Hiki Tate Geiko – Resistance Training

No matter how strong or how evil the persons we come across, we must not draw our sword, nor let him draw his. We must not cut him, nor allow him to cut us. We must not kill him nor do we let him kill us. By reason kindly persuade him to change his ways to become a better person. If, at the very last, after all your efforts, he won’t listen to you, then send him to his maker and destroy him completely.

Muso Shinden Jushin Ryu Iaido no Seishin (精神)

The purpose of training a martial art is to become a person strong in mind and body. Strengthening your mind and body need a lot of training and many pitfalls will be encountered during your travels of Budo.

Resisting without resistance

By absorbing the opponent’s power, we are able to withstand the attack without interrupting the opponent’s movement.
There are several methods of absorbing adversary’s power. Every method must be carried out carefully and without excessive use of local power.

At the end of this article, there are some examples of how I strengthen my mind and body.

The resisting concept

The resistance concept is with many practitioners not well understood. More often than not, they have the image of fighting the opponent’s movement. It is important to understand that blocking is not the best way to defeat power.

Nagashi or absorbing is a solution and is a method to control the power of the opponent.
Controlling the power of the enemy and yours is an important concept introduced into the curriculum by Kenji Tomiki and other prominent martial arts teachers. Tomiki focused on the concepts of aite-no-tsukuri (controlling the power and movement of the opponent) and jibun-no-tsukuri (controlling its own movements and power. Ju-no-ri or the principle of flexibility is based upon the skill of yielding.
The opposite of ju-no-ri is a go-no-ri or the principle of power. Every action is based on the balance between flexibility and power. Yielding is based on ju-no-ri but cannot exist without power.
Nagashi or yielding is not like moving away from the opponent’s action. The problem with stepping away is the gap you create between you and the opponent. When yielding, there will be no gap and you have access directly to the opponent’s center.

Strengthening Mind and Body

Strengthening is a process to make your mind and body strong but flexible, ready to enter the unknown. There are several methods to forge mind and body and Budo can be one of the methods. Budo doctrine is based upon much older systems promoting survival methods in a cruel world.
Budo training is a matter of daily training and surely not a sort of recreation time practised once or twice a week in a training hall.

In fact, each activity to live in our society as an effective yet compassionate person can be considered a form of Budo.

Randori, jumping into the Unknown

Randori is a term used in Japanese martial arts to describe free-style practice. The term literally means “chaos taking” or “grasping freedom,” implying a freedom from the structured practice of kata. Randori may be contrasted with kata, as two potentially complementary types of training.
Randori is certainly not street fighting or cage fighting. During randori there are some rules. We cannot intentionally hurt someone or using techniques with the purpose to damage the opponent.

Are you ready for randori?

Basically, it is your sensei who knows if you are ready for randori. Sensei will guide you through the different levels of randori (kakari-geiko, hikitate-geiko and randori-geiko).
Of course there are some guidelines to follow, but overal speaking it is your sensei who decides.
Find here Japan Aikido Association guidelines (1990). These requirements are based upon upon University membership. Students are practising 5 or 6 times a week.

Minimal Timescale

In 2013 new requirements were published for International Grading within the JAA. The outlook of these requirements are more oriented for a non-student membership.

Minimal Timescale

Becoming a shodan takes “minimal 2 years” if you practise on a regular trainingscheme without interupting your training.
Kakari geiko is the goal for these persons.

To become a sandan, it takes minimal 5 years after you entered the dojo as a beginner. The goal is “hiki-tate-geiko”.

Randori, 3 types and shu-ha-ri

The relationship between the 3 kinds of randori and Shu Ha Ri may not be obvious. Mostly it is referred as “keep, break and leave”. Of course this is an incomplete definition. There is also a component of respect towards your teacher. Your Sensei will be always your teacher. This concept of respect has to be included in the different kinds of randori.

  • Kakari geiko – Shu
  • Hikitate geiko – Ha
  • Randori geiko – Ri

In kakari geiko, the roles of attacking and defending are determined. We can talk about teachers/attackers and students/defendants. Sure, there is some freedom in timing and distance.

During hikitate geiko, the attacker has the freedom to interact during the actions of the defendant. There is still the role of teachers/attackers and students/defendants.

Randori geiko is a process for the physical discussion of the art of fighting. Both practitioners recognize the equality of the two, but still there can be a relationship of teacher and student.

Entering Shiai (competition)

Randori Shiai based upon Ju/Go principles need a physical and mental level of understanding. According the latest JAA grading requirements, a sandan has to demonstrate the skills of hiki-tate-geiko. In principal, a sandan cannot enter randori shiai.
Of course most practitioners are entering “shiai” after they got the skill of ukemi and can perform basic techniques.
The question is: Are they ready to perform well during shiai?

Is it necessary to enter Shiai?

Randori geiko is not shiai, nor to win medals. As mentioned before, it is a physical discussion to find a solution according the principles of the practised system.
By violating the principles, you don’t understand the purpose of your study and training of Budo.

Luckily, some practitioners understands the necessity of training according the principles. They will also spend time on personal training without having a training partner or sensei.

How to strenghten your mind and body?

Mind and body cannot be separated, we need the body to strengthen the mind and vice versa.

Ritsuzen – standing exercise
Ritsuzen is a very dynamic exercise, although from the outside there is almost no movement. Different postures can be adopted.
Keeping a posture while the mind is performing a focused movement. The body is reacting with very tiny movements depending on the adopted posture.
A daily sesssion of 20 to 30 minutes is necessary to have a result in about 3 to 6 months.

Ritsuzen is developping a very strong centerline from perineum to the top of the head (seichusen). This line is necessary to keep your body strong but flexible. Without this line the body is collapsing when an external force is acting on you. After some training, expanding force into 6 directions is a next step during standing training.

Ashi sabaki & Ritsuzen
Ashi sabaki is a footwork method, in other words, how to move around in accordance with an opponent. In the Tomiki Aikido system, footwork is called “unsoku-ho”.
Basically, there are only 2 ashi sabaki used during training.

  • Ayumi ashi – stepping
  • Tsuri ashi – sliding feet

When performing ashi sabaki, the body keeps the posture of ritsuzen. Footwork should be done primarily in a forward direction, but can also be done by moving backwards, to the side and rotating the body 180° or more.

Tegatana dosa & Ashi sabaki
Tegatana is a somewhat misleading word if it is designated as a sword hand. In fact tegatana refers to the arm and tegatana dosa should be considered as arm movements.
Tegatana dosa includes the skills of expanding force practised during ritsuzen training.

6 directions of expanding force.

  • Up and down
  • Left and right
  • Forward and backward

Expanding force is a skill which is practised in a basic format during ritsuzen training. When practising footwork with ritsuzen postures, expanding force is fundamental during training.

The expansion of power is above all a question of mind. If you can visualize a force which is expanding from the center of your body into your arms and legs, you have set the first step into expanding force. I recall the phrase: the body follows the mind.

A basic posture of Ritsuzen

The art of the sword as practiced in Aïkido.

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.

The art of the sword in Tomiki Aikido is mainly practised as a form of kata. Koryu no kata dai san (tachi tai tachi) is a primary source for Tomiki Aikido practitioners.
Unfortunately, most practitioners are very weak in their ability to use the sword. The lack of knowledge in most instructors is the main reason. To solve this problem, an instructor may seek guidance from an authentic swordinstructor.
Tachi tai tachi is an introduction to the use of the sword. This kata includes techniques and strategies.

The 1st “waza”

Strategy is a major component of this technique. Direct penetration of the enemy is a skill that can also be used in a toshu (unarmed) situation.

The 1st technique or Shomen Ate of the Tomiki Aikido Basic Kata is an example. Some information about Shomen Ate can be found in “The Sensei Enigma” article on this blog.

Kata 2 & 3

Avoid cutting must be done when the opponent cannot change direction.
Avoidance is different from moving away. During avoidance, the distance is kept to counterattack. Retreating means increasing the distance and making the counter-attack more difficult.

Tsuki

Tsuki enters at the right moment. Too early and too late will destroy the possibility of “Tsuki”.

Do barai

Do barai is a sweeping action aimed at stopping the impetus of the attacker. Fundamentally, it does not cut the opponent.

Kote uchi

Kote Uchi is a controlling action of the opponent’s wrist after sweeping away the sword.

Nagashi

Nagashi is a skill at using the power of the attack and getting back at the opponent.

The last Kata

Semete or keeping pressure is the basic action in this kata.

Ma, Movement without moving

In another post we discussed MA-AI. When practising martial arts, we encounter sometimes problems with timing and distance. Musashi Miyamoto wrote extensivily about these problems and solutions: Hyoshi.

Hyoshi: cadence, rhythm and tempo

In many other forms of art such as theatre, music and body arts, hyoshi is also applied to solve the issues of cadence, rhythm and tempo.

Akira Hino

Hyoshi is the synchronisation of cadence, rhythm and tempo.

Cadence
Cadence refers to the speed and time taken to complete a series of a single movement.

Rhythm
Just as musical rhythms are defined by a pattern of strong and weak beats, so repetitive body movements often depends on alternating “strong” and “weak” muscular movements.

Tempo
Tempo is the speed of synchronised movements

To understand “hyoshi”, we need the skill of “chokei” or listening to the body of the partner. This skill is related to another skill “mushin” or a state of mindlessness.
The concept of partner has to be seen in a much broader sense than an attacker in a martial art environment. This is a short minded interpretations of partner.
To illustrate with another example. Your are standing at the seaside with a very strong breeze. You need to adapt to this kind of power provided by your partner, the strong wind. When you can adapt, you also can perform your movements, included the movement without moving.

Waza => Katachi => Kata

It is of course no wonder, performing “katachi and kata” takes in account the concept of “hyoshi”.

Kata represents a meaningful form, or a form with purpose, as opposed of the alternative, Katachi, an empty form which has to be filled in.

When studying Japanese martial arts, the concept of “Kata” comes forward. How to master “Kata” is not an easy task and need physical and mental involvement from the practitioner.
When kata is performed, several elements has to be harmonized. First of all, the sequence of the different movements have to be memorized. When this problem is solved, the content of the movements has to be filled in. When you realize you can perform the form or katachi full of content, you have to transform the form into “Kata” by knowing what you are doing.
The meaning of knowing is having the feeling the movements are your own and you can manipulate them without hesitation. One of the more difficulties in the understanding is the movement without moving.

Ma, bridge between two movements

The idea of nothingness, or void (Mushin) has promoted such approaches as ink drawing with blank space, calligraphy with a dry brush, and music with resonant silence.


Spiritual Arts and Education of “Less is More” MATSUNOBU


In the practice of Katachi, you will experience moments without movement. It has an essential function in creating “Kata”. Without this function, the Katachi cannot transform into a Kata. When performing “Kata” , 2 important items will give “spirit” to your performance:

Ma describes the tension between 2 actions. It is neither space nor time. If a stoppage of movement functions simply as a rest in the execution of a complete technique, the “waza” would lose its force in the functionalism of the waza structure.

Spiritual Arts and Education of “Less is More” MATSUNOBU

Ma-Ai, the art of harmonising Time and Space

Ma, spatiotemporal interval – Ai, harmony
Ma-ai integrates space, time, and rhythm and is the ideal situation to control a confrontation.
Controlling the situation or in other words “controlling the actions of the opponent” is depending on Hyoshi.
Ma-ai is not only about distance, it is dynamic process. Depending on the situation, distance will vary and is adjusted with the proper timing.
Don’t confuse ma-ai with the 3 kind of distance. In each distance, the skill of ma-ai can be used.

When there is no physical contact it is called To-ma.


Making physical contact but still safe in your own environment it is called Uchi-ma.


Chika-ma is the distance for using power. Without controlling opponent actions it is very unsafe.

Form, function and meaning

The threee stages to mastery of Kata by integrating form, function and meaning

  • Learn the sequence – Form
  • Filling in content – Function
  • Understand – Meaning

Waza – Katachi – Kata

Remember Senta Yamada wrote in 1962:
Basic 15 (Katachi no jugo) or Basic techniques (waza) for Randori

They can be split into 4 sections. Three apply to attacks, four use elbow techniques, four are concerned with wrist twists, and four with wrist turns.
These form the framework for the system and should be considered as the first essential to progress. Time should be allowed, periodically, for the practise of these “katachi” moves, because they serve to remind you to keep posture and movement fresh and sound. The importance of this cannot be stressed too strongly.

Initially Katachi is an empty form, a template which need training to become alive.

(The Japanese way)
Adapted from an article by Kumiko Ikuta (1990) AI & Soc 4: 127-146

Waza is a skill within the Japanese traditional performance arts or martial arts such as Noh, Kabuki, Aikido, Judo and others.
Waza will be shown by a sensei and a learner can master it only through the activity of imitating and repeating what his sensei does.

“Katachi” is an apparent physical form of waza (1 or more) performed by the learner, which may be decomposed into parts and described as a sequence of procedures.
On the contrary, “Kata”, which has been regarded as the ultimate goal of the learner to attain in learning “Waza”, is not a simple collection of parts of action like “Katachi”, but his understanding and personal expression of “Katachi”

‘Mushin’,

For many practitioners a non-religious holistic spirituality remains the fundamental purpose of continued practice in budo.

No-mind, or a state of mindlessness.

We mentioned before, moving without movement. We also can say ” a mind without mind”. A “no-mind” mind is not affected by the ego and has the ability to manage the problems of spaciotemporal interval in martial art situation.
When training becomes a transcedental tool, budo training can be seen as a form of physical and spiritual training. Any human art can reform into a spiritual path and can create a “no-mind” mind.

The state of mind between 2 movements need a “mushin” mind without interference of daily concerns.
This is also applicable when you start learning an art involving the body and mind.

Personal spiritual development has to be disconnected with the belief that spiritual development is associated with religion.
There is no “god” in personal spiritual development.

