“Mitori Geiko IS the Explanation – Why Add Words?” by Nev Sagiba

Seiichi Sugano Sensei executing a kokyunage throw

“Watch, copy and repeat. Refine endlessly… ABSOLUTE HONESTY is the criterion set by the Founder of Aikido… Pay attention to the teacher and to yourself in action…. NOTICE, NOTICE, NOTICE!!!”

The Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshuba, had it right. He explained the techniques non-verbally. My best teachers including Seiichi Sugano also minimized words in the dojo. But they exemplified impeccably with Ki no Musubi. And this functionally. Proven so. No room for “war stories” here but this kinesthetic teaching method speeds up the skill curves exponentially EVEN BEFORE YOUR INTELLECT HAS CAUGHT UP.

Just like a real event, your training, if good, steps in to save you and you don’t get to analyze anything at all for days, sometimes years later. But it saves you and that’s all that really matters.

What is “understanding” when it comes to Budo? The ability to mind chatter incoherently for years then hoping for clarity. Or the actual ability to instantly notice and survive imminent and deadly situations?

Clarity comes when the chatter ceases. Beware of casehardened preconceptions.


This is a science these gentlemen intuited naturally.

When you hook up a person to an MRI and other sophisticated equipment and the subject observes, the brain lights up in one way. When the subject moves, in a similar way.

When the subject talks and listens to words being spoken, an entirely different and disparate part of the brain, mostly unrelated then lights up. There is nothing wrong with the analytical parts of the brain. They simply serve other purposes, not action.

But it’s good for business. Lots and lots of words get in the way of natural direct perception and generate mystery where none exists and therefore prolongs the imaginary learning curve. For a price. And the waste of your precious time. Life-time.

Intellectual clutter, verbiage, explanations successfully destroy NOTICING! In nature, descriptives form a distraction. Combat survival is the original and oldest natural skill set embedded in our instincts. Ai-ki, harmonizing is the future newer “operating system” drawing us into the light (hikari) of future potentials for sustainability. If we fail to sustain we will become extinct. The old paradigms stuck in dark machinations and aggression are insufficient to the task.

Since human beings usually have the predisposition to get in their own way and resist, this prolongs learning even more. Excrescent talk is one way to avoid the pain of change, of transformation, of installing the newer, better operating systems of the top of the very valid and necessary foundational ancient ones.

But what the heck, it’s good for profits, no? Throw enough words at a weak mind and they will stop NOTICING, reach for their wallet and presto, they are parted with their buck.

True learning is instant and arises in an inbuilt biological programme and mechanisms many millions of years old. Free of charge. We are all born with this faculty fully functional.

Watch, copy and repeat. Refine endlessly.

That’s how our hunter-gatherer ancestors survived. There were no schools to prolong intellectual rehashing of the obvious. Well, not obvious to those laboriously getting in the way of direct noticing. I was a difficult child. After the tenth repetition tolerated out of respect for the teacher’s efforts, I would walk out of the class and cycle to the public library to get some learning. Learning is a fast thing. As fast as YOU can absorb, not as slow as someone else wants to prolong the dispensing of information.

Ask anyone with so called attention deficit “disorder”, who can bother to slow down and articulate and they will explain that, there is no “deficit” other than becoming fast bored with regurgitated repetition. They GOT IT instantly and totally the first millisecond and they want to MOVE FORWARD! Who really has the “disorder”? The slow-motion people buried in the quagmires of an entangling matrix or those who ‘get it’ instantly and can see between the frames at the speed of light?

Life was and still is the original and ultimate school.

Take note of this fact. You do not learn “under” anyone. This despicable figure of speech is a condescension. You in fact learn by yourself, for yourself at your own speed. If the teacher proves stuck in irrelevant habituations and if you really want to progress, then do as Morihei Ueshiba did, pay your respects and move on to better challenges. Permission to exist comes from yourself! Not your teacher/sensei/guru. None of these figureheads will be there on that fateful day, when your testing comes, to hold your hand. Only you and the universe! You will then be called upon to acquit yourself well and do credit to the art.

Of course you are always free to bleat and follow if a good holiday is your choice. The universe is free place. We are free to progress or to stagnate.

Paying attention comes from pain. Suffering we give to ourselves by attaching to the wrong things.

Pain simply means energy is making changes. As any true athlete knows well, it does not stay as pain for long but becomes a very happy thing.

Trial and error is natural, not sinful. If you don’t make allowances for mistakes, no learning curve can ever begin. You need to get mis-takes out of the way, and acknowledge the errors, in order to find the essence of skill through letting go.

Noticing and acknowledging is one thing, analyzing things to death is another and the opposite of clarity.

You will very quickly learn naturally to not block with your face or your crotch. Pain is the best teacher and as ancient as the universe itself and instant.

