Tandoku Undo: Simplified and Abstracted

I wrote about different aspects and concepts in tandoku undo – tegatana dosa in previous blog-posts. All aspects in our life are determined by our experiences in daily life, martial art is not an exception.

An interesting development is the motility of the center line to invoke taijū no dendō and koshi-mawari. Using the center line can be also seen as taijū no ido or transmission of power by using momentum.

This development has also an impact on how we move and use power during partner exercises.

The concept: Tandoku Undo

Teruo Fujiwara on Tandoku Undo or Yawara Taiso (Judo exercises).
The time when I studied under Tomiki-shihan in 1956-1958 is called ‘the age of Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso). The main ways of moving the body and hands were picked from Aiki skills, then simplified and abstracted and organized as the exercise forms. These forms are ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso). The plan of making ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso) is that by doing them repeatedly, we can learn Aiki as if we learned hundreds of thousands of skills which can benefit our bodies in a positive fashion. . ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso) is the valuable legacy of Tomiki-sensei.

Simplified and abstracted

The significance of “simplified and abstracted” can be described as a method which can be used in different situations. We need to be able to detach a fixed application derived from the execution of a tandoku undo exercise. The implementation of tandoku undo in our training must create the gate to “creativity”. By using “creativity” we can cope with a different situation.

Tandoku undo: Unsoku & Tegatana dosa

When we talk about tandoku undo, we have to consider 2 kinds of tandoku undo:

  • Tandoku undo – unsoku (foot movements)
  • Tandoku undo – tegatana dosa (using hand blade or swordhand)


Most of the unsoku or foot movements are already described in an earlier blog post. As a reminder, ayumi ashi and tsugi ashi will be described with chidori ashi integrated. The function of the center line and koshi mawari is included.

During the exercise, tilting the pelvic region is needed to bring the center line vertical. Don’t forget, speed is not a good companion to become aware of the center line and gravity. Speed is in a moderate mode.

Ayumi ashi

Tsugi ashi

The use of isometric pressure in the front leg is used to move forward after releasing the pressure.

Tegatana dosa

Movement of tegatana can mimic an attack on a vulnerable section of the physical structure. But it can also mimic a movement of the tegatana, the arm included, when the wrist or arm is grabbed. Of course, there are other solutions.

These exercises can be performed in a static way (no tsugi ashi movement) or with tsugi ashi movement. The use of ayumi ashi can be found in tandoku undo – tegatana dosa 4-5.

When we like to practise tandoku undo tegatana dosa with tsugi, read the blog post about Nanba walking and isometric tension to understand some important concepts.

Taking Basic Posture

Tandoku undo Tegatana dosa 1-3

Tandoku undo 1 – Shomen uchi/shomen tsuki

Because this is a simplified and abstracted version, the performance is in fact still complex if we bring into account the many aspects of efficient movement.

In the execution of the basic JAA-version, there is a forward and backward tsugi ashi. At first sight, there is no tilting of the center line forward or backward. Merely it is there! A displacement of the body is managed by using the body weight and gravity, together with leg movement. If we do some research on the mechanics of walking and running, the role of gravity is important. And there is another peculiar item, pendulum-like movement.

During walking on Earth, at 1.0 g of gravity, the work done by the muscles to maintain the motion of the centre of mass of the body is reduced by a pendulum-like exchange between gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy.

This is the reason why in the exercises the center line is moving ahead and backward, even if we don’t use tsugi ashi.

Some other important item of efficient body movement is “rotation”. The function of the pelvis (koshi) is underestimated and mostly also not understood. If we look around the internet, you will find many academic articles about the function of pelvic rotation in body movement and also how to avoid injuries and back pain.

Without tsugi ashi

Front view

Side view

With tsugi ashi

Tandoku undo 2 – Uchi mawashi/soto

Without tsugi ashi

In this 2nd tegatana dosa, we are utilizing all the concepts of moving the body weight. Koshi mawari is an integral component of the exercise.

The angle of tegatana can be different depending on the objective, we are aiming for.

With tsugi ashi

Tandoku undo 3 – Uchi gaeshi/soto gaeshi

Without tsugi ashi

The 3rd tegatana dosa is a challenge for koshi mawari. The arm is synchronised with the koshi movement. Body weight is used as in the previous tegatana dosa.

With tsugi ashi

Tandoku undo Tegatana dosa 4-7

Tandoku undo 4 – Uchi mawashi tentai

The first 3 tegatana dosa can be practised without foot movement. Tegatana dosa 4 has a de mawari of forward turning step. A big uchi mawashi arm movement has various applications found in different koryu-no-kata.

Tandoku undo 5 – Soto mawashi tentai

This drill has an inbuilt foot movement, namely hiki-mawari or backward turning footstep. Soto mawashi arm movement is included. This usage has many applications found in Koryu-no-kata. Remark the use of the body weight.

The foot movement

Tandoku undo 6 – Ko mawashi

Turning 180° without stepping is the message in this tegatana dosa. Uchi mawashi and soto mawashi are included.

Tandoku undo 7 – O-mawashi

Body turns with stepping and vertical arm movements. Many applications can be found in koryu-no-kata.

Stepping out of the box

Years ago, one of my children made the remark: “What is the purpose of doing tandoku undo (unsoku and tegatana dosa) always in the same way for years and years like a robot.”
If we do the exercises with the belief by doing it frequently and many repetitions, it is a delusion we will progress.

By practising the exercises with understanding on a mental and physical level, progress will come step by step. Sometimes, progress will be big like an explosion, but mostly it will be minor and will occur only after practicing regularly with understanding.

Human behaviour (mentally and physically) can only advance in a positive direction when we step out of the box full of dogmas. Dogmas are created to keep people stupid an ignorant of evolution.

About shobukaidojo

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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