Learning by doing

Western student wants to know “what, why, how” before attempting an exercise. Otherwise they’re not motivated to practice. We often want the answer before we even know the question!
In Japan, it’s the total opposite…The Japanese student is encouraged to find the answers by practicing. This is the difference between ”learning by asking” vs. ”learning by doing”.
The role of a Sensei is actually not to answer your questions, but to aid self-discovery.

Tomiki Aikido, a game to find spirituality

It was only after several years of training that I realized that the most profound purpose of martial arts is to act as a vehicle for personal spiritual development. This development is completely different than beating an opponent or winning a medal.

Tomiki Aikido is occasionally associated to “competition”. For the outside world, competition makes winning medals seem important.
Earning a medal is fun and gives a good feeling so… You get to win with a perfect “waza”. To reach the level of the perfect “waza” you need a lot of training and sometimes people lose the path and only see the medal.
Remember, learning by doing…. and have fun once in awhile.

Practical Mushin Mugamae

Mushin Mugamae, a magical phrase used by Kenji Tomiki to highlight the essence of martial arts. He used martial arts as a vehicle to understand the man behind Kenji Tomiki and invited us to do the same, as a passionate person for martial arts.
However, Mushin mugamae means nothing if we forget our deepest feelings. Those deeper feelings are all about “sensitiveness”. Without “sensitivity” our life becomes boring and you will not get any “Kokoro”. The idea of “Kokoro” translates better like our “heart”, not the physical but the emotional heart. If the emotional heart becomes active, our sensitivity goes up and we are fully aware of the world in which we live.

Mushin mugamae and Kokoro are very practical skills and can only be used when implemented in our training.

Someone asked: “I have heard that Taiji Boxing comes from Daoism. The principles of Daoism emphasize non-competition. As Laozi said [Daodejing, chapter 8]: ‘If you do not compete, you will not lose.’ But boxing arts are all about fighting against people. If we say “don’t fight”, doesn’t that contradict what boxing arts are for?”
  I replied that this is indeed the unique characteristic of Taiji Boxing. It says in the Treatise: “The basic of basics is to forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent. We often make the mistake of ignoring what is right in front of us in favor of something that has nothing to do with our immediate circumstances.” This is a fundamental Taiji Boxing principle, to let go of your own ego and pay full attention to what the opponent is doing. If you can let go of yourself and follow the opponent, does this does not conform to the concept of non-competing?

運用
ON APPLYING THE ART
施調梅
by Shi Diaomei
[published in Taiwan by the 華新印書館有限公司 Huaxin Publishing Company, June, 1959]

Mushin Mugamae

In the quote above, there is a remarkable sentence: “The basic of basics is to forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent”.
In my opinion this reflects in simple words the idea of Mushin Mugamae. Theoretically spoken, this is a concept which can be understood easily on an intellectual level. But practically, this is a completely other story.

Action with a “Mushin Mugamae” attitude

Sometimes the perception of Mushin Mugamae is about “no action”, “motionless”. Actually, there can be much action by applying Mushin Mugamae. When our sensitivity is active, we can move without intent to control and/or harm the opponent. That doesn’t mean we don’t have control over the opponent’s actions. The no-intention, action is not recognised as aggressive by the opponent. The skill of “Sen” or ” taking the initiative” are the result of of no-intention in action.
There are plenty of ways to show “no intention”. The following is a non-exclusive list.

Touching the opponent

When you make physical contact with the opponent, you only have ” the intention” to touch. No other thoughts are in your mind. In this case, the opponent is not offended by your action.
Touching is like using a feather to touch the opponent without power. The structure of the feather is not disturbed.

Moving with the opponent

After touching the opponent, we can move with him without using power. Our mind has no intention to change something in our relationship with the opponent.

Borrowing the opponent’s power

This is only possible if you can touch and move along with the opponent.
Borrowing the power is storing the energy in your body. This energy can be used after you have neutralized the power of the opponent which exceeded your storage capacity.
Tenshikei or rotational strength storing and releasing, is such an example.

Neutralizing the opponent’s power

When you borrow the opponent’s power, there is a chance your opponent has much more than you can store. You have to neutralize this energy into the earth. Your body will act as an energy transmitter. You only can do this when your body has a good structure (shizentai). This structure can act in two ways, incoming power and outgoing power.

Pushing the opponent – issuing power

There are a number of ways to push. A basic idea is to use the rebound of the neutralized energy from the opponent and/or release the stored power.
Using pushing power can be done without the use of energy produced by yourself. It gives you an advantage that you don’t waste energy.
Of course, it is also possible to generate strength by using our body smartly and economically. We can find many examples of merging mind and body applications in the field of high-performance sports activities. After all, martial arts can be considered a high level of sport.
Our force can be channelled in different ways and will depend on the circumstances of our relationship with the opponent or training partner.

Attract the opponent’s power

Everyone knows the power of “seduction”. There is a constant attraction to sugar, alcohol, tobacco and sex.
How to drag in the power of the opponent before a physical manifestation of an attack is an act of seducing the opponent.
Essentially, the art of seduction rests on the creation of an image in the mind. This image will feed an intention, and this intention must be captured with touch skill, as explained above.
It is totally different to force a reaction by means of a physical attack.
Everybody knows the skill of “go-no-sen”. This is a defensive action after the physical appearance of an attack. We can find many examples in the basic kata.
Unfortunately, I think it’s a misunderstanding of the application in the kata. A skillfull attacker will not attack you if there is no gap in your posture. You’re supposed to invite the attack.

Koryu no kata

In Koryu no kata dai Ichi, several examples can be found of the previously mentioned applications of “Mushin Mugamae” performed by Takeshi Inoue and dr Lee ah Loi.

The art of grabbing the wrist

So someone strikes you with his fist: go with your right hand turned and catch the stroke from the inside in your hand, hold it firmly; grasp his elbow with your left hand, raising it up, as depicted here; and step with your left foot toward him so that you throw him over the foot and break his arm.

Codex Wallerstein
A Medieval Fighting Book from the 15th Century on the longsword, falchion, dagger and wrestling.

Originally German Language – Printed 1549

If you look at Aikido, you will see a lot of wrist grabbing in addition to the different ways of using tegatana to apply Atemi-waza and/or defensive tactics.
There are plenty of explanations for catching the wrist. The capture of the wrist in Japanese martial arts dates back to the samurai era to stop the removal of the sword from the scabbard. Of course, many other cases can be found even in everyday life.


A parent may take the child’s wrist to go elsewhere if the child does not listen.

The wrist grab in Korean Drama

On TV, Korean men are always shown grabbing women’s wrists and dragging them either away from something or toward themselves. This may sound like borderline gender violence.
Grabbing a wrist is considered much more appropriate even among friends or colleagues as opposed to holding someone’s hand which is reserved strictly for lovers. Also, they grab it firmly but they don’t try to pull your arm off.

Aikido wrist grabbing

You often hear people asking why in Aikido there is an obsession with wrist grabbing. It seems like every technique starts with “grab my wrist.”
As mentioned earlier, the origin of Aikido is in the martial arts of supposedly samurai training. Grabbing the wrist is to prevent the opponent from using his sword. Examples can be found within the Iai-jutsu advanced training.

Another example is how to prevent of drawing the sword

Wrist grabbing in non-aikido martial art context

The kimura lock, also called double wristlock (catch wrestling), chicken wing or gyaku ude-garami (judo) is a grappling submission hold of uncertain origin, being catch wrestling and judo. The submission bears the name of “Kimura” after the famous athlete Masahiko Kimura who defeated Helio Graciewith this joint-lock in a legendary match for combat sports, which took place on October 23, 1951.

Wrist grabbing can be seen in the combat sport “wrestling”.

“Junte” and “Gyakute”

Fundamentally, there are 2 kinds of grabbing the wrist.

  • Junte, wrist grabbing with thumb and indexfinger in the direction of opponents shoulder
  • Gyakute, wrist grabbing with little finger in the direction of opponents shoulder

These methods are used in various situations. And it is not always the purpose of blocking the wrist into a situation where the arm cannot be used to attack you.
Grabbing the wrist can also be a set-up for a waza to control or throwing the opponent after Uke grabbed you by the wrist.

Examples of gyakute

How to grasp

Basically, wrist grabbing is similar to grasping the handle of a sword.
The basic rule is to grasp strongly with the middle finger and keeping contact withe the base of the little finger.

In martial arts with a stick, for example Jodo, grasping have similar rules.

Grasping the collar or sleeve

This type of grasping is fundamental in Judo or similar fighting sports. It is typical for martial arts practitioners wearing a strong dogi.

Wrist grabbing on a moving arm

Wrist grabbing when someone is trying to hit you with tegatana or fist is not so easy and will be the result of a skill with tegatana.
In Tomiki’s Aikido there is a training situation where Uke is using a mock knife, called tanto. Uke is striking to Tori, which avoid the strike with the proper foot movements and tegatana movement. Of course, the example is simplified and needs randori training to become a real skill.

Skill or Waza?

Martial Arts are mainly based upon the use of “waza”, mostly translated as “techniques”.
This is in fact only a distant approximation of reality. A technique is the visible part of a waza. I believe that if we use the word “skill”, we are getting closer to the true understanding of “waza”.
Of course “skill” also has several levels, and each level has specific attributes.

Skill and Sub-skills

To give more information on “skill and its sub-skills” we can use an example taken from Tomiki’s Basic Kata (Randori no kata).
Gyaku gamae ate (performed by Senta Yamada)

Same “waza performed by Yoshiomi Inoue

The pictures by Senta Yamada gives you an overal view of Gyaku gamae ate. We can see the basic outline of the technique.

  • Opponent or Uke comes forward with arm to symbolize an attack
  • Defender or Tori sweeps away the incoming arm
  • Tori steps in to close the gap
  • Makes contact of Uke’s head
  • Moves forward and pushes Uke down

We can neither see nor feel what is actually going on. It’s just a “technicality”.
There are several components of this technique that require training to transition from the technical component to the sub-skill. After enough training of the components, putting together the components to form gyaku gamae ate (waza) is the next challenge.
In Inoue’s video, we can see certain components that are important for him to create a successful gyaku gamae ate.

Another example of gyaku gamae ate by Tetsuro Nariyama brings different components to the foreground.

Nariyama’s power management differs from Inoue’s power usage. However, certain components are similar. Differences are likely influenced by the different body structure.
We cannot merely copy the movements of an instructor with a different body structure, we need to look at the underlying components of the waza.

Randori gyaku gamae ate
During randori other factors need to be in considiration. Opponent is resisting and is also trying to apply a succesfull attack or waza. Practitioners have to rely completely upon their skills fostered during the many hours of training in the dojo.

Underlying components

Some of the components are hidden and are regarded as internal components, something we cannot see from the outside. If you are an expierenced practitioner and a good observer, you can see the result of the internal skill.

Internal skill is the ultimate goal for some practitioners and sometimes have a mysterious component to cover up the practitioner’s ignorance. But actually, most of these mysterious elements can be explained by comprehensible explanations.

Power Management

When you use power, for the most part follows a linear vector. Yet power does not follow a strict straight line. There’s a spiral pattern based on our corporeal structures. In many scientific literature we can find: Principle of spiral arrangement of skeletal muscles of humans and animals.
This principle has an enormous effect on our movements and the management of power.

Rotational movement

To turn an object, the force must be applied at a distance from its axis, and the greater the distance, the greater the effect of rotation or rotation.

Invoke a rotational movement into the opponent’s body is one of methods to create “kuzushi”.
Unfortunately, our movements are based on a rather complex spiral pattern of our structures for body movements and this can become a difficult task for the inexperienced practitioner. The opponent is not always willing to allow a skill that can destroy the balance. The opponent can use several moves to neutralise our attempts to “kuzushi” and perhaps take the initiative.
If our attempts fail to disrupt the balance of the opponent, there is a tendency to use muscle power to force the opponent to destabilize.

Rotational movements are experienced by the 2 persons involved:

  • The one who uses spiral force to create kuzushi and performs a “waza”
  • The one who receives the rotational power and loses the equilibrium

Between the 2 persons, there is a need to create “a bridge” for transfer the spiral power. Mostly during aikido practise, the arms (and hands) are used for this purpose. Sometimes, the legs can be used, eventually with the support of the arms.

The bridge between Tori and Uke

In most cases, the arms will be used to transfer spiral power into opponent’s body. Tegatana and shotei are frequently used to touch opponent’s body. Both weapons are driven by the elbow, functioned as a transfer tool for the power generated by the lower body.
The function of the elbow as a transfer tool is performed in several exercises, specially designed for that purpose. A well-known exercise is Hiriki no yosei and instructs you to move from your center and transfer power to the elbow(s).

The grabbed arm is used as a bridge for transferring power in the opponent’s body and creates “kuzushi”.

The 8 sotai dosa based upon the 5 basic arm movements, are another type of exercises to study the transfer of power throught the elbow. These exercises are a so-called “foot into the door” for kuzushi practice. Nevertheless, without an appropriate use of power, we can practice for many years without a good outcome on the resisting opponents.

How to make a bridge

Extending power through your arm without tensing up the muscles involved.
One of the difficulties during making a bridge to transfer the power from the lower body is the tension in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. It is very difficult to change the habit of shoulder tension. One of the exercises to get rid of this tension is to practise “ritsuzen” with the arm at the height of approximal the “kyokotsu” or the lower part of the sternum. Basically it is a practise for the mind, because our focused thoughts can make the shoulders more flexible.

Starter and distribution engines: Koshi and Kyokotsu

Our body has to move in such a way that the part of the body that is in motion is being driven by the body part which moved just before it. That way we create a wave of energy up our body. The lower half of our body should therefore always move a fraction of second before our upper half.

We have two engines that can operate in an independent fashion. The former is the main engine of our body which is our “Koshi Engine” powered by the use of the “tanden”. The second, our “Kyokotsu engine” acts as the distribution center for the lower body power.
The knees act as a transfer system for absorption and power transmission, from feet to Koshi or from Koshi to feet.
In the case of our Kyokotsu motor, the elbows serve as a transfer system, from kyokotsu to hands or hands to kyokotsu.
Even though we may be generating a high level of tension across our muscles, tendons and fascia, our body and joints must still be relaxed enough so that they are free to rotate.
To recall, the central axis of the body serves as the main vertical axis of the rotation of the main body. The length axis of the arms (and in lesser mode the legs) acts as the rotating axis to transport the power.

