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Several interpretations of the Japanese term kyū shin dō have been proposed. Tomio Otani, a long-term student of Abbe, translated it thus:
- kyū: Sphere or Circle
- shin: Heart or Nexus point
- dō: Way
At its most basic level, kyushindo can be equated with centripetal force. Tomio Otani defined it as "the accumulation of effort in a steady motion about the radius and centre of gravity". Abbe had discovered the efficiency of using centripetal force to throw much larger opponents while a student at Dai Nippon Butoku Kai in the 1930s, and it is likely that this discovery led to his further development of kyushindo as a philosophy.
As well as 'Sphere'/'Circle', Kyu can also mean 'Desire', 'Yearn', 'Search' or 'Study'. Likewise, Shin can also mean 'Spirit' or 'Truth'. This ambiguity allows kyushindo to be interpreted on a number of levels, and it can also have the meaning of The Seeker's Way to the Essence of Things, or the Truth.
Kyushindo was the central statement for Abbe's personal approach to martial arts. He felt that there were three fundamental principles within Kyushindo which should be reflected in the Martial arts and in his outside life.
- All things in the Universe are in a constant state of motion (Banbutsu Ruten).
- This motion is rhythmic and flowing (Ritsu Do).
- All things work and flow in perfect harmony (Chowa).
Because of Abbe's fame as a Budo master people have very naturally assumed Kyushindo to be a theory of martial discipline but in fact martial discipline is only one application of Kyushindo. The very limited field of martial disciplines is too narrow an application to make the principle of Kyushindo clear and can be no more than the means employed to attain a far higher goal. The theory of Kyushindo has application in any study, or activity that can be named simply because it does not deal with the form and technique of anything, but with the fundamental principles which such forms and techniques represent.
The principle may be likened to the hub of a wheel from which an infinite number of spokes or forms radiate. The task of perfecting an art by the laborious process of studying each 'form' is doomed to failure because the possible variations are endless. By discovering the central principle it can then be applied in any direction at will.
Kyushindo states that the accumulation of efforts is a steady motion about the radius and center of gravity and that all things resign to this basic cyclic pattern. The normal perception and focus of awareness in the human being, flies along the outer periphery of existence, events flash past too rapidly for the mind to grasp. By re-discovering the original center of things, events turn more slowly in perception and the general scheme is more easily viewed.
- Fromm, Alan; Soames, Nicolas (1982), Judo - The Gentle Way, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd
- Otani, Tomio (1967), Goodbody, J. (ed.), "Kendo" (PDF), The Japanese Fighting Arts (abridged version), Arlington Books, pp. 35–64, archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-29
- Hoare, Syd, Kenshiro Abe (translation from Japanese article) (PDF), retrieved April 16, 2010
- Ellis, Henry, The Theory of Kyu-Shin-Do, retrieved April 16, 2010
- Banbutsu-ryūten (万物流転:ばんぶつりゅうてん) is the Japanese translation of Heraclitus' famous aphorism "Panta Rhei".