Sotai renshu & Kihon

Sotai renshu is a training methode to practise basics (kihon) with a partner. At the first level (2.0) it is a technical training. After acquiring the choreography, the skill of hyoshi (cadence, rhythm, tempo,…..timing) will be incorporated. Sotai renshu is the step-up to the different levels of randori-geiko.

Kihon (基本, きほん) is a Japanese term meaning “basics” or “fundamentals.” The term is used to refer to the basic techniques and movements that are taught and practiced as the foundation of most Japanese martial arts or performing arts like Noh and Chinese Opera.
Sotai renshu is practising kihon with a partner.

Japanese training models related to Budo Aikido (Tomiki Aikido)

Keiko, renshu, shuren, tanren, kufu, and shugyo – Six Japanese words for training – and their kanji

Keiko 稽古 – sometimes -geiko
Keiko is an everyday, straightforward word, usually translated into English as: practice; practising; training; study.
稽 means think, consider, and 古 means old. According to the kanji dictionary, 古 is a little picture of a skull wearing a diadem. It therefore has connotations of revering your ancestors.
Keiko has a simple meaning: to practise (renshū) in order to learn or acquire knowledge.

Renshū 練習
This is another everyday word, usually translated into English as practice; practising.
The first kanji in this word is 練. The right hand side of 練 combines parts meaning bundle and divide. This gives a meaning of classifying or sorting things, and only keeping the good ones.
The left hand side糸 means thread. The dictionary explains that this has connotations of immersing a raw, silken thread into water, which gives a meaning of polishing and refining good things.
As a whole therefore, 練 means polish, forge, temper, drill, train, discipline.
The second kanji in renshū is 習. This character習 combines羽 (wings) with an abbreviated form of自(self). It therefore symbolises movement; wings repeatedly moving.
Taken together, this word renshū has a sense of repeating something over and over again, to learn it. The dictionary also explains that this word normally applies to something like an academic or technical discipline.

The practise of Sotai Renshu

The practice and mastery of sotai renshu is essential to all advanced training. Sotai renshu includes practicing basics with a partner such as footwork, sword hand exercises, basic techniques, but it also includes basic representative katachi or kata.
Sotai renshu is not only practicing movements and techniques, it is also fostering the correct spirit and attitude at all times. As bodywork is an important item in the Study Group Tomiki Aikido, we will integrate kyokotsu, tenshikei and other bodywork items into our sotai renshu.
Without sotai renshu we cannot progress to the different levels of randori (kakari geiko, hiki tate geiko and randori geiko)

During sotai renshu, several items had to be taken into account to perform efficient movements and strategies. Some of the most important are……..


Without Mikiri we cannot perform according the way Takuan Soho wrote in his famous book “The Unfettered Mind”: The interval into which not even a hair can be entered.
The attack has to be very sincere, the defense has to be done at the last moment. The picture above is a simplified representation of this.

  • Taikan

An unconscious bodily feeling process to create bodily communication with opponent. Without communication we cannot feel the intention and power of the opponent. Relaxation is a major component of the Taikan skill.

  • Sen

There are 3 kinds of sen, they are explained in the Hyoshi chapter.

We start our sotai renshu with the 2.0 method, next the 1.5 method and then proceed with 1.0 method. Of course, we have a mix of level practising, we have to explain clearly what kind of method an individual has to practise. In sotai renshu, there is no place for blocking the movements of your training partner. But becoming too cooperative is also to be avoided.

Basic tegatana movements in sotai renshu

Kenji Tomiki devised 5 basic tegatana movements and a study on different postures. Of course there are more than 5 movements.

The basic movements and postures are studied and practised in solo exercises called tandoku undo and/or tegatana dosa. Most of the exercises are using 2 or more basic tegatana movements.

It is not a bad idea to integrate tandoku undo – tegatana dosa into partner exercises. We don’t want to waste time by practising exercises without added functional value.

Tandoku undo – tegatana dosa no.1

tegatana dosa 1 paired

Tandoku undo – tegatana dosa no.2

tegatana dosa 2 paired


tandoku 2 sotai




Published by

Eddy Wolput

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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