Focus, Intention, and the Value in the Pause.

“Breathe in,” Sensei said as he raised his sword to the sky, aligning it with his midline as if it were a lightning rod. “Imagine drawing energy down this line, to concentrate it here,” the sword sunk into a ready position, held at the hara, the physical center of the body.

“Hold your breath.”

I did as directed, closing my throat to prevent the air escaping. The breath did not want to be held. It strained against my upper chest, begging for release. Internally I squirmed, waiting for Sensei to move, to give the signal to release the energy I was struggling to hold in my lungs and in my sword. 


suburi with bokkenBreath is Energy

Kokyu the Japanese word for breath, is used synonymously with energy, power, and spirit.Learn More

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Practicing peace amidst conflict

There is another way.

Recently, I was introducing Aikido to a student who came to try out the Kids Aikido class. While practicing our basic tai no henko, he looked at me and asked, “and then do you break their arm?”

He was not joking, nor did he show any hint of malice. It’s not that he wanted to see an arm broken, it just seemed to him the logical next step in that situation.

The boy is not unusual in this. Another student trying Aikido for the first time last week, this one an adult, saw an opportunity to punch for the face during a similar exercise. Instinctually she felt the urge to strike, but did nothing to address the fact that uke had a controlling grasp on her arm.Learn More

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Keiko - Training in Aikido

Sensei Tuchfeld and Goto Sensei during KeikoThe 3 forms of keiko (training) include Kihon, Yawarakai, and Ki no Nagare.

1. Kihon is rock solid, or diamond. One idea is if nage can deal with this, moving energy will make other forms even more manageable.

2. Yawarakai is flexible, like “flowing bamboo”. Not fast, but rhythmical.

3. Ki no Nagare is flowing, like water. Again, not speed but continuous without breaks.

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Goto Sensei Giving Aikido Instruction at a Seminar

Goto Sensei Giving Aikido Instruction at a SeminarO-Sensei once said that a student could learn all the basics of Aikido if he practiced just three techniques tai-no-henko, morotedori-kokyuho, and suwariwaza-kokyuho. Given the seemingly endless number of different waza and their variations, techniques? Morihiro Saito-Sensei begins his “Takemusu Aikido” (Vol. I)instruction book with these same three techniques. There is something special happening here. The three principles of aikido are kokyu-ryoku, tai-no-sabaki, and ki-no-musubi. Each of these principles is used to properly train and execute every aikido technique. Kokyu-ryoku is your extension, your breath, your ki. O'Sensei called extension the “circle of steel”. It can also be thought of as your sphere. Literally, kokyu-ryoku means “breath power”, or learning to coordinate breath with movement. When you understand when to breathe in, when to breathe out, then Aikido becomes a moving meditation.

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