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Kihon Waza: A Ritual of Transubstantiation


In Aikido, one can say that the ultimate aim is to bring potency to the ritual of Kihon Waza. Such a position would be consistent with Ruist thought, the thought that gave rise to the very possibility of Budo, and the thought which also rests at the foundation of the Founder’s own practice – a practice that emphasized Kihon Waza above all other types of training. Questions remain however, especially for the modern Aikidoka who knows little to nothing of Ruist ritual theory, whom has scientistically adopted the Enlightenment’s mind/body dualism without question, and whom has only been able to find utility in the art by holding it either as a metaphor for contemporary western morality and conflict resolution or as a means to plug-and-play fighting prowess. To the modern Aikidoka, it matters not that the Founder understood his practice ritually, not metaphorically, not as a drama, and it matters not that the Founder did not spar, did not advocate sparring amongst his deshi, and did not emphasize fighting, but it should matter and it should matter a lot.


It is doubtful that such a deviation from the Founder’s practice was born within a rational inspection of that practice and a weighing of alternatives. It seems reasonable to conclude that such a deviation originated via a gap in transmission that itself was generated by an ignorance for the simple reason that modern Aikidoka, including those of established rank and title, cannot do what the Founder did. It is also reasonable to conclude such due to the fact that the Founder’s practice spanned a cultural, epistemic, and paradigmatic rift that had him on one side of thought and practice and his deshi on another side of thought and practice.


It is therefore important to understand “potency” correctly, not from a modern point of view, before we understand Kihon Waza as a ritual correctly. Simply put, when we talk about a potency of a ritual, we are talking about the efficacy of a ritual to transubstantiate. A ritual that cannot transubstantiate is a dead ritual, a farce. In Aikido Kihon Waza, the original aspect meant to undergo transubstantiation is the Universe’s separating-fear-destruction aspect, and what it is meant to transubstantiate into is the Universe’s unifying-love-creation aspect. The locale and the means for this transubstantiation is the being (body-mind-spirit) of Nage. What is key for the modern Aikidoka to understand is that this transubstantiation is not a metaphorical one, and therefore one does not gain access to it through language, the intellect, or through the imagination. This transubstantiation is real, meaning it is tangible and meaning its effects are immediate and not kept at a distance from the practitioner via some kind of symbolic displacement (e.g. the map is not the territory).


As a tangible process of transubstantiation, Uke is prescribed the role of providing the Universe’s separating-fear-destruction aspect in the ritual, and it is this aspect that Nage transubstantiates into the Universe’s unifying-love-creation aspect through the long-established body-mind practices of East Asia’s internal martial arts. As such, Uke’s energy is permitted to pass through Nage’s body via an organizational structure that has at its core a psycho-physiological deconstruction of the Ego Tripartite (i.e. ego-identity/a dichotomous experience of the world/a behavioral pattern spectrum of attraction and avoidance). This is a kind of releasing skill that keeps Nage from bonding with the separating-fear-destruction aspect – a kind of purification. The deconstruction of the Ego Tripartite is what allows for the Second Mind aspect, or what has been called the “God Consciousness” or the numen, to manifest within the being of Nage. It is the felt and observable presence of this numen that marks the potency of the Kihon Waza ritual, and it is this numen that marks the transubstantiation of the Universe’s separating-fear-destruction aspect into the Universes unifying-love-creation aspect: Aiki. As such, the communion of Uke’s energy and Nage’s energy manifests as a physical adhesion – a non-twoness – wherein Uke is psycho-physically stuck to Nage at whatever points of contact are being used in the Kihon Waza. It should be noted that this adhesion is radically different from the collusion we see today wherein the choreographed Uke “maintains connection” with Nage as a part of “good ukemi.”


It is with this potent Kihon Waza ritual that Aikido finds its ultimate aim and purpose, as other agendas only pale in comparison both in terms of their efficacy and in terms of their effect in our overall lives and the world as a whole. I therefore would strongly recommend Aikido practitioners to focus in on the skill of releasing, the skill of allowing Uke’s energy to pass through you, the skill of deconstructing the Ego Tripartite and of manifesting the Second Mind aspect, and the skill of generating a physical adhesion as Nage at the contact points with Uke. I recommend rejecting and no longer participating in the collusion of the choreographed Uke, the role that has him/her cosmetically replace the skill of adhesion with something lessor and false, and I recommend relegating fighting prowess to its proper position in our lives: way down at the bottom of what is important. In short, I recommend adopting the Founder’s practice as one’s own, at least at this structural level.

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