Aiki ken #2 – Suburi 1 – 1st Part

Warning - a good understanding of the first suburi of Akik ken is crucial for Aikido practice as a whole (aiki ken, aiki jo and tai jutsu). The topic was too long and too dense for one single article and therefore has been divided in two parts. But one can’t go with the other one and I ask the reader to understand both before emitting a judgment on what follows.

I stated in « Aiki ken #1 » that I interpret O sensei’s shomen cut on shiho nage as the second ken suburi and I explained that for me the essential reason is that the leading hip is the back one. I asked – if one disagrees on the fact that this is not the second suburi –that someone explain which suburi O sensei used but there is no answer sofar:

― Whatever, PV… it can’t be the second suburi since the back leg is not brought forward.

First, please notice that we have shown in « Aiki ken #1 », that bringing the leg forward is only a consequence of the cut and it does not help it at all because the cut is already nearly finished when the leg starts to move.

There is a consensus here about the right hip with the second suburi because everybody can see that the right leg could not be brought forward “right away” at the end of the cut if the (left) front hip was leading the movement. So we easily admit that the leading hip is the right one, because it naturally governs the back leg, because this leg actually sets forward, there is no ambiguity on that fact, Saito sensei was very clear when teaching it.

Therefore, with the second suburi, the back part of the body strikes with the whole logic of forces and alignments we explained in details in « Aiki ken #1 ». Everybody agrees on that point and all is fine in the best possible world. Let’s add something really important:

But then the question can be this formulated: is it necessary to bring the back leg forward in order to strike with the back hip?
The immediate answer is:no.

Indeed in that classical cutting exercise called “zen-go”, the shomen uchikomi is done forward and backward with a 180° rotation, repeated on the spot as many times as wanted, without bringing the back leg in front.

Which means that the second suburi cut can be done without stepping forward at all:

We can even do the reverse, ie bringing the front leg back at the end of the cut, like for instance in go no awaze.

Then we can’t but notice that the only difference between the first and second suburi is in the kamae: migi hanmi for suburi #1 and hidari hanmi for suburi #2

Indeed that inversion left/right keeps things exactly symmetrical around the central axis of the body.

And we know for sure that the leading hip really is the back hip for the second suburi: we know it through Saito sensei’s teaching and because of all the fundamental reasons we explained.

So if everything is reversed by the left/ right relation while the symmetry is saved why the leading hip would not be the back hip for the first suburi?

If there is any logic, a necessity to work from the back hip - as explained in « Aiki ken #1 » for the second suburi – why would that logic be invalid with the suburi, since it mirrors the second suburi in every aspect?

The reality that must guide us is as follows: if a biomechanical logic of the human body is true in a given situation, it must be true necessarily in the symmetrical situation because the human body is symmetrical.

The reality that must guide us is as follows: if a biomechanical logic of the human body is true in a given situation, it must be true necessarily in the symmetrical situation because the human body is symmetrical.

This brings to the inevitable conclusion: if the second suburi is correct, the first suburi must, quite logically, be executed with the back hip as the leading hip and not the front hip, even more so that the energy of the Earth is transmitted to the sword by the left hand, connected to the left hand via the kikai tanden:

Whoever thinks that executing the first suburi with the front hip as leading hip is correct must realize he thus contradicts the whole striking logic with the back part of the body. He must come to the conclusion – if he thinks honestly – that the second suburi is wrong. Since the first and second suburi are perfectly symmetrical, two contradictory ways of doing can’t be equally true at the same time.

Let’s now say things clearly: we can’t cut twice on the right with reverted positions. The first suburi is in fact done with the left hip, the second suburi is done with the right hip. Training does not develop the body in an unbalanced way, it trains the body on both sides in harmony. The first and second Aiki ken suburi are not “different techniques” they are the same movement seen once from the left side, once from the right side.

The consequence is that “shomen uchikomi” is always done with the back hip as the leading hip.

If this is understood, many things which didn’t seem very natural with the kumitachi practice will be clarified and it confirms that cutting from the front hip is a mistake regarding the very foundations of movements which hides their reality and prevents a good understanding.

I can’t give the whole list which would require volumes. I let the practitioners enjoy that discovery on their own but I’ll give an example in the second part.

(Second part translated soon, to be cn'ed)

Philippe Voarino, january 2014.

What is Traditional Aikido?

Aikido is not a sport, it is a martial art which laws (takemusu) are in harmony with the laws of the universe. Studying them allows the practitioner to understand his place in the universe. Aikido was born in Iwama, O sensei achieved in that village the synthesis of tai jutsu, aiki ken and aiki jo.

Where to practice Traditional Aikido?

The International Takemusu Aikido Federation (ITAF) brings to the practitioner the structure he needs in order to work as close as possible to the reality O sensei MU defined. The official national representations are the guarantee of a teaching faithful to the Founder's.

The weapons of Aikido, aiki ken and aiki jo

In modern Aikido, weapons are hardly taught, if taught at all. In O sensei's Aikido, on the contrary, aiki ken, aiki jo and tai jutsu are unified and form together a riai, a family of harmonious techniques stemming from one unique principle. Each techniques helps understand all the others.

Aikido, a martial art or an art of peace?

Peace is a balance between a human being and the world around him. The true martial art's goal is not to become stronger than one's opponent but to find in that opponent a way to realize harmony. There is no enemy anymore as such, but an opportunity offered to reach unified ki.
Copyright TAI (Takemusu Aikido Intercontinental)