Tomiki’s Principles for Budo

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.

The word “principle”

The word “principle” has many explanations and this can create some confusion. Also in martial arts.
Some explanations found in Merriam Webster.

  • a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions
  • a basic truth or theory : an idea that forms the basis of something
  • a law or fact of nature that explains how something works or why something happens

Not all martial arts principles are in accord with physical and/or mechanical principles.
The real meaning behind martial arts is less about fighting and more about developing oneself at its ultimate potential, physically and mentally is achieved. The principles are the same for young people as for the old one. The difference is about balancing the physical and the mental.

Eddy Wolput

陰陽の理 – Onmyō no ri – Yin-Yang principle – Ju and Go

The interaction of both gentle and firm forces

Our existence is regulated by the interaction between Yin and Yang (Yn and Yo). Some refer to this as a dualistic concept. But I think this is not true, it is a concept of monism with 2 fundamental energies acting as a whole. Balance is a lifelong challenge.
Refusing gentleness or firmness will lead to separation and separation goes to the extreme. Remember, gentleness versus firmness is not the situation, but gentleness/firmness as a oneness is the Michi or Dō.
You may be wondering how the main principle of Ju-Go relates to martial arts, especially Aikido.
It is a good opportunity to review a few ideas put forward by Kenji Tomiki.

Tomiki’s Theory

Kenji Tomiki has written a lot of books about martial arts. Perhaps most famous for Westerners is “Judo and Aikido”. But I think “Budo Ron” is the best book he’s ever written. Unfortunately, this book is not translated completely. However, part of it is used and translated, for example by Fumiaki Shishida, retired professor at the University of Waseda.

Kenji Tomiki has always insisted on the use of “principles” in its training programmes for Judo and Aikido. These principles are based mainly upon the work of Jigoro Kano. See more in “On jujutsu and its modernization”.

What is a principle in Martial Arts?

A martial art principle is a law of physics or a property of physiology that makes your techniques work. As such, they are universal and apply to all styles and systems. Find here some examples

  1. Leverage: the longer the lever arm, the more power you can apply.
  2. Structure: Using bone instead of muscle to keep a strong structure. Bone doesn’t get tired.
  3. Balance: Understand the elements of balance (Base and Center of Gravity).
  4. Gravity: Gravity is always there. Whenever possible, use gravity and let your weight goes down.
  5. More…..

Most of these principles are very fundamental and may be found in the applications of our daily life. For example, lifting a heavy box according to principles is safe for the body. Using bad posture can damage your body.

But not all martial arts principles are in accord with physical and/or mechanical principles.
The real meaning behind martial arts is less about fighting and more about developing oneself at its ultimate potential, physically and mentally is achieved. The principles are the same for young people as for the old one. The difference is about balancing the physical and the mental.

理 (Ri) – Principle – reason – logic

Kenji Tomiki took inspiration from Jigoro Kano’s Kodokan Judo principles to formulate his Aiki method. The principles according to Kenji Tomiki are fundamental elements and are the essential characteristics of the system. But are these “principles” the same as the word “principle” that was referenced earlier?
The Japanese word “RI” in the case of Tomiki Aikido may be very confusing, particularly if we translate into a non-English language. Translation in French gives us: “logique” or “sens” or logic and reason. In Spanish we have: “lógica” and “principio”, and if translated into English: logic and start or principle. And in Dutch: rede; redelijkheid; (gezond) verstand. In English provides the Dutch translation: reason; reasonableness; (good sense).

Yōso-fundamental elements – 要素‎

Aikido follows the laws of nature, and without the link with these universal laws a system becomes a delusion.
There are laws specific to the human body, rules specific to the relations between human bodies, as well as rules proper to the relations between the human beings within the framework of martial arts. All these laws are real and concrete realities useful for Eastern and Western people..

I learned from Akira Hino the importance of Yōso* or fundamental elements in our life and the applications in martial arts. His seminars are not focused solely upon martial arts, but cover also other facets of our human society.

Those elements are described in his book: Don’t Think, Listen to the Body! Introduction to the Hino Method and Theory of human body and movement control.

On this blog you will find many “fundamental elements” based upon his ideas how the body and mind function in modern society.

*Yōso – 要素‎: literally translated as “element or principle.

Principles according Kenji Tomiki

  1. The principle of natural body (shizentai no ri – 自然体 の 理), which concerns posture. This is a natural, unrestricted posture from which it is possible to attack and defend, adapting to any kind of assault.
  2. The principle of gentleness (ju no ri), which concerns the position of defense. It says, do not oppose the offensive power of any kind of antagonist with force. Rather, render that force ineffective by moving your body out of the way (taisabaki).
  3. The principle of breaking balance (kuzushi no ri), which concerns the position of attack. This says to go and build a chance of winning by taking advantage of the breaking of your opponent’s balance or by adhering to his body.

Shizentai no ri

Shizentai is mostly translated as “natural body”. But in the context of Tomiki Aikido, shizentai is holding the body posture according the laws of nature. We must consider our skeletal structure as something to give shape to our body and give support to our movement system. The muscles and tendons are needed to do our movements. Gravity, balance….are elements to keep our structure according natural laws, or in Tomiki Aikido language: shizentai

Ju no ri

Ju no ri is not a principle in the sense of a natural law, but it is a kind of tactical concept. By using the concept of a natural body, we can understand and apply how to use power generated according natural laws. These powers act according 陰陽の理 – Onmyō no ri – Yin-Yang – Ju and Go.

Why it is not a principle? “Ju” is part of the Ju-Go principle, the interaction of the two forces of gentleness and firmness. We cannot separate Ju-Go because it is fundamental to our existence.
The Ju and Go energies are conceived as essentially one, or as two co-existing forces of an indivisible whole.

I think, if there is too much focus on Ju or the concept of gentleness, the concept of Go becomes an almost forbidden idea although we can see often the concept of Go as a skill during randori and shiai.

Kuzushi no ri

Kuzushi or disturbing the equilibrium is an important element in the training. It is an application that teaches you to destroy shizentai. Kuzushi is created using the strength derived from our body and/or the power of the adversary. Remember what Tomiki said:


This says to go and build a chance of winning by taking advantage of the breaking of your opponent’s balance or by adhering to his body.

Kenji Tomiki


There are many methods how to generate power for balance breaking. Basically we can divide them in 2 categories:

Both powers can be seen in the exercises of 7-hon no kuzushi

Rendo – Whole body movement

Whole body movement is made of linked movement segments and it is called “rendo”. Although it is not only a physical action, the brain (and its functions) plays also an important role.

Rendo is more than a link between the movements of the body. Rendo may also be considered as connecting the “principles” to create whole body movements. Particularly the 3 major principles mentioned by Kenji Tomiki cannot be considered as separate elements. They must be merged before a “waza” may be used on the opponent. To do so, the logical sequence of the training method should be followed. Randori or sparring can be fun, but making it effective is only possible if we see the mind and the body as a whole.

A final word

There are many things to say about “Budō Principles” and other important elements. But I think everyone should follow their own path, and martial arts can help you find the essentials of life.
Kenji Tomiki created a training system based on an martial arts which has an origin in Japanese society.
Kano was a person who organised some traditional martial arts in a training system for ordinary people. Using Kano’s thinking, Tomiki followed in Kano’s footsteps to use older systems, methods which are not completely included in Kodokan Judo.
Aikido was a method developed by Morihei Ueshiba and his students, of which Tomiki one of the earliest.
With a lot of respect for Kano and Ueshiba, Tomiki gave a new dimension to some aspects of martial arts.
It is a challenge for all involved in Tomiki Aikido to walk in the footsteps of these teachers and find a suitable way to live in our multicultural society.

De-ai, timing factor

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.

Timing

Timing, a crucial factor in martial arts. It is clearly expressed in the skill of “De-Ai”.

“Find the vulnerable moment in the opponent at the moment when he launches his attack. This kind of counterattack that is executed in the void instant when your opponent is just beginning to launch his attack is called “deai”.”

Kenji Tokitsu – 1979 – Le voie du karaté – pour une théorie des arts martiaux japonais

But what distinguishes de-ai from concepts like go no sen, sen no sen, and sen sen no sen? De-ai skill counters in the moment an attack takes place. When it comes to “sen sen no sen” it can be clearly distinguished from de-ai. Because one executes this tactic before the opponent physically attacks. The attacker may have been intent on attacking. But he still hasn’t moved. This means that the defender must anticipate a potential attack and strike first. Go no sen tactic involves neutralising and counterattacking. There are a number of ways to neutralise an attack. The rule for aikido “use nagashi“.

De-ai can be seen in classic “western movies. The first one who draw the pistol is always losing.

Fibonacci

The Fibonacci spiral is a logarithmic spiral with a growth factor based upon the Fibonacci sequence.

In our practice of Aikido movements, the Fibonacci spiral is everywhere. The question arises whether the sequence has some value in our formation or whether it is a gadget invented by someone ages ago. This question is not fully answered, although a number of explanations are used to underline the value of this logarithmic sequence.

Our movements contain always some spiral action, even when we try to do a straigth movement. Cutting with a sword is certainly a spiral action, and if we look closer, the Fibonacci sequence is there. Using the skill of modelling, we can create a spiralling image in our mind which can be helpfull to improve our cutting. The image can also point out the moment when we start “tsugi ashi” during the cut. Of course, we can have a debate about the starting point. Finding out the exact point depends on your skill of “hyoshi”.

When the swordblade is about the level of the blue cross, tsugi-ashi start forward.

The power is going down in the rear foot, when the hand is about the highest point, tsugi ashi start forward.

Uchi-mawashi is another example with a spiraling action.

We can use a big movement or a small movement. The ratio is the same.

The power is going down in the rear foot. When the hand is about the lowest point, tsugi ashi start forward.

The timing

I mentioned “hyoshi” before and you will notice, this is a high level skill. You cannot learn or improve your “timing” if you don’t have control on your body movements by using the subconscious mind. If you use the conscious mind, your timing will always fail.

The conscious mind is used to create a pattern in its subconscious… Then you forget about it. In my opinion, you can’t learn the timing without utilizing the subconscious mind. Some “timing” exercises can give you a clue whether you are successful or not. And the best way of learning timing is “randori”. Of course, this not only applies to the timing concept. Other concepts should also be tested in a freeplay environment.

De-ai and suwari-waza

Suwari-waza or kneeling techniques are very common in the traditional training of Aïkido. In Tomiki Aikido Koryu-no-Kata, are based on the early training of Morihei Ueshiba in mostly Daito-Ryu Aikijutsu.

Koryu-no-kata is divided in sections numbered from 1 to 6. Each section is subdivided in smaller sections. Each section has a special item for study. Suwari waza is one of those.

As an example for de-ai in suwari waza, we will look at Koryu-no-kata suwari waza, an application of oshi-taoshi. When opponent’s arm is at the highest position, tsugi-ashi start and the arm is pushed down at the same time. The back knee is used to add power.

Hideo Ohba was the lifelong disciple of Kenji Tomiki and was also a prewar student of Morihei Ueshiba. Hideo Ohba is also famous as Ueshiba’s resisting uke during a demonstration in Manchuria. A biography of Hideo Ohba below

Hideo Ohba & Takeshi Inoue – Sakai & Yamaguchi

Is there any value in Suwari-waza?

The question is one-sided. It is also necessary to take into consideration some negative aspects of Suwari Waza. But let me introduce you to someone who can tell you some things with an experience in the dojo of Morihei Ueshiba.

“As a martial artist who still practices actively, I would like to speak in to the issue of “knees.” Especially for Aikidoka, knees have been a part of the body that have suffered maybe the most damage and are a cause of problems for many. During my travels to countries around the world, I constantly meet people who can no longer sit in seiza, or who wear braces and supporters because of knee injuries suffered while practicing Aikido. I have met students whose knees are so damaged they can’t really bend them any longer, much less sit in seiza. Knee problems are not the sole property of students outside of Japan. There have been famous high-ranking Japanese Aikido Instructors both living in Japan and abroad who have suffered knee injuries during their Aikido careers. It is one thing to develop knee problems due to aging, but there are many Aikido instructors who have developed knee problems through the over-practice of suwari waza… and they had the advantage of a cultural heritage that prepared them for the practice. “

Gaku Homma, Morihei Ueshiba uchideshi

In another paragraph Gaku Homma made a provocative remark:

“Remember that many of the new students you will be encountering will be bigger in stature than you. Suwariwaza techniques will be difficult for them, so practicing suwari waza will put you at an advantage despite your size difference. To gain control over your students, practice suwari waza. And during examinations, if there is some individual testing that you are not fond of, have them test last, and make them wait in seiza until it is their turn.” 

Koryu-no-kata suwari waza added value

Koryu-no-kata’s total package includes 177 techniques, 25 techniques can be considered as suwari-waza. Most sitting techniques do not have “large” shikko (knee walking) moves, but use small displacement movements. There are a few basic methods for body displacement.

  • Tsugi ashi method using knees
  • Ayumi ashi method using alternate small steps
  • Tentai or 180° turning

The negative impact on the knees is not that high, nevertheless sitting on the knees is not a common habit of Western people.. One advice can be: avoid kneeling practice too much.

The added value of some suwari-waza needs to be mentioned. For Tori, working on your knees means you don’t have to worry about connecting your upper and lower body. The legs are now limited in the role and the hips naturally become in the right place. This makes it easier to focus only on the movements of the upper body and hands. Likewise, the partner’s possible answers are limited, which further simplifies the technique. At the same time, it is also a useful simplification to take the role of Uke as a beginner and which ends up falling from a much lower position and therefore less frightening.

Polarity, a question of flow in Aikido

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 martial arts concepts are incorporated into the study of the subject presented.

