An insider view into the Yoseikan dojo with David Orange - Part 2

Former uchi deshi of Minoru Mochizuki, David Orange Jr. has not only trained under the direction of one of the most famous masters of the 20th century, but also trained along with a number of his students who are now continuing his teaching. 

David is part of the living memory of Yoseikan, and his answers give us a rare insight into the practice of Minoru Mochizuki and at the Yoseikan dojo.

Part 2 - The Pursuit of Internal Power

In this second part, we are getting away from usual questions on the Yoseikan dojo, to deep dive into body mechanics, and the topics of internal power. David explains his views on Aikido being based on natural human reflexes, the way he shifted his approach to Aikido via Moshe Feldenkrais' method, and much more.

Minoru Mochizuki

I remember you saying that Aikido is taught “backward” and that the solution to make it reveal its deep truth is to reverse the viewpoint into oneself and reach out into aikido from the root of self. Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

I believe that aikido techniques are based on natural human reflexes that cause children to stand and walk. That’s not to say that everything comes from how they toddle around, but they do have reflexes and instincts to move in ways and directions that make it difficult for us to handle them, sometimes, and I think martial arts are close to that nature if we would observe real children in action. Our whole origin experience as a lump of awareness that can only lie still or be carried around leads to some frustration as we increasingly desire some degree of control over our point of view. We focus on an object or a view of an area, such as a window, and our consciousness clings to it until someone suddenly turns us in a different direction and we lose sight of the thing we were studying. Lying on the floor or a bed, we gradually realize that we can change our view by moving our head. We coordinate the hand and eye to try to touch what we see and sometimes it works, but sometimes there is nothing there though we see it.  We roll over and reach again, then push with our feet, and suddenly, we touch what we saw. Or, maybe we still can’t touch it but we can still see it. This kind of thing seems to be a major motivator in the instinctive process of stacking of the body in vertical alignment to gravity, leading to upright standing, then walking, all while the child is still too young to be “taught” anything. We can encourage and help the child cultivate skills, but the process is far more personal, continuous, and self-motivated than most adults can comprehend. When learning to stand and walk, we go to things, study things, climb up to reach things… unbelievable things. Babies are fearless explorers, conquerors, and escape artists. There are night vision videos on the internet under “baby escape.” Babies climbing out of their cribs, over barriers, through cracks, getting out of confinement and helping their siblings escape, all in darkness. So babies are whole-hearted, single-minded, and full-bodied when they do anything. They are experiencing with every part of their bodies as they crawl and stand and climb while looking only at the thing that interests them. And they don’t always fall. If an adult could be so congruent in whole being, budo would be very easy.

I’ve come to believe that martial arts techniques are not invented but are observed in nature—usually instinctive human fighting tactics, copied, generalized, practiced, and refined. Most jujutsu comes from sumo wrestling. And most jujutsu uses pretty similar yawara techniques. Judo is a pretty good sampling. But daito ryu is a truly unusual approach to technique. So where does it originate? While sumo is dominated by the clash of strength and the power of yawara, yielding then pushing back, daito ryu is based on non-resistance and toddlers often demonstrate a kind of continued evasion to get what they want and to avoid being turned away from their intent.

Returning to the example of a baby being turned away from something that had caught its attention, as the child develops, it begins to resist being turned away from its focus of attention or it adjusts itself, turns its head back the other way, twists its whole body within its parent’s hold, becomes incredibly heavy and concentrates its weight through the gap of the parent’s arms until the child can sag down to the floor and crawl or run to a place where they can look at the thing they wanted to see. When you try to pick them up, they will move to a position to make you turn around toward your own weak point. They use escape and circular movement to lead the grasp of the person trying to pick them up, all instinctively.

I observed this directly when my second daughter was a toddler, crying with her arms raised. As I went to take her wrist with a same-side grasp, she pulled her elbows in, dropped her weight and pivoted back to further stretch my grip. She pulled me down and forward as if I were on ball bearings and her movement reminded me of Mochizuki sensei’s soft heaviness, his rolling like a ball. And I may have only recognized this subtle moment because I’d been reading Moshe Feldenkrais and experiencing his method through a talented teacher of that Method. I had some back injuries while I was training and the Feldenkrais experience got me back on the mat with the black belts. So I read deeply in Feldenkrais’ incredibly lucid writing and practiced his exercises and began to see new things in my training.

