[The opening pages of Chapter 5.]
The Art of Aikido
Techniques are the vehicles used to express the spiritual principles of Aikido. They are not set forms since "change and adaptability are the essence of Aikido." Morihei did not say much about the technical aspects of Aikido training, for he believed, "If your heart is true your techniques will be correct."
The most thorough technical presentation of Morihei's techniques is found in his book Budo. In addition to further hints contained in the Budo, Morihei also emphasized the following basic points to his students regarding the execution of Aikido techniques:
"Even though our Path is completely different from warrior arts of the past, it is not necessary to abandon the old ways totally. Absorb venerable traditions in Aikido by clothing them with fresh garments, and build on the classic styles to create better forms.
"Our techniques employ four qualities that reflect the nature of our world. Depending on the circumstance, you should be: hard as a diamond, flexible as a willow, smooth-flowing like water, or as empty as space.
"The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.
"A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind. The key to good technique is to keep your hands, feet, and hips straight and centered. If you are centered, you can move freely. The physical center is your belly; if your mind is set there as well, you are assured of victory in any endeavor.
"Do not stare into the eyes of your opponent: he may mesmerize you. Do not fix your gaze on his sword: he may intimidate you. Do not focus on your opponent at all: he may absorb your energy. The essence of technique is to bring your opponent completely into your sphere. Then you can stand just where you !ike, in a safe and unassailable position.
"When an opponent comes forward, move in and greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way."
As indicated in Budo, the techniques of Aikido are structured into six pillars:
Shiho-nage (four-directions throws)
Irimi-nage (entering throws)
Kaiten (open-and-turn movements)
Kokyu-ho (breath-power techniques)
Osae-waza (pinning techniques)
Ushiro-waza (rear techniques).