V8.01, April 10th, 2010




(And How To Develop Them)

Andrew Yiannakis, Ph.D.
Founder and Soke of Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu
8th Dan Jujutsu (USJJF)
6th Dan Judo (USJJF)

Copyright © 2010 by Andrew Yiannakis

Most traditional martial arts recognize the existence of two categories of power. First we have an (i) "external game" (about external sources of power) which speaks to such areas as physical strength, speed, application of effective technique and good leverage, physical endurance, skill development, fighting strategies, and the like. Second, there is an (ii) "internal game" (about internal sources of power) which speaks to the development of Kiai and Ki Power, the development of the will (Shin), the use of combined mind-body action (Centered Action), the use of multiple offensive and defensive initiatives (e.g., Aki Jo with Shuchu Ryoku), and, ultimately, the harmonizing and projecting of all available sources of power as in Shuchu Ryoku. External sources of power can be developed fairly quickly, with relative ease, although they require hard work, dedication and persistence. Most coaches of competitive sports (e.g., judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling) focus their attention on this area and the development of a strong external game is what characterizes and differentiates them from traditional martial arts. Putting it another way, competitive sports focus primarily on the development of external sources of power. This is hardly surprising given that an athlete's competitive career is a relatively short one and there is so little time to attempt to develop internal sources of power. In some sports, where competitive longevity tends to be longer, as in golf or tennis, we see evidence of efforts by athletes, with the support of their coaches and sport psychologists, to attempt to develop their inner game. It is not unusual to see top level athletes attempting to engage in meditation, visualization and stress management practices to help them improve their exernal game. But, that's as far as it goes. The internal game in sports seems to be an add-on, an extra that one includes in their training regimen if time permits, if an athlete is likely to stick around long enough and if a coach is aware that an inner game actually exists or is even necessary. In traditional martial arts, however, the inner game is our main goal and the development of inner sources of power becomes the primary focus of our training. In fact, without the inner game we cannot say that we are practicing a traditional martial art.

In Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu we recognize the existence of ten possible sources of power generation. Some focus on external but most stress the development of internal sources of power.
These are:

(I) Chikara/Riki: Use of physical strength. As one improves in skill, and in the ability to use the other sources of power (see below) this source becomes less important

(II) Kiai: Application of breath power (rudimentary efforts to harmonize Ki and generate power)

(III) Tekosayo (Leverage): Based on the use of effective mechanical principles that enhance the execution of technique through superior efficiency of effort

(IV) Hayasa (Speed): Controlled application of speed as a generating source of power

(V) Aiki Jo: Principles of joining (and re-directing) one's movement pattern(s) and energy with the attacker's

(VI) Renraku Jo: Employing the principles of action and reaction; these reflect varying degrees of deception (damashi)

(VII) Shin: The power of the mind, the will, the heart. Also interpreted as determination, assertiveness, power of the will or persistence; a no quit mindset. The development of a strong Shin may be used to control and intimidate an assailant by projecting one's strength of will onto the assailant

(VIII) Use of Centered Action: Generating force by initiating action from the Center

(IX) Ki: Effective projection of one's life force/vital energy which, with proper training, may be focused and directed

(X) Shuchu Ryoku (focused power): The harnessing/focusing of all above sources of power.


Each source of power may be developed with proper training, meditation, a proper diet, perseverance, and a lot of hard work, under the supervision of a knowledgeable sensei. And it goes without saying that drugs, excessive drinking, smoking and inadequate sleep interfere with the development of such powers.

The above sources of power are listed in some order that reflects, in broad strokes, both the difficulty level as well as the length of time it takes to tap into and activate them. Progress is a function of many factors but from experience we see evidence of varying degrees of competence beginning to emerge within four to six years for the first six sources of power as listed above.

The activation and use of Shin (determination, assertiveness, a no quit attitude, the power of the will to dominate an opponent) and use of Centered Action are more difficult to attain and may take up to ten years to begin to see effective results.

The effective use of Ki and the focused and harmonized application (Shuchu Ryoku) of all the previously mentioned sources of power may take a lifetime to attain (so our masters tell us) although the jujutsuka may well begin to become aware of "flashes of intermittent power" after about thirty or forty years, or so, of diligent application, dedication and practice.


The Activation and Development of Power in Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu

These are listed in order of difficulty to develop.

