There are 7 concepts that should be kept at the top of your mind when practicing; ‘Rei’, ‘Ma ai’, ‘Metsuke’, ‘Kazushi’, ‘Kokyu’, ‘Zanshin’, ‘Atemi’ and ‘Securei’. These time-honoured concepts will help develop your physical and mental skill alike, and are essential in the path of Bushido (the Way of the Warrior).
Zanshin (awareness and readiness)
Meaning ‘Remaining Mind’, the term ‘Zanshin’ is translated to ‘readiness and awareness’. It refers to the mental state in which you are aware of your immediate surroundings, your opponent(s) and changing situations. It is also often described as applying 100% of yourself in a technique or situation. Both translations are applied in the study of our art.
Ma ai (distance)
‘Ma ai’ refers to the physical distance between things. It is often the single most important factor that determines the outcome of a combative situation. It often happens that an opponent thinks they are in a beneficial position when in fact their distance is off or they are actually in a vulnerable position.
Securei Waza (distraction technique) describes the process of interrupting the mind or intentions of your opponent. Although some strikes may cause distraction, securei is often created through audio disruption (a large piercing shout), foot stomps or even motion fakes. The usual purpose of Securei is to distract your opponent so that you can apply a more effective technique.
Rei (Personal, formal conduct)
The term “rei’ has been translated in many different ways, but all of which lead to descriptions such as etiquette, manners, courtesy etc. Historically in Japan such etiquette have served in easing situations when meeting others or dealing with personal relationships. Respect and honour for others and ourselves prevents strife when dealing with interpersonal relationships.
Metsuke (power of piercing eyes)
There are two basic concepts of Metsuke (seeing) in Aikijujitsu. One is ‘all seeing’ which enables the Aikidoka (student of Aikijujitsu) the ability to see everything, including the intentions of his opponent. The other concept of metsuke is the power of the ‘piercing eyes’. This second form of sight is used to shock, control and overpower your opponent without physical force. It is the power of one’s will over another.
The concept of unbalancing your opponent has been a foundation concept of all Japanese martial theory. When you break the balance of your opponent, they are required to regain their balance – or submit to your attack or counter. At the moment when your opponent is attempting to regain their balance, you may apply the most effective controlling, striking, submission or other techniques with little force.
Kokyu refers to ‘breath’ or ‘breathing’. We generate physical power and movement more easily when exhaling, or in some cases when we stop our breath. Usually when delivering strikes to an opponent it is best to breath out while striking. Similarly, it is best to strike your opponent at the instant when they are breathing in. This relationship between your breathing and your opponents breathing represents the universal harmony concept of Yin and Yang.
When learning how to strike, the first thing that we focus on is the form. You must ask yourself if the striking surface, whether it is a fist or a finger, is in the right position to perform the strike. Then, is the power of the strike available? How are you positioning your elbow or knee before impact, is there power in the thrust and retraction, and so on. The final element to consider, and arguably the most important, is where you are striking. Are you striking the nose or the temple? What kind of strike is the most effective for each, given your current circumstance? Atemi is the art of striking effectively.