United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Gennankai


Message from the Head Instructor

Concerning the Use of “Ai” in the Word “Iai

Uesugi Hitoshi Gengou, 2009-10-28

Guest post: An Essay by Kyoto Pref. Branch Mgr. Uesugi Hitoshi (Gengō) Sensei, 2009/05/07

The meaning of “ai” is the action of blending with the enemy’s movement.

  1. With regard to Space (or Ma), in Jo-Ha-Kyu, this blending occurs up through the Jo-Ha stages. In the stages of Jo-Ha, the enemy moves as he likes and, in that sense, the enemy’s movements are confined by Katsujinken (the life-giving sword) not Satsujintō (the life-taking sword).

For the purpose of winning, in the Kyu stage the enemy’s movement is cut off. For example, in Inazuma the enemy’s movement is cut off at 2 percent, in Yokemi the enemy’s movement is cut off at 7 percent (in this case, the enemy’s sword begins to move, and has 10 percent until it reaches me. Movement begins at 1 percent, 2 percent…becoming 10 percent.)

  1. Concerning Strength and Speed (or Kyōjaku and Chisoku), there is also a blending with the enemy. In the case of strength and speed, if I am inferior to the enemy then he will gain vigor, I will fight against heavy odds and he will be able to cut me. However, if I am superior to the enemy, he will become frantic and I will be able to cut him, becoming like the man of strength at the forge.

  2. As for Turning (Marobashi in Shinkage Ryu), it is like the movement of a ball on a plank. Tilt the board and the ball will move, obeying the angle of the tilt and the direction of the tilt as well. Just like opening a Shoji, so that sunshine and moonlight can begin to enter a room, or just as ice becomes water when it melts, in those situations there is no hesitation whatsoever. In this manner, there is a blending with the enemy’s movement.

  3. The enemy’s heart being in my power: this is like Sakyamuni (Buddha) and his treasured descendants who looked at the activity of the sky and became enlightened. In Inazuma, the enemy intends to make the first move cutting downward from a high guard position but I, perceiving what is in the enemy’s heart, do not make the first move and have the advantage, being able to freely move as I please against the enemy.

Because there are these ways of thinking, it is possible for me to blend with the enemy’s movements.