(i) Chikara/Riki

(physical strength/power)

This the easiest of all sources of power to develop. In jujutsu we use two types of power; dynamic and explosive power. Dynamic power may be developed through calisthenics such as push-ups, or doing bench presses, leg squats and the like with weights. Explosive power requires the addition of explosive speed that helps engage the fast-twitch muscles of the body and enables the jujutsuka to apply technique very fast and with power. There are three major ways of training to develop explosive power. We begin with Olympic style lifting (e.g., snatch, clean and jerk, etc.) with adequate weights that demand both speed and strength to move. The use of plyometrics is also a very effective way to develop explosive power, especially in the legs. After laying such a foundation we continue our training with punching bags (among other equipment) where we train ourselves to strike and kick both with speed and force. The object is to attempt to demolish the bag. When practicing with such equipment the use of good Centered Action to add optimal effectiveness to our kicks and strikes is extremely important.

(ii) Kiai (breath power - harmonizing the vital energy)

Kiai is typically associated with the "yell" that most martial artists employ during the exertion phase of a technique; that is, when kicking, striking, throwing or taking a fall. The Kiai is intended to harmonize our vital energy and help project it. However, at this rudimentary level the best that students can hope for is generating a low frequency sound from their hara, as opposed to the throat, that helps firm up the abdomen and the upper body and assists jujutsuka to execute technique more effectively. The Kiai also helps expel air from the lungs and abdomen which may also help prevent injury to one's own chest cavity and groin. A strong Kiai may also help frighten or confuse an assailant!

To develop a strong and effective Kiai instructors must stress to students the need to apply a Kiai every time they strike, kick or attempt to throw until the act becomes second nature to them. Breathing exercises can assist the process and so are certain weight lifting exercises that help open up the chest cavity. One exercise (pullovers) which I find especially useful is to lie on my back, on a bench, reach over the top down to the floor with both hands and lift a dumbbell, or a small bar loaded with weights, up and over my head, until my arms are extended directly above the chest. This should be done in sets of three or four, each set comprising twelve to fifteen repetitions. The weight should be gradually increased as the activity becomes easier.

In addition, lifting heavy weights using a pyramid system actually "forces" students to exhale vigorously and this teaches them the importance of adding breath power to their bench press or squat, for without it pushing heavy weights can be a daunting task. In fact, if we observe the behavior of animals (e.g., a cat jumping from the floor up to a kitchen counter) we find that they actually employ a type of Kiai naturally.

Finally, a relatively large chest cavity can store more air and this capacity enables the jujutsuka to forcefully expel it, from the Center, resulting in the generation of more power in the execution of technique. People with small chests and low lung capacity (in relation to their height and weight) are rarely able to generate optimal breath power and their Kiai tends to be less effective. The upside is that this condition (small chest cavity and low lung air capacity) may be remedied relatively easily with appropriate forms of exercise. And, it is not necessary to look like a body builder to achieve this because the concept actually refers to chest size in relation to height and weight. In fact, the development of a large musculature, as body builders are wont to do, may be detrimental in the martial arts. However, improvement in the size of the chest cavity and lung capacity can contribute to the development of increased breath power.

Thus, the combination of a relatively large chest, a large lung air capacity and the proper application of Kiai from the hara are to be seen as among several preconditions to the development of power source #9, Ki Power.

(iii) Tekosayo: Use of Leverage To Increase Power

Leverage speaks to the effective application of mechanical principles that enhance the execution of technique through superior efficiency of effort. It is a well known fact that with proper leverage one is able to move a considerable amount of weight in situations that involve throwing, joint locking and strangling/choking techniques. Good leverage helps multiply the amount of force that we can generate even when an opponent is putting up a considerable amount of resistance.

To achieve effective leverage when throwing Tori must first break an opponent's balance and then position himself/herself below Uke's center of gravity in such a manner that Uke may be moved or placed in a position of weakness. In both judo and jujutsu this requires a considerable amount of repetition training (uchikomi) which may then be followed up with sute geiko (a form of continuous training in which partners take turns executing technique on each other). Initially such training must be done slowly, and with no strength, until the student begins to "sense" what leverage and overbalancing feel like. Once the "secrets" of good leverage are understood and felt the student must then focus on taking his or her partner to the breaking point (rikiten) before actually executing technique. The combination of good off balancing (kuzushi), effective positioning (tsukuri) for good leverage, and taking Uke through to rikiten before executing technique are essential in being able to generate maximum power. It should be noted that in the absence of good leverage, technique execution is undermined and the thrower (Tori) must then resort to brute strength; a solution that is less than satisfactory and which also hinders future technique development.

