Tom Thumb threw pebbles as he made his way through the forest, using them as markers to help him find his way back.

In the kumitachi and kumijo of the Saito method, we find the same kind of pebbles that help us find our way to Aikido. For Aikido is not yet in the necessary preparatory phase that these exercises represent.

Kumitachi n°4, illustrated in the video, is a good example of this :

Indeed, when this kumitachi n°4 is executed in line with a single opponent who attacks repeatedly, the second uketachi beat is completely incomprehensible. This time consists of cutting down the uchitachi blade with a right-to-left strike, when in reality you've just pierced your opponent with a tsuki.

But then, if uchitachi is pierced, he collapses with his sword, so there's no need to "divert" a sword that's no longer there.

Here's the pebble.

It is perfectly possible to repeat this gesture for thirty years, and simply teach it without understanding the reason for it. It doesn't matter, as long as the important thing is not to lose it, to pass it on. Someday, someone will rediscover the reason for it, because nothing is without reason in Master Saito's teaching method. 

But neither is it forbidden to seek knowledge here and now.

As demonstrated on the video, the sword strike in uketachi's second beat corresponds - in the reality of an attack from all four directions - to the strike on the right arm of the second of the four opponents to be neutralized :

Since - by definition - it is impossible to do this with a single opponent, Master Saito left the clue to this cut, its trace, in the linear exercise, by forcing uketachi to perform its simulacrum on the uchitachi sword, even though this gesture has no reason to exist in this context. His idea, his hope, his gamble perhaps, was not to break the thread of Aikido's multidirectional reality, in the unidirectional exercise of the method.

Thus, in many kumitachi and kumijo, he left behind irrational movements, incomprehensible when the exercise is practiced with a single opponent, but whose meaning becomes clear when these movements are placed in the martial context of an attack coming from all four directions.

"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, ché la diritta via era smarrita." Morihiro Saito, like Tom Thumb, has sown the pebbles that enable us to find the lost path of Aikido - provided, of course, that these pebbles are not lost in turn. It is in this sense that it is imperative to preserve the method he bequeathed us, understanding however that the only reason and justification for this method are to enable us to go beyond it. The method is fixed, and it's imperative that it should be so. It's only because it's fixed that it can lead to freedom, because phenomena complement each other by virtue of the oppositions of yin and yang...but only if we're willing to look.