Martial Arts is More Than Punching and Kicking
Budo Shingikan Dojo Teaches MORE than Martial Arts
Awase is the essence of Waza & Ukemi. At the Budo Shingikan Dojo we do not teach a martial art, we teach a martial system. This, by its very nature, adds a layer of difficulty because our students are not learning a skill set, they are learning several skill sets. While sometimes this can offer frustration to the Budoka in its challenges, these exact challenges are what make Bushin Ryu Aiki Bujutsu so fun, and so rewarding.
Martial Arts Teaches You Principles
Bushin Ryu Aiki Bujutsu is unique in that we teach you to see and understand the universal principles (the big picture) behind them which are seen throughout the entire system. One of the main principles that you do not see in modern martial arts is the principle of Awase, which can also be called the principle of Aiki.
Awase literally means to “come together”. It is spiritual in nature meaning that, coming together, is the byproduct of connection and finding the balance energetically within all things.
It cannot be stressed enough that the principle of Awase should be the goal every day in our training. It is far more important than the physical Waza in and of itself. Awase is to merge into an opponent’s attacking movement thereby taking control.
During the initial engagement, the defender is attempting to maintain a perfect balance and perfect stance, whereas the technique is designed to destroy the balance and stance of the attacker. The attacker is thereby brought under control as a byproduct of connecting to something that is structured so well.
Connecting with the Attacker
In regards to connection, it was often said that your martial abilities have a component of using an attacker’s own power against them. Although this is not necessarily wrong, it is by far an extremely remedial view of connection. Awase is much more dynamic and layered. The Budoka is using their body movement (both internal and external movements) to merge into the attacker’s sphere of influence.
By entering in, and joining with a would-be attackers energy, coupled with understanding the physics and leverage of physical Waza, you gain a disproportionate. The advantage of understanding Awase eliminates the advantage of mere physical power, youth, or that of simply understanding physical Waza.
These advantages become irrelevant because Awase steals the balance, structure, and physical advantages that most people rely upon for victory. If the stronger warrior only uses this one thing as the advantage, what good is it if they simply cannot bring their power to bear?
Don’t Meet the Power Head On
As an analogy to Awase, consider the ways to stop a train coming down the tracks. Standing on the tracks and trying to stop the train by physically overpowering it is not expected to work. However, running next to the train, jumping aboard, moving to the engineer’s compartment, overcoming the engineer, and applying the brakes will produce the desired result of stopping the train.
This is comparable to Awase in that no attempt is made to directly oppose power, but control is gained by merging into the power and disabling it. It also is a good analogy in terms of the fact that performing and understanding all these steps is challenging and takes a lot of hard work and dedication to understand and pull off appropriately.
All of Bushin Ryu is based on understanding these principles from the very beginning. We start this training by understanding that we all possess the “fighting mind”. Once we are no longer in denial of this fact we can then work on understanding what the fighting mind is and how it affects our actions in all aspects of life.
Once we understand the fighting mind we can then and only then have a say in choosing another reference point to work from.
Gaining Control Over the Attacker
This is done in all aspects of life but is highlighted physically when we see the technique in which Nage connects with and redirects the attack in order to “own” the line of attack. Another would be that of simply moving off the line of attack. In any case, the job of Nage is revolving around the point of conflict and is never opposing it directly.
Many people in the Japanese martial arts use the term, “blending with an opponent’s power”. I would rather use these words, “merging, joining, and or connecting into an opponent’s power”. I personally think that the concept of “blending” is non-descriptive and deceptively passive. “Blending” conjures up an image of tossing vegetables, fruits, etc. into a juicer/blender and turning on the switch.
After a while, the blender produces a homogeneous mass in which the individual ingredients are indistinguishable from each other. Blending would result in both people ending up in the same situation and being indistinguishable from each other. This is not what happens when applying Awase.
When Awase is applied properly it is a dynamic act resulting in the defender gaining control over the attacker and being clearly distinguished therefrom and in a place of superiority over the Tori.
The understanding of both concepts: Awase and Musubi (also Ki-Musubi) are practiced and learned on both sides of training but I personally feel an equal if not greater understanding can be learned from the act of taking Ukemi. Your Ukemi skills will never truly be adequate until you have a proficient level of mastery over Awase.
What Makes Bushin Ryu So Unique
My recommendation to those who want to be a truly great Budoka is this, the practitioner of Bushin Ryu practices more Ukemi than technique in the first several years of training (the first 5 years especially). It is always the more difficult pursuit so Deshi (students) usually wish to “pace themselves”.
However, understand that if you have found an escape to not being the best Uke possible you are fooling yourself and missing out on the greatest opportunity available to study Bushin Ryu. To survive your Ukemi is not enough; your Ukemi should be flawless, and you should accept nothing less than that from yourself.
Bushin Ryu Aiki Bujutsu is unique among other Aiki and Non-Aiki related martial arts. The actual application of Awase can be extremely subtle and takes considerable training to understand and apply fully, but that is one of the things that make Bushin Ryu so fascinating to learn.
Come train with us! We’d love to have you.