Yin – Yang theory

Yin – Yang (Chinese: 陰陽; pinyin: yīn yáng). The basic idea of the ‘yin- yang theory’ consists of two natural, complementary and contradictory forces in our universe, the principle of opposite polarity and duality. Both of the forces are different, but in the best way, they mutually complement each other.

Yin & yang have its origin in ancient China and can be traced back over 2000 years. When we talk about this duality in Japanese martial arts, we must understand that Japanese masters have imported these ideas from Chinese thought. A great deal of philosophy and history is written into documents and books. I suggest you do an internet search if you are interested.

Flow of energy, harmony between active and passive

Energy is a living thing, with no energy our life is nonexistent. By the time you realize this energy, you will probably feel the flow. When somebody attacks you, you can sense the flow of energy before there is physical contact. Keep in mind the concept of “SEN” or preventive action. Preventative action is the decisive factor of victory, it is the most crucial in the martial arts. Feeling the flow of energy is necessary to comprehend the concept of Sen.

But even when you succeed in neutralizing an attack, your control action may disrupt your own energy flow. We always use two hands in the application of a “waza” to control the opponent. One can touch the opponent with two hands, or one can hit the opponent with one hand. A hand may be active (yang) and one may be less active or passive (yin). Sometimes we see an action with 1 hand and the other seems to have died, not active either, not passive. The energy balance is not there.

Also important, the yin-yang aspects are in dynamic equilibrium. As one aspect decreases, the other increases to the same degree.

  1. Kamae with 2 hands in front of body – both hands are active – front 60% rear 40%
  2. Kamae with 1 hand at belt – both hands are active – front 70% rear 30%
  3. Kamae with 1 hand active and 1 hand dead
  4. Daed hand during application

When 2 hands are active/passive, they create a “ring of power”. An example is irimi-nage.

During irimi-nage a push/pull action is performed by the 2 hands. If there is no harmony between the 2 hands or when 1 hand is dead, opponent can easily escape.

Polarity in Aikido

What is polarity?

Polarity is a term used in electricity, magnetism, and electronic signaling.  In short, it is the directional flow of electrons from one pole to the other. Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction and changes its magnitude continuously with time in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction.

Polarity, a game of 2 hands

Two magnets of different polarity attract each other, but those of the same polarity cause rejection, or confrontation.

Aikido philosophy teaches the principle of non-resistance. This process is necessary in all aspects of confrontation during your training.

Sometimes its seems there is a confrontation with clashing forces. But the principle of non-resistance can be applied with expansive force used as a coiling skill.

The description given above is simplified. There is an external force that attacks and by using winding skill, the attack force is returned to the sender. Finally, an extra can be added to control the adversary after neutralisation.

Remember that with each push there is a pull, and with each pull there is a push.

Coiling skill

Coiling doesn’t belong only to martial arts. It is also present in a number of other human activities. For instance, pottery and ceramics use this skill to make beautiful artwork.

In the Aikido curriculum we can find numerous coiling skills. One is called “meguri”. Hirokazu Kobayashi had a special meguri skill, he used the suppleness and rotation of the wrist to produce maximum result with minimal levels of effort. Because this is a skill, you need a lot of training to internalize this sort of bodily movement.

Polarity during coiling skills

The polarity of coiling skills relates to how energy moves during body movements. Polarity greatly affects a technique’s effectiveness. The maximum effect of one quality will be followed by the transition toward the opposite quality. It’s not a waste of energy.

Oshi taoshi polarity

If you direct your power away from your power ring, you need to regain your balance and you need to start over. Sure, your opponent will use your error to apply a counteraction.

A simple example to show the loss of power is the grip of the sword.

The first image shows the proper method. There’s a powerful ring, holding the sword handle.

The second one doesn’t have a power ring, there’s a power failure.

Some people think holding the sword with a stretched index finger will relax the hand, arm and shoulder. As a matter of fact, when you hold the handle, there’s no tension, so you don’t have to relax. You hold the sword by closing your hand and using the power of expansion. There is obviously a very short time with a certain tension when you make an impact. You relax the tension immediately without losing the power ring.

Tension at impact

That’s a very difficult concept to grasp. Tension may not produce rigidity. The aim of the tension at the time of impact is to create 1 solid body, but still able to absorb the incoming power and direct it to the earth. If our body is not a whole, we will struggle to maintain our balance, which is necessary to apply power. The voltage at impact is indeed similar to the expansive power.

Please refer for expansive force/power to another article: Shotei-awase, improving expansive force

A Study on Tegatana no godosa

Author: Eddy Wolput °1948 – 7th dan Aikido (JAA-Tokyo/Japan) – 5th dan Iaido – 5th dan Jodo

Some of the material in this study is not directly related to the Japan Aikido Association (NPO) program or the Shodokan approach. Additional martial arts are incorporated into this study. This interpretation of the 5 basic movements as taught by Kenji Tomiki just after Worldwar2 is mine. If you have an alternative interpretation, do not hesitate to publish it.

The Principles and Practice of Aikido – Senta Yamada

“There are five basic handblade moves which should be practiced with either hand.”

5 Tegatana Movements

The 5 basic “tegatana” movements are used in tandoku-undo (solo exercises also called tegatana-dosa.

Many versions of tandoku undo tegatana-dosa are created in the history of Tomiki Aikido. Some of the versions are very circular, other are more straight.

Tegatana no godosa

Kenji Tomiki incorporated the 5 tegatana-dosa as the basic movements of the hands and/or arms in solo exercises as well as in pairs. It is said that 5 tegatana-dosa are a natural movement and easy to learn. Unfortunately, the body does not always move the most effectively. We must reprogram our subconscious, the place in our brain where our motions are stored.

The arm and hand movements are always directed by the hara (koshi, tanden, yobu and mata). Without the hara, the movements will depend on the local muscle power or will be perceived as an empty act.

The 5 tegatana no godosa are not privileged to Tomiki Aikido. Other martial arts, with or without a weapon have similar concepts and most of them rely on the strength of Hara.

The mechanism of 5-tegatana-dosa

The perception of tegatana-dosa may be regarded as an action of the arm and hand. The mechanism may be described without giving details about the other body part. The driving force obviously comes from other areas of the body. The strength at the end of the target, in many cases called “tegatana” is not produced by the contraction of the muscles of the shoulder and arms. The muscles, in particular around the root, remain flexible but firm without contraction.

Root-transfer-end

When we consider mainly the physical actions of the arm and hand, we can divide the movement segment action in 3 parts:

  • shoulder or root: source of force for movements
  • elbow: transfer of force
  • target connection or the hand: end of the line of force or the point of transfer into the opponent

This segmentation can also applied to the hand’s action

  • Wrist: the root or source
  • Palm: the transfer
  • Fingers or edge of hand: the target connection

A movement can be practised as an isolated action, but in general a combination is used. The whole body is used to perform an efficient transfer of force into the target.

Rotation

Rotational motions of the body are important in Aikido. Rotation uses an axis, but body flexion uses an axis as well. Bending the body is to be avoided during training. However, certain movements require a certain amount of flexion.

The angle of bending is limited. When bending forward, other bodyparts can make the bending deeper.

There are 3 kinds of rotation in the case of tegatana no godosa:

  • Rotation around the central body axis
  • Rotation around the longitudal axis of the arm
  • Diagonal rotation by using the skill of kyokotsu or the upper body centre

Rotation around central body axis

Rotation around the central body axis.

Rotation happens only at shoulder and waist level.

Hips, legs, knees and feet are not an active part of the rotation.

Body rotation creates forces

Rotation around the central axis creates arm sweeping action.

Rotation around the longituadal axis of the arm

Rotation around the axis of the arm – creates an arm turn

The tandoku-undo Uchi/Soto gaeshi is an application of arm rotation that is the predominant factor. You will also notice an arm sweep action coming from a body rotation around the central axis.

Diagonal rotation

Moving kyokotsu to the side while turning the upperbody. Don’t lift the shoulder. Moving kyokotsu produces a diagonal stretch from the hip to the opposite armpit.

This movement enforces the power of tenshikei when you release the stretch.

Move kyokotsu to the side and up direction armpit

From the use of the rotate the body enters a state of tension. The tendons and the fascia are charged across the tension. By loosening the tension, the force can be directed at the arm. The shoulder becomes the root, the elbow the transfer and the hand is the target connector.

  1. Jodan no gamae:
    • the diagonal tension line passes from the rear foot through the knee to the hip (groin).
    • from the hip (groin), the tension passes the tanden to the opposite shoulder.
    • from the shoulder, the tension passes the elbow to the hand (tegatana)
  2. Gedan no gamae: the tension passes the same hotspots as with the jodan no gamae.
  3. When adopting jigotai, the same principles to create tension can be applied.

Tension lines and rotation

With these movements, there is no contractive force involved. There is a diagonal stretching. Releasing the tension and body rotation creates power in the tegatana.

This mechanism can be applied where diagonal power is needed.

Jigotai

From Judo and Aikido by Kenji Tomiki

Jigotai (self-defensive posture) is the attiude with the feet opened widely apart, the knees bent and the upper part of the body lowered. When the right foot is put forward, the posture is called migig jigotai (right self-defensive posture); when the left foot is put forward, the hidari jigotai (left self-defensive posture).

Fumiaki Shishida JAA-Shihan adopting Jigotai during throwing technique.

Mabu (Chinese) or Maho (Japanese) are similar names for Jigotai. Mabu is used in many Chinese martial arts as a tool to improve the skill of rooting. The effect of rooting is mentioned in the “Jigotai” remark of Kenji Tomiki: the upper part of the body lowered. Lowering the upper part is possible when the hara can sink into the legs. If you have the skill of rooting, you can perform this while you are standing in shizentai or natural posture.

Practising 5 Basic Tegatana-dosa

  • Uchi mawashi – Inside arm sweep – The cutting edge of the hand is leading the movement in the direction of the target.
  • Soto mawashi – Outside arm sweep – The cutting edge of the hand is leading the movement in the direction of the target.
  • Uchi gaeshi – Inside arm turn – palm outside and leaded by the tumb
  • Soto gaesi – Outside arm turn- palm inside up and leaded by the pink or little finger.
  • O mawashi – Big sweep- A combination of sweeping arm movement with a rotation of the arm and hand.

Don’t confuse the following exercises with the wellknown tandoku-undo tegatana dosa. In the tandoku-undo exercises, you will find the 5 basic tegatana-dosa performed in different stepping patterns.

We can practise 5 basic tegatana-dosa as isolated exercises to create the combined skill of using arm movement with waist movement. By using jigotai posture, we build up leg power usefull as power source during stepping exercises (tandoku undo – tegatana dosa)

Kenji Tomiki performing a Tandoku Undo movement.

Using a hidari-jigotai posture.

  • First we start from jigotai posture and perform uchi-mawashi, soto-mawashi, uchi-gaeshi and soto gaeshi.
  • Thereafter, hidari-jigotai and migi-jigotai is used to perform 5-tegatana no godosa.
  • Thereafter perform 5-tegatana no godosa form hidari- and migi-shizentai.
  • Finally, you can perform a stepping version from hidari- and migi-shizentai

Kenji Tomiki attached great importance to the study of basic postures – jodan no gamae, chudan no gamae and gedan no gamae. These are incorporated into an exercise – shomen uchi and shomen tsuki.

Jigotai posture – Uchi mawashi

Main movement is “uchi mawashi” using the turning of the waist.

Jigotai posture – Soto mawashi

Main movement is “soto mawashi” using the turning of the waist.

This exercise can be explained as a “kesa giri” exercise.

Jigotai posture – Uchi/Soto Gaeshi Katate

Main movements are Uchi Gaeshi and Soto Gaeshi

Jigotai posture – Uchi/Soto Gaeshi Ryote

Using both hands

Main source of the movements is the hara (koshi, tanden)

Forward Jigotai posture – Uchi mawashi – Soto mawashi

The distance between the 2 feet is about 2x the width of the shoulders.

Forward Jigotai posture – Uchi gaeshi – Soto gaeshi – Katate

The rotation of the body pushes the arm formard. Returning to neutrtal is used for the pulling back of the arm. The elbow is not activily used.

Forward Jigotai posture – Uchi gaeshi – Soto gaeshi – Ryote

The 2-hand method is a big movement exercise and includes a dropping power movement.

Forward Jigotai posture – O mawashi

During this exercise, the turning of the hand arond the longitudal axis, is an extra challenge in the coordination between body rotation and hand/arm rotation.

Forward Jigotai posture – Shomen uchi – Shomen tsuki

The 3 basic postures are used in this exercise. The shomen-uchi attack is almost a trademark of aikido.

Shomen uchi & tsuki & 5 tegatana godosa

Body weight shift

A moving body has 3 main methods to generate force:

  • Taïjū no idō – using footwork
  • Taïjū no dendō – using body weight
  • Tenshikei – diagonal tension

Some explanation was given in the previous paragraphs. But we didn’t gave attention to body weight shift. This can be explained in 2 basic methods.

  • First, there is the stepping method: ayumi-ashi and tsugi-ashi are the most basic.
  • Body weight shift is basically shifting the weight from one foot to another.

The 3 methods can of course be used in a combination format.

The body weight shift will be a study on his own.

Kyokotsu Control

The concept of “Kyokotsu” is already mentioned in numerous posts on this blog. The Kyokotsu movement is part of the entire body movement and cannot be separated from it. There are several basic kyokotsu movements, and these movements are embedded in different exercises already covered in this blog.

The Kyokotsu control consists of several basic movements:

  1. In and out (horizontally)
  2. Up and down (vertically)
  3. left and right (horizontally)
  4. Figure eight (combination of 1-3 with turning torso
  5. ……

Those movements connect Kyokotsu with the abdominal area, the spine and the back muscles, which leads to a whole-body movement.

