The Three and the Six

Professor Kenji Tomiki, the founder of Tomiki Aikido, was one of the most famous and highly respected martial artists in Japan and around the world.  He learned both aikido and judo from the founders of those martial arts.  He became a renowned Professor at the world-famous Waseda University in Tokyo, which is where he pioneered his development of his eponymous martial art.  Being a Professor, he naturally developed a coherent and powerful method of analysis and research for aikido that has become a signature pedagogy in the world of martial arts.  Understanding these Three Principles and Six Concepts will help you organize your thinking and improve your aikido.

Three Principles

Natural Posture (Shizentai no Ri)

Shizentai is the physical embodiment of “mushin, mugamae” – neutral mind, neutral stance. Regardless whether one is in neutral posture (mugamae), right posture (migigamae) or left posture (hidarigamae), feet are shoulder width apart, weight is evenly balanced between the two feet, shoulders are relaxed, back is straight with hips rolled underneath, head sits straight on the spine, and arms hang naturally bent.

Non-Resistance (Ju no Ri)

An attack can be rendered ineffectual or minimally effective by quick, controlled footwork and body movement, yielding to force when it is advantageous. The physical manifestation of this principle is most easily seen in taisabaki, i.e. moving out of the way of an attack.

Breaking Balance (Kuzushi no Ri)

The principle of breaking your opponent’s balance or seizing the split second when your opponent is immobile, either at the beginning or the end of his movement. By applying kuzushi effectively, the actual application of the aikido technique then becomes far easier, almost effortless.


Six Concepts

When the three principles are put into practical use, there are six concepts that grow out of their interchange. Tomiki Sensei drew these concepts from the much broader framework of martial arts, both modern and Old School (koryu). None are original with him.

They are different from the principles because they can be measured and gauged as well as experienced. They are presented here in related pairs, but all six concepts are dynamically related to each other.

Safe Distance (Ma’ai)

Simply put, this is the minimum distance at which your opponent cannot attack you without movement.  Ma’ai has three aspects: your position relative to your opponent, the speed required to cover the relative distance and the rhythm of movement with your opponent. Because movement is a dynamic process, ma’ai changes constantly.

A related term is issoku itto no ma’ai, the distance you can cover in one step to reach your opponent.

Eye Contact (Metsuke)

Literally, metsuke means eye contact.  By looking at your opponent’s eyes (which are the window to his soul), your peripheral vision is much better able to detect even his slightest movement.  A combination of concentration and awareness is required in interactions with your opponent. Visual and mental perception must be broad even while focused.

This is very much like perception while driving a car. The focus is on the road, but the peripheral vision is constantly engaged as well.

Centerline (Seichusen)

Center line of body where you are mechanically strongest when keeping your elbows close to the body. Stability is reduced when the center is moved away from this line. We use tegatana to defend this center line and apply techniques.

Hand Sword (Tegatana)

Tegatana means hand sword.  To implement: fingers together (not splayed apart), thumb extended, and energy flowing from your center and focused on the blade of the hand.  Aikido applies sword and weapon principles to empty hand fighting. We use the sword hand as a shield, just as a fencer uses the blade of the sword. Tegatana is used most effectively when it is in your center with your power concentrating through it while using quick footwork and maintaining a strong and mobile posture.

Unified Power (Toitsu Ryoku)

The concentration of power through one point; in most cases through the use of tegatana. Tegatana can be applied to multiple spots on the body but still utilizing toitsu ryoku.

Locomotive Power (Ido Ryoku)

The coordinated, controlled and effective movement of the body. It is connecting whatever is being moved to the source of power in the most direct way possible.