The first person who was able to sustain a judo group in France, Feldenkrais was introduced to judo by Jigoro Kano, himself, at the Japanese embassy in Paris. Later, Feldenkrais applied Kano’s step by step approach to ordinary human movement, not to ingrain a “right” way of moving but to explore his own way of movement from an engineering perspective, to find the proper way to use the body. I applied Feldenkrais’ approach to what I had learned through Mochizuki sensei and developed a Zero Degree level of teaching to orient learners to their own reflexive system and to show them how their own mental and emotional activity blocks the reflex system. Feldenkrais identified good movement not by what it looks like from the outside, but by what it feels like to the person moving. According to Feldenkrais, good movement is comfortable, of minimal exertion, smooth, stoppable and reversible. So I ask my Zero Degree students to gauge their own movement throughout every day. “Can I do this more comfortably? Can I do it with less physical effort? Can I do it more smoothly?” For every action from standing up to walking to taking a cup from a cabinet, or drinking from a cup. That kind of attention to one’s own movement tends to solve a lot of minor problems, but it also prepares the martial arts student to stand softly and move softly and smoothly before we get into the self-defense mode.

I have them explore the use of the leg in walking. Why does the rear knee bend? It was straight when we were standing on it, but at some point as we step forward, the rear knee “breaks.” Why is that? It’s gravity. And enough kinetic energy is released when the knee bends to power the swing of the leg all the way through the step. We see a way to walk without gasoline, burning no power of our own, but powering our steps through gravity.

We examine the range of kicking, from the ankle kick that results from pure walking motion. To kick a little higher, we have to step back a little so that the natural arc of the leg swing brings the toe of the shoe to a pressure point just a little above the ankle. And if we back up an inch or so further, the arc of the leg will put the shoe at a pressure point about an inch higher up aite’s leg. And inch by inch up to the knee, the natural arc of the swinging leg goes a little higher up the leg as we go back a little further. But past the knee, the natural arc becomes too vertical to contact aite’s body. So that’s the range the leg can kick with a natural walking swing. If we come closer to aite, we find that our knees are complementary. Average people’s knees are at an average location, pretty dependably, so when we do judo or karate or something like soccer, we have some conscious or subconscious awareness of threat to our knees. We have a lot of pressure points all over the legs and the knees can be influenced with small touches. By entering aite’s stance, we can softly use the pressure points of his knee just by sinking our weight and letting the bend of the knee touch inside (or outside) aite’s knee. Done very smoothly, no force is used.

In fact, I call this method Zero Force. I don’t have to add any effort at all to put sufficient pressure to destroy aite’s stance if he doesn’t resist. If he does resist, it sets him up for a powerful knee to the groin. But for purposes of the exploration, we see that if he doesn’t resist, the mere bending of my leg through gravity power will “topple his tower.” If I move a little closer to his original attack, I can raise the front heel off the mat and my knee will contact a pressure point just above his knee. If I enter a little closer, I can bring my whole foot off the mat and contact just a little higher on his leg. And I see that I can strike him anywhere up the inside (or outside) of his thigh using my knee. So it’s easy to see how we can step right into an attack and deliver a massive knee to the groin to kill the attacker at a single blow. And if he senses it coming and pulls back, he’s now in position for me to unfold my lower leg and hit him with a textbook mae geri to the stomach. Or, if you’ve been working up the outside of the knee and leg, you’re in position for mawashi geri from the thigh to the pelvis to the ribs, to the side of the head. And if you look at videos of Mifune sensei, he often begins a technique by raising his knee sharply between himself and aite just before going into harai goshi, hane goshi, etc. So it’s not limited to karate or kicks, this use of the knee. And detailed analysis of the natural uses of the arms finds many commonalities among uses in various martial arts. I read the OSensei said “The essence of aikido is thrusting with the Japanese sword.” A baby who can only sit up can yet put his finger in your eye and smile about it. Rather than try to give him a “better” set of reflexes, I teach from where techniques are rooted in natural powers.