(iv) Hayasa: Speed as a Generating Source of Power

The controlled application of speed as a generating source of power requires considerable training to achieve maximum effectiveness and to avoid injuring yourself and/or your partner. Therefore, raw, uncontrolled speed should not be the goal of training. Instead, such training should be preceded by the development of good technique. Good technique is developed slowly, over time, and requires the development of both accuracy and control. Therefore, you must practice your techniques slowly at first, with good control and accuracy before you begin to introduce speed. For example, after practicing your technique one thousand times slowly, and with control, then you can begin to gradually introduce speed.

Power derived from speed is a function of mass times acceleration times velocity. Or to be more precise power is a function of half the mass times velocity squared, divided by time. The more mass you possess, therefore, and the faster you can move it through space, the more power you are able to generate. Also, at this stage of your training you should make more and more use of your Center, and your body as a whole, both of which add to your ability to generate power. Train to combine these with effective and controlled speed and your power will increase significantly.

(v) Aiki Jo/Renzoku Jo: Principles of Joining

(and re-directing) an attacker's movement pattern(s) and energy.

The ability to apply joining principles is a function of several factors. Clearly, you must improve the quality of the way you move. Train yourself to move with fluency, coordination and grace. Also, you will need to develop your ability to read your opponent (metsuke) and determine his/her intent. Also, you will need to develop your ability to estimate distance between you and your opponent. Fortunately, there are many exercises and techniques that help combine all these principles. However, to get to that stage you must first practice moving from your Center, focusing on changing direction and remaining fluid and controlled. Taisabaki exercises are very good for beginners. Practicing with the sword is a more advanced but very useful way of training and, finally, training with a partner by responding to such techniques as irimi nage, shiho nage, ippon seoinage, and the like, will increase your ability to join the attacker's movement pattern and redirect it in the form of a throw, joint lock or strike/kick.

In joining techniques power is multiplied by overlaying your own movement pattern (your energy) and adding it to the direction your partner is moving in (on his/her energy), thus doubling the effect of your technique. Therefore, practice such techniques continuously for hundreds of times until you are able to "see" your partner's attack even before it begins and are then able to join it seamlessly every time.


(vi) Renraku Jo: Principles for Executing Combinations

Renraku Jo employs the principles of action and reaction in order to catch the opponent off balance. This is a movement pattern that you initiate and may involve pushing, pulling, or moving in a semi circle in order to catch the opponent when they react to your initiative. Such initiatives may also involve a strike to the face which is then followed with a kick to the groin, and so on.

The underlying principle in Renraku Jo is deception (damashi). You must train yourself therefore to execute a convincing first attack, to which the opponent reacts to, which you then follow up with your "real technique".

Our Attack Combinations (Kogeki Jo) are a good way to train yourself in developing effective strikes and kick combinations; in close quarter fighting such techniques as ko uchi gari to ippon seoinage, ouchi gari to ko ouchi gari and tsurikomi ashi to osoto gari, among many others, are effective ways to train for Attack Combinations. Finally, since Attack Combinations are based on deception you must also train yourself to use your "body language" and facial expressions effectively so that they match the techniques you employ.

Typically, we develop effective combinations first and, when we are comfortable with the combinations themselves, we begin to focus on deceptive body language (e.g., moving your hips, legs, arms or shoulders in ways that help distract the opponent). Facial expressions may also be included in this strategy. Keep in mind that if your combination techniques are weak the use of other forms of deception will be undermined. So, develop effective combination techniques first by practicing each combination thousands of times.

(vii) Shin: The Power of the Mind, the Will, the Heart

Also interpreted as determination, assertiveness, power of the will, persistence; a no quit attitude.

This is a major area that we pay special attention to in Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu for without a strong Shin all else is undermined. Shin breaks down into two major components. One is (i) the development of the ability to impose your will on the attacker and the second is (ii) the development of perseverance, persistence and a no quit attitude. An empowered jujutsuka has, by definition, a very strong Shin. This may be projected at will or it may be suppressed to avoid detection. A strong Shin may be seen in the eyes and the face, the carriage of the body and the way one moves. Persistence and perseverance may manifest themselves in an unwillingness to give up, even when totally exhausted, in an unwillingness to take "no" for an answer in everyday life (a form of assertiveness), and so on.

