spiral
Martial arts

The six inner directions

 

 

The six inner directions

 

In this short passage about the kamae, O Sensei provides us with some crucial information for the practice of Aikido :

1.      … Open your feet in the six directions, and face the enemy in the hanmi irimi position of Aiki. – O Sensei

2.      Regarding the movement, there are six outer directions (soto Roppo) six inner directions (uchi Roppo), and also an outer spiral (soto tomoe) and an inner spiral (uchi tomoe). – O Sensei

3.      At the end of each movement, always open your feet in the six directions (Roppo), it is necessary to train so / this way. – O Sensei

So there are six internal and six external directions directions, from the same hanmi position. We will gradually show these twelve directions

three step

 

Regarding the way to walk, there are the six directions outside, the six directions inside, the outter spiral and the inner spiral.
— O Sensei, Budo, 1938, page 9

 

In order to get all ura-omote couples of Aikido, one must add shiho nage to the five main techniques. Indeed, shiho nage is the only technique that has an omote and an ura application, along with ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, yonkyo and gokyo .

To avoid any confusion, it is useful to define what is meant here by this omote-ura opposition. If we consider a man, there is a space in front of him and a space behind him. The space in front of him is omote, the space behind is ura:

 

In reality, the technique is the technique, period. The technique is equal to itself, always. It can of course be developed in uke’s omote or ura side, but that fact does not confer an omote or ura nature to the technique itself.

How then can we reconcile this with the notion that any Aikido technique, in agreement with the cosmic model, has necessarily an omote and an ura side ?

The kajos once again will enable us to understand.

Our study has revealed and identified five couples of techniques opposed at 180 °.

If I take the example of nikyo, when I put this technique under the spotlight it becomes omote, regardless of whether I pass in front of uke or behind. Omote is what I put into light, make alive. Nykyo’s ura is then kote gaeshi. But if I perform kote gaeshi, kote gaeshi is what I highlight and it becomes omote for that reason. Nikyo then becomes kote gaeshi’s ura side.

Each technique has a sister, such is the teaching of the kajos, and this technique is its sister’s ura or omote depending on the circumstances and the activity of the observer. Everything constantly reverts in its contrary, this is the deep relationship that unites the omote-ura couple in Aikido and in the world.

I am aware that this material shakes without much consideration half a century of approximative teaching of Aikido. My only excuse is that Aikido is much more than what it has been reduced to. I have nothing against sport, and I believe in the virtues of physical effort, but Aikido is not a game or if it is a game, with due respect to Pierre de Coubertin, its rules have not been written by men.

 

The spiral is a very strong and dynamic form that keeps uke out of balance throughout a technique,
footwork is the basis of keeping the spiral in continuation ,
so good footwork with a steady center is absolutely necessary,
the spiral emanates from the footwork,
if there is a break in the flow – atemi should be present immediately .

 

to be stable and unbalance the adversary

The notions of hanmi and balance are inseparable. Good hanmi gives the stability needed to unbalance an adversary. This is particularly true when practicing in kihon (static training) but it is often neglected when practicing in ki-no-nagare (fluid training). No mater how big your opponent is, he can be controlled if you take their balance.

Point 4 -Use circular and spiral movements

Circles and spirals are present in all Aikido techniques. A curved movement is the best way of moving in awase with an adversary. To allow energy to circulate, and to use the ground support, curved lines are essential. This is the physical principle that, for example, allows the spine to support much greater pressures than it could if it were straight.

Atemi provoke a reaction from an adversary but they also ensure that a technique is performed at the correct distance. In many cases, the incorrect positioning that renders techniques completely useless could be avoided if proper attention were given to atemi.

 

SAITO Morihiro Sensei insisted that when practicing Taijutsu (unarmed techniques) one should think of Bukiwaza (weapons techniques), and the contrary. Weapons techniques and unarmed techniques are merely different aspects of the same thing. The genius of the founder was to identify the fundamental points in common and to apply them to all situations of conflict. The more one advances in training, the more apparent this becomes.

Point 9 – Think one / many

 

Multiple adversaries should be seized as a whole, like a single adversary, while against just one attacker, movements suitable for multiple adversaries are appropriate.
The best way to avoid opposing the force of an attack (that is to say, to move in awase) is to imagine that several attackers are to be dealt with at the same time.

This principle permits effective extrication, moving away from lines of attack and correct positioning with respect to one’s opponents.

Point 10 – Adopt the Budo spirit

Last, but by no means least, a budo spirit should be maintained during training.  SAITO Hitohira Sensei explains that each technique should be performed as if it were a question of life or death. For example, during suburi training it is important to visualise an imaginary adversary for each of the suburi.

In France, we have a saying “mettre du cœur à l’ouvrage” (litt. “practice with the heart”), which means to work with energy and enthusiasm. To have the budo spirit is to “mettre du cœur à l’ouvrage” during training, it also means to remain aware that, at any moment, the intention of an adversary may change and hence the form of attack may change: one must remain vigilant.

Just as a painting expresses the feelings of the painter, a piece of music those of the musician, the techniques that we perform are an expression of who we are deep-down inside.

 

 

 

, we have established the relationship between omote and ura for the five immobilization techniques, and showed, using geometry, that the spiral movement of the feet defines the successive angles which determine the directions of the techniques.

 

spiral

Let’s underline here a very remarkable point:

The five omote immobilizations are all located on the blue spiral between ikkyo omote and gokyo omote. This part of the blue spiral is an inner spiral that unfolds inside the omote half sphere. Indeed, beyond gokyo omote, the blue spiral expands and techniques are no longer immobilization techniques (Hearth), but only throwing techniques (Heaven). After this point, it loses its nature of inner spiral to become a outter spiral.

