Kobayashi Hirokazu's Aikido Research
Kobayashi Hirokazu was born on February 14th,1929 in Osaka and he passed away on August 28th, 1998.
At an early age, he practiced Karate, and kendo. After the war, in 1946, he was introduced, by his Karate teacher, to Morihei Ueshiba. He studied for 9 years under his guidance. That same year, Saito Morihiro started his studies with Morihei Ueshiba as well. Both students studied Kendo, but their interpretation of Aiki ken and Aiki Jo appears to be different. Their Aikido is also different and their studies seem to have emphasized different aspects of the art.
Kobayashi Hirokazu did not train everyday with O’Sensei because he spent most of his time in Tokyo. When he relocated to his native city, Osaka, the Aikikai organization assigned him the responsibilities of the Aikido club of the University of St. Andrews (Momoyama University) in Izumi City and he was promoted to chief Aikido Instructor.
What is his style?
It is said that Aikido comes from the sword and many sword principles can be observed in his style.
Based on Kimura Jiro, student of Kobayashi sensei, he used Kendo footwork such as:
1. Suri-Ashi (a sliding movement): it makes it smoother if the heels are slightly up.
2. Okuri-Ashi: Front foot forward followed by the back foot and then backward back foot first and front foot second.
3. Tsugi-Ashi: Bringing back foot forward close to the front foot and then lauch the front foot forward.
As we learn how to use the same footwork in Aikido, it helps to develop a certain freedom in our movements. Moriteru Ueshiba, the current Doshu always emphasize on the importance of Taisabaki.
Aikido is not static, it is dynamic. Those different footwork helps us during irimi (forward movement and entering) and Tsuridasu (direct translation to lure the fish, to draw in).
Those horizontal movements create stress, confusion, and a physical imbalance, called in Japanese: Kuzushi, an important step to make any technique effective.
Some aikidokas focus more on the vertical movements but Kobayashi Hirokazu’s work focuses on the horizontal and the vertical movements.
Meguri: sudden and precise hand change movement during an attack. This action has to be quick and precise to confuse the attacker. The attacker sees one configuration, but it changes, and it creates a mental imbalance which translates into a physical imbalance.
Space and timing are two concepts that are particularly important to study. It helps to study AikiKen and AikiJo to better understand those principles.
The most important principle to develop comes from Takuan Soho:" No attachment, and the mind needs to be free. We cannot focus our thoughts on the attack or on our response. We must be free. Our eyes cannot be fixed on the attacker or on ourselves. Each movement must be spontaneous and correct".
I hope that my research will guide me to better understand Aikido and the founder's way. As generations have gone by we are further distancing ourselves from the source. It is essential to evolve but it is also important to know where we come from.