Takemusu Aiki training

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Iwama Dojo the home of Takemusu Aiki


Iwama is a small town about 100 kilometres north-east of Tokyo. It is here that O’Sensei constructed a dojo (training hall) and the Aiki Jinja, an Oomoto-kyo shrine next to the dojo. It is said that during this period, from 1942 to his death in 1969 that O’Sensei completed his development of Aikido.

Iwama training was focused on mastering the basic forms (kihon) and being able to execute techniques powerfully from solid attacks before moving on to the more advanced flowing (ki-no-nagare) movements.

Also important was practice of the weapon curriculum of bokken (wooden sword) and jo (wooden staff) which O’Sensei introduced.

O’Sensei called the art that he developed during his time at the Iwama Dojo – Takemusu Aiki.

What is “takemusu aiki”

The translation of this term is difficult enough, the precise meaning of this concept is more so.

According to Saito Sensei:

” In Takemusu Aikido, bit by bit, new techniques appear spontaneously. This never stops, it is infinite like a spring. This is Takemusu. Therefore, for every technique, there is a basic form. It is necessary to learn these basics in their correct order to be able to understand the real Aikido.”

O’Sensei said that:

Aikido is a divine truth which spells out a sophisticated implementation of Takemusu Aiki. Takemusu, as identified in Shinto literature, is the unsurpassed martial art of Japan. The art therefore proliferates a multitude of techniques freely as Divine Will sees fit.

Daruma drawn by Hitohiro on Derek's gi 1980At another time he said that:

“Aikido is the martial art (bu) of truth; it is the work of love. It is the way to protect all living things of this world, that is, aikido is a compass that gives life to all things. It is the manifestation of takemusu that has given birth to all martial techniques that have so far been created. The martial arts born therefrom, are the law to protect the growth of everything existing in the world in accordance with the law of life and growth of all nature.”

My favourite explanation is:

Takemusu is training to cultivate the ability to use gravitation.

(taken from Takemusu Aiki – Lectures of Morihei Ueshiba, transcribed and edited by Hideo Takahashi of the Byakko Shinkokai, see Aikido Journal #116 1999).