So Zero Degree is a comprehensive exploration of how technique grows from natural movement and the complementarity of human skeletal and reflex systems. Much of the Zero Degree level involves how to drop unnecessary effort from standing and walking, but it finds the same source of power for sword techniques. I call my course Zero Degree because zero is the beginning of everything. If you weigh something, the scale has to start at zero—not above or below. A carpenter measures length and width from zero. That’s where his tape begins. If you’re in a parked car and the speedometer already says some speed above zero, you’ll have trouble gauging your speed on the road. I find that most people’s biggest obstacle to learning martial arts is the tendency to do too much and waste a lot of energy because they don’t really understand the Zero level of effort. They’ve been conditioned to do everything “harder” to get better at it. And if they naturally do well, they’re told to do it “harder” to get even better at it. And that’s how child consciousness is destroyed and why its obvious power remains invisible to most people. So rather than cultivating nature, they try to teach “second nature” techniques. Those second nature techniques can be done better and more reliably when they come from first nature or true nature.

Zero Degree is a comprehensive exploration of how technique grows from natural movement and the complementarity of human skeletal and reflex systems

"If you weigh something, the scale has to start at Zero—not above or below"

Was Mochizuki sensei ever talking about Ki or internal strength? Did he teach any specific way of developing these skills?

There was a lot of talk about ki in the original yoseikan aikido I learned in 1974-’75, a lot of “ki exercises,” escapes, and reversals. I teach some of that to my son now. I’m sure it came through Demizu sensei from Mochizuki sensei. But that kind of practice stopped when Patrick Augé began teaching and it was nowhere to be seen in the Shizuoka dojo.

I did ask Mochizuki sensei once, “What is aiki?” And he told me “It’s the ura of kiai.” I’d written an article on that for Black Belt magazine back in 1981, called "Aiki-Kiai, the middle way". I normally led the warm-ups, punches and kicks before each workout and I punctuated every move with a resounding kiai that I learned from my early karate teacher, Paul Couch, a direct student of Mas Oyama. My article said that aiki was the opposite of kiai, and Couch sensei, said it was the best thing he’d ever read about kiai. But when I wrote that, I didn’t understand about omote and ura. Some systems use omote and ura to mean techniques done in front of uke or toward uke’s rear. But we used mae and ushiro for that meaning. Omote and ura are integral to kenjutsu but also to all Japanese culture and relationships. Hyori, of hyori no kata, can be read omote/ura, and means the covers of a book, as “front cover/back cover,” implying “the whole subject,” but it treats escapes and reversal techniques as the ura (rear side) of the first technique, which is the omote (front), which was an ura to uke’s original attack. Tori’s omote waza is ura waza to aite’s attack. In hyori no kata, each omote waza is met with ura waza.

Hyori no Kata

To explain, Sensei used the example of a karate man doing a single-person kata. You can watch him and see the often intricate moves he makes and wonder what those moves would mean in self-defense. “What you see is omote,” Sensei told me. “Ura is what he really intends with his moves.” I could relate to that, having a good bit of karate experience in the US and Japan. A kata technique has different applications depending on how far away the attacker is on engagement. Often, a “technique” is seen as having two parts—preparatory (“stacking”), then execution of the technique. You put the hands in Position A to prepare for the attack, then snap them to Position B, which is the “real” technique—and ma-ai is assumed to be distant enough for you to make two moves. If the attacker is much closer, we have to realize that the “preparatory” move must become the “real” technique. At least, the preparatory move makes sense as a block before the “real” technique is applied, but every single movement in karate is meant to be very effective at close range. Once you constrict the distance, all the potential meanings are transformed and no movement is made for no purpose. And this is what comes from thinking in omote and ura, or hyori.

“So,” Mochizuki sensei told me, “always look at everything backward.”

So, when Mochizuki sensei said that aiki is the ura of kiai, it had many implications that I’m still pondering. I can only think of how Sensei lived his daily life and handled the problems of advancing age, a bad knee, blood pressure problems and more. He once said, “How could I say I’m the greatest aikido man in the world when I totter around and get dizzy?” He was actually referring to the American automobile manufacturing industry, which had pioneered the automotive manufacturing process but which had, by then, declined considerably. Still, he was also talking about himself. As for ki, I just tried to open my psyche fully to Sensei’s influence, in an attitude of constant zazen, and tried to learn from him. He lived a quiet, peaceful life and he spent most mornings writing at a table along the kitchen wall, beside the door to his room. He seemed almost always in the same mood, rather contemplative but generally positive, though he would occasionally get a bit irritated at something. But mostly, he was quiet and peacefully involved with his existence, doing each thing in its turn. He would often call me over and talk with me about things ranging spherically over all human experience.

