Kokyu nage

The word Kokyu may be translated into English by respiration, since Ko is equivalent to breathing out, and Kyu to breathing in. It's the union of these two phenomena which engenders respiration. But for Tsuda Sensei, the word Kokyu extends far beyond the biological, or gymnastic, conception of respiration. He often said that, through respiration, "Aïkido is an art of becoming children again... without being childish"

How can you understand this statement from a technical point of view? It's simple. When someone stronger than yourself seizes you from behind so that you cannot sit down, what should you do? Throw the person forward so that you're free to sit down ? As he is heavier than you are, you cannot do that. What then? Tsuda Sensei answers : become a child. "I see a wonderful shell lying on the beach and I bend forward to pick it up. I forget about whoever is still holding me tight from behind. The ki flows out from myself towards the shell, whereas before, it was blocked at the thought of the opponent who is holding me so strongly. The opponent becomes light and tumbles over my shoulders..."

The idea of throwing someone forward induces resistance. A child's movement is filled with the joy of picking up the shell, and that's what makes me forget the presence of the opponent.

Forgettin your opponent, but remaining aware that he is there, isn't an easy thing to do. The more you trie to forget him, the more you thinks about him. It's the joy felt in the flow of ki that allows you to forget everything...

The practise of Aïkido implies adopting the principle of non-resistance, in the sense that we neither push nor pull the opponent. We avoid acting in a way that provokes an antagonistic force. This practice also implies the principle of the non-opponent, because as soon as we think of an adversory, our ki is absorbed by him, our respiration/attention is blocked. To avoid being absorbed by the adversory, we must have a certain depth of respiration (Kokyu).

Master Ueshiba often said :

" Aïkido is of uniting and becoming separate again (musunde hanatsu) ".
I have found this alternance between union and separation in the act of inhaling and exhaling.

In Aïkido, action in initiated with the defender's inhalation (I use the word defender for the time being, though there are no such terms as defender or attacker). As I inhale, I raise my hand, and the attacker immediately follows my movement, raising his own hand. There is a synchronization of the intake of breath of both partners, at the same time as a coordination of movements. This reciprocal interaction is, I believe, one of the distinctive features of Aïkido. One doesn't find it in Judo or in Kendo, where each person breathes independently from the other and watches for an opportunity to attack the other.

At first, this interaction isn't at all obvious. You simply perform a certain number of movements you are learning. But after a time, I realized that exists a co-ordination of movements in Aïkido. That is to say, if I raise my bokken, the attacker raises his at the same moment. In Kendo, one doesn't have to keep to this conventional form of training. If one person raises the shinai, the other may counter with a horizontal swipe at the abdomen.

Why do both partners make identical or symetrical movements in Aïkido? After all, you can't really ask your opponent : "would you be so kind as to raise your hand at the same time as I raise mine, please?" For such a thing to be possible, there must be a compelling force which makes the partner act as you wishe. I have found this force in the intake of breath, prior even to the action itself. Once the fusion has taken place and the act is in progress, breathing out follows naturally, which allows the flow of ki. Then one sees the projections and the rest as a visible form of the technique.

Respiration is, in my experience, the very foundation of Aïkido.

Taken from Bushido magazine
3rd trimester 1984.

Vidéo Stage en 2005 au Mas d'Azil
(uniquement pour connections rapides)

Katsugen undo


Regenerating movement is done through the momentary suspension of our voluntary system. It requires no special knowledge or technique. On the contrary, we must leave that aside. To seek a pre-determined goal only hinders the natural evolution of our nature.The principle that we have formulated is thus :


For the person who sees regenerating movement for the first time, the sight is rather surprising. As we are accustomed to movements that are more or less controlled, governed by the intellect or worked on, any movement that falls outside the domain of conscious control suggests to us illness, madness, or hypnotism ; the regenerating movement seems to lend itself to such interpretations.

     In reality, it is quite different. While practicing the movement, our consciousness, instead of being anxious like that of someone ill, remains calm and serene. Instead of being confused, like that of a madman, it remains lucid. Instead of being circumscribed and limited like that of someone under hypnosis, it remains free.

     One does not perform Regenerating movement. It is set in motion spontaneously, in response to the needs of the organism.

     As those needs vary from one individual to another, and for the same individual from one moment to another, there can be no uniform, pre-programmed movement. Because of this, there is nothing easier than to slip away from what is natural, adding in a few "seductive ingredients".

     Theoretically, there exist two forms of regenerating movement : one, common to everyone, consists of natural reactions of our organism such as yawning, sneezing, movements and agitation during sleep, etc. The other was developped by Master Haruchika Noguchi, a half century ago. This is the form we practise (at the Ecole de la Respiration).

     To be initiated to the practice of movement, it is preferable to have reached a certain degree of mental maturity, and that all other proposed solutions be felt to be inadequate. It cannot be imposed on others, not even on your family, and not just any time. It's essential that the desire for a return to something natural germinates in the inner self. You mustn't pick fruit before it is ripe.

     Regenerating movement is not something we acquire from the exterior. It points the way to a deeper discovery of oneself. This way is not a straight road to paradise, but a twisting path.

     It is up to each of us, and under our own responsibility, to make the discovery our own unity of being.

     As the body becomes more sensitive, one can experience some perturbing sensations, which can repel those who lack a good initial understanding.

     The movement, after reaching a marked level of intensity, gradually becomes calmer. It becomes more subtle. Our respiration becomes more profound. Finally the movement comes to coincide with the movement of daily life, becoming so natural that there is no need to do anything special. A natural condition has been reached.

     This natural condition is not only physical, but psychic as well. A new perspective is created as our aptitude develops for that melding or fusion of sensitivity which affects human relationships and our reactions to life around us.

Si cette fusion élargit l'ouverture de notre esprit, on atteindra l'état du non-corps et non-mental.

C'est alors qu'on découvrira que l'homme est foncièrement LIBRE.

Itsuo Tsuda