I have heard the word Misogi (禊) during Aikido, and read it on books.

Says that aikido is one thing, but also that misogi is the "extra training" in order to make aikido really works in a real battle / real life. I have seen that it also translates as purification.

My question is, what actually is this? Are there techniques that this can be done, and what is the actual effect on the person ?

  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogi
    – jan
    Feb 23 '12 at 12:31
  • It would help some for answering if I knew a little more about the context you have heard it in with reference to Aikido. Misogi is more of a shinto concept. Feb 23 '12 at 16:27
  • @DavidH.Clements I have here that on aikido, this is not mean that is aikido only. Here is a book for example that I read it amazon.com/Secrets-Aikido-John-Stevens/dp/1570622353 search on look inside to see the pages
    – Aristos
    Feb 23 '12 at 17:17
  • Misogi refers to ritual cleansing by water. I think someone might be telling you to take a shower after practice ;) I don't know much about Aikido, but I do know that we were Taught Tae Kyu as part of our Taekwondo training. Tae Kyu is supposedly top secret deadly stuff, but it basically boiled down to "if a guy grabs your arm, poke him in the eye or kick him in the nuts until he lets go". Don't expect Misogi to be any different. Oct 16 '14 at 9:31
  • @JuannStrauss If I do not know something, I do not expect anything, neither imaging anything. I just do not know it.
    – Aristos
    Oct 16 '14 at 11:48

What is misogi?

Misogi is any of a number of purification rituals found in shinto, the most common of which is misogi shuho or misogi-no-gawa, a purification ritual of cleansing the body in a river.

To be somewhat precise, the kami ("spirit-god" for lack of a better description) who created the Solar System and the ancestor of all kami on Earth, Izanagi-no-Okami) visited yomi (the world of the dead) and, upon emerging, performed the first misogi shuho to cleanse his body of the defilement of that world. In doing so, he first cast all his belongings into the river, then himself, and from all his belongings, from his eyes, and from his nose, came the other kami. (I am, of course, overly simplifying this because I doubt you care which kami sprung from which orifice).

This misogi shuho has 6 elements:

  1. To purify yourself from attachments
  2. Self reflection
  3. To find the middle way
  4. To check constantly and correct thoroughly
  5. Inner willingness and sincere effort
  6. Completeness

Another ritual common among aikidoka is something called misogi-no-kokyu-ho or purification of spiritual refinement. This is an arduous form of directed meditation, restricted diet, and imposed asceticism, the first experience of which is four days long.

Are there techniques that this can be done[?]

Yes. It's an extremely shinto concept, and Ueshiba Morihei was part of a shinto cult called Omoto-kyo (I use the term "cult" to imply a non-mainstream religious sect, not to imply anything else – some people get touchy about this word).

In the four day shogaku shugyo of misogi-no-kokyu-ho, the student wears gi and hakama; eat 3 meals a day consisting of a barley-rice mixture, soybean paste, salted plum (umeboshi), and radish pickles (takuan); and sleep on tatami mats. For those four days, the students sit in seiza, practice breathing techniques, and chant from their hara (abdomen). This is an intensive; a practice of deep commitment to push the aspirant hard.

In the misogi-no-gawa, the aspirants strip down to fundoshi (loincloth) and hachimaki (headband), and sit in meditation for a time. Then they are led through a river to a waterfall, where they stand in meditation and self-reflection, performing a chant (misagi- no-Oharai) under a waterfall.

[W]hat is the actual effect on the person?

These are rituals, and, like all rituals, the actual effects will vary from person to person based on the meaning they ascribe to them. Ueshiba Morihei's epiphanies at different times in his life were an understanding of his martial art as an expression of his spiritual beliefs.

If you ascribe no personal beliefs to the practices, they will be shallow, rote motions and have no gain. In this case, the best one can hope for is a capacity to sit in seiza and breathe, or, in the case of misogi shuho, a resistance to icy cold water.

However, if you take the time to ascribe a belief to what you will get out of something, and that belief is reasonable ("I will emerge with a cleared perspective of the world," not "I'm going to come out of the water to find $50 on the ground."), it will have that effect upon you.

  • Now I have 6 more questions for the 6 elements :) - this midle way called "αρετή" in greece, and actually there is not correct world in other languages. Socrates search for the meaning of this word but never say clear what it is.
    – Aristos
    Feb 24 '12 at 6:59
  • Can I ask you something simple: do you have practice misogi ?
    – Aristos
    Feb 24 '12 at 7:06
  • I have not practiced it. I know of it because I study Japanese martial arts, and the subjects that touch on them, Shinto being one. I do not believe in ritual purification, but understand the psychology behind such actions.
    – stslavik
    Feb 24 '12 at 16:53
  • is phyhology or body purification/exercise ?
    – Aristos
    Feb 24 '12 at 16:55
  • There's no difference between ritual purification's effect and its underlying psychological cause. αρετή (Arete in English) is not the middle way so much... Arete carries almost a connotation of being excellent, or above things. The middle way is more taking the path of least resistance. When Izanagi-no-Kami moved into the river, he chose a part neither too swift nor too sluggish. This would be finding harmony.
    – stslavik
    Feb 24 '12 at 17:01

In the aikido context, misogi is usually used to refer to activities aimed at spiritual purification. For instance, if you end your training session with a breathing exercise in seiza, that is probably misogi... you're settling your mind, body and spirit, drawing in fresh air and exhaling impurity.

However, like a lot of aikido practice, misogi exercises are used in order to show you a more general principle, and give you the opportunity to embody it: misogi is a state of mind, not a set of breathing exercises (or taki gyo, or whatever).

Sugano Shihan described misogi as "a constant process of removing the obstacles to sincere practice".

And O Sensei is quoted as saying: "All aikido movement is misogi".

Hope this helps...


I’ve been introduced to misogi at my dojo during the first classes I ever took. We practise misogi at the beginning of each class. We sit down or stand during this exercise. Sensei recommends us to close our eyes. Everyone becomes silent and still. We take a few minites to breath deeply.

On my first class I was guided during our misogi exercise. I was told to allow the day to pass and leave the weight of my day off the mat. I was told to empty my head, release my thoughts and create an open space for the very fast paced, rewarding and demanding practiss we are about to undertake. Full focus is achieved by this exercise.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site. I strongly urge you to check out the help center to learn how we work. This, while a nice personal story, does not really answer the question. Oct 1 '18 at 7:04
  • Thank you for this comments - I have travel some times around the world for seminars for misogi - just to see/take a taste of what they do. So even that is helpful.
    – Aristos
    Oct 1 '18 at 13:29

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