Posted by: Eddie deGuzman | July 14, 2009


The last few years I’ve been contemplating similarities between tai chi and aikido.  There’s been an on-going discussion for a few years now over at aikiweb on internal strength and what the underlying principles of aikido are.    And people have stated that aikido lacking these principles is not quite true aikido.  I followed the thread for some time, but there was a lot of negativity and personal attacks so I lost interest.

But I did learn a few things.  One thing I was introduced to was the idea of internal strength or rather that Chinese martial arts have terminology and descriptions of things we do in my aikido dojo that I never knew a word for.  This very much intrigued me.  I learned aikido for 10 years in the U.S. but found it lacking when I came to Japan.  So I started again in Japan but didn’t speak Japanese.  Now that I do, I still find that there are no names for many of the things that we do and there is no stepwise progression to the learning process.  It’s very much a holistic experience.

I was reading up on tai chi and I found a very interesting article by Tim Cartmell on Chinese internal martial arts outlining a method of study.

1.  Moving as a single unit, connected.

2.  Learn different postures, body positions.

3.  Learn how to transition between two postures.

Furthermore, he described 5 movements that lead to issuing power;  splitting, crushing, drilling, pounding and crossing.Then these 5 movements lead to the 12 animal forms.

I have no idea what the animal forms are because I don’t study tai chi.  But I find so much familiar in descriptions of tai chi in the areas of balance, posture breathing and movement.  Also, the ideas for generating power feel very familiar to me.  What’s interesting to me is that there are 5 specific ways to generate power, or perhaps it’s five different kinds of power.  I’m not really sure.  And I can only relate to some of what I read.  To me this means that there may be areas of power generation I don’t know yet or don’t know well enough to be able to discern variations .

For example, there are many people who have said that in aikido one only receives an attack, blends with it then leads the attacker into a throw, lock or pin.  And that anything else is not aikido.  I can think of a techniques we do in my dojo where we move straight ahead and into the attacker.  Immediately I thought of these when I read the description for Crushing(Wood) or issuing power straight forward.   So, if this IS  the same type of power that I’m practicing now, I wonder how many people don’t know of it and also what other ways of generating power I don’t know. 

Every higher ranking yudansha (5th-8th) at my dojo moves differently and has favorite techniques.  Could it be that they are generating power differently and don’t know it? And could this be why it is difficult to do certain techniques on certain people?

Both tai chi and aikido have the quality of trying not to use physical strength to deal with attackers.  So, I’m curious as to whether the basics to tai chi should also be taught in aikido, moreover, what are those basics to begin with.  Maybe I should start taking tai chi.  Or start practicing TaiKido. 🙂


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