By controlling the kyokotsu, we control the spinal column and surrounding muscles. Kyokotsu is essentially a part that is hard work to move consciously. If you succeed in doing so, other parts of the skeleton have no alternative but to move with it. An interconnection with the spinal column at the center is created when you succeed after much training. If you try to control your spine directly, you find yourself in tension. We need to use an image of the kyokotsu in motion, and thus the spinal column will have the freedom to move by the surrounding muscles.

Major muscles groups affected by kyokotsu control

Kyokotsu control strengthens the iliac muscle and the major psoas muscle which are attached to the spine. Strengthening these muscles helps the movement of the body to bring power to the hands and legs. Moreover, the intentional movement of Kyokotsu causes the opening of the shoulder blades. This in turn enables the freedom of the upper body, including the ribs, and the suppleness of the arms. In addition, Kyokotsu control affect the movement of the pelvis, which increases the strength and freedom of the lower body.

The latissimus dorsi, which is also connected to the spinal column, is also affected by kyokotsu motion. Especially when the kyokotsu rises with an upward move of the arm.

Of course, the above mentioned muscles are just a part of the necessary muscles needed for the whole body movement.

Kyokotsu Control

Pulling in horizontally

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Aikira Hino Budo Theory

The concept of Kyokotsu control is one of the basic elements taught at many seminars of the Study Group Tomiki Aikido in Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria and the UK.

The concept of Kyokotsu Control is an element of Hino’s Budo Theory. Before the Corona crisis, Akira Hino gave several seminars in the countries of Europe. His method is not limited to practicing martial arts. In 2012, he taught a seminar at a cultural center in Antwerp (De Singel). The majority of the participants were performers and dancers. A report is available at Singel website.

Don’t Think, Listen to the Body! Introduction to the Hino Method and Theory of human body and movement control by Akira Hino Translation by Yuko Takeda

This book is available at Amazon Kindle Store

Solo-training and feedback

The adoption of solo training in modern Budo is in large part due to the influence of Western learning methods in the early years of modern Japan. In particular the Swedish gymnastic method or the German and British military drill are very influential. Modern Budo introduces mass education and it is more convenient to treat a large number of practitioners in a small space. In Koryu or traditional Japanese martial art, solo training was minimal, if at all.

Very popular in Japan have been a radio broadcast to promote health exercises to the population as a mass education.

Rajio Taiso, literally “radio calisthenics,” is a radio program that broadcasts a set of warm-up exercise guidelines along with music, and while “rajio taiso” is the Japanese name, similar programs are popular in China and Taiwan, too. The first broadcast took place in 1928, and the aim was to improve the health of the general public in Japan.

Also the influence of Chinese martial arts on some modern Japanese Budo cannot be overlooked.

Modern Budo as Kodokan Judo has adopted some methods of striking training of Tenshin shinyo-Ryu, who, through Yoshin-Ryu, has distant links with the Chinese arts. Karate-do is a further example of the influence of Chinese solo training.

Even Tomiki Aikido may have some Chinese influence due to the fact that Kenji Tomiki lived a few years in Manchuria and was imprisoned for a few years in Siberia.

From 1936 till the end of the second world war he lived in Manchukuo (Manchuria) where he taught aikibudo (an early name for aikido) to the Kwantung Army and the Imperial Household Agency. In 1938 he became an assistant professor at Kenkoku University in Manchukuo. In 1941, became a professor at Kenkoku University in Manchuria.

During the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, some Japanese soldiers were exposed to Chinese martial arts.One of them is Kenichi Saiwa. He was a Japanese martial artist and a colonel in the Japanese army. Having obtained Dan’s fourth grade in judo under Sanpo Toku and the fifth Dan in Kendo, Kenichi traveled to Beijing in 1939, to challenge Wang Xiangzhai, founder of Yiquan. After the war, Sawai founded Tai-Ki-Ken based upon the art of Yiquan.

Why is solo-training so boring?

Most of the practitioners stop training rather than to really get to the bottom of such less rewarding things at first sight, the regular or daily solo training also called tanren (strengthening and conditioning the body). The cause for this is mainly a lack of guidance or the boredom of kata and solo training. Many practitioners want to become involved from the first day into randori or combat without even training for building up a martial art body. In fact, Tanren has nothing to do with learning Aikido techniques or applications for randori or free combat, though a conditioned body is necessary to perform effective techniques.

Basically, solo training is a high standard training method. The encounter with yourself is one of the difficulties, someone must conquer.

Aikido is basically solitary, because even though it is mostly practised in pairs. Your training partner is actually a tool that we use to improve our understanding of the art Aikido.

A martial art can become an ideal solitary practice definitely on an advanced level, there are no more distractions. Self-glorification through competition victory or the self-satisfaction of rising in the ranks, should have disappeared.

Training must be done for its own good, it must benefit mainly to itself, and is in some ways very selfish. The higher the level of training, particularly solo training, the less likely people are to appreciate it. So those who are engaged in that kind of training are very lonely.

Tomiki Aikido Individual training method.

At a basic level, an individual training method is available. But from the birth of Tomiki Aikido to today, the method has changed greatly depending on the context of the training goal.

The emphasis on solo training in Tomiki Aikido can be very diverse depending on the purpose of the course.

  • Learn basic body movements useful in Tomiki Aikido, and mostly used as instruction for beginners.
  • Concentrate on body conditioning instead of technique.
  • Testing the generated power
  • …..

Testing the generated power

Martial arts that practice solo training need “feedback” practices such as t’ai chi “push hands” or the “pushing stability tests” as performed in “shotei awase”, a Tomiki Aikido pushing exercise. These kind of exercises are not randori or competition, the purpose of these exercises is to improve the stability and power with a resisting training partner.

Tomiki style of Shotei Awase

Most Aikido styles have some type of test methods. In Yoseikan Aikido (Mochizuki) tests have various methods. One of them is known as “tsuppari”.

A trial method like Shotei Awase and Yoseikan Tsuppari is equivalent in traditional Japanese wrestling. Sumo Tsuppari (突っ張り): To rapidly deliver harite (張り手) or open hand strikes to the opponent. This technique is often used by oshi-zumō fighters.

Impact of Corona-Covid-19 on testing

During the corona-COVID-19 period, a distance must be adopted. Using a Jo or Bo may be used to keep distance and yet be a test exercise.

Koryu no kata, the formal way of testing

Kata can become a successful method of testing your generated energy combined with the concepts of “hyoshi” and “ma-ai”.

Hyōshi is most often found in traditional martial arts, referring to cadence, rhythm and tempo. In the famous “Book of the Five Rings”, Miyamoto Musashi describes it as three stages: before, during and after an activity related to the attack of the enemy.

In Japanese terminology, distancing is ma-ai (ma, spatiotemporal interval / ai, harmony). Ma-ai integrates space, time, and rhythm and is the ideal situation to control a confrontation.
Controlling the situation or in other words “controlling the actions of the opponent” is depending on Hyoshi.
Ma-ai is not a fixed distance, it is dynamic. Depending on the situation, distance will change.

Practising “Kata” or “Katachi” is not a demonstration or competition, although it is possible to use a kata in a Embu (demonstration) or during a competitive event.

Embu and acrobatic performance

Kata or Embu is a controversial item at a competitive event, there are pro and contra.
Even Kenji Tomiki had an opinion on “Embu-kyogi”.

Prof. F. Shishida (Waseda University) wrote on this matter the following :
The difference between kata (katachi) and embu or embu-kyogi

Tomiki had never referred to embu in his life. Judging from my long experience in aikido and study, the word embu (to practice martial arts) was used as a demonstration at a place called embu-jo in early modern times. Around 1973, embu-kyogi started to take place at a public event at the student championship of Tomiki Aikido. Master Oba seems to have added embu-kyogi (embu) to the randori event in the All Japan Student Championship in 1971. He seems to have wanted to encourage students in the Kansai area who only practice kata. According to Mr. T. Sato, Tomiki mentioned only the fact to him with a dissatisfied look when he visited Tomiki to report that he joined the embu-kyogi with Koryu-Daigo-no-kata. Judging from the common sense of Japanese martial arts, embu-kyogi is out of the question to him, because it is impossible to avoid that practitioners want to exaggerate their performance to make a false show of power.

There are people from Aikido or other martial arts, who try to bring a dramatic performance with “ukemi” and great offensive moves. In their minds, they believe it to be the real thing.

But when you understand the objective of Kata and Katachi, the idea of creating a kata/Karachi competition becomes ridiculous. Kata is not a stunt show or a “Chinese opera”. Ironically, there’s nothing bad about acrobatics and Chinese opera. This type of performance requires a great deal of practice. However, it is not “martial art”.

Essence of Kokyu-hō

The general meaning of kokyu-hō is “a method using breathing”. It is also known as kokyu-ryoku or “a method for training breath power”. It is a method of practice that is necessary for mastering power in martial technique. In addition to the martial benefit, there is also an improvement in general health because of more functional breathing.

Abdominal breathing is an essential part of the martial art practice. The usefulness of a correct breathing is built upon the practice of three breathing modes, diaphragm breathing, flank breathing and open throat breathing.

The abdominal breathing or diaphragm breathing is the first step to successfully complete breathing.

Abdominal pressure

Some martial arts methods utilise respiratory pressures during force production. The concept of “Tanden” or “Hara” is needed to understand the “Why and How” of abdominal pressure. Tanden has to be seen as a three dimensional area of varying size in the abdomen, not as a point on the abdomen.

The abdominal pressure causes the “Tanden” to be more compact. This resulted in better handling by the muscles of the abdomen to produce what is called internal strength. In fact, there is no mystery about this skill, it must be trained to become useful as a tool to express “hakkei” or explosive power.

The skill of abdominal pressure

Bring your consciousness to Tanden (lower abdomen), the centre of gravity of your body, and use the diaphragm and the perineum to control the abdominal pressure.

Acquiring a skill of abdominal pressure by using the diaphragm and perineum shall be performed by a progressive use of our breathing system.

We can distinguish 2 methods of breathing useful in our training.

  1. Complete abdominal breathing (normal and deep breathing) – improves general health and martial arts general performances.
  2. Reverse complete abdominal breathing (reversing the breathing cycle) – improves explosive martial arts performances (hakkei).

Complete abdominal Breathing

Complete breathing is a breathing technique that unites diaphragm-breathing, flank-breathing and open-throat-breathing into a single natural rhythmic movement.

Complete breathing is seen as a healthy breathing technique. In the exercises, the intention is not to inflate itself like a ball, but rather to breathe unforced. Full breathing is most natural when the execution has a smooth and continuous coherence and the three phases follow each other, without breaking the continuity.

The three breaths blend progressively. If the breathing is audible, it means that it is too hasty. Also, when practising complete breathing, people sometimes collapse their abdomen by switching to flank breathing. However, the air pressure in the lower abdomen must stay at the same level during the transition to the next step. Pulling the perennials should support the abdominal pressure.

When people experience a sense of dizziness during the complete breathing exercise. It’s sometimes unpleasant and it’s scary. That would happen, especially for people with slightly lower blood pressure. Dizziness is caused by reduced blood pressure and therefore blood pressure in the brain and is therefore beneficial in itself.

When breathing in, the diaphragm flattens and pushed down on the abdomen. The muscles between the ribs open the breast more to enable more air in the lungs. The throat must open more by relaxing the muscles in this area, resulting in more air going into the lungs.

Complete Abdominal Breathing (Reverse)

Complete reverse abdominal breathing is a breathing method in which one expands the abdomen when breathing out and contracts the abdomen when breathing in. Complete reverse abdominal breathing increases the abdominal pressure, which in turn increases power.

Note that complete reverse abdominal breathing is part of our normal breathing habits. For example, when you are happy and you laugh, you exhale and your abdominal area push out.

This mode of respiration is the opposite of full abdominal respiration. Gently pull into the area of your stomach while breathing, holding the perineum upwards. The pressure is higher than regular breathing. Total reverse breathing should be used to enhance martial applications (hakkei). Refrain from reverse breathing when you have high blood pressure problems.

Expand the lower abdomen (the area from the navel down) while breathing out.

Control over abdominal muscles.Control over abdominal muscles.Controlling the abdomen muscles

Correct breathing in the martial arts requires practice. Complete abdominal breathing and the reverse alternative are exercises to develop the abdomen muscles and having full control of these muscles.

Though often overlooked, breathing has a vitally important role in our lives. Correct breathing can lead to increased calmness and relaxation, which facilitates greater focus and endurance. For martial artists, success in combat depends largely on high levels of energy and concentration, so proper breathing is absolutely essential.

Most instructors insist on not thinking about what is referred to as correct breathing during training. The point is, if you don’t need oxygen, you won’t breathe until you need it. There’s no need to take deep breaths all the time. Breathing is a natural process and we should not think about it.

Of course, if your muscles are weak, you will not be able to perform a strong “hakkei” or explosive power if required. It all comes down to controlling your tanden. Therefore, respiratory training is needed to expand your breathing possibilities.

While it is relatively easy to practice complete abdominal breathing when sitting or standing quietly, it is much more difficult to perform when engaged in activities requiring physical effort and movement. Yet, the timing and rhythm of physical movement are linked to breathing and neuromuscular control. Breathing and neuromuscular control depend on each other and interact.

Some practical information

How to become “Jūkozo” – flexible body

“Jūkozo” – flexible body is already described in another post on this blog

In every exercise, the body needs a quality that is not tense. The word “flexible” is accurate. The word relax is sometimes used, but that is not the right word in this context. Relax makes you feel almost limp. The body needs some muscle tone to move immediately.

Strength is generated through the loosening of the shoulders and the use of a flexible koshi.

I have already mentioned several times the efficiency of “ritsuzen” as the main exercise in developing a flexible body with the quality of “Jūkozo”. It is not a question of “standing”, but of an exercise with many internal movements. Full breathing may be added after the body is free of excessive strain.

Breathing during an exercise

If you are tense, your breathing will be not optimal. First, create Jūkozo before proceeding with the integration of complete abdominal breathing.