In my travels I’ve seen instructors “correct” a student for improving on their technique. Now, these fellows are either blinded by their own arrogance or are frightened that their source of revenue will drop.

As a result Aikido has declined to almost worthless in some circles.

The sole criteria for a “good” technique is that IT IS EFFECTIVE and can be modified in real combat.

Whether it looks pretty or “classical” is a dead end. Who gives a ……..? It is the functionality that matters and saves your life. Not the appearance. Real survival is not “classical.” It just is. And often the appearance may seem untidy. But if it does the job because the core principles are in place, you get to live another day to continue your mission in life. The basic kihon waza regularly practiced will unlock these core principles of Aikido.

If this one day saves your life, then you have practiced Aikido. If not you’ve just made a grand fool of yourself and disclosed your deceitfulness. Whether self deceit or deliberate obfuscation it becomes irrelevant when you’re pushing poppies out of the ground.

ABSOLUTE HONESTY is the criterion set by the Founder of Aikido.

Mr. Sugano, when he caught us experimenting would not scold. He would observe keenly and ferociously. We were not conscious of most of what we were doing. But he was. Indeed the reason we were so inspired was because he was such a fantastic instructor, without so many intelligible words, that we simply fired up.


A man of Zen, he was a true primordial warrior instructor continually teaching us to see and do instantly.

Also, a TRUE BUDOKA, he would scold severely: “No talk! Train!” if we started talking/chattering/gibbering, instead of immediately APPLYING what he had just demonstrated.

In nature there exists a vast vibratory spectrum, which in a human being form our Original Sense (often mistakenly expressed as, “sixth sense”- there exists no “sixth” sense.) Where there is an interaction of any kind between one or more sentient beings COMMUNICATION occurs through exchange of sub-atomic particles (some express as “spirit”.) This communion-exchange can not lie. Words and talk is the poorest communication tool unless there is a commonality of experience and language. In the event there is not, disparity will lead to misunderstanding. This can demonstrated by listening to people speak a language you do not understand, then noticing your own reactions!

There are many exchanges both constructive and destructive and you experience some of them daily. The most critical is interpersonal violence.

Combat is communication. Ki is extended, ki is received, ki clashes, ki is neutralized, ki is bypassed, ki is redirected and so on. There is whole alphabet. It evolves, mutates and adapts to new forms of attack. Takemusu-aiki whose source is the “river of life,” kannagarra no michi. The possibilities are endless. This practical study of these endless possibilities, scaled down safely to simulate extreme situations is the true study of Aikido.

Paradoxically it leads to a vast range of non-verbal communication skills, listening and conveying messages. Paradoxically because once you communicate with true effectiveness all the alternatives to violence become apparent. Also how much EASIER they are. Voila! Peace on earth and goodwill to all, 365 days a year, not just one!

The decline in technique is exponentially observable when people talk instead of DOING in the dojo. Silent training, (kiais permissible of course) is the Way.

As well as “Honest attack and honest defence,” it is the primary requirement to HONESTLY OBSERVE AND HONESTLY DO. With mouth zipped up. Noticing. Communication with ki/intention. Receiving and extending. Harmonizing. Miotori-geiko INCLUDES NOTICING YOURSELF AND CORRECTING YOURSELF NON VERBALLY, BY DOING. See and do instantly without jamming the flow. Repeat. You can always vent the talk later over tea or juice in leisure time if you really must.

When you see and do instantly without jamming the flow, Ki no musubi then arises. Communion. Attacker and defender dissapear in the one singular dance of energy, ki no nagare, that is more real than petty contentious considerations.

AI, KI and then DO and keep DOing till your technique can no longer fail and can then be discarded for pure Takemusu. UNLIMITED CREATIVITY.

Pay attention to the teacher and to yourself in action.

Evaluate and criticize both. Correct yourself. Keep refining.

I can attest to the value of this teaching methodology. It saved me on numerous occasions. Not from “fights.” I don’t bother with puerile “fights.” But in real life-and-death situations of high and imminent risk.

Aikido did the work before I really understood at an intellectual level what I was really doing. I have my teachers to thank for this and it was not until I had begun to teach that I had to draw on analyzing skills to make sure that I was passing on genuine and functional techniques and not baloney to the students entrusted in my charge.

I have not stopped learning. On the contrary each time I bow in to the dojo I am a beginner! And then I serve and share and learning grows. I go home humbled.

Words do not add skill! Doing does. Repeated doing, especially under pressure, more so.

You already know Aikido. It is innate. You were born knowing Aikido. There is nothing to “learn.” When it is properly exemplified, you identify it and it triggers the awakening to bring it forth and strip away the layers of accumulated delusion. Simply practice the basics and listen to intuition/common sense. Gain experience. That’s all. As simple as that.