I talked some with an uchi deshi, Saito san, who was training in shiatsu. He told me about “hara” training and indicated that it was a specialty that not all martial artists practiced. “But those who master it can do incredible things,” he told me. Tremendous power of all weird kinds, he described, along with strange manipulations of the abdominal musculature. I was very interested in these things. I’d sought “internal power” through tai chi and bagua training and I’d done lots of chi gong practices. Bagua also deepy influenced my approach to knee-to-knee combat and everything I understand about kicking. I’d also had many strange experiences in training and in dealing with unpredictable members of the public on occasion, I felt that I had some potential to release a lot of soft power suddenly, but not at will and not with any real intended control. But I had command of broad range of technique and I was fairly strong all around and I never knew what really accounted for the sometimes unusual results I got.

At the Shizuoka school, it was important to have and cultivate all-round strength, but the technique was not supposed to use strength—or, specifically, it was to use the attacker’s own strength to overcome him. Still, judo classes required massive use of strength to learn how to do techniques using less. The practice of aikido and judo without specific internal training still imparts a lot of strange strength. But when you encounter someone specializing in those Tanren skills, you realize that they’re hard to influence. There were many ki exercises and some immovability training in the yoseikan aikido I first encountered in 1974-‘75, but I think it was considered too advanced for our group to continue.

Yoseikan dojo's shomen ©Xavier Duval

When it comes to epitome of mastery, I’d say the best example in Shizuoka was Kyoichi Murai sensei, Mochizuki sensei’s earliest student, with some forty years of training when I met him, not only with Mochizuki sensei but with Morihei Ueshiba. He was so tiny, it was disarming to see him. If there was anyone in the dojo who could do you absolutely no harm, you would think it was that little, bitty, tiny fellow with the gray hair. And he wouldn’t harm you, but he certainly could. Aside from Mochizuki sensei, he was the epitome, and being ten years younger than Sensei, he was still able to do a lot of randori and fast movement. I could never feel his techniques well enough to find anything to resist or even recognize before I was catapulted. He showed more of that kind of power than any of the younger shihan but I think Mochizuki sensei just discouraged teaching that. Anyway, Murai sensei’s indomitable skill was attributed to his deeply aged technique, and continual practice was apparently the only way to get that.

But there were a couple of incidents that have puzzled me over the years. First, Tezuka sensei. He was average size, I’d say, for the Japanese but he had the look you sometimes see among Japanese, like a South American Indian, Peruvian or Mayan. He may have been of the original line that sailed to South America and carved kanji into stone and built temples. He could be scary in practice, but he was a nice person in person. He had an office job with the city. He’d come into the dojo one night before the second hour of training and was warming up near me. I happened to be watching him when something to his right caught his attention and I watched him go over there. A six-foot heavy bag had been taken down and tied to a makiwara post. Tezuka sensei looked at the base of the makiwara, stood up and delivered an ankle-high front kick at the bottom of the heavy bag. The makiwara post snapped off at the floor level. I was startled. That heavy bag was really hard and heavy, actually painful to hit, for one, but to shear that makiwara off at the floor by kicking through the bag… even if the post was cracked… which it must have been since I saw him notice something just before he kicked it, but it was standing and supporting that bag. He kicked it once, just above the floor and separated it cleanly. He didn’t seem to be aware that anyone saw him do it. He got some guys to move the bag out of the way and continued getting ready for practice. I’ve always wondered about what I saw that day, but I never asked him.

The second incident was when I was training with Hiroaki Kenmotsu sensei, called Kenmochi by everyone. He was a farmer, well mannered and relaxed at all times, always very nice to me. He was very quiet in general. He’d been training with Tezuka and Washizu sensei under Murai sensei and Mochizuki sensei for many years. He resembled an elementary school principal if I’d had to guess and I would have said “No, I don’t think he trains in martial arts” if I just saw him. But like the others, he had black belts in aikido and judo and probably also karate. He was also expert in Mochizuki sensei’s katori Shinto ryu. I did a lot of randori with him but I never challenged him. And one day, he approached, stepped forward and seized both my wrists with both his hands. I couldn’t move. Not as when Mochizuki sensei held me in a pin. With Kenmotsu sensei’s grasp, I could still move my body around a little, but my wrists would not go anywhere, as if they were stuck in a wall of iron that hadn’t moved in centuries. I could squirm around and attempt various tai sabaki and reversals, but Kenmotsu sensei stood with perfect balance. My wrists wouldn’t go anywhere and I couldn’t move him at all, a man much smaller than myself.