If you want to include complete abdominal breathing in your exercises, you must consider the rate of breathing. Breathing and body movements have to be synchronized, especially when you begin such an integration of breathing. We need to slow down the pace of performance. Breathing may not cause excessive muscle strain. Breathing is a natural process and breathing exercises are tools to improve respiration efficiency.

Complete abdominal breathing is the normal breathing during exercises. Reverse abdominal breathing is used when explosive power is needed.

Oshi-taoshi type of exercise

Expiration occurs primarily when power is needed, inspiration occurs when you absorb the opponent’s motion and power.

When you absorb the power, the reverse breath can be used to produce “hakkei” upon exhalation. In some cases, you will be able to use “Kiai”.

The exercise must be done at slow speed and in sync.

More info about these exercises

While breathing is a natural process, but at the beginning of respiratory training, you need to be very careful when you have medical problems. Breathing workouts may further aggravate your problems. Please check with your doctor for guidance.

Synchronising – A physical, mental and social action.

This article is not an academic document, it is a secular interpretation, not an academic one. It is based on my personal experiences during my 60 years of practice in various martial arts and sports. Judo/Jujutsu, Shaolin Kempo, Karate, Aikido, Hakko-Ryu Jujutsu, Iaido, Jodo, Yiquan, Qigong,….. and guidance from many martial arts teachers. And most important, the ability to self-cultivation.

A scientific statement.

Synchronization is, in a broad sense, coordination of rhythmic oscillators due to their interaction.

Buzzwords or ability to use tough words.

It is almost standard to use scientific terms in articles to give it an academic flavour. Without the necessary knowledge, these words are transformed into “Buzzwords”. A word or sentence, often an element of jargon, which is fashionable at a particular moment or context.

Translating scientific jargon into a plain language for martial arts, can give you a better insight into the many exercises and techniques during your training. The most important thing to improve your martial art as a human being is the competency of self-cultivation.

Definition of self-cultivation: the development of one’s mind or capacities through one’s own efforts.

From the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia

Synchronisation – Neural-Mental-Social

In Martial Art, footwork, stretching and releasing, winding and unwinding…. All these “actions of body and mind” need to be combined into a single and smooth movement. A whole-body motion creates a more efficient technique for overcoming the confrontation with an opponent. This process is known in the language of martial art: Rendo.

But rendo is more than personal synchronization. It is also in sync with the training partner and/or adversary.

Let us look at a very simple action of the daily life:

A person’s steps unconsciously synchronize with those of a partner when two people walk together, although their foot lengths and therefore their intrinsic cycles are different.

Obviously, it’s not just a physical synchronization. Synchronization has a number of levels. There are synchronized neural processes, mental activities, and social interactions. Neural processes are critical to physical or bodily synchronization. Mental activities are required to form a picture of something we like to accomplish. Social interactions are playing an important role in our society. Social media as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…. part of our daily life.

Synchronisation on a physical level

Sports and martial arts are activities that are seen frequently on television or in other forms of media distribution. Unfortunately, the mere fact of watching competitions or sports activities on the screen or in a sport-stadium does not have a direct impact on the search for a healthy body (Mental and Bodily). We have to do physical activities like cardio workouts, flexibility programs and other forms of physical training to build or maintain a healthy body and of course a mind free from frustrations and depressions.

At a beginners level, martial art training is more focused on the physical side of training. But we cannot ignore the game of the mind and the interaction between the mind of the attacker and defender.

Synchronisation and differentiation

Differentiation is the process of dividing a homogeneous whole into parts with different properties. Characteristic of differentiation is that a whole remains and that the division into parts with different properties occurs within that whole.

In Martial Arts, whole-body movement is used to indicate the necessity of using all your physical and mental resources you have. Practising with the focus on all different resources is difficult, almost impossible, especially for beginners. Even advanced practitioners need a method to avoid an overload on details to look after. One of the chief instructors of the Japan Aikido Association made a remark during one of his semnars.

Perfection is a matter of 1000 details

Fumiaki Shishida, JAA Shihan

In a sense, he is telling us to practise with all the details. But I believe we have “to differentiate” and of course not to forget, the details are a part of the whole. The difficulty is to distinguish the various details for focused training without losing the whole.

An example can bring some clarity in this matter.

Tomiki Aikido put much emphasis on the use of “tegatana” during training. The hand can take different positions, and those positions are useful for different purposes in our hands. Using an exercise to indicate the hand position as a basic exercise for daily practice is, in my opinion, a waste of time. Tegatana positions are integral to a whole body movement and should be considered in the context of a whole body movement when using tegatana. Nevertheless, it is possible to do such an exercise when introducing the different positions of tegatana. As soon as possible, the tegatana positions must be included in the whole body movements of Tomiki Aikido.

A simple example of “synchronisation”

  1. Start posture – both “kwa or mata” are neutral – tegatana uchi-mawashi position
  2. Turning body by opening “kwa or mata” – tegatana is following body movement and synchronised with opening “kwa or mata”
  3. Body returns to start posture – tegatana drops to middle lower position synchronised with “kwa or mata”
  4. Body turn by opening “kwa or mata” – synchronising with lifting tegatana
  5. Body returns to start posture – tegatana synchronised with “kwa or mata”
  6. Movement is repeated…..

This simplified movement is an application of uchi-mawashi, soto-mawashi, uchi-gaeshi and soto-gaeshi. Synchronised with opening and closing “kwa or mata”.

Synchronisation and 6 Harmonies

Some of you recognize the word “Harmony” in a non martial art context. Take for example the harmony concept in music. Music can bring movement forward in the actions of humans, going from emotions to dancing. The main part of music is sound with the correct use of harmonies.

What is so enigmatic about sounds that provoke emotions in us? Is it just a physical phenomenon of vibrations or something more dynamic? This question can also be asked in martial arts. Our being starts in the mind, creates a kind of vibration of energy, and the result is a movement useful to apply as a waza. Everything has to be synchronised and in harmony. Without this, chaos is looking around the corner. In your search for effective movements or techniques, you will discover that martial art teachers use the word Qi or Ki.

The discussion of the word Qi or Ki in a Western “consumption” society becomes ridiculous if the focus is mainly on materialism. Fortunately, martial artists are often open-minded.

Chinese martial arts recognise 6 kind of synchronisation or in their words 6 harmonies.

Internal Harmonies

Internal Harmonies is about the way you are using your energy needed for physical movements, internal and external.

  1. Xin (fighting-emotional-survival spirit or also called “heart”) and Yi (intention or wisdom mind)
  2. Yi and Qi (physical energy)
  3. Qi and Li (strength – the physical manifestation of Qi seen as a movement – internal and external)

External Harmonies

External Harmonies is about the syncronisation of major body joints

  1. Hips and shoulders – Connection of the 4 main body joints
  2. Knees and elbows – Knees are driven by hips, elbows are driven by shoulders
  3. Feet (ankles) and hands (wrists) – Strength is controlled by the center through shoulders, hips, knees and elbows

The center is the core of the body and has 3 main parts

  1. The central part of the head
  2. The lower part of breastbone
  3. The gravity center of the body

Synchronisation of all thes elements is a main part of the training. If this is not included, your martial art will not function as a whole body system with different part working toghether in harmonie.

Many Japanese Martial Arts have borrowed some of these concepts in their training program. Of course, they added a Japanese flavor, expressed in the different forms of Budo and Bujutsu.

The equivalent of the Chinese words (or concepts) in Japanese can create some confusion.

Xin or spirit: Shin, kokoro…
Yi or intention: I, Zanshin,…..
Qi or energy: Ki,….. the physical manifestation of power is called Chikara

Tanren, forging the mind and body

Tanren-gata and shinken-gata

In martial arts, the terms tanren-gata and shinken-gata are used to indicate the difference between a kata to enhance body movements and a combat-oriented kata.

Tomiki Aikido kata/katachi may also be categorized as tanren-gata or shinken-kata.

Most basic kata (basic15, basic17, tanto basic17, ura-waza….) can be categorized as tanren-gata. A series of movements or techniques for practicing the body movements necessary for the creation of an effective technique.

Koryu no kata are essentially a sort of shinken-gata, a series of formal techniques focused on combat. There is one exception in the Koryu no kata, the dai-yon kata omote and ura are tanren-gata to improve the body movements needed during the “randori” training.

Renshu and Tanren

Renshu 練習
This training is intended to study the waza found in kata/katachi which are already understood at a base level. The goal is to improve the movements of the entire body in a given context. It may be a combat setting or a randori setting.

Tanren 作務 (building physical and mental strength)
It focuses on improving physical and mental resilience through physical and mental training. For a true practical application of an effective technique, physical fitness and mental resiliency to pain and discomfort are necessary. Tanren actually precedes the other one, renshu. Without tanren, the numerous kata/katach waza become a hollow shell. If there is a demonstration (embu) or a grading (shinsa), the evaluation must take into account the outcome of the tanren and certainly not a show of acrobatic performances. It is not an object of entertainment.

Beyond 10,000 Hours: The Constant Pursuit of Mastery

Robert Greene (born May 14, 1959) is an American author known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction. Although he has a controversial reputation, his idea on “Mastery” is worth a study.

His book on “Mastery” makes a compelling case that mastery is earned, not granted. He describes three distinct phases of the journey, I) Apprenticeship, II) Creative-Active and III) Mastery. His advice is to keep in mind that the goal is not to become a Master, but to continuously pursue mastery with a purpose.

He also mentioned, you need at least 10,000 hrs of practise to forge the mind and body.

Shu-Ha-Ri

The concept of “Shu-Ha-Ri” is certainly a similar concept and Renshu/Tanren is a part of it. We have to use “Tanren” or the forging of the mind and body for the next step: Renshu.

If you have time and energy, you can walk the path of mastery with regular training. But this training has to be of high quality in other words: Renshu

Kenji Tomiki began training under Morihei Ueshiba in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1926. He was largely responsible for the compilation and editing of the text in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu” (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“).

In this book, the assumption is that you have already done your Tanren, creating the foundation for Renshu.

Impact Kyokotsu on Koshi

“Never tense koshi.” To do that, you should not become conscious of koshi. Your thinking about koshi will make it tense, and thus, a disconnect between the upper and the lower parts of the body occurs. That is not “using the whole body.”

Hino , Akira . Don’t Think, Listen to the Body!

There are of course several issues when concentrating too much on kyokotsu. When your kyokotsu movement is exaggerated, your shoulders tend to move forward. The result will be a lesser movement within the koshi and/or your neck will be placed unnaturally.

You need to understand that kyokotsu is the center of body motion control. By moving kyokotsu there will be mainly moving in 2 areas of the vertebral column possible.

  • neck region
  • lower back region

Impact of kyokotsu movement on koshi

As the headline of this article suggests, it is the impact of kyokotsu on koshi.

If the kyokotsu is slightly drawn, the lower part of the spine is pushed outwards and downward. The result is the rotation of the pelvis, although the focus is on pulling in the kyokotsu.

Imagine a cord tied to kyokotsu and koshi (lower back). If you move the chord to the kyokotsu, it will affect the pelvis.

Pushing or attacking

When there is the intention to attack or pushing forward, kyokotsu will be pulled in at the beginning of the action. There is the reversal of the basin. But there is also the effect of the opposite isometric tension in the leg. It creates a powerful bounce and is added to the basin ready to be used for attack or push.

Kyokotsu, koshi and rolling feet

Starting from the situation of lifting the arm and preparing for the attack, the use of rolling feet is the method to close the distance to the attack as well as using kyokotsu and koshi.

Books & Video & Magazines

I have a huge collection of books and videos about martial arts, particularly Aikido, Iaido and Jodo, my major arts of study. It’s an effort to catalogue my library, but it’s going to take a long time. Be patient……more will follow……

Tomiki Aikido Books

Kenji Tomiki began training under Morihei Ueshiba in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu in 1926. He was largely responsible for the compilation and editing of the text in Morihei Ueshiba’s 1933 training manual “Budo Renshu” (published in English under the name “Budo Training in Aikido“).

In 1954, Kenji Tomiki published a book “Judo Taiso – A Method for Teaching Aiki – Jutsu according to Judo Principles”, demonstrating his efforts to combine the scientific methodology that he took from Judo founder Jigoro Kano with the teachings he received from Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Kodokan Judo’s Self-Defense System ─
Kodokan Goshin-jutsu
by Llyr C. Jones, Ph.D., Martin P. Savage, B.Ed. and W. Lance Gatling, M.A., M.P.S.
Journal of Asian Martial Arts • Volume 25 Number 1 • 2016

1958 – Kenji Tomiki – Kodokan Goshin-jutsu
Tomiki’s 1958 book “Kodokan Goshin-jutsu” is the first and most important book on the exercise. The 144-page text provides an illustrated explanation of the complete Kodokan Goshin- jutsu – including step-by-step black and white photographs of the attacks and defenses, line drawings of the footwork patterns, and advice on how to execute the wristlocks and various atemi-waza. However, consistent with the informal intent for Kodokan Goshin-jutsu, no emphasis is given to any reiho aspects. Recall in this original text, the final technique, Haimen-zuke concludes with Tori simply disarming Uke by capturing the gun.
The demonstrators are Tomiki himself as Tori, and Mr. Sakamoto, a former captain of the Waseda University Judo Club as Uke. Regrettably as with many Japanese judo books of that vintage, the paper is delicate and the printed photographs are of poor quality. The text is only available on the used book market, and given its historical significance, the asking price is often high. For these reasons its major usefulness is for reference and research purposes, rather than a practical text for studying Kodokan Goshin-jutsu.

Aikido Nyumon by Kenji Tomiki 1958

“An Introduction to Aikido.

Edition 1983

Goshin jutsu nyumon

Edition Showa 49 (1974) – 206 p. This book by Kenji Tomiki: “An Introduction to Self-Defense” is an interesting sequel to another book by Kenji Tomiki: “Judo Taiso – The Method of Teaching Aiki – Jutsu Based on Judo Principles” showing the basics of self-defense in Tomiki Aikido

Edition 1970

Senta Yamada

Senta Yamada

6 volumes featuring Tsunako Miyake

The six volume “Gendai Aiki” series of books is a 1970’s correspondence course in Aikido – the type of course one often sees advertised in the back of Manga and other popular magazines. The series was not authored by Kenji Tomiki, but was clearly written by someone who had experience with the Tomiki system of Aikido

1966 – Book designed for beginners in Tomiki Aikido. 34 pages with explanation of exercises and techniques accompanied by many step by step B/w photographs of the author assisted by J Elkin.

