New Video: Akuzawa Minoru’s Aunkai Bujutsu
The term “internal training” (or “internal power”) has become more and more fashionable during the past few years within Aikido circles, especially those who regularly visit fora and other online resources. Based on my personal experience (admittedly partial), I tend to think that there is often little more behind those terms than an intent to repackage and re-brand things that have been taught for years, but into a more fashionable way. Same setup, same tricks, and same over compliance of uke.
This particular view was further reaffirmed when I started interviewing or studying under prominent Japanese teachers (including some direct students of O Sensei), who usually either do not know, or completely misunderstand the meaning that we usually acribe to the term, regardless how I phrase the question. Of course, this does not mean that there aren’t deeper things to learn, but like in my study of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the outside form and the core are never separated. These days, I still do ask the question whenever I get to talk to a Master, but I have come to know what to expect the answer will be. Recently however, I have met someone who could not only put words on what this internal business means, but more importantly, actually demonstrate it, with minimum pre-arrangement of the opponent. This person is Akuzawa Minoru, the founder of a rather recent system called Aunkai Bujutsu.
I have been aware of Akuzawa Sensei for over 10 years and I knew that he was teaching in Tokyo. Yet, I refrained from going to see him. As I have often explained, my goal is to focus my study upon arts that have a clear historical link with the Takeda Sokaku/Ueshiba Morihei lineage. Also, while I could see some definite power in the many videos that exists of Akuzawa Sensei online, I was unsure about his ability to teach those skills, and more significantly, about my own ability to learn them.
Recently however, I was planing to meet an advanced practitioner of the Hokkaido branch of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in the hope of echanging ideas and information. I was hoping that he could shed some light onto some questions I had in my own study of the Kansai/Shikoku branch of the art. When we met however, he almost apologetically explained to me that he had more or less stopped training in Daito-ryu and instead, decided to focus his practice on what Akuzawa was teaching. He explained to me in rational terms in which way he felt that this new discipline was filing some gaps that existed within his own practice. He also told me that Akuzawa did actually study some Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, and that some of it constitute what he does today. My friend offered me to accompany him to a class and I finally decided to go see for myself what Aunkai was about.
Akuzawa Minoru and Guillaume Erard checking technical footage
I won’t go into details regarding the content of the class but I must admit that I was very impressed by Akuzawa’s displays of power. He weighs around 60 kilos and I am close to 90, and I also know many of the tricks (physical and psychological) that many teachers usually use to get people to move during exercises such as Aiki Age, Aiki Sage, etc. Akuzawa, even though he did expect particular conditions to demonstrate something, did not use any of those tricks that I was used to. Instead, he displayed an substantial amount of power, focused on one point, and with minimal take off signs. In many ways, I could see what spiked my friend’s interest as Akuzawa Sensei’s explanations took questions that we are often trying to address in Aiki arts, but from a different, less formal angle. After the class, I decided to ask Akuzawa Sensei if he would be interested to do an interview and he kindly accepted. I the spent the next couple of months meeting him very regularly, spending several hours training and talking about what he does. This video is the essence of what I experienced during that time.
Seido Co. Ltd kindly provided their Dojo for some of the shoot.