Redesign training program

If you are a real puritan practitioner this post is not really for you. It contains crosstraining ideas from other martial arts and movement methods. But if you are open to new ideas, please read further.

Cross-training refers to training in any martial art or activity that isn’t in your usual practice, with the goal of improving your performance.

An important question arises about crosstraining: At what level can we start crosstraining to have benefit in our principal martial art?

Kenji Tomiki
Around 1956, Kenji Tomiki wrote a book about Kodokan Judo and Ueshiba Aikido. At that time he was a 7th dan Judo and 8th dan Aikido. Grades in martial arts can give you an indication of the level of the person in question. Of course the person(s) who is given the grade can also give you some indication.
In case of Kenji Tomiki we know he was very skillful in both arts. Originally he started with Kodokan Judo and during his life Judo was always the principal martial art. He always explained Aikido in terms of Judo concepts.

Kodokan Judo randori doesn’t have atemi waza (striking methods) and doesn’t have alot of kansetsu waza (joint techniques). To overcome this lack of techniques, Kenji Tomiki went to Morihei Ueshiba to study Aiki-jutsu. Morihei Ueshiba was a wellknown martial art teacher and his background was very varied.

Hideo Ohba
Of course we cannot forget Hideo Ohba, Tomiki’s lifelong assistent, who studied several weapon systems besides his basic training into Judo and Aikido.The influence of his teacher can be seen in the Koryu no kata.

Itsuo Haba
Itsuo Haba has some new ideas about aikido randori and formulated these ideas into “Sugamo Toshu Randori” method.
He created this method by stepping into the footsteps of Kenji Tomiki. As an experienced aikido practitioner he started to do crosstraining in Kendo and associated martial arts. He also did crosstraining in Judo.

More designers?
Of course there are more important persons in the Tomiki Aikido and some of them gave a special kind of flavour to Tomiki Aikido.
Tomiki’s successor Hideo Ohba mentioned earlier made many additions from his crosstraining history.
Tetsuro Nariyama made some additions due his crosstraining with Hirokazu Kobayashi, AikiKai Shihan and friend of Kenji Tomiki.
Other major instructors like Senta Yamada, Miyake, Satoh….. used or using Judo to explain the benefits of Aikido as a martial art.

Start you own design program

Using elements from another martial art into your main systemis not an easy task. I you don't have the basic skills of your principal method, introducing elements of other methods will fail. 
Using elements from other methods is only possible after sufficient training in the other method. Those methods can be a martial art or another system of physical or mental training.

Sugamo Toshu Randori

Although Tetsuro Nariyama made some additions to Tomiki Aikido which has an influence on Randori, it is Itsuo Haba who redesigned Aikido Randori completely in a new form of Toshu Randori.

Text by Itsu Haba

Sugamo Toshu Randori is an aikido training method which includes the principles of kendo and judo. Kendo principles show how to hit an opponent by avoiding the attack at a certain distance, whereas judo principles show how to throw an opponent by breaking his balance in a grappling situation. In the principle of kendo, techniques are performed by striking or thrusting at the opponent up to the moment of the contact from the starting position. In the principle of judo, however, they are performed after touching or grabbing the opponent. Sugamo Toshu Randori has elements of both kendo and judo and shows how we perform techniques in ‘rikaku’, or “at a distance” situation.
In kendo one strikes the other by the technique of a sword. On the other hand, in aikido, we take the initiative with dasshuwaza by the technique of tegatana or the hand blade. What is common in both kendo and aikido is that one tries to strike or touch the opponent without letting the opponent touch oneself.

In judo we grapple the opponent by catching the lapel and sleeve, while trying to throw the opponent down by breaking his balance. We can only use throwing techniques, as dangerous techniques such as striking or kicking are prohibited. In aikido we hold the hand, wrist, arm, limbs or body directly instead of the clothing and throw him down. On the assumption that “dangerous” attacks are delivered, body avoidance becomes necessary, so ideally techniques should be performed the moment one touches the opponent. What is suitable against dangerous attacks are the instant techniques of “atemiwaza’ and “kansetsuwaza”. Judo is mainly composed of “nagewaza” or throwing techniques, and “katamewaza’ or locking techniques. In contrast, aikido is mainly composed of “atemiwaza” or attacking techniques and “kansetsuwaza’ or joint techniques. What is common in both judo and aikido is that one tries to break the opponent’s balance thereby throwing or controlling him. 

Dashuwaza and toshuwaza

In Sugamo Toshu Randori, both competitors wear caps, and we try to take off each other’s caps. One wants to take the cap off of the opponent’s head, but does not want to have his own cap taken off. In short, he tries to take the cap off while defending his cap with body avoidance. The principle of kendo works in this process.Using tegatana, like the sword in kendo, the competitor “hits” the opponent without the performer being hit. In the process of this ‘offence’ and ‘defence’ a certain distance is born and ‘rikaku’ is established. 

From the viewpoint of martial arts, having the cap taken off means being “fatally wounded”. That is, the face is attacked, the eyes are hit, the hair is pulled, or the ear is taken off. These dangerous attacks are replaced with the safe attacks of dasshuwaza or ‘take away the cap’ techniques, this being from the standpoint of safe modern physical education. 

In kendo one strikes the other by the technique of a sword. On the other hand, in aikido, we take the initiative with dasshuwaza by the technique of tegatana or the hand blade. What is common in both kendo and aikido is that one tries to strike or touch the opponent without letting the opponent touch oneself. 