Aikido: an Introduction to Tomiki-Style by M. J. Clapton is a volume on techniques and kata of the unique Tomiki style of aikido. The book focuses on the execution, application and variations of Randori-No-Kata, the 17 basic techniques of free practice. Included are the categories of: attacking techniques, elbow techniques, wrist techniques and floating techniques.

Besides this book, Clapton wrote some articles for KOA, Karate and Oriental Arts magazine.

6 Koryu no kata by Takeshi Inoue & Kitayama

This book is used as an inspiration for dr Lee ah Loi’s books

First published 1978 – dr Lee ah Loi with Takeshi Inoue and Leslie Hepden

Re-published 1982 – new photogtaphs with author and Leslie Hepden.

1979 – Koryu no kata with the author dr Lee ah Loi and Leslie Hepden

Published 1988 – Reflections on Tomiki Aikido

Copy for proofreading 2001

Reflections on Hideo Ohba by his students

Tomiki Aikido Video

Some of these videos are on my Vimeo Channel

Koryu no kata Dai Roku

Takeshi Inoue & Leslie Hepden

June 2003 – Yawara Dojo (London/UK)

1989 – Koryu no kata – Budokan/Tokyo

Takeshi Inoue & Lee ah Loi

  • Dai ichi
  • Dai ni
  • Dai san
  • Dai yon
  • Dai go
  • Dai roku

1976 (?) Koryu no kata – Okubo Sports Kaikan

Hieo Ohba & Takeshi Inoue & Tsunako Miyake

  • Dai Ichi
  • Dai ni
  • Dai san
  • Dai go
  • Dai roku

Seminars with Senta Yamada in UK

2000 – Teruo Fujiwara – Early student of Kenji Tomiki

1989 – Osaka & Tenri/Japan

Koryu no kata Daisan

2001 – Osaka/Japan

Basic 17 and Koryu no kata Goshin

Magazines

AikiNews 80 – Report injuries & death

AikiNews 81 July 1989

Tomiki’s biography by Fumiaki Shishida

AikiNews 82 – October 1989

Interview Riki Kogure – part 1

Appeared in BBC Docu: The Way of the Warrior – (Tomiki Aikido) – also with Jim Elkin

AikiNews 83 January 1990

Interview Riki Kogure part2

Appeared in BBC Docu: The Way of the Warrior – (Tomiki Aikido) – also with Jim Elkin

AikiNews no.85 – Summer 1990

Hideo Ohba Biography part1

AikiNew 86 – Fall 1990

Hideo Ohba Biography part2

AikiNews 93 Fall 1992 – Interview dr Lee ah Loi

AikiNews 97 – Fall/Winter 1993

Featuring Lee ah Loi with “Weapon training in Tomiki Aikido”

AikiNews 98 1994 vol21 no.1

Kata training and Aikido by Diane Bauerle

AikiNews 2001

Hiden magazine – Special Tomiki – June 2015

Mochizuki – Yoseikan

Books

Published 1971

Hiroo Mochizuki – Son of Minoru Mochizuki – Yoseikan Budo

Published 1971

Yoseikan Aikido method explained by Alain Floquet

Unusual Books on Martial Arts

Some martial art books described unusual techniques. Most of these are published in books with good intention by the time they were written. But in modern times, it seems very odd or comical.

There are also books using elements of other disciples such as engineering, music or other activities of human interest.

Moshe Feldenkrais

Moshé Feldenkrais was born in Russia in 1904. He left home at age 12 and immigrated to what was then Palestine. He supported himself during his high school years as a construction worker in Tel Aviv, and as a tutor to failing students.

He developed great interest in hypnosis and autosuggestion, taught himself and others self-defense techniques, played soccer, and was a weight lifter.

As a young man, Moshé Feldenkrais was looking for a way to provide Jewish civilians living in what was then Palestine a way to defend themselves against the periodic massacres and killing of Jews by the Arab population. He taught himself Judo from a book he found and taught classes in self-defense.

In the early 1930’s, Jigorō Kanō, the creator of Judo and the Minister of Education of Japan at the time, came to Paris looking to find a white man to train in Judo with the intent to open the first Judo club in Paris, France.

Moshé Feldenkrais gave Jigorō Kanō a book that he wrote on self-defense. In this book, there was a self-defense move that Dr. Feldenkrais developed specifically for being attacked by a short knife, which was a common way that Jews were attacked and killed at that time.

Kanō realized that he had never seen this move before. When back in Japan, Kanō had his people check that this was an original movement created by Dr. Feldenkrais. When this was confirmed, he selected Dr. Feldenkrais to be the white man who would be trained by one of the original 12 black belts whom Kanō had trained.

In 1954, Feldenkrais book on Jiu-Jitsu was reprinted. Some advice was given for special situations. For example defending against animals.

Hubert Klinger-Klingerstorff

Professor of judo and jiu-jitsu at the University of Wien/Austria – Black Belt 1st dan

There is an interesting comment about this book: This is one of those old books that made its way on to the internet in digital form. It has some legitimate techniques, even a few that I might have to try out on the mat. However, the context in which they’re applied is silly. There must be thirty or more defenses against strangling attempts. The defenses against dogs are ridiculous. The illustrations are hand drawn, and actually do a fairly good job of showing the techniques, but many of them are complex judo throws that require more than one being “self taught”.

This book is originally published in German language.

French language 1960

Paul Maslak

As a magazine editor, Maslak introduced the use of statistical analysis to sport karate and kickboxing. He played a significant role in the national adoption of safety equipment and the mandatory seeding of the top competitors in major national open tournaments. He also successfully advocated for the establishment of separate women’s divisions for both kata and kickboxing competition. In 1979, he co-authored the Schlesinger Rules System of Martial Arts Competition with prominent tournament karate and kickboxing referee Tom Schlesinger. He also wrote the first Official Rules of the World Karate Association in 1980 as well as the revised Official Rules of the World Kickboxing Association: Third Edition, in 1987. After leaving Inside Kung Fu in late 1981, he discontinued the STAR tournament ratings.
Maslak authored two books, Strategy in Unarmed Combat and What The Masters Know, based on a statistical study, he undertook of contrasting fighting styles in professional boxing, full-contact karate (early kickboxing), Japanese kickboxing, Judo and collegiate wrestling

Describing techniques and strategy by music connotations -Published 1980

The Art of Cutting

Integrating the use of kyokotsu and tanden has an enormous impact on cutting efficiency. This effect is due to a wave of power generated by the kyokotsu skill. You will find some info on a “wave of power” blog post.

Kiri oroshi
  1. Lifting the sword in jodan position with Chidori ashi foot posture, keep the centre line straight and spine in a natural position.
  2. When the sword moves forward, start pulling in kyokotsu
  3. By pulling in kyokotsu, the pelvis will tilt
  4. Almost at the end of the cut, push kyokotsu forward to neutral position. Pelvis returns to neutral position.

Pulling in kyokotsu and releasing it affect the use of the back muscles and the pelvis.

When kyokotsu is pulled in, the sword or in case of an unarmed action, the tegatana will move forward and makes contact with the target. When kyokotsu returns, the sword or tegatana will generate a cutting action.

In case of an unarmed action, the returning kyokotsu is generating a pulling action without excessive local muscle power.

Grasping the handle or wrist

A ring of power is discussed earlier. This also applies how to hold an object with the fingers. The object can be a handle of a sword or the wrist of an opponent. Grasping is not a question of muscle power, but it is making an unbreakable ring with thumb and middle finger. This is basically a very simple skill and makes the grasping of a wrist or sword handle very solid. The idea is to close the energy circuit between thumb and middle finger. When understanding this simple action, you can use it in different situations.

During “kiri-oroshi” or cutting exercise, the correct grip on the tsuka of handle is important. Also it is not a good idea to drop the sword behind the back. This is a signal about too much relaxation in holding the sword. Sometimes you can see warming up with the sword with this method, but as a method of cutting it has to be avoided.

Te-no-uchi

Previous paragraph gave you some information about the grasping skill. Of course, when using a sword for cutting or grasping a wrist to apply a “waza” on the opponent, just holding is not enough. Power transfer is necessary to become efficient in applying a waza.

Te-no-uchi is a phrase mostly associated with Japanese weapon arts. A popular description is about “wringing out a towel”. If too much power is used, the towel will be damaged, if the wringing is weak, most of the water will stay in the towel. An interesting observation is made in the Journal-of-Physical-Therapy-Science.

The skills of various kinds of motion must be maintained so that activities of daily living (ADL) can be performed fluently. An important objective of Occupational Therapy is to improve a patient’s ability to perform ADL. However, there are very few studies that have tried to scientifically analyze skill contributing to the quality of ADL. Therefore, we focused on the motion in wringing out of Towel, which is done frequently in ADL, and analyzed the factors that contribute to this motion. We hypothesized that the factors that contribute to this motion include the subject’s age, gender, grip strength and motion pattern. These factors were analyzed. The results show that the female elderly group, although weak in hand grip strength, was able to squeeze the maximum amount of water from the towel. We speculate that this group of elderly females were most efficient at wringing the towel because this was a common household chore for them and because of this, their level of skill was the highest among all the groups.

Uchi gaeshi, soto gaeshi, tenshikei and meguri

During te-no-uchi action or wringing out the towel, an uchi gaeshi or inward twist can be seen. This inward twist is basically a wrist and forearm movement.

When lifting the sword into jodan or hasso position, a soto gaeshi or outward twist is performed. As with the inward twisting action, local excessive muscle power has to be avoided. The twisting is not only affecting the wrist or forearm, but is a part of generating ‘tenshikei” or spiral power.

Te-no-Uchi, wringing out the towel

Te-no-uchi is more than wringing out the towel. It is a technique in which the fingers, palm, wrist and forearm play a major role. The twisting effect is to compress the soft tissues and, by loosening the tension, the tissues return to a neutral situation. When reaching the target, ten-no-uchi is applied to create one block between sword and body.

The relationship with “meguri”, referring primarily as an action of the wrist, but it is actually a motion of the whole body. It’s some type of te-no-uchi. Tenshikei or spiral power is also an expression of the power generated by te-no-uchi.

Tandoku undo tegatana dosa

Te-no-uchi is an integral part of tandoku undo tegatana dosa. In a previous paragraph I mentioned this in relationship with uchi gaeshi and soto gaeshi. During the execution of aiki-age and aiki-sage an internal movement is made, a rotations of the fore arm around the transverse axes. See a previous post “Wave of Power“. Although the turn of the hand is made around a point in the palm with an upward direction, the power target is in the wrist joint, the part when you push for example someone.

When performing aiki-sage or bringing the power down, the point of power is at the thumb side of the wrist.

Exercise for aiki age and aiki sage

The pendulum exercise is already mentioned on numerous occasions in this blog. The pendulum is a comprehensive exercise and can be “settled” for different purposes. When Tegatana moves upwards, the emphasis is on the aiki-age point. When Tegatana descends, we concentrate on the Aiki-sage point.

The question about the relationship between the art of cutting and aiki age & aiki sage is self explaining. The photos come from a book on Aikido. The word Aikido is a general term for defining the art of Aiki.

Ankles, knees, pelvis and kyokotsu

The motions of the body are magical, we can move many parts of our body in order to accomplish many physical tasks. But we can more with our body, there are certain parts that we have to pay attention to and we will discover many other physical features of our body.

Kyokotsu movement

Kyokotsu in general can be translated as “sternum”. In our case it is a special point on the sternum. By focusing on this point, we can move the sternum.

The Kyokotsu movement involves flexibility in the sternum and, by extension, the ribs and shoulder blade. The objective is to enhance the flexibility and mobility of the sternum and scapula. When moving the sternum there will be no compressing of the lungs and heart, and through the practice one’s whole rib cage will actually be expanded, or larger than it was previously. Moving the sternum is also affecting the movements of the spine and in extension the pelvis.

Turning the pelvis line

Pelvic manipulation consists of using kyokotsu. When kyokotsu is slightly pulled in the spine is straightened. When kyokotsu training is done enough, it will also affect pelvic tilt or rotation automatically.

To give you an inclined sensation of the pelvis using kyokotsu, you can try the following 4 steps. If the remark is made about an upright spine, it is not completely upright, there are always curves but less than in a normal posture.

4 steps to tilt pelvis

  1. Normal posture with curved spine
  2. Straighten legs, straighten the spine by pulling in slightly kyokotsu, called Gankyōbappai*
  3. Bend over, keep legs and torso straight
  4. Push pelvis in the direction of the ankles, keep torso as 1 block

*Gankyōbappai (含胸抜背).
This is an expression used to describe the postural adjustment at the chest level (Empty the chest & Pull out the back ). Keep the concave shape of the chest and stretch the spine to widen the back. Important is not to tense the muscles.

After learning the rotation of the pelvis, different posture heights can be performed with an inclined pelvis. Fundamentally, it’s an ankle movement and not knee-shifting. Even though the knees are bent, the work is done by moving the pelvis towards the ankles. You will notice that the gravity point located in the hara descends almost straight down.

Often you will hear about Achilles tendon problems with older, experienced practitioners. This is due to the abusive use of the knees and pelvis. To prevent such problems, adequate training for ankle flexibility should be introduced. A simple exercise involves moving the pelvis down and up with the ankles.

Tilting the pelvis simply using the pelvic muscles, creates tension in the pelvic region, especially when the footwork is used to move. A frozen pelvis cannot be used with skills such as tenshikei or meguri. Using only the pelvic muscles has no impact on the rest of the body structure.