The ability to project one's willpower and the unwillingness to give up are an awesome combination of attributes that are essential in combat and absolutely invaluable for success in life.

Shin can be developed with intense and focused training under the direction of a knowledgeable teacher. Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu training in the dojo places students in situations that demand both the use of will power and mental and physical endurance. Unfortunately, many students quit when confronted by what appear to be insurmountable challenges and never find out the benefits of training in a martial art. The role of good teachers in this regard is extremely important because they can provide graded training challenges that enable students to experience early success; they may counsel students by clarifying the goals of the training session and by providing much needed encouragement. Also, observant instructors may switch students around during randori/kumite by pairing them by ability level; this helps to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by a stronger or more skilled opponent. Setbacks of this kind early in a jujutsuka's career can be very discouraging and this is the stage when most beginners are likely to quit. After all, how many student are likely to tolerate getting "beat up" time after time and continue coming back for more?

Ultimately students realize that by learning to fight back (when appropriate), to resist, to basically say "no, you are not going to beat me" does pay off for them, especially if earlier forms of training provide them with the skills to experience early success.

When beginners get tired in training they tend to want to take a break and rest. However, it is at this point that real mind-training begins. A good instructor needs to explain this to students so that next time, when the body starts to hurt and they are gasping for air, they are encouraged to give a little more. This should be a gradual process. The goal should not be to wear them out so that they have to drag themselves off the mat. At least, it should not be so with beginners. However, as training progresses, and they adapt to more intense workouts a good teacher knows how much to push the students so that they can put out a bit more than they did the last time. Again, this should be a gradual process in which students build on what they accomplished in previous sessions.

Such forms of training, in which the students are challenged gradually and incrementally help develop a greater strength of will and the ability to persevere when the "going gets tough". And, such training should emphasize the growth and development of the students and not the desires of the teacher to produce competitors or winners. That is, training should be student centered and graded to each student's ability level.

In Classical Martial Arts there is no place, of course, for competition outside the dojo and training for medals and trophies interferes with the kind of commitment needed to help all students develop a powerful Shin. The development of a strong Shin is best developed in a protected, supportive and educationally-oriented training environment where learning and growth, and the building of self confidence and self esteem are the primary goals of the dojo. Training for competition, and the pursuit of medals and trophies takes students in a different direction; a direction which is not compatible with the higher goals of traditional martial arts.

(viii) Use of Centered Action

Generating force by initiating action from the Center

The Center, which is roughly located about two inches below the navel is considered the nexus of power from which force is generated. Driving forward or backward, moving sideways, executing circular motions, lifting and dropping an opponent are all actions that must originate from the Center if maximum power is to be generated (and minimal effort). The Center is the perfect central biomechanical balancing point of the body which, with effective taisabaki training can be used to generate and focus the body's powers. Maintaining a centered position is essential, therefore, if maximum efficiency and power are to be achieved.

There are two stages to this process. One is (i) the attainment of good posture and the second is (ii) the use of that posture to develop strong Centered Action.

But, what is good posture in Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu? Such a posture demonstrates the following:

(a) The knees are bent, positioned in either high or low center, as the situation demands

(b) The back is kept relatively upright and relaxed

(c) The feet are flat on the floor with slightly more weight placed on the front half of the foot. Let's just say in a ratio of 70:30.

(d) The feet are far enough apart to ensure a strong base which, at the same time does not prevent the jujutsuka from moving fluidly and smoothly in all eight directions

(e) The arms are held bent at the elbows in the high and low chudan positions. In high chudan the index finger of the leading hand aligns roughly with the shoulder. The arm is bent at the elbow at about 135 degrees. The arm in low chudan is held at about 110 degrees at the elbow, a few inches above the belt and positioned slightly in front of one's torso. These are only approximations and given here for the guidance of beginners only (advanced students, put your protractors away!)

(f) The chin is tucked in and down slightly, protecting the throat from attack, but the neck and shoulders must remain relaxed so that the head may swivel freely, as the situation demands

(g) While a centered position must be powerful and solid it must also permit the jujutsuka to move fluidly and smoothly, with good control, in all directions, as the situation demands. At no time is the jujutsuka to appear rigid or move in a restricted and robotic manner. When a jujutsuka moves from the Center he/she must appear to "glide" over the ground in a coordinated, controlled, smooth and fluid manner. We call this "Centered Action".

