Hombu Dojo 1968

Hombu Dojo 1968

Friday, November 30, 2007

cleanness, aikido and shapes

I printed new advertisement posters for our dojo, and today I went to hang them in some locations around my town. I kinda like our new posters with their simple and minimalistic design.

When I wanted to hang them on message boards, I had to make sure the board is clean because sellotape does not stick to a dirty surface.

It is same in Aikido. We will be able to connect correctly to our partner or opponent only as long as our intention and mind are clean - clean from negative thoughts, clean from hatred, revenge, jealousy, etc.

Our goal is to resolve a conflict or even to prevent it. In actual practice, our way to resolve an attack situation is done by creating musubi.

What does musubi mean?
The word musubi is a very ancient Japanese word. In ancient Japan, the word musubi described the source and origin of all beings in the universe. In ancient texts, musubi is described as an act of receiving our soul into our body. For example, as soon as a baby was born, it was common to wash and clean him with warm water. The Japanese believed that water connected the baby to the source of the universe and thanks to that connection, he will receive his soul. Musubi means connection. There is a well known word in another ancient culture and it has exactly the same meaning: the word is Yoga. Yoga means "to connect" body and mind or according to ones religious belief it can also mean connecting body, mind and god or the universe.

Our Aikido practice teaches us two kinds of musubi. A musubi which is done physically - when we make contact i.e: lead, hold, pin and throw. In Japanese it is called tai-musubi. Tai means body and musubi means connect. But tai-musubi will never be effective unless another kind of musubi takes place. It is called: ki-musubi. A musubi between your ki and the ki of your partner. O-Sensei often spoke of being connected even to the natural flow of the universe. I wish I knew what it means. :-)

Fujita  Masatake Sensei often tells us that we must make sure to apply the three shapes into our practice - Triangle, circle (with a dot in it's center) and a square. He says that the shape of triangle represents Kamae (basic stance), circle represents the circular tai-sabaki movements. The dot in the center of the circle, represents the axis of those movements., and square represents the end of the technique: posture, stance, hold, pin, zanshin...

In Aikido, we are told that a beautiful and correct technique can only come from a pure mind. In general, cleanness has a crucial role in Aikido training. We train at an immaculately clean dojo, our keiko-gi (uniform) must be clean, our body has to be clean. Also our attitude and language have to be clean, polite and with no unnecessary explanations or chit-chats.

Aikido grew from Japanese culture, religions and arts where cleanness is crucial. According to Japanese belief, cleanness has to be kept in our surroundings and at the same time in our self- body and mind. In shinto (Japanese religion), gods will only be present where there is beauty and cleanness. The same belief is found in many eastern cultures. In India for example, many people wake up before sunrise, clean the house and the street in front of the house so the sun will rise and "see" a clean and pure place.

The other day, Benesh (a student of mine) told me of a well known Japanese method which helps us in our work and study by maintaining cleanness. Five S's represent this method:

Seiri - Tidy up your things, get rid of unnecessary.
In Aikido: reduce unnecessary explanations, unnecessary movements and over reactions.

Seiton - Put your things in their correct place.
In Aikido: The dojo is arranges correctly - weapons, tatami, equipment - all in their correct location. People practice safely - making correct use of their training space in the dojo.

Seiso - Clean the dirt and dust.
In Aikido: Dojo is clean, language is clean, waza is clean, heart is clean.

Seiketsu - Your own cleanliness - Body, clothes etc.
In Aikido: Keep your clothes and body clean, short nails, hair, shave, etc.

Shitsuke - discipline.
In the dojo: Maintain correct attitude, observe etiquette and safety rules.

If we remain positive and relaxed with no violent nor negative thoughts, it will be easy for us to connect to our Aikido training partner as an Uke and as a Tori.

If we remain positive and relaxed, if we care, listen and observe, it will be difficult to get into an argument with us.

If we remain positive and relaxed, if we are honest with ourselves, inner conflicts will naturally get into their correct size and pace, and we will find a solution for them...

Have a lovely month of December - happy holidays and family time.



  1. The 5S's theory,
    I mentioned it to you few days ago I think...Good framing theory for any application...life, industry, studies...you name it!!!

    1. Yes Benesh, thank you so much for teaching me about the 5S's theory.