Internal training refers to the practice of ki (energy) tests, breathing exercises (kokyuho) and meditation (meiso-ho), as well as the practice called kokyu dosa. These training methods are meant to cultivate the psycho-physcial attributes that are necessary for the capacity to experience life in the present or to live in the martial way.
Ki Tests are methods of testing your postural and mental stability, degree of tension and relaxation, and understanding of basic Aikido technical principles.
- Okinaga: the breathing practice which involves deep, prolonged exhalations from the hara (abdomen) through the mouth, and controlled inhalations through the nose.
- Kiai: the practice which involves explosive exhalations from the hara with vocalization, usually using the syllables “Ei!” and “Toh!”
- Ibuki: the practice which involves explosive exhalations from the hara without vocalization.
Meiso-ho is a practice of meditation through which the student develops kiai (energy) and joriki, the power of focused concentration, through the cultivation of samadhi, a state of relaxed concentration transcending subject/object dualism. This method may initially involve the counting of breaths, or mindfulness techniques for developing a deeper awareness of mental processes. There are many types of meditation, but in order to have an application to budo, the method you use must stress wakeful awareness of yourself and your surroundings, rather than the development of trances or sleep-like states. The type of meditation stressed by Toyoda Shihan, and described here, is that of the Zen school, in keeping with his training history.
Kokyu-dosa is an exercise in which you will sit seiza facing your partner, and extend your arms. Your partner will grasp them, and attempt to resist your efforts to unbalance him or her. This exercise calls for the proper use of the hara and breathing, and will also help develop this proper use of the body, breath and energy. Another variation of this is renzoku kokyu-dosa, which involves continuous movement.