All this is symmetrical with the five ura immobilization techniques which themselves are all located on the green part of the spiral between gokyo omote and ikkyo ura. This part of the green spiral unfolds inside the ura half-sphere.

Those who read these kajos from the beginning are aware that the knowledge we manage to build up does not come out of the blue. To reach the point where we stand today, we first decided that there was not any higher authority than O sensei. That’s why we have used his demonstrations and technical explanations. Before saying anything, we scrutinized the elements of information he has left, and we compared each of them with various information so that this confrontation allows to progress on a solid ground, one step after the other. Thus, in an experimental manner, so to speak, through a cascade of logical consequences, we can now assess the existence of an inner spiral and an outer spiral. And that obvious fact is revealed by nothing or no-one else but the structure of the system which has appeared over the weeks and months…

 

It is in fact the way of “harmonious spirit” because it works with “life energy”, mimicking the way that clashing forces resolve into spirals in many relationships in nature. Aikido is a non-violent martial art that resolves physical aggression without causing harm to either attacker or Aikido practitioner. It achieves this by using spiral movements to redirect and disperse incoming kinetic energy from a physical attack,

The spiraling motions of Aikido mirror the spiraling motions of many forces in nature, from the spiral nature of our Milky Way galaxy, to the way that water forms spirals in motion, to the spiraling configuration of muscles wrapping around the human body and the Fibonacci ratio relationships in our anatomy. This fractal symmetry across scale is the reason that the founder of Aikido said that “the universe and the human body are the same thing. If one does not know this, aiki can’t be understood.

 

 

Aikido is modeled on the forms of the human body and of the movement of the whole universe which evidence a repeated self-similar pattern: the spiral.

Spirals are used throughout nature to achieve “growth and transformation through resistance” when confronted with “an interplay of opposites, a clash of the Dyad

 

Colliding forces meeting at a point of resistance can become a source of transformation and growth when they find resolution through a spiral. Aikido succeeds in resolving clashing physical conflicts because it utilizes these same principles and patterns that we see repeated across our universe to “resolve” opposing forces and bring them into harmonious order.  When two opposing forces clash, they can be brought into a greater level of harmony through spiral movements, whether flowing inwards towards a center or outwards away from a center.

 

It is in fact the way of “harmonious spirit” because it works with “life energy”, mimicking the way that clashing forces resolve into spirals in many relationships in nature. Aikido is a non-violent martial art that resolves physical aggression without causing harm to either attacker or Aikido practitioner. It achieves this by using spiral movements to redirect and disperse incoming kinetic energy from a physical attack,

The spiraling motions of Aikido mirror the spiraling motions of many forces in nature, from the spiral nature of our Milky Way galaxy, to the way that water forms spirals in motion, to the spiraling configuration of muscles wrapping around the human body and the Fibonacci ratio relationships in our anatomy. This fractal symmetry across scale is the reason that the founder of Aikido said that “the universe and the human body are the same thing. If one does not know this, aiki can’t be understood.

 

 

Initial responses in Aikido techniques generally involve moving in towards or blending and turning away from the attack. These spiral motions allow the Aikido practitioner to redirect the momentum and force of an attack so that the “aggression is either led circularly back to its source or deflected and sent spinning away

 

“Target” moves in towards the “source of aggression” as on the left, they redirect the energy of the attack back towards its source. This entering and centralizing motion (drawing energy and momentum in towards a fixed point) is referred to by the Japanese term irimi. When as on the right they blend and turn away, they disperse the energy of the attack out and away from themselves. This blending and dispersing motion is referred to by the Japanese term tenkan.

 

These same patterns of dispersing energy with a spiral can be seen in a vortex of water flowing down a drain. As the water is drawn down and away from the surface it forms a vertical spiral that becomes smaller and smaller. At the same time, a larger surrounding spiral is created which moves in the opposite direction, flowing up towards the surface and out and away from the center of the vortex. This may be because the downward momentum of the smaller spiral and the loss of volume of water leaving the drain sucks water adjacent to it upwards to fill the “vacuum” created. As a volume of water leaves it pulls an equal amount of water upwards which then feeds back into the smaller spiral draining out, creating a torus. (This would require complex fluid dynamics to prove and is guesswork and speculation, at this point).

 

Therefore in a vortex or torus of water moving down a drain we can see both spiral movements in towards a center, and out away from a center. Both occurring at the same time is part of what makes this inwards/outwards spiraling motion such a powerful force to direct energy, momentum, and mass in the direction of an opening. In Aikido technique, practitioners often intentionally create or invite openings for attacks in order to use them for their own purposes, pulling an attacker and in the same way that an open drain sucks water into the void.

 

Multiple adversaries should be seized as a whole, like a single adversary, while against just one attacker, movements suitable for multiple adversaries are appropriate.
The best way to avoid opposing the force of an attack (that is to say, to move in awase) is to imagine that several attackers are to be dealt with at the same time.

This principle permits effective extrication, moving away from lines of attack and correct positioning with respect to one’s opponents.

 

Use circular and spiral movements

Circles and spirals are present in all Aikido techniques. A curved movement is the best way of moving in awase with an adversary. To allow energy to circulate, and to use the ground support, curved lines are essential. This is the physical principle that, for example, allows the spine to support much greater pressures than it could if it were straight.

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