I think that moment was Kenmotsu sensei’s attempt to invite me to ask “How do you do that?” at which point he might have explained. But I was too dumbfounded to think I could understand if he’d told me. Like Murai sensei’s hurricane-force blowing you off your feet, I thought it could only be answered by more and continual training. So I think the student’s recognition of the phenomenon was the key to being allowed to learn any real internal stuff. And I failed to recognize it as something I could specifically learn. It was centuries of training ahead of me.

Once, Patrick Augé threw me with a memorable aikido technique. I attacked with a same-side, single-hand grasp. Patrick made a te gatana, lifted, turned, and threw me, maybe with only my own grip. But the most impressive thing about it was the way I landed. He directed my fall to the mat in a way that canceled all the energy at the mat and I experienced no impact. I was stunned by that for a moment. It was the strangest feeling. He occasionally did other things out of nowhere I never encountered from anyone else so I figured he had some kind of internal power. I’d guess he has skills far beyond that by now, some thirty years later, when he has trained pretty much every day of the time.

Minoru Mochizuki and Patrick Augé ©

Although I’ve said Sensei’s te hodoki hand escapes were the opposite of te no uchi, I did throw a guy by his own grip while attempting to do a te hodoki. The guy had very strong hands and a firm grip. His hand didn’t release as I expected and we paused for a brief instant and I “surged” into the te hodoki. He came off his feet and went over, hanging onto my hand and landed on his back. We had no mats at the time so I know he didn’t intend that. I certainly didn’t, either, but he did give me a very powerful grasp. So I guess even the te hodoki contained some te no uchi essence. Sensei did once show me how the first te hodoki, simply opening my hand, rolling it palm down and pulling it across my body could exert chokutai on the opponent. It can roll his wrist back, straighten his elbow, and push him up through his shoulder to stand him up on his toes. With a te hodoki but not releasing his grip and using it to get aiki age. So everything he did was full of tricks and contradictions. Omote and ura.

Alex Preatoni came to the dojo after some time as uchi deshi in the yoga dojo of an old associate of Sensei’s. Sensei gave a presentation on aikido at the yoga dojo and invited Alex to live at the yoseikan dojo and learn aikido. Alex had no prior martial arts experience, but his whole-body control and unusual flexibility were amazing and he could strike with a lot of power. And he was one of those people who changed the paradigm at the dojo for a time. A bunch of people went out to celebrate after training one night and everyone tried the Punch-o-Meter machine. I thought I had a pretty good punch, but Alex surpassed me. I was nearing forty and he was in his twenties. The yoga made him better grounded and better able to transmit his force through the whole body. So, with his yogic body control, Alex was the standard of power for a while. If anyone had a technique, you had to do it on Alex or it didn’t count. And many times, he could walk right out of a technique that would hold anyone else. And with that, he was learning the basics of aikido directly from Minoru Mochizuki. So he had a lot of potential and trained in aikido, judo, kendo and other arts, but had serious problems with both knees laced with scars from previous injuries and surgeries.

Alex Preatoni and David Orange with Minoru Mochizuki and Oku-san in the kitchen upstairs of the Yoseikan hombu
©David Orange

Then Edgar Kruyning arrived and he was in the perfect state to receive what Mochizuki sensei could impart. Twenty four years old, Edgar had spent the past ten years, since he was fourteen, training and working in the dojo of Olympic judo coach Chris de Korte. When he arrived in Shizuoka, Edgar had been teaching judo, karate, aikijujutsu and kenjutsu for years. And it was all high level because the Dutch have the longest Western history with Japan. Edgar came to the dojo fresh from Thailand, where he’d just won some Muay Thai matches. His round kicks were heavy and penetrating and Mochizuki sensei gave him an instant thumbs up. He had Edgar teach us the Muay Thai way of round kicking and it was how we kicked after that. When Sensei saw Edgar’s judo he knew that, at last, he had found someone who could really understand what he wanted to say, even though Edgar spoke almost no Japanese. When we went to the Punch-o-Meter, Edgar slammed it like Arnold Schwarzenegger and left us all stunned. He was a young man, but he’d been struggling with strong judoka for a decade, training diligently in aikijujutsu the same years, had a black belt, at least, in karate, and now he’d fought in Thailand. Mochizuki sensei “opened the book” for Edgar and was able to work on a tremendously high and deep level with him through technical instruction alone. Edgar was able to understand the meaning and to cultivate it. So as to internal power and tanren, I once asked Edgar if he would write a book on tanren. He just said, “It’s all tanren.” I would recommend Edgar to anyone who wants to understand the arts of Minoru Mochizuki.

