a dark and terrifying place, looking for life, looking for the beautiful face of our beloved. Much of the art is filled with the certainty of our mortality, at once shameful and outrageous. Our partners may be disgusting or infuriating. We may run as if in a nightmare, desperate to find the way out. And yet the way out is the way of separation.
But when all the elements come together join in mutual affinity. When the moments of heaven and earth are one. No longer are they dancing, but moved by the dance.
In martial art there is joy, beauty, and infinite conciliation. In martial art we meet as brothers and sisters. For all the necessary seriousness and discipline, it is the moments of sexiness and fun that make it real. At these times we reunite Izanami and Izanagi. By the look in their eyes and the smiles on their faces, you know when they meet and remember.