A Japanese internal energy-based martial art. Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba in the 1930s from a unique blend of Daito Ryu aikijitsu (a form of jujitsu), sword techniques, and the teachings of a mystical Shinto-like religion that included mantra and sound work called the Kototama. Aikido incorporates certain realizations encountered by Ueshiba during his journey towards his own spiritual enlightenment, and (as hypothesized by Bruce Frantzis) bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang) and other qigong (chi gung/chi kung) methods learned by Ueshiba during his time in China.

Aikido embraces a spiritual base, though it doesn’t incorporate in solo form movements or two-person sparring exercises. While Aikido does have sitting practices, they are primarily used to develop the chi of the central nervous system for physical and psychic power, and are not for transforming inner consciousness and awareness. Aikido places great emphasis philosophically on resolving conflict through relaxation, love and harmony.

Aikido practitioners who are already seriously interested in ki (chi/qi) work would especially benefit from the upgrades of neigong (nei gung/nei kung) and qigong’s (chi gung’s/chi kung’s) highly systematic internal energy chi (qi/ki) training, especially in the area of health. Neigong (nei gung/nei kung) can extend the physical prowess of external martial artists, possibly for decades, spark their creativity and compensate for any boredom they might experience with their style. Rou Shou can also be of great value to aikido practitioners who wish to increase their chi and aikido skills in ways both subtle and gross.

Morihei Ueshiba: Where Did He Get His Power?
I studied with O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido, during my undergraduate days in Japan. My research has indicated that O-Sensei’s aikido was in a primary way directly influenced by bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang). My first in-depth, extended experience with a top-level master of internal martial arts was with Ueshiba between 1967 and 1969. Looking back on my training with him, it is obvious to me that much of what Ueshiba’s aikido had in terms of the physical techniques came from jujitsu.

However, the chi (qi/ki) he manifested when practicing aikido appears to have come directly from bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang) with some partial influence from hsing-i (xing yi quan/shing yi). I saw people in Japan in the late 1960’s who were very skilled at the type of Daito Ryu aikijitsu, a form of jujitsu, upon which Ueshiba based his aikido. But none of them was able to manipulate chi (qi/ki) as subtly or powerfully as Ueshiba or even to articulate the theories of ki (chi/qi) basic to aikido and bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang).

Actually, Ueshiba was far beyond aikijitsu’s level of sophistication. His ability to enter, turn, attract and then play with and lead an opponent’s chi (qi/ki) and mind was phenomenal. In Japanese history, there was no martial art to compare to it, and no one else in Japan could do anything like it. In his dojo, I often heard that he spent many years in China and only afterwards returned to Japan with this miraculous chi-based aikido ability.

It is my opinion, based upon personal memories of him and my technical analysis of his films twenty-five years after his death, that it is completely reasonable to assume Ueshiba studied bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang) while he was in China. The entering, turning and leading of one’s opponent, as well as the hundreds of subtle energy projections of aikido, are fundamental bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang) techniques that existed long before Ueshiba’s birth. Because of this, I believe that Ueshiba learned bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang) while he was in Manchuria, China. Before and just after World War II, it would have been extremely politically incorrect and counterproductive for Ueshiba’s organization to have credited the Chinese with part of his “new” martial art given the chauvinistic military and nationalistic bent of Japan in that era.

Ueshiba had great internal power. When I was with Ueshiba, he was in his eighties and of small stature, yet incredibly strong. When he was old and near the end of his life, his students would carry him into the dojo on a stretcher. He looked extremely weak and frail. However, he would suddenly gather his chi, stand up and toss exceptionally strong men around like rag dolls. Afterward, he would return to the stretcher and resume being a sick old man.

With Ueshiba you began to expect the paranormal. I still vividly remember that he could get behind you so quickly it was as if he had disappeared. The same is true of top bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang) practitioners. You could have Ueshiba clearly in your sight, and suddenly he was gone. Then, with equal suddenness, he was back. Ueshiba would then fake a hit and then joint-lock and/or throw you to the ground.

In watching films of the late master, one can see Ueshiba clearly demonstrating many of the chi principles of bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang). These chi principles are referred to in the vaguest of terms in aikido when they are spoken about at all, which is rare. I believe that lovers of aikido will find it both interesting and beneficial to explore bagua zhang (ba gua chang/pakua chang) and qigong (chi gung/chi kung) in order to gain practical insights into what O-Sensei Ueshiba taught.

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This extraordinary book, written by one of the West's greatest living masters, offers nothing less than a course in the miracle of your own energy field. Bruce Frantzis has translated ancient Taoist practices into a modern program that manages to be both highly accessible and transformational, affording us all the opportunity to experience the wonder of the Tao firsthand.

Lynne McTaggart