Now you know this fact, you have a choice. You can proceed the easy way and refine your NOTICING SKILLS and BALANCE IMMEDIATELY WITH ACTION!

Or you can continue to struggle the hard way wasting energy trying to “understand” what you already know in fullness at your core. (Don’t worry, you will not get A.D.D. You will simply be less hypnotizable by bs, and this skill alone enables high standard survival.)

The body-mind connection is the secret of ki. It is already in place in every biological entity alive. It has proven itself over millions of years but is not yet complete. It requires further refinement, detoxification,(“purification” as O’Sensei would say) and clarification. Whilst not entirely new, is still a work in progress. It does not need a “middleman” to reinterpret what it is doing. It does require regular exercising to hone and vivify itself in each present moment.

The body-mind connection is intimately connected to the BREATH. That something which according to quite a few and various ancient texts makes humans into “living souls.” When breath ceases, you die! While it cycles, you live!(e.g. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7) Kokyuoho, the breath of life which enables both action and perception to be one. And in quieter moments contemplative and thinking processes as well.

This is the BU of DO, so after watching keep DOing. Add AI, stir briskly and consume immediately before it changes as every moment is made new!


“Poor is the student who does not surpass his teacher.” Leonardo daVinci
“I’ve taken my Aikido this far. Please go on to develop my art further by making it your own Way.” Morihei Ueshiba
“It is known that, when we learn or train in something, we pass through the stages of shu, ha, and ri. These stages are explained as follows. In shu, we repeat the forms and discipline ourselves so that our bodies absorb the forms. We remain faithful to the forms with no deviation. Next, in the stage of ha, once we have disciplined ourselves to acquire the forms and movements, we make innovations. In this process the forms may be broken and discarded. Finally, in ri, we completely depart from the forms, open the door to creative technique, and arrive in a place where we act in accordance with what our heart/mind desires, unhindered while not overstepping laws. Endō Seishirō

Recommended reading:
Do your own research, everything about:
* Non Verbal Communication
* Non Verbal Teaching Strategies
* Kinesthetic teaching
* Mind Mapping
* Herd/Swarm Behaviour
* Instinct
* Intuition
* Memetics
* Somatic
Here are some starters from : Cracking the Learning Code

Why Humans Are Such Copycats
We Learn Through Selection Not Instruction

Nev Sagiba


  1. Curt Schad says:

    Every student is different and we don’t live in Japan. The cultural differences should be noticed. I have always found that if you relate with words and let the student feel the techniques as the uke for the student they get it a lot faster. Too much talk is not good it’s all in the balance like Heven and Earth.

  2. George Fajnburg says:

    Can we see Seiichi Sugano’s kokyounage on video?

  3. Nev Sagiba says:

    Mr. Sugano’s photo here looks definitively like a Kaiten Nage to me. Without equivocation! He taught it to me as kaitennage and that is what he called it as do all properly educated sensei.
    I think sweepingly broad brushing and calling everything “kokyonage” is not productive and reveals a lack of identification of the essential basic techniques which MUST be known and clearly identified in order Aikido be understood.
    The very mitori geiko discussed here.
    The word “kokyunage” is too generic and in fact applies to ALL techniques which, without kokyo cease to be Aikido!
    Conversely it can be a word misused by the lazy man for whom it is too mentally painful to bother to LEARN the techniques in an identifiable manner.
    Unless you do this you can not attain Takemusu, fre creation which is true kokyunage bust still based on the basics or nuanced combinations of them.
    And THAT’S where the use of words in Aikido applies: Identification of basic kihon.
    But extra verbiage in the dojo does not make for true progress. It’s merely soliloquising or grandstanding by individuals needy for an audience.
    True teaching cannot absolve the student from the responsibility of CHOOSING TO LEARN. It’s not a free ride wallowing and basking in imagined association.
    Definitively not the street or field of battle where there is little time for superfluous words.
    If action is insufficiently intense to stop the possibility of words then you’ve never experience the true survival edge where NOTICING comes alive because if you fail to notice you die!
    Then we take that into the dojo as a useful tool. More than useful, an earned gift of kami.

  4. Sugano looks more like executing a kaitennage…

  5. Fran Adams says:


    Kokyunage is considered a momentum movement based on the timing of the uke’s attack. Morihei Ueshiba labelled Kokyunage as the 20-year technique, because of the long and difficult time it took for him to perfect it into what it is known as today.

    Because Kokyunage is so varied in the various shapes it undertakes in Aikido, the term Kokyunage in itself is considered a very generic term.

    Kokyunage are considered very flowing, spontaneous, and oftentimes may involve many circular movements, good footwork, and body-shifting work. Most of the time, tenkan movements will predominate in executing kokyunage.

  6. Fran adams says:

    I am studying Kokyonage and thought the insert from an Aikido web site was helpful as the Kaitenage in the article inspired further questioning.

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