In summary, posture is about the demonstration of good form and Centered Action is the use of that form to move smoothly, fluidly and with control in a coordinated manner.

Developing an effective posture, which is a precursor to strong Centered Action, is phase I in this process. There are several ways to develop good posture. Some of these include practicing the correct posture in front of a mirror. This is the first stage, but it is a stationary form of training which doesn't translate very well by itself into good movement. Nevertheless, good posture must be mastered first. The next stage involves the practice of movement patterns such as oblique sword cuts (naname giri), figure eights, walking (sliding) back and forth and in a circular fashion while maintaining good posture. Our exercise in Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu called "The Tiger Walks the Elephant" is a very good way for both Tori and Uke to develop good taisabaki, posture and Centered Action by moving in all eight directions. To test one's posture and Centered Action the process can be ramped up by practicing defenses against sword cuts (irimi nage), defenses against knife thrusts to the stomach, and the like. All these exercises require that Tori engage Uke with a superior quality of movement, under the watchful eye of a good instructor. And, as my sensei used to say, "practice 10,000 time" (no "s" after "time". He was after all Japanese!).

Finally, pressure training against two attacking opponents helps test the student and provides useful feedback as to how much of this he/she can take before posture and Centered Action begin to degrade. When this happens, it's time to scale back the exercise and repeat it at a slower pace.

Effective Centered Action also requires the application of several other key principles. These are: maai, estimation of distance; metsuke, the ability to read an attacker's intent; timing (debana) and positioning (tsukuri). These must all be brought into play as one trains at a higher level. As these are gradually integrated in a smooth and seamless fashion the jujutsuka begins to develop greater control over the attack situation and can maintain a calm and relaxed state of mind; a mental state that is absolutely essential in all combative situations.

The ability to maintain good posture and demonstrate Centered Action under pressure is a good indicator of the degree of mastery and quality of movement that a student has developed.


(ix) Ki: Effective Projection of One's Life Force/Vital Energy

which, with proper training, can be focused and directed

Masters in various martial arts (e.g., Ueshiba in Aikido, among others) tell us that the body (and mind) possess an energy source (variously referred as Ki, Chi, vital energy, electromagnetic energy, and the like) which, with proper training can be developed and projected at will. This energy, it is claimed, when focused and directed can increase a martial artist's power so that technique execution becomes almost effortless. It is further claimed that when such energy is harnessed and projected the body and mind become one, the extremities through which this energy is projected experience a strong tingling sensation and the jujutsuka feels an overall surge of energy throughout his/her body. Pre-existing aches and pains seem to disappear, the jujutsuka feels enormously empowered and this experience is often accompanied by a sensation that nothing can stop him/her. Is this myth or reality? Are these claims simply oriental mysticism or is there a scientific basis to the phenomenon? Does Ki really exist (however defined) and is it possible to harness its energy and project it at will?

There is no question that the body is an electromagnetic power cell. It is possible to demonstrate this scientifically, through x-ray technology, that an "aura" of energy envelopes the body and this energy rises and falls as our emotional states change. Is this synonymous with Ki? And if so, can we train the mind and body to harness and direct it?

No scientific experiments I am aware of have been conducted to determine whether this energy can be controlled and projected. This does not necessarily disprove the "power projection hypothesis", if I may call it that, however. Scientists do not appear to have shown much interest in such forms of experimental research and the absence of such research leaves the issue an open question. We do have, however, a considerable amount of both correlational and experiential evidence that addresses this issue under a different name. Early research by the psychologist Abraham Maslow in his landmark work "Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences" (1964), and the concept of "flow" by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" (1990), point to the existence of an altered state of consciousness which they variously called "Peak Experience" or "Flow". In lay language we often refer to it as being "in the zone". In this state of being the individual experiences some of the same attributes referred to earlier. That is, the sport participant experiences an increased sense of power; everything feels easier to perform; there is a total focusing of consciousness; the individual experiences increased levels of energy, and fatigue is kept at bay for considerably longer periods of time. Psychologically, the participant experiences a sense of empowerment and a feeling that he/she can do almost anything while in this state of consciousness.

Is "Peak Experience/Flow" perhaps the result of tapping into the body's Ki Power? A major difference between Peak Experiences/Flow and Ki Power is the fact that we have no reports of highly skilled people being able to get into this state of consciousness at will. They just seem to experience such a state after many years of skill development and intense forms of training. Of course this state may also be experienced periodically by anyone but such an experience is infrequent, often shallow and of short duration.