Demonstration by Edgar Kruyning

You met Akuzawa sensei, the founder of Aunkai, a few years ago. In his school, there are no techniques taught per se, but rather a focus on developing a body that can apply any technique, be it an atemi, a lock, a throw, etc. Having felt both Mochizuki sensei and Akuzawa sensei, did you perceive any similarities or differences in the way they felt or taught?


Of course, Akuzawa sensei is at his prime and I knew Mochizuki sensei when he was in his seventies and eighties. The people who were around him after the war were some incredible people, of a different nature than succeeding generations. To have known Mochizuki sensei when he was really active would have been spectacular. Also, his focus was entirely different from Akuzawa sensei’s. Mochizuki sensei taught through technique and built strength gradually that way. I also like to watch Seigo Okamoto sensei, with his very small movement aiki-jujutsu. A very different focus than Akuzawa sensei or Mochizuki sensei but related directly to both. And Okamoto sensei goes back to Kodo Horikawa sensei while Akuzawa sensei did spend some time in the dojo of Yukiyoshi Sagawa. So they all have a root with Sokaku Takeda. Though I would have said there was little relation between Akuzawa sensei’s movements and Mochizuki sensei’s, as I’ve reviewed Aunkai thinking over the decade and more since I met Akuzawa sensei, I’ve come to realize that there are similarities, but Akuzawa sensei followed the techniques back to an older source. His movement and power felt more primal than what I’ve ever felt in any aikido class. More primal, more efficient, more direct and powerful. He reached back to the ancient roots of the temple guardians of A and Un, taking direct hold on the power behind aiki and teaching that power to people.

 Minoru Akuzawa, founder of Aunkai

I had a similar feeling watching Okamoto sensei in various angles at slow-mo and full speed—that his small moves were the essence of what we were doing in Mochizuki sensei’s larger techniques—more a jujutsu or judo style as compared to Okamoto sensei’s much tighter circles. In some of his techniques, I can see the larger technique I learned in yoseikan. He’s doing the inner gear of our larger techniques—only the core piece. Our technique contains that core, but his technique is only that core. And it is extremely efficient. And I’m sure Mochizuki sensei learned all that from OSensei and probably did teach that method to some people, but it was a deeper teaching and not to be openly shown, I believe. You couldn’t hide something like that from Minoru Mochizuki but you could hide a core of function within a technique. In fact, Okamoto sensei’s aiki was a lot like Murai sensei’s, the only one at the yoseikan who used those fure aiki techniques. I used to see pictures of Okamoto sensei freezing someone up with aiki age and I thought it had to be fake. We did forms of suwari waza that contained the aiki age hands but it was just part of the form of the suwari waza technique. But when Robert John lightly did his aiki age on me, I realized my whole nervous system was captured by my own grasp. And I realized how a little downward movement of Rob’s hands would drop me beyond my control. And I told him it seemed to me that he accessed the ura of my strength directly through the omote of my strength without going around it and without using strength at all—he went straight through my strength to the reverse side without using strength. It was impressive and I think Mochizuki sensei was talking about something like that when he said that aiki is the ura of kiai. Maybe if I’d asked Kenmotsu sensei that time, he might have shown me how to do that. But I wasn’t ready then and I didn’t learn it when Rob showed me, either. Or when Dan Harden showed me. Or when Alex Marshall showed me. That old police instructor in Birmingham had tremendous power for his small size, especially since he was seventy-one years old when I met him. He was the best I ever met outside Japan and he rated with the best I knew in Japan. He knew something most people never learn because you have to be ready to learn it when the chance comes and readiness isn’t always a matter of willingness.

But as to Mochizuki sensei and Akuzawa sensei, I’d say that Akuzawa sensei is teaching the materials that power both Mochizuki sensei’s and Okamoto sensei’s aiki. And Sagawa’s. It’s esoteric Buddhist martial arts. It feels really old and primal. Akuzawa sensei is expressing techniques freely through a tuned body, sharply oriented to the six directions at every moment, moving sharply from one direction to another as if snapped to place by powerful magnets, more powerful than anything already occupying that space. And there’s nothing in it that won’t add to anyone’s aiki power and skill. I still look to tenchijin, shintaijiku and shikko for inner tuning.

To be continued...

Go back to part 1 - Training at Minoru Mochizuki's dojo


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