Aiki Toho Iaido: Module 3 Lesson 6
Variations of Tsukaosae and Gyakuhanmi Nikyo
Koji Yoshida Sensei developed this variation on tsuka osae because in aikido we actually move alongside of our opponent when we apply nikyo, rather than facing them straight on.
There are other Aiki Toho forms of gyakuhanmi nikyo as well. Aiki Toho Iaido has a range of forms that go from effectively cutting down the opponent up through forms which express the ethical and philosophical vision of aikido without cutting the opponent. The basic level expression of nikyo here simply cuts the opponent down. This would be considered satsujinken (殺人剣) or a killing sword. Then we transition to an intermediate form where finish to the side of the opponent and apply a more measured response to bring the situation under control. The highest level is katsujinken (活人剣) the life sparing sword. There’s a feeling of safely guiding the opponent’s actions without blocking or resisting. Sometimes this means stopping the sword a hairs breadth from finishing the cut. Sometimes it involves cutting in the empty space between ourselves and our opponent rather than cutting the opponent. Sometimes we place our hand on the back of our sword and use it to guide the opponent. This level of expression describes a path for individuals and society toward compassion, mutual acceptance and peaceful coexistence.
What is the purpose of a technique like nikyo, or any aikido technique for that matter? Is it to hurt or punish the opponent into compliance? At a basic level the sword is designed to cut down an opponent and finish them. Similarly, our aikido is based on atemi, striking down the opponent and finishing them. So the real reason for our aikido techniques is to prevent us from having to do this kind of thing. They allow us a way to mitigate what might otherwise be a lethal situation. We should use our techniques as a way to instill in ourselves the spirit of acceptance and forgiveness, ridding ourselves of the desire to defeat others or to cause harm. When people use aikido techniques to injure or punish they are not understanding the purpose of this practice. I don’t think you can really call that aikido. You should always try to apply techniques in a way that protects your opponent and allows them to continue without injury. That is aikido.