Act while Ki is Extending

There is a set of principles that is most important in the practice of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido. These principles show the process of leading people.

Five Basic Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido
1. Ki is extending
2. Know your partner’s mind
3. Respect your partner’s intension
4. Put yourself in the place of your partner
5. Perform with confidence

It might be easier to understand “Ki is extending” if we replace it with “Ki is flowing.”

Ki is flowing through every part of the body. When Ki is flowing throughout the body, we can move our body freely. When the body is tense, Ki becomes stagnant/gets stuck and the body cannot be used as we want.

Ki also flows through the people we encounter and our surroundings. When Ki is flowing, we can see the surroundings clearly. When our mind gets attached to something, Ki becomes stagnant, and we cannot understand clearly other persons nor their surroundings.

Only when our Ki is extending are we able to use the power we have. And because our Ki is extending, we can execute our [Ki-Aikido] techniques.

This is the reason why the first principle of our Five Principles of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido is “Ki is extending”.

One of the methods of practicing Shinshin Toitsu Aikido is, while in a sumo wrestling-like grappling position with your partner, to practice stepping forward to move your partner backwards – but just by touching/connecting with your partner, without holding onto the partner’s dogi or obi (belt).

It is a very simple, but a profound way to practice.

Our mind tends to be easily disturbed at the beginning of a movement. At the very moment we are about to make the move, our Ki tends to get stuck/becomes stagnant. This practice method allows us to become clearly aware of this disturbance we experience.

If we try to “push and move the partner,” we will feel tension in our upper body, arms, and legs. This causes Ki to become stagnant and prevents us from moving forward.

If we start thinking about how to move our partner, our mind becomes attached to the effort. This intention causes our Ki to get stuck and we can’t move forward.

If we try to feel the sensations in our body, then our mind will be full of openings. We will be in a state of collapse – we lose our Ki and cannot move, so this is out of the question!

Through this practice method, we directly experience how easily Ki can become stagnant, and how surprisingly easy it is for us to get disturbed and thus lose our natural power.

If we move while our Ki is extending, we can move forward without any problems, but we humans [thinking too much] have a hard time doing so.

The state of “Ki is extending” is difficult to understand in words and can only be understood by directly experiencing it and acquiring it through our body.

However, there are criteria that we can use to check it ourselves.

For example, when Ki is flowing, there is no tension anywhere in the entire body. The posture is also solid and stable because Ki is flowing through every part of the body, including the toes and fingers. In this way, we attain a state in which our field of vision widens and we are acutely aware of our surroundings.

In Shinshin Toitsu Aikido practice, we check this state with a Ki test, and then, train ourselves to maintain that same state even during strenuous movement.

When top athletes experience the state of “Ki is extending”, they all say, “This is how I feel when I am in my best condition!”. The challenge is to always maintain this state.

This is why many athletes continue to practice Shinshin Toitsu Aikido.

In order to learn how to move in a state of “Ki is extending”, it is essential to practice it not only at the dojo, but also in our  daily life.

This is because “Ki is extending” is directly connected to the condition of our mind and not just the condition of our body.

You might recall a time when you had something “you must do”, and you wondered whether or not you should do it, or you did it reluctantly. The moment your mind falls into such a state, your Ki is already stuck/stagnant.

“If I am going do it, then I just do it”, “If I am not going to do it, then I just don’t do it” – it is important to make up our mind, and once we have made up our mind, we have to do it without any hesitation.

By repeating this process, we can form a habit of “moving while Ki is flowing”. This way, we can solve one of the causes of our Ki becoming stagnant at the beginning of the movement.

Ever since I was a child, I have had a hard time making up my mind about anything.

When I started uchideshi training, “overwriting” this habit was the training that was drilled into me.

Strangely enough, the technique began to work after I developed a new habit [of “Ki is extending”].

Koichi Tohei Sensei said to me, “Every time you tried to do something, you were allowing your Ki to get stuck. You can understand your partner only when your Ki is flowing. And you can lead him only when you understand him.”

He continued, “Shugyo is the training you do day in, day out, 24/7. Continue your practice for the rest of your life, so that your Ki flows under any circumstances.”

Since then, I have always made an effort to “act while Ki is extending” in everything I do, not just at the dojo, but also in my daily life.

And that [kind of training] brought me to where I am today. Nowadays, no one seems to be able to imagine that I used to be a kind of person who couldn’t make up my mind in everything.

Our techniques change if we change in our daily life. This is truly “Aikido in daily life”.

Translated by Mayumi Case
Edited by David Shaner and Matthew Attarian
Eastern Ki Federation

Original article in Japanese: 氣が出ている状態で行動する (Ki ga deteiru jyotai de kodo suru)
December 1, 2022