Author: Eddy Wolput °1948 – 7th dan Aikido (JAA-Tokyo/Japan) – 5th dan Iaido – 5th dan Jodo.
Part of the material in this article is not directly linked to the Japan Aikido Association (NPO) program or Shodokan approach. Other concepts are incorporated into the study of the subject presented.
Standard methods are methodological approaches to create a baseline for a given category of project activities in order to simplify the development of individual projects.
3 Standard Tomiki Aikido Uki Waza
For randori purposes, Kenji Tomiki selected 3 “otoshi” throws also known as floating throws.
These throws are executed in three zones seen from Tori’s perspective. The throwing power, generated by Koshi mawari (lower back and hip power) and unsoku (footwork) is executed in 1 of the 3 zones.
Uki waza are also included in Koryu no kata, traditional kata techniques in the Tomiki system.
Most Koryu no kata techniques have their roots in the pre-war martial arts studies of Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba. If we compare Koryu no kata with the pre-war techniques of Morihei Ueshiba, there are many similarities.
A Basic Footwork, one of the many
Proper footwork is a key factor for effective floating kuzushi and subsequent throwing. The pictures below give you an indication how doing basic footwork. When basic footwork is well understood, creativity is needed to develop a more convenient footwork.
Always remember the relationship to the training partner or opponent. Some opponents have longer arms than average, or some have short arms……………….
Kodokan Judo Connection
In Kodokan Judo we find similar techniques with a floating (uki) and dropping (otoshi) characteristics.
Uki otoshi (Kodokan Judo) performed by Senta Yamada
Judo throws are executed by using a standard grip on the dogi.
Of course, during Judo randori, many variations will be applied. This is called “grip fighting” or Kumi Kata.
During Tomiki Aikido Randori, Kumi Kata (Judo) must be avoided. For this reason wrist and elbow grabbing is the standardized procedure.
If you follow only 1 teacher, you will usually find 1 core method. When the teacher is the head of a larger organization, the teacher’s method is the norm. An international organisation obviously needs representatives and this is where the differentiation of methods lies. They have their own interpretation.
Standardised methods cannot be regarded as a fixed method, there will always be interpretations and modifications.
When we understand “form, function and meaning”, the differences in the method of grasping, throwing or other things can be considered a personal approach.
While the basic shape is present, minor differences are the result of mechanical and/or mental images and will have a positive impact on performance.
Uki Waza Grabbing Method
A Living Martial Art is always the subject of change and Aikido is not an exception.
As with most standard methods, there are always some modifications for example in the method to grab uke’s arm.
The demonstration of Kenji Tomiki (1975) and the explanation of Tadayuki Satoh (around 2014) is slightly different.
The concept of “kuzushi” is of course the same and you will find this also in Kodokan Judo.
Kenji Tomiki’s method
Sumi otoshi and hiki otoshi have a 2hands grip on Uke’s wrist. Mae otoshi has a hold of one hand on the wrist while the other arm pushes the elbow.
Tadayuki Satoh’s method
Mae otoshi is similar to Kenji Tomiki’s approach.
Sumi otoshi and Hiki otoshi have one hand on the wrist, the other hand is at the elbow.
Full coverage of Basic 17 by Tadayuki Satoh
Mae Otoshi Method
A couple more interpretations of “Mae otoshi”by Shogo Yamaguchi, Ryuchi Omori, T.Kobayashi and Konoka.
Sumi Otoshi Method
Sumi otoshi methods by Konoka, Shogo Yamaguchi, Ryuchi Omori and T.Kobayashi
Hiki Otoshi Method
Hiki otoshi methods by Konoka and Shogo Yamaguchi
Uki waza and weapons
Weapon handling uses the same body movements as for unarmed combat. In the Tomiki system the Koryu no kata (classic aikido techniques) introduces basic weapon handling. Bokuto, jo (yari) and tanto are used to teach the basics of these weapons.
The use the Jo is used to explain kuzushi. The example here is the use of the jo (yari) during sumi otoshi kuzushi.
Basic arm movements (tegatana dosa tandoku undo) can be used to introduce basic weapon handling. Using a weapon during tegatana dosa can be very challenging to do the correct body movements.
Tomiki aikido training includes unarmed combat as well as armed combat (softanto). Basic kata, is performed unarmed or with tanto (softanto).
Of course, if you like to go deeper into the science of swordfighting or other weapon system, you need a qualified instructor.
The floating feature – Uki
The feeling of “floating” situation can be felt as standing on an “unstable” surface.
Uke’s arm is lifted up high and is rotated (torsion) inward or outward (hineri/gaeshi). This creates a disconnection between the upperbody and the lower body.
Floating can be created as a defensive action when opponent is grabbing you at the wrist. Some formal “kuzushi” exercises developped in the Tomiki system make often use of this situation (for example 7-hon no kuzushi).
When using an offensive method, the grasping method on Uke’s arm has an important role to fullfill.
In general, basic arm movement will be used to create kuzushi (floating action) and followed by a throw (otoshi)
The features of a fall – Otoshi
Otoshi techniques can be found in different martial arts. The idea brought forward is the image of a waterfall.
Iaido has a Taki Otoshi kata. If you use your imagination, you’ll see the waterfall.
Jodo Maki Otoshi is a fundamental technique for quickly dropping the opponent’s sword with a Jo.
In general, all aikido techniques can be performed as a throw. Even kansetsu waza (hiji waza and tekubi waza) can be a throwing technique.
Uki waza uses the skill of “otoshi”, the quickly dropping down of uke’s body. Tori’s power is generated with correct body movement synchronised with gravity.
If only arm power is used, our technique will fail and the opponent will take over the initiative.
Remember, the origin of our power comes from koshi mawari (lower back and hip movement) and unsoku (footwork).
Stationary and dynamic training of Uki Waza
Before we can use “uki waza” as an application in randori or sparring, we must learn:
Form, function an understanding
First we learn the form in a basic format starting from tegatana awase postures. It is about how to use our body without moving around. Some footwork is included in the performance of Tori.
Uke does’t move or doesn’t resist. Uke is just lending his body and do the appropriate “ukemi”.
Afer some training, the function of the different elements (footwork, grasping skills…) will be understood and the separate body movements are transformed into a basic technique.
The introduction of footwork into the tegatana awase, a dynamic basic format of training creates the next step. The dynamic format gives a extra dimension to the training.
Of course this is not yet “randori”, all the elements of the training are programmed. Uke is using footwork, but still lend his body and uses no resistance.
The form is further investigated, the function of the form gives a broader scope of applications and the understanding will open the door to creativity in the training of randori.
Junanahon no kata, the starting point
There are many version of basic 17, all of them have the same techniques using the same concepts. These concepts are discussed in many articles and posts on this blog.
In the unarmed versions, the physical meeting (tegatana awase) is the starting point of the stationary training method mentioned earlier.
Find here an older version of basic 17 (1989).