If Peak Experience/Flow is similar to Ki Power, it seems reasonable that it is possible to develop the ability to experience such enhanced, but uncontrolled levels of power, through prolonged forms of training and skill development. When it happens athletes report that they suddenly find themselves in an alternate state of reality, they feel "shots of energy" coursing through their body and psychologically they feel they can do almost anything.

It seems to me that if an uncontrolled Flow experience can be developed without consciously training to develop it, how much more can be accomplished if athletes, or martial artists, dedicated themselves in a systematic way to unlocking and developing such power?

Given, therefore, the existence of numerous reports of the existence of such a state of consciousness by social scientists, athletes and masters in the martial arts it would appear that such a source of power may actually exist. And, given numerous reports by our masters in the martial arts that such power can be systematically developed and projected, I will proceed to lay out a "development plan" that may help jujutsuka direct their training in a more systematic way. The reader however must be warned at this stage that we are entering a speculative area of endeavor which is not grounded in solid scientific evidence. Thus, at this juncture a jujutsuka must make a choice:

(A) Tentatively accept what we already know from the correlational research on the topic, the experiential reports from athletes and other accomplished individuals in sport, and the claims of our masters and proceed to train in ways that will optimize the probability that Ki Power can be developed and applied.

(B) Reject the "Power Projection Hypothesis" as utter nonsense and focus training on those areas where we know with a high degree of certainty that demonstrable progress can be made (e.g., skill development, speed, coordination, timing, strategy, and the like).

If you choose Option A, please proceed with the proposed development plan below. If you choose Option B, skip the next section and go to item (X), the development of Shuchu Ryoku (focused power).

A Suggested Training Regimen for Developing Ki Power

In this section we accept the proposition that intensive training and high levels of skill development appear to correlate with an alternate state of consciousness that is called "Flow", of which the highest level is "Peak Experience". In fact, they appear to be preconditions to it. But, Peak Experience/Flow/Ki Power developed under such "random conditions" appears to be uncontrollable and athletes who experience it can't articulate how they developed this ability, or under what conditions it comes about. Instead, our goal in the martial arts is to develop the ability to deliberately enter this state of consciousness and control and direct the power that clearly resides, or is accessible, within it.


1. Meditation and Introspection Methods Coupled with Proper Breathing. These should include methods that help the jujutsuka to achieve higher levels of mind-body unity and higher levels of self understanding and insight. In particular, include in your training the "empowerment method". For example, when engaging in this meditation method jujutsuka should visualize themselves inhaling energy from their environment and storing it in their body while at the same time exhaling impurities and "bad energy". This procedure is outlined in the paper on "Meditation Techniques" which may be found on our Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu website

2. Visualization Strategies combined with breathing exercises

3. Frequent high quality training that focuses on high levels of skill development and mastery. Mastery appears to be a precondition to accessing and sustaining prolonged levels of Ki Power

4. Frequent intensive training that stresses the jujutsuka in terms of endurance and compels him/her to search for inner sources of strength in order to be able to continue. This approach appears to characterize the condition of high level athletes whose training is grueling and intense

5. Frequent high quality training that challenges the jujutsuka to think fast on his/her feet and apply combative initiatives and responses under pressure. This form of training is an excellent way to help the mind and body work together in harmony under pressure. A harmonious state of being also appears to be a precondition to the development and release of Ki Power

6. The frequent application of harmonization exercises (e.g., Tiger Walks the Elephant) that prepare the mind and body for higher levels of training

7. When practicing technique (e.g., throwing or striking, among others) jujutsuka should constantly work on directing their consciousness by focusing on the projection of mind-body energy in the execution of technique. In fact, a conscious effort must be made to train this way so that the mind and body always act as one. Mindless forms of training are of course a waste of time as far as the development of Ki Power is concerned so a good instructor must always direct the students to focus on mentally projecting their energy during training

8. The projection of energy is facilitated when jujutsuka demonstrate correct posture. Correct posture opens up neural pathways by providing a biomechanically sound base that enables the jujutsuka to move freely, fluidly and smoothly, with good control. And, good posture is a precursor to Centered Action.

