As a kid, did you ever tie two sticks together at the centre then pull them sideways to form a cross? Did you then notice that they would yield towards alignment one way more than the other?
“Juji-tsu” – “to steal at the crossing,” also has the connotation of “ju-jutsu” – “soft means.”
What crossing are we referring to? When any interaction jams there are two possibilities. We can continue to struggle, and struggle it will be. Until the heavier, stronger, larger mass prevails. Or we can try something different.
Is there another way? Yes, accommodation! Finding the way that is predisposed to flow.
Accommodation following the clash, irimi-tenkan forms the basis of “aiki-jutsu” – “the way of harmonizing intention.”
This accommodation finds that in so doing, it can “steal” the energy of the attacking force and direct it to a neutralising trajectory.
Aikido is the study of this principle at a practical as well as more esoteric level. Why did the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, place so much consequence in this Way, so much so that he devoted a lifetime to the pursuit of this study with a zeal hitherto unmatched in time of relative peace? Why did he extend to the philosophy of practical nurturing, protecting and healing all life?
Well, why not! There is more than enough needless and avoidable suffering on the planet, most of it man made. Nature provides all the duress we need for healthy growing of wisdom without our adding to it. But like the blind people in Plato’s, “Allegory Of The Cave,” we as a species tend to bump around in the darkness of our own mentality causing far too much grievous and unnecessary harm.. by contending.
Is this necessary? No, not really. Even the blind learn how to see and navigate their way in life. At our current level of understanding, we as a species tend to devote too much time chasing the irrelevant instead of investing this brief span of consciousness in what truly matters, waking up and alleviating suffering.
From a battlefield perspective, diffusing aggression and conserving resources has immense strategic value. In daily life even more so.
Instead of spending lots of money, resources and energy to achieve little or nothing, how greater the value of the principle of efficiency when applied. To achieve a lot by doing little but correctly; by noticing key points of leverage.
Recall primary school at the first mention of the word “fulcrum” and “leverage.” Did light bulbs fire up in your mind? Did your hair stand up with excitement? Or were you sleeping with eyes open and mind closed? Did your life reflect that level of attentiveness thereafter?
Who was it that said, “My yoga (yoke) is easy.” ? And, “Consider the lilies of the field, etc”?
Why then do we find so many ways to choose the difficult trajectory when the Way of ki-no-nagare or Kannagara is readily available as a foundation of Nature before us, in and all around us all the time ?
What is it that Aikido is teaching us at a foundational core level deeper than cardio, dancing, socializing that most make of it. Deeper even that merely surviving assault?
We can talk, write and throw words about this Universal Principle till we are blue, but that is not the Way. It cannot be apprehended and comprehended unless we exercise and experience it and refine it. The simulated aggression in training is merely the necessary fuel to trigger this principle into action when we let go of resisting. Without resistance there can be no flow. Kiai must precede Aiki in order that Aiki become possible. As Morihei would say, “Loving attack and peaceful reconciliation..”
Mitori-geiko is the commonly understood (or misunderstood) term for “stealing technique,” but did you know that this “stealing” rather noticing, is, or should be a 24/7 pursuit?
Not only is it a primary essential to become able to “steal” an attack at the crossing of energies or ki flows, but in all things creativity emerges from this skill.
“Try something different,” Sugano Sensei would often say when we found ourselves struggling with futile attempts to make a “technique” work the erroneous way using force instead of skill.
And when we didn’t quite get that, he would run us for ten miles then immediately plunge us into multiple attacks. Or take us to a beach with breakers, “to train our ki.” And other innovations such as Winter training at high altitudes.
All this designed to wear out the false ego and get us to start noticing “something different;” that there are numerous alternative options to resistance, struggle and mental obduracy.
Aikido is simultaneously “Juji-tsu” as well as “ju-jutsu,” and so much more. But this method of training opens up endless possibilities and dimensions hitherto ignored and unnoticed and containing a better measure of success potency than struggle. This in all things.
Try something different to the habituation of resisting and contending that did not work well, not even for the cave men.
If something won’t go one way, chances are it will the other. Let go, let flow and practice “stealing ki at the crossing.”
By learning to, “steal” or capture the energy at the instant that colliding intentions cross, you can discover possibilities that can open up in ways more than only physical defence, but in all areas of viable life navigation.
Aikido is a field of vast untapped research and discovery unlocking the human spirit with immense potential for endless good.
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