Friday, 23 September 2011

Mu Mon Kai Discussion Group (MMKDG) - Session #1 Kokyu

To paraphrase Satake Mariko Sensei (Hanshi 8 Dan Kyudo).
"The more you train, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know"

This one fact, perhaps above all others, is what gives the martial arts such an unending appeal. Besides the external, visible movements, there are also many internal, physiological features and mental practices that add another dimension to Iaido and Kyudo theory.

Normally, 2nd dojo is where such theory discussions are held. Unfortunately our class time-slots are not favourable for this common practice. With that in mind, we decided to start a discussion group before class. 

An unedited log of our first meeting is documented below:

Date: Sunday, September 18 at noon in the Heritage Lounge at the JCCC.
Participants (3): M. Suen, P. Suen, K. Adams
Topic(s): Kokyu (Breathing)

We began the discussion with a review of Pages 60 & 105 of the "Japanese-English Dictionary of Kendo", which can be found at the FIK Online Store:

How does this affect our training? How can we use it?

    - Kata w/ one breath (difficult)
    - In Kendo, adjust to opponent and predict their movements with breath
    - Generate complete spirit and calm mindset

What are the different types of kokyu?

1. Chest
2. Abdomin -> Tanden

How can we relate this to physical activities we are used to?

1. Yoga 
2. Cardio

- Need Kokyu practice away from technical practice

Prior to start of training, mokuso can be used to arrange posture and breathing

Ex. from a Kyudo Blog - Switching from inhale to exhale, and vice versa, naturally through the use of air pressure in your body. Us the vacuum in your lungs to pull and inhale air, then reverse when the pressure outside is lower than inside.

Ex. Kyudo movements are aligned with breath. Even standing, sitting, walking, and turning.

Ex. Walking to refrigerator  => Need Iaido movements to become natural like this 
   - More thinking, doing slowly
   - Use own natural timing, don't think about timing
   - Start with walking in, then shomen rei, then sit down, then torei, all using breath control

Breath and stance are foundation
Ex. A kyudoka once said that at dozukuri (initial setting of stance), they already know that their shot would be good. That confidence comes from the understanding that your stance and breath gives you the necessary foundation for everything that comes after.

Ex. Like Mui Thai balance before a kick

So how can we relate this to movements in Iaido?

At Nukitsuke, maybe one is "looking for an opening" in your opponent, like in Kendo.
 - Are they panicking? (don't want you to attack = creates an opening)
 - Are they deciding? (decided they want to attack = you must act)

Need to be ready at all times to draw, not just at the Kyu stage of Jo-Ha-Kyu

----> What is this? = Tame = A hold or build-up? Getting the right timing.

So what are the possible interpretations of the Jo-Ha-Kyu?

Ex 1 - Johakyu = distance of draw to allow for natural body acceleration into the cut
Ex 2 - joHAkyu = using secondary pressure (the ha part after kyu) to force a reaction.
Ex 3 - joHAAAKKYU = Treat the Ha (Kai) as the full power point, the tame point. Using Jo (Hikiwake) to gain that natural acceleration, and kyu to be the release (Hanare)

What if Ki was already there? (breath control)  Saya-no-uchi-no-kachi. Win before the draw.


  1. How I visuallize jo-ha-kyu.
    The minute we start a kata, e.g going into seiza or iai goshi we are ready to start drawing.
    So this is the start of Jo phase. A state of constant readiness to draw in the face of a threat. There is no need to rush at this point, but we need to remain ready to cut the opponent down before they do that to us :b.

    Ha would start when we have started to draw, and harmonize ourselves with our opponent (ma and maai), this would naturally require speeding up as the opponent moves into action.
    We determine we have to cut, there's no turning back, this is the start of Kyu. Kyu occurs from releasing the built up power/speed for this cut.

    -A. S.

  2. Back to the original topic of Kokyu.
    "...adjust to opponent and predict their movements with breath"

    Just thinking how I behave according to my breathing. Prior to attacking I'll need to have taken a breath to exhale during the attack. So either this starts at the point where I've naturally inhaled, or I'll need to take a quick breath first.

    So there are openings when we switch from exhale to inhale or when we've just switched and haven't taken in much air yet.

    What do you guys think?
    Any chance of attacking while inhaling??