9. Good posture provides the jujutsuka with the most efficient vehicle for moving fluidly, in an unhindered fashion. It also provides a strong base which enables the jujutsuka to apply technique more effectively. However, one of its most important functions is to serve as a precondition for Centered Action. Put simply, if you don't have good posture you don't have Centered Action. And, without Centered Action you don't have the essential foundation for effective movement; the kind of movement that is essential for the effective release and projection of Ki Power

Finally, the ability to tap into and project Ki Power appears to be an ability that can be developed with proper training. Further, the attainment of mind-body harmony (unity) appears to be an essential precondition. You may view this as the ability to connect one wire coming from your mind/brain to another wire coming from your body. Once "wired" you are then able to "turn on your engine" and apply the power generated in this manner, at will. While the "automobile analogy" presented here has obvious limitations I suggest that it may serve as a heuristic tool that helps clarify the need to:

(i) Ensure all wires are connected properly and the engine is finely tuned

(that is, achieve mind-body harmony)

(ii) Charge your battery. The extraction and storage of energy (Ki/Chi) from the world around you through proper breathing and meditation exercises. This is similar to putting gas in your car

(iii) Develop the ability, through specific forms of training, to turn the engine on at will and generate power. An effective warm-up, coupled with meditation and specific timing/harmonizing activities such as irimi nage and/or kata often help the process of accessing Ki energy

(iv) Develop the ability, through specific forms of training outlined in this paper to control and direct this energy at will (learning how to drive your car)


Clearly, developing and tapping into your inner sources of power (herein called Ki Power) is an essential aspect of training in the martial arts. Therefore, follow the steps I recommend carefully and constantly monitor and evaluate changes that you experience. The broad outline, or steps that follow may be useful as a general training regimen but to achieve the highest levels to Ki Power development you may need to discover, for yourself, how to adapt the process to fit your own needs.

Suggested Steps

1. Stage I: Meditation and Breathing Exercises

Begin all training sessions with several minutes of meditation and proper breathing. Focus on inhaling the energy that surrounds you and expel the impurities, anxieties and problems that may dwell in you. This exercise helps calm the mind, energizes you and helps you to begin getting in touch with yourself.

2. Stage II: Warm-Up

Take a good warm-up, as I have proposed in my paper entitled "Principles of Warm-Up for Judo and Jujutsu"1.

In particular, use the warm-up to get in touch with your body and establish good mind-body harmony. A good warm-up can be a dynamic form of moving meditation so it's a way to taking Stage I a step further and putting it into a moving situation. Make a conscious effort to focus, feel and connect with every part of your body. And finally, a warm-up should never be done "mindlessly" or approached as something to be gotten out of the way as quickly as possible. It is an essential step in the process of tapping into and developing your Ki Power.

3. Stage III: Timing and Harmonizing Exercises/Getting In the "Zone"

Getting in the "Zone" is a layman's version of describing a state of "flow"; a state in which jujutsuka enter a higher level of consciousness where they feel energized, more focused, stronger and faster, more coordinated and pain free. Those of us who've experienced this state of consciousness know that we are in a different state of reality.

As preconditions for getting into the zone a high skill level is highly desirable, which is coupled with years of experience in the art. While it is possible for the inexperienced to get into the zone for short periods of time the experience is often shallow and may not be sustained for prolonged periods of time. However, skilled and experienced jujutsuka are able to enter this state of consciousness at a higher level and sustain it for longer periods of time.

In order to attain a state of flow we have a number of exercises and routines that help us transcend lower levels of consciousness. Such exercises involve activities that engage the mind and body and stress coordination, harmonization and timing. Such activities require a higher level of skill, experience, good posture and Centered Action. Personally I find such techniques as Irimi Nage (entering throw), various Kata involving more advanced sequences, sequential attack and defense combinations, and the like, most beneficial in helping me enter a higher state of consciousness (entering the zone and achieving a state of flow).

4. Stage IV: Tapping Into and Developing Ki Power

Ki Power, or the electromagnetic energy/vital force that we all possess can best be accessed and developed while in a state of flow. A flow state is a heightened state of consciousness that enables us to direct all our focus, without any external distractions on to the task at hand. And that task is to tap into, summon up and project all our Ki (internal energy power) by harnessing and focusing this energy in the execution of technique. In addition, training while in this flow state must incorporate a high level of focused visualization in which we actually see ourselves summoning and harnessing our vital energy, through our body, and then projecting it in the application of technique. A technique may take the form of a strike, a kick, a throw or any time a combative situation requires us to apply a kiai. I often find it helpful to practice technique very slowly, almost at tai chi speed and then completing the action late and fast with a very explosive finish. A finish that is "loaded" with my accumulated Ki Power.

