View Full Version : China, Noh and Aiki

6th January 2015, 19:50

Happy to share what I learnt so far from my research (right or wrong!)

Aiki and China:

According to ancient tradition . ..in the reign of Emperor Daigo(897–930), Oe Koretoki wentto T'angChina and came back with The Six Stratgies, The Three Tactics and other military arts books, he translated them into Japanese, bound them into 120 volumes as the Kin’etsu Shu. During the reign of emperor Go-Shirakawa, Kiichi Hogen obtained this book and Minamoto Yoshitsune was able to copy it.

Kodo Horikawa Jujutsu – Shibukawa

The Shibukawa school, founded by Shibukawa Yoshikata (1652- 1704), admitted that its teachings were based on the I Ching. (The I Ching in Tokugawa Thought and Culture Pg 180). It also states Itto Ryu, Kito Ryu and other schools were influenced by I Ching.


1. Once, at the beginning of the Taisho era, Takeda Sokaku, while staying for a short while in Tokyo, had an opportunity to go out to the theatre. Sokaku, having set up camp near the hanamichi was observing Kikugoro’s movements. He was [playing] Benkei, at the Ataka Barrier. Making to chase after Yoshitsune’s party after they exited, Kikugoro was stepping along the hanamichi near where Sokaku had set himself.
At that moment, Sokaku commented: “the performance is good, but the footwork is bad: the roppo is really bad,” in a voice loud enough that the actor could hear. Kikugoro, not having been able to see from the stage, afterwards sent an attendant out. “Just now, in this vicinity, someone was kind enough to comment?” he enquired. Sokaku having immediately informed him that he was the relevant gentleman, the attendant requested that he go with him, just as he was, to the dressing room. After which Sokaku, having met Kikugoro himself, precisely and infallibly indicated the shape and motivation of the movements. That is: in response to Kikugoro’s questioning, he immediately gave him guidance in the movements of the arms and hands, the movements of the feet.
At that time, it is said, Kikugoro hadn’t before played Benkei. Nevertheless he was one of the leading actors of the time. After Sokaku’s guidance, overnight, [everyone] could see that his arm gestures and leg movements were being played in a manner that was completely unrecognizable. It is reported that – starting that very next day – Kikugoro used to receive lavish praise, from his patrons and customers, for the outstanding footwork of his wonderful roppo….
- – - reported by Kodo HORIKAWA Sensei to Seigo OKAMOTO Sensei
- – - Daito-ryu Aiki-Jujutsu pp.11-12

2. The lack of real battle-fields had multiplied the need for artificial training situations in the martial arts which could provide the proud samurai with advanced skills in sword-fighting and/or self- defense techniques of the most disparate types, with or without weapons...
Kabuki reflected that reality through a generous use of stylized martial arts techniques, which became a must for the kabuki actor ...
(The Japanese Theatre: From Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism)

3. What Dan Harden has stated about Noh: Ueshiba, was once watching a Noh performer and jumped up and said 10 dan!!! He gets it!

4. Seigo Okamoto: Roppo can be understood in a variety of ways, such as the roppo of roppogumi [six groups of chivalrous young men who used to wander the city streets in the Edo period]. Or it can be equated with the roppo from the kabuki term roppo o fumu of Benkei [a priest of the early Kamakura period and a famous retainer of Yoshitsune Minamoto. Roppo o fumu means to make one's exit with bold gestures along the runway]. However, I usually compare roppo to gaming dice to describe techniques which can deal with any situation from any direction, top or bottom, front or back, right or left, like the faces of dice. But these techniques do not have square angles like dice but are round, forming six (roku) infinite circles. I am eager to get as many meanings as I can out of the term.

5. Hippari Hai: The Japanese term which describes these opposing tensions is hippari hai, which means 'to pull someone towards oneself while being pulled in turn.

The performer must imagine that above him is suspended a ring of iron which is pulling him upwards and he must resist this pull in order to keep his feet on the ground. The Japanese term which describes these opposing tensions is hippari hai (The paper canoe, Eugenio Barba)
The ring is six direction as well (Up/Down, Back/Front, Left/Right)

Could this mean as Ueshiba, Tokimune Takeda et al said: Aiki is to pull when you are pushed, and to push when you are pulled ???

6. Koshi (specific lower back point or psoas)

To achieve the right posture one must first fill the lower belly with the strength of the whole body. To fill the koshi
with strength means also to tense the abdominal muscles a little. If one tenses the abdominal muscles in the right way there appears, as a result of this tension, a point of concentration below the navel. This point is the centre of man as a human-body-unity. It is called the tanden. The art ofactivating it is to release the strength of all the other parts of the body and to concentrate it there. This art since
ancient times has been cultivated in buda, the way of the knight, in Beda, the way of the artist and in sada, the way of Sitting. (Hara, Sato Tsuji)

Koshi is also a key thing mentioned in Noh literature, in some article it states, Energy like koshi, is not the result of a simple and mechanical alteration of balance but of a tension between opposing forces.

Reading Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings, Koshi is also mentioned Koshi is also mentioned with tanden forming a unity.