The term, “Riai” literally means “a blending of truths”. Riai teaches that tai-jutsu techniques were developed from movements using the sword. Therefore, it’s sensible to assume that training using sword movements will develop tai-jutsu technique.
The Riai system practised at the Institute of Aikido Auckland involves a combined approach to training in three martial art systems; tai-jutsu, aiki-ken, and aiki-jo, each of which share a core of basic principles in body movement, application and philosophy. Aiki-ken and Aiki-jo were developed to complement tai-jutsu and create a complete martial art.
O-Sensei emphasized that a weapon should be used as an extension of the body, but also stressed that one should not develop a dependence upon a particular weapon. To build this feeling, one should study the basic exercises of ken and jo suburi, and the basic tai-jutsu techniques tai-no-henko and kokyu dosa. A good understanding of these basic exercises is essential for the development of correct tai-jutsu.
One of the key differences between Aikido and other martial arts is in the posture. When uke receives an attack, he must be standing in triangular posture. When standing in hito-e-mi (triangular posture), it is possible to make atemi (strike) without receiving a blow in return. Secondly, uke must blend with the ki of his attacker. The combination of these two principles contributes greatly to Aikido’s uniqueness.
The second concept, the blending of ki, has many possibilities. In practice, one tries always to blend one’s ki with that of the attacker. This allows one to respond in a controlled manner, without striking, even when it is possible to do so. Partner blending weapons practices such as awase are done from basic forms as their purpose is the development of the harmony of ki.
“To understand the combined riai Aikido system is to realise that one is not dependent upon a ken, jo or other weapon. When using a Bokken or Jo, don’t think of them as “weapons” in their own right, but feel the relationship to your body movement in taijutsu.”
It should be the aim of all who practise Aikido to develop ki, body, and mind through daily practice. In this way, one can develop the true spirit of Aikido.