Dasshuwaza belongs to kendo principles, while toshuwaza belongs to judo principles. Toshuwaza in randori no kata starts from the natural posture which is suitable for both offence and defence (shizentai no ri), which makes the opponent’s attack useless by fending it (ju no ri), so thereby making it possible to throw the opponent down by breaking his balance (kuzushi no ri).

Sugamo Toshu Randori is a randori training method with toshuwaza, or barehanded techniques which establishes “rikaku” through the medium of dasshuwaza borrowed from kendo principles.

Is there a difference?
Of course, the cap gives an impression of a game. The image of a serious martial art is dissapeared at first sight.
By looking more closely, we can discover many martial art concepts in this game. The idea of using a cap and trying to take away the cap is replacing an attack to the face using tegatana. By using a rules book, the game can be transformed into a competition with referees.
After all, toshu randori and tanto randori (Tomiki style) is in fact a game, bounded by the rulebook.
If we consider some “tuishou” formats used by Taichichuan and other Chinese methods, it is also “a game” to destroy the balance of the opponent.

Redesign for health purposes

Martial arts are mainly practiced for self‐defense, as a sport or a way to keep your mind and body healthy.
When practised as a method for self-improvement (physical and mental health), most of these self-improvement methods are low-impact, soft body and mindfulness exercises. It can be practised even by eldery people as long there is no danger for injuries or falling accidents.
While competitive systems mainly focusing on improvements to athletes’ competitive abilities, self-improvement systems focus on cognitive abilities of the practitioner. Awareness, focus, conscious and subconscious actions are the main goal.
Martial arts can partially stop the deterioration of the musculoskeletal system that occurs with aging and reduce the risk of falls and hip fractures.

By using low-impact and slow-motion exercises, the fear of injuries will largely decrease.
The implementation of these 2 concepts creates a form of exercises focused on self-improvement for physical and mental health.
In most martial arts there is a form of sparring (randori, kumite, rolling,….). One of the aims of this is that the partners will be attempting to remain focused and avoid their partner making hard or too powerfull contact.
Low-impact of sparring can be introduced after the practitioner has learned the basic skills of the martial art in question. There are numerous examples of low-impact sparring methods. For example oriental internal martial arts use a form of sparring called “pushing or rolling hands” mostly called “tuishou”.
Introducing such “a low-impact game” in aikido will give the non-athletic or the elderly practitioner a method to test the efficiency of the acquired skills.
The fear of injury is almost absent if the rules of the game are applied.

Low-impact sparring

We can consider 2 main methods in low-impact sparring:

  • With fixed posture – without displacement
  • With dynamic posture – with displacement

Tegatana awase position
In case of a fixed posture, starting from tegatana awase position and without grasping or striking, breaking the balance of opponent can be the goal of this kind of sparring.
When practitioners have developped a certain skill, foot movement (unsoku) can be introduced. The rule of low-impact has te be maintained.

Katate dori position
With a fixed posture, both practitioners grasp the wrist in ai-gamae method. Both trying to create kuzushi based upon the ai-gamae methods of 7-hon no kuzushi.
When practitioners have developped a certain skill, foot movement (unsoku) can be introduced. The rule of low-impact has te be maintained.

Wrestling position
Starting from a judo position without grasping the dogi, Techniques of koryu no kata can be used to control opponent.
The rule of low-impact has te be maintained.

Limitations of low-impact sparring
Of course there is not any limit on creating low-impact sparring methods. The rule of low-impact has te be maintained. Although winning can be very pleasant but it is not the main purpose of low-impact sparring. Breaking balance or controlling opponent is the first goal to obtain without using excessive muscle strength.

On the other hand, we must understand the limitations of low-impact in the efficienty during “real” self-defense situations or athletic sparring. How to handle very powerful opponents need different type of training. This is going beyond the main purpose of a self-improvement method with low-impact sparring.

Hida method (Tanden training )

“This way is not mine, it is not my new method, the masters of the past have already largely said everything on the subject. But what I have done is simply to detail more, and at the same time to popularize this teaching, this knowledge. In addition, I experimented directly with myself on each exercise, and for that, looking back, I can not help but feel a little pride “(H.Hida)

The Hida method is in a strict sense not a martial art method, but it contains a lot of concepts useable for martial art.
It is often used in martial arts for the research of self-improvement or wellbeing, but nobody, apart from its founder itself, has been able to acquire so many capacities. It is an original creation of Haramitsu Hida.
Most of the concepts are focused around the Hara – Tanden – Koshi.

Central power 中心  

Note : Shodai Soke Okuyama used to term of  Kongouriki (金剛力) as power than focuses and come from the Tanden/hara (Hakko Ryu Shodan Higishi Japanese edition).

Kongōriki)’s Japanese Kanji is the compound of Kongou (金剛(こんごう) Kongō), meaning “indestructible”, which comes from the Japanese word, Kongousho (金剛杵 Kongōsho), meaning “something extremely hard” or “of extreme strength”, which is the equivalent of the Sanskrit word, vajra (वज्र), meaning “diamond” and “thunderbolt”, which is a double-headed scepter weapon used as a ritual object to symbolise the properties of diamond; indestructibility and of having the ability to destroy, and thunderbolt; irresistible force, in Hinduism, and Riki (力(りき) Riki), meaning “strength”.


I am certain you will find yourself if you are ready to start cross-training and have the benefit of these workouts.
Cross-training can give you more understanding of your principal art if you can find a complimentary method. If there is no overlapping, I am afraid you are losing your time.

Published by

Eddy Wolput

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.