By Pete Reynolds

Inyo, or as its known in the west by its Chinese name of ying yang, is commonly understood as being about opposites, for example light/dark, hot/cold, heaven/hell, love/hate, old/young, male/female, etc. While this viewpoint shows one level of understanding, as Hatsumi sensei pointed out, there is a bit more to it.

Frequently people focus on these opposites, but what they fail to see is the relationship between them. They fail to see the natural flow and exchange that joins them. For example, the connection and exchange between day and night. What should be looked at is the process of how day becomes night and night becomes day. It's really just one process. Or, let's take being born and dieing, they seem extremely different, but what's really important is to understand that they are just part of the life process and it's important to see the life which exists between them. Restated, it's understanding the connection of opposites and seeing that opposites aren't really opposites. It's realizing that in a sense they're really the same thing.

This concept relates to budo in many ways. Take kamae for instance, what may be most important and what is often overlooked is what's between the kamae. Yes, a good strong kamae is difficult to perfect, but what is even more difficult is the movement between them. And to take it a step further, what's between the kamae is also kamae. When you're doing this art properly you're never really out of kamae.

Another more specific example relates to Tenryaku Uchu Gassho no kamae and Tenchi Inyo no kamae. The ten of Tenchi is heaven and the chi is earth. In Tenryaku Uchu Gassho no kamae the hands are clasped together in a "praying" type of position. Hatsumi-sensei explained from one perspective people often pray when confronted with a life threatening situation and that in another when we lay our deceased to rest that they are usually placed with their hands clasped across their chest. In one case you may be praying for life and in the other your already dead.

In Tenchi Inyo no kamae, the front hand is extended forward, but the key point is having the rear hand extended upward towards heaven. When assuming this kamae you may be in a situation where you have to decide whether to send your opponent to heaven or to let him continue his life on earth. You and your kamae become the bridge/connection between heaven and earth.

As you can see, inyo is more than just opposites. Soke has said that he can only give us hints about these type of things because they can't be taught. It's up to each of us to fully study, explore and learn these types of things for ourselves.

Gambatte kudasai!!!