AIKIDO’S KOSHINAGE

I share mat space with a Kodenkan Jiu Jitsu school.  The other day, I had an opportunity to watch some of their advanced practice.  To my uninformed eye, it was a lot of Judo type throws followed with submission locks and chokes.  My main interest was their nage waza.  Most of it was based on ogoshi, the common Judo hip throw.  It was funny because I have been pondering exactly how Aikido came to use the hip throw as we have it, since it is distinctly different from the hip throw in other arts.  On one of their scrolls from their mokuroku, they have a technique called Kin Katsugi.  This is one of their advanced techniques.  Imagine my surprise when it was simply jodan tsuki koshinage as we have it in Aikido.  This really got my brain running.  After watching the class, I asked the instructor where they got that technique from.  I showed him some pictures of the Aikido koshinage, to inform him that this was in fact our “standard” koshinage.  He looked at me plainly, and said: “We get that technique from Aikido.”  I giggled on the inside at this.  It’s a known fact that Professor Okazaki studied many martial arts and compiled the best of what he found to create Kodenkan Jiu Jitsu.  So I wasn’t suprised to hear this, but, it didn’t give me any ideas about where Aikido’s Koshinage came from.

Recently, on Aikido Journal, they featured an article on koshinage written by Stefan Stenudd.  This was right on time for me.  Some of the ideas in the article struck me in a weird way, and it gave me a jumping point to think about koshinage.  I put his ideas against what I was first taught as proper koshinage, what I learned about koshinage from a Sensei Stephanie Yap seminar, and my own current practice, which is the Iwama “style” koshinage.  The Iwama koshinage is what I saw at the Kodenkan school.  I should summarize the points I want to make about the Iwama koshinage as I practice it:

  • Koshinage is a technique designed for multiple attackers
  • Koshinage form the base for the majority of kokyunage, in that nearly koshinage can be done as kokyunage
  • Koshinage is a basic technique, but the ukemi for it is the most basic breakfall, due to uke’s body being so close to nage’s

This is in contrast to the way I first learned koshinage, which is pretty much the one that Stenudd writes about.  I now view that version as a “popping” or “springing” variant of the Iwama koshinage, which I hold to be the “proper” koshinage.  It is very similar to the Judo or Ju/Jiu Jutsu version of koshinage, the way the feet come together before the throw, and the way they withdraw as uke clears nage’s hip.  There are several photos in Budo of O’Sensei performing koshinage as Iwama has it.  Stenudd sites that there are no video of this.  I think this is for two reasons.  First, we all know that O’Sensei wasn’t into giving too much away on video.  Secondly, it is understood that Iwama was really where he gave codified, organized instruction.  With those ideas in mind, it makes sense that you don’t see a lot of video of O’Sensei doing most of the things that he taught in Iwama.  Ellis Amdur provided a link to a post on AikiWeb by John Driscoll that discussed the origin of Aikido’s koshinage, as it is very different from most Ju/Jiu Jutsu koshinage.  Most interesting in that to me is this:

Some may challenge the length and depth of O’Sensei’s training in Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu and the validity of O’Sensei’s certificate. The Ueshiba family possesses a rank certificate issued to O’Sensei by Yagyu Shingan-ryu, which lacks a seal, raising a question regarding its validity. The Ueshiba certificate does bear the names, which one would expect on a valid Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu certificate, and there is independent testimony and documentation that O’Sensei studied the art during the five-years that he was in the Japanese military.

While the actual amount of O’Sensei’s instruction and training in Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu is uncertain, presuming O’Sensei attended training at least once each month, it is reasonable to believe he was sufficiently exposed to the techniques of Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu to have assimilated the first set of five kata, which includes Kinukatsugi.

While I believe, Kinukatsugi is the form from which O’Sensei acquired his Koshi Nage; I think the connection is of greater importance for several reasons.

First, it establishes a tangible, technical link between O’Sensei’s art, Aikido, and Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu.

So here we are again, with reference to Kin/Kinu Katsugi.  It begs the question of whether this Kodenkan technique, by the same name, came from Aikido at some point, or Yagyu Shingan Ryu.

That’s all I have for now.  In the meantime, keep koshi-ing.

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2 Responses to AIKIDO’S KOSHINAGE

  1. Alejandro Villanueva says:

    Thanks for the extra information (and expansion) of John Driscoll’s article. That’s an interesting connection between Kodenkan and Aikido (or Yagyu Shingan Ryu)…

    With your permission I will quote you from my blog.

    Best!

  2. autrelle says:

    Go right ahead – thanks for checking it out!

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