As discussed in part 1, the Triangle and the Circle are two aspects of spiral movement, the underlying form of nature and also of Aikido. As the triangle represents the basic principle of Aikido, the circle represents the world of form. It is "Totality," the beginning of polarity, movement, and all manifest form.
Its perfect shape gives it more dynamic power than any other form. We may divide the world into feeling and form. Feeling is ki and although it creates form, it represents the invisible world. The world of movement, and form, begins with expansion in all directions, a perfect circle.
The motive power (Hataraki) of this expansion is Intent (Yi). Standing at the absolute center of all things, it is the link between the will to move and the manifestation of that action. It creates Ha, opening forcefully, Ta, the power of contrast, and Ra, spiral form opening. In the teachings of the founder we find, “Before, during, and after the technique, open in the six directions.”
Expanding (A) from our physical center (I), we manifest AI, the perfect harmony of Yin and Yang. In Japanese Shinto this is represented by the symbol for Su, the creative power of nature. It is a circle with an inverted checkmark at its center. The circle represents “Heaven,” the infinite universe. The checkmark is Intent, the first movement of mind.
The spirit of Aikido is direct, (Irimi), yet the form is circular. A circle creates a straight line, which is actually a still larger circle. This is the interchange of fire (E) and water (I) ki. In Shinto it is said, “Fire moves and water is moved.” In other words, the mind (Intent) moves the body. Without developing strong intent we cannot speak of ki or internal power.
The circular form and movement of Aikido keeps your partner outside of your sphere of influence. The founder said, “If I can lead my partner out of his sphere of influence, he will be easily thrown.” When your partner attacks, it is like he is trying to hold onto a large ball that is both expanding and rotating. There is no collision of force, yet he is immediately displaced or unbalanced.
In the teaching of Ueshiba Morihei we find, “Perform the technique (Tai Sabaki) in the sign of the circle.” This means that the entire technique should be accomplished with Tenkan, the changing of our hanmi, or even the simple rotation of our torso from one side to the other. This turning (Fire) is accompanied by rising and descending (Water) ki on the right and left sides of our body.
Finally, the unique form of Aikido technique depends of the arc of the arms. Although the upper and lower arms are straight lines, they must move as circles. This is subtle and difficult to discover; it needs to be passed down from teacher to student. The arc of the arms is called Enkatsu. En is a circle and Katsu means to smooth things out and eliminate difficulty. Although many Aikido techniques come from older arts, the circular and flowing form of Aikido is unique to barehanded training.
People often try to create spiral form in their technique, yet there should be no attempt to create any kind of form. Rather move your own body according to the principle of Aiki, or yin and yang, and the correct form will be discovered. This is the meaning of Tai Sabaki, or “Judgment in motion.”