5: Stage V: Hierarchies of Consciousness/Levels of Flow

With extensive training it is possible to gradually achieve deeper and deeper levels of flow. Such in-depth levels of consciousness resemble a form of self hypnosis except that in such cases the jujutsuka is at the helm and not the hypnotist. You will recognize such an in-depth state because it is accompanied by some, if not all, of the following attributes:

(a) Psychologically you experience feelings of invincibility and power

(b) When hit or kicked you feel no pain

(c) You have unending supplies of energy. You feel no fatigue

(d) You feel tremendously strong

(e) You feel as one. There is no mind-body distinction

(f) You move with tremendous control, fluency and coordination

(g) All self doubts fade away. You feel as though you can do anything

(h) You feel Ki flowing through every part of your body. This is often experienced as a sustained flow of energy coursing through the body or it may be experienced in jolts, or energy shocks every time that energy is projected.

A jujutsuka who achieves such high levels of consciousness is said to be having a Peak Experience; and Peak Experiences are among the highest goals that we strive to achieve in traditional martial arts. At this point we should point out that the ability to sustain high levels of flow is a function of training and experience. However, functioning at such a high level takes its toll and it's draining. It is not unusual therefore to feel totally worn out after sustained levels in the flow state. This is normal and rest and meditation can help restore the jujutsuka to normal levels of functioning.

If you can relate to many of the experiences and conditions described in this section you can take it as evidence that your training has taken you beyond the physical, or the external world of sports and exercise. You have now entered an inner world, a spiritual world of inner power, higher levels of insight and understanding and a world of inner peace.

Congratulations, you have finally lifted the veil! You journey may now begin.

(x) Shuchu Ryoku

The harnessing and focusing of all above-mentioned sources of power, as appropriate

Our final source of power is Shuchu Ryoku. The term means focused or concentrated power. It is a skill that requires lengthy and intensive training and, for maximum effectiveness, it requires a high level of mastery of our nine previous sources of power. Shuchu Ryoku is like a complex, multivariate equation that relies on the correct blending of power sources, each to the right amount, and executed with timing, control and fluency, in accordance with relevant principles. While Shuchu Ryoku may NOT always require the blending of ALL nine previous sources of power, or to the same degree for each one, its effective application incorporates a variety of principles from distance, close quarter and ground fighting (as appropriate), together with principles from Heiho (Combat Strategy) such as ma-ai and metsuke, among others.

The ability to execute Shuchu Ryoku effectively, therefore, is for most jujutsuka the ultimate realization of all their training. In fact, the effective demonstration of Shuchu Ryoku represents a most high level of mastery; a level that few actually achieve. It is in many ways the culmination of many years of diligent training in which a jujutsuka demonstrates a very high level of technique mastery; a deep understanding of principles and their application; high levels of insight and self understanding, strength of will and a quality of movement that only a true master can demonstrate.

Shuchu Ryoku is, therefore, the harnessing and focusing of all the sources of power we've discussed and the principles that underlie them. It is the ability to become the movement in both mind and body. And the ability to achieve this state is an awesome source of power in Wa Shin Ryu Jujutsu.

Laying out a training regimen for the development of Shuchu Ryoku fails, unfortunately, to capture all the complexities involved. However, I would close this paper by suggesting that since the concept relies on the harmonization of all sources of power, as appropriate to the situation and the principles that underlie them, jujutsuka must always set as a primary goal in their training the notion that ultimately all must come together in true harmony if maximum power is to be generated. Therefore, focus your training on mind-body harmonization exercises in accordance with the principles discussed in this paper. And when true harmony is achieved the jujutsuka not only becomes one with the movement and the opponent, but as Ueshiba told us many years ago, it may also be possible to become one with humanity (and the universe) in a true state of peace, harmony and understanding. An ideal goal, perhaps? Maybe, but one well worth striving for.

1http://unm.wsrjj.org/stages.htm (Principles of Warm-up for Judo and Jujutsu)


I am indebted to Linda Yiannakis, Ben Bergwerf, Phil Romero, Phil Tomporowski, John D'Angelo, Greg Kane, Philip Garcia and Olumuy Oluwasanmi for valuable suggestions and comments