Saotome Sensei has created a new calligraphy for this year’s training theme: Kikubari.

Kikubari has multiple meanings, including care, attentiveness, and consideration for others. In the martial context in which Saotome Sensei uses it, it means the ability to hold multiple factors in one’s awareness at the same time: to be aware of timing, spacing, one’s surroundings, the demeanor and intent of one’s training partner (or opponent in an actual confrontation), the movements of others to one’s sides and rear, and so on. Kikubari is a function of sensitivity, not just of eyesight, and should have a 360-degree reach.

Kikubari is written with the character ki, meaning energy, or more specifically, directed energy, that is, attention or attentiveness; and 配り kubari, from kubaru, meaning to distribute, deliver, or deal (as with cards). Thus, the literal meaning is the distribution of one’s attention in any given situation.

Saotome Sensei has signed the calligraphy, as he often does, with the title, Elder Instructor and Recipient of Direct Transmission from the Founder of Aikido. It is stamped with his personal seals.

Many thanks to Steve Earle for providing this translation and the contextual discussion relating it to Saotome Sensei’s aikido!