Turning the pelvis line is only possible when the “mata” or “kwa” is flexible and not tensed up. Should you fail to soften your groin, a frozen pelvis will result. Some tension should be felt in the calves, especially when a deeper posture is adopted. Don’t lift the heels of the floor.

Proper kyokotsu training will affect the entire body, and after adequate training, flexibility and mobility is possible in the torso area. A frozen torso will be avoided. The use of kyokotsu during posture practice will benefit the ability to maintain a strong right posture. Legs and arms are attached to the torso and need flexibility and mobility during body movements. In martial arts, frozen limbs are a major disease when someone is attacking you. This will happen if you didn’t follow proper training, focused on movement. Remember a book written by John Wilkinson, a Tomiki Aikido Pioneer:

An exercise for pelvis, ankles and kyokotsu

During this exercise, the use of kyokotsu can be practiced. Pull the sternum in when going down and straighten breastbone when arms are raised. The ankles are bent and straightened throughout the movement.

Although it seems that the point of gravity is receding, in reality, it is descending directly.

Tension and relaxation

Excessive tension in the muscles can produce “frozen” joints, but complete relaxation will do exactly the same thing at the other end of the movement spectrum. Total relaxation is a kind of stagnancy or a state of inactivity. Both situations have to be avoided.

The problem of over-tension is often noticed by the practitioner if someone makes a remark on too much tension. The slackening of the muscles is a more serious problem because if someone makes the remark “relax”,. The practitioner has mostly a misunderstanding about “relax” and is not thinking about reducing the tension, but the practitioner focuses more about total slackening the muscles. It is maybe better if we talk about “high or low muscle tone”.

“Muscle tone” is often confused for “muscle strength” and although related, they are not interchangeable terms. Tone refers to the amount of tension in a muscle when at rest state (not actively contracted). Muscle tone helps our bodies maintain posture.
The Low muscle tone is characterised by the muscles having less tension at resting state and feeling “floppy”. High muscle tone is created by excessive contraction of the muscle. High  and low muscle will interfere with the power management of the body.

Taikan

Taikan (体感) or bodily feeling or sensation has to be improved before we can start with releasing the tension. If you experience tension you have to know from where it is coming. The same with relaxed, if you don’t feel your body, it is very difficult to solve this slackening of the muscles.

In Taikan’s case, this is a “somatic” concept, we use our sensory system to feel our movements. Although it is a natural process to feel something, if our mind is not focused on the feeling process, we will miss a lot of information how to handle different situations.

Some of you will notice the word “taikan”, as another trendy word to describe a natural process. The Japanese Wikipedia and Dictionaries provides an explanation of Taikan (体 感), mostly describing the concept of feeling. The English version provides a few insights from a medical perspective.

The somatosensory system is a part of the sensory nervous system. The somatosensory system is a complex system of sensory neurons and neural pathways that responds to changes at the surface or inside the body. The axons (as afferent nerve fibres) of sensory neurons connect with, or respond to, various receptor cells. Sensory receptors are found all over the body including the skin, epithelial tissues, muscles, bones and joints, internal organs, and the cardiovascular system.

How to use “Taikan” in our practice?

Most practitioners enjoy practicing with sweat. There are some health benefits from such training. Cardio and fat burning are boosted during such training. Unfortunately, this is not the correct method to use the concept of Taikan when you like to discover the different body feelings when practising. In particular, the concept of “muscle tone and reduction of muscle tension” requires a workout at a slower pace. Everyone is aware of the slow movements of taichichuan. There is some logic behind the slow movements, feeling the bodily movements is the first step towards a more efficient martial art.

So the first stage consists of starting “kihon” at a slower pace. Feel the movements and after a while you will become the movement. From now on, you can increase the pace of motion and concentrate on what you actually do. Of course, to maintain the concept of fat burning and cardio, remember to spend time on this important element of your training. A healthy and strong body is necessary for exploring the feelings of body movements.

One important tip is to avoid vigorous “randori” in the first year when the emphasis is on Taikan. The first step of randori, kakari geiko is possible at a slow pace. Ask your partner to co-operate.

Tai-sabaki – Movement Control

Tai-sabaki – Shintai – Shizentai

Basic Tomiki Aikido Footwork

All the practitioners of the Tomiki method, whether it is Aikido or Judo, are familiar with this model of footwork. This is one of the many overlapping components between Aikido and Judo. It is used in numerous books written by Kenji Tomiki. In “Judo et Aïkido”, an abbreviated English version of his Japanese books, the same concept is used to explain the footwork exercises.

Unfortunately, we cannot find indications how to use footwork in a proper way. We have the pattern, we know “shizentai or natural posture” is necessary during body movements, but most of the practitioners don’t know “how to….”. It is very easy to say “just practise”. The question arises “how to practise?”.

How to..?

Everybody knows that the answer coming from famous teachers when you ask them for something you don’t understand.

“Case by case”

Such an answer is not solving your problem. In case of footwork, we have to consider the basic types of footwork. Besides the basic types, we also have to think about the relationship between the body weight and gravity. And don’t forget the concept of “MA-AI“. By understanding the different aspects in proper footwork and practised these during solo-training and partner exercises, the finalisation will come forward during randori. As Kenji Tomiki said: colouring the dragon’s eye.

Basic types footwork

These are already discussed in other blog posts.

The moving body and shizentai

Among the fundamental elements of martial arts are, taijū no idō or moving the body weight with footwork and taijū no dendō or the transfer of body weight one of the most important concepts. Hino Sensei (Hino Budo’s method) says: “Strictly speaking, the motion of the body weight is to move by making his body a single block. For example, moving forward, or backward, being a solid block”.

Both skills (taijū no idō and taijū no dendō) are based upon proper footwork. And footwork includes also the use of shizentai or in Hino’s words “one’s body a single block”. Don’t take his words out of the context, because we have to take in account another concept or skill: Jukozo or the flexible body.

I would like to repeat a remark I made in other articles:

The main purpose of ritsuzen or standing meditation is to create a “linked” body-system.

This isn’t about standing still. This is an exercise with a lot of movement controlled by your mind. In essence, there is neither footwork nor arm movement. Nevertheless, it is possible some movements can occur when kyokotsu and koshi are involved.

Standing still or creating “shizentai” is the first step in footwork exercises. Advanced practitioners need just a few seconds to adopt shizentai, beginners need more time and need to practice a lot.

More to learn about ritsuzen and shizentai: A ring of power

Shintai and tai-sabaki

Kazuko Kudo a 9th dan Kodokan Judo made an interesting comment on footwork:

Advance-retreat (shintai) – Under this single heading we include both the advance-retreat (shintai) type of movement and turning movements (tai-sabaki).

To master the advance-retreat style of movement you must first master the following way of walking. Usually humans walk by putting their weight on one foot and advancing the other, then shifting their weight to the advanced foot as soon as it touches the floor and advancing the other foot. If we walk backwards the process is the same, only in the opposite direction. Forwards or backwards, this walking method always leaves your weight on one foot for an interval during which your body itself remains back with that support foot.

In his remark, he is talking about the normal way people are walking. In the next comment he talks about a martial way of walking.

In judo walking methods, on the other hand, we move our legs, hips, and bodies forward or backward all at the same time, you must not put one foot forward and leave your body behind or advance your body and leave one foot behind.

How to master this walking method? The first thing to remember is to maintain the natural body position. In judo we walk in the natural position, or to put it slightly differently we walk with our hips. As you walk do not let your feet move too far apart or too close together, do not let your body—head, shoulders, hips—rise and fall, and walk in a sliding smooth fashion across the floor.

Further, he advised to study the skill of “tsugi ashi”. He called this “following feet”. Tomiki’s Unsoku-who is using exactly the same method as Kazuko Kudo explained.

About Tai-sabaki, there is also an interesting comment

Movement control (tai-sabaki)

The Japanese words tai-sabaki are capable of two interpretations. In the wider sense they simply mean all natural body movements including the tsugi-ashi advance-retreat motions we have just been explaining. In the narrower sense they indicate the ways we manipulate and control our body’s motions.

He explained several items included in tai-sabaki:

  • Carriage of the head
  • Use of the eyes
  • Breath control
  • Use of the torso
  • Hand movements
  • Foot movements

These items are also explained by Senta Yamada in his book about aikido: The principles and Practice of Aikido. Some of Kudo’s comments, you also find in Tomiki’s Judo and Aikido.

A contemporary of Sentia Yamada was Tadashi Abe, a student of Morihei Ueshiba. In his books about aikido, he described the art of tai-sabaki as a three-fold action.

  • Koshi sabaki
  • Ashi sabaki
  • Te sabaki

Tadashi Abe studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and is also considered as one of the aikido pioneers in Europe.

Tai-sabaki – Movement Control

The word tai-sabaki is commonly used in Tomiki’s Aikido to describe the ability to avoid an attack. Of course, avoiding can be considered as a part of tai-sabaki. However, tai-sabaki has more to offer the practitioner.

In the words of Kazuko Kudo, Movement Control is the mantra to fully understand Tai-sabaki. Kenji Tomiki explained in fact the idea of Tai-sabaki when he talked about Tsukuri. This concept was developed by Jigoro Kanon the founder of Kodokan Judo. But again we must admit, most of the explanations are just words, so called buzzwords.

When we practise our exercises, one of the goals has to be the control of our movements. When practising with a partner, controlling the movements of the opponent becomes the goal. The attack is just the result of his movement.

Tsukuri or preparation

From “Judo and Aikido” by Kenji Tomiki:

Bringing your opponent’s posture and position into such a relation to yours as to make it easier for you to throw him is called tsukuri (preparatory action). Breaking your opponent’s posture and making it unstable is aite o tsukuru (to prepare the opponent) and assuming at that moment a position and posture convenient for using a technique according to the change in your opponent’s is jibun o tsukuru (to prepare yourself). Thus you must use the most adequate technique after making a thorough tsukuri.

Jibun o tsukuru

It is paradoxical to emphasize ukemi as a form of jibun o tsukuru, but by mental and physical understanding, the concept of “jukozo” or “flexible body” becomes more understandable.

It is a common fact, when a beginner comes into the dojo, he or she likes to know how to throw the opponent. The newbie is in most cases not interested in the fact, you can only throw someone if you can control yourself.

In the older days, ukemi training was one of the foremost methods for beginners to learn to do breakfalls and build up stamina. This was the explanation given to the beginner. It took several months to become more or less skilful in the art of falling. Ukemi or protecting the body is a very physically demanding exercise. When practised correctly and with full commitment, ukemi training becomes a cardio training with a lot of peak moments. Also the body becomes used for different kinds of impact when it hits the floor. The body creates a skill to avoid hard impact by using jukozo to distribute the impact to a bigger surface or into a larger body movement. A big rolling ukemi is such an example.

Aite o tsukuru

Preparing of the opponent consists in destroying the opponent’s balance before performing a technique and putting him in a posture where it will be easy to apply it. (Kenji Tomiki).

Without proper jibun o tsukuru, aite o tsukuru wil be very difficult and every attempt to throw the opponent will fail in most cases. Of course you can succeed by using extreme physical strength, but we are looking for a method useful for the lesser muscular practitioner.

Tai-sabaki becomes one of the pillars of aite o tsukuru together with the many exercises found in “sotai dosa“. The 7 balance disturbing exercises (shichi-hon-no-kuzushi) are another example of sotai dosa in the Tomiki Aikido training program.

The Next Step

Question: What is the purpose of doing Aikido always in the same way for years and years like a robot?

Answer: If we do the exercises (solo & partner) by doing it frequently and many repetitions we will progress in our Aikido.

It is a delusion to believe we can progress by just doing without an evolution of understanding, mentally and physically.

Tradition and evolution

Both can walk hand in hand together for the unreachable goal of the purpose of Aikido training. This training is focused by most of the practitioners on the physical and mental aspect of the training. Of course, for some practitioners, there is also a spiritual dimension. This can be subject for another discussion, but let’s talk about physical and mental aspects of the training.

Aikido training is constantly subject to evolution, which will change the final result depending on our understanding. Tradition or the legacy of our founders is not discarded in our training, but is subject to changes according to the degree of the practitioner. A more experienced instructor shall provide a more differentiated form of training than an instructor without teaching experience. Of course, creativity will also play an important function.

The smallest detail can change a complete movement

Once, Shishida Sensei said: “A perfect movement is a matter of one thousand details”.

Can you imagine if you have a better understanding of a detail what will happen to the movement? And if you understand several details, what is going to happen?

An example: the back heel

  • The picture on the left, the back foot (the heel) is pushed down
  • The middle, the heel has lifted 2cm, weight is on the ball
  • The right, heel is lifted completely

The impact on the knee angle

There is an impact on the knee angle of the back leg. There is also an impact on the knee angle of the front leg.

Many instructors will advise not to pass the knee line before the toes of the front leg. By lifting the back heel by 2cm, the front knee moves slightly back. When lifting the back heel completely, both legs are almost stretched, the body becomes unstable.

The small detail of lifting the heel has an impact on the stability and also on the power generation of the body.

By keeping tradition alive, but taking care of a small detail, there will be an evolution in the management of body motion. If there is a full understanding of the use of the detail, movements will improve in many circumstances. If the detail is not easily understood, efficient body movements will be destroyed, although the tradition is kept but not well understood.

Another example: counting movements

ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi

When we teach the choreography of Tandoku undo – Unsoku or Tegatana dosa to beginners, we use a method of counting important postures within the sequence. Generally, this creates a robot-like movements. This is maybe convenient to teach to beginners, but if you do still this counting after a few years of practice, I think you miss the point of practicing Tandoku undo.

A more advanced practitioner has to focus on smooth and flexible movements without the interruption caused by counting the major postures within the sequences.

Soto mawashi hiki mawari

The difference between “stop” and “pause”

We can consider a posture as a paused movement at one point. We can also take the movement as a series of infinite amount of paused movements, which are following each other.

A paused movement is in some cases when the breathing change from inhaling to exhaling or vice versa. In the example of soto mawashi hiki mawari, there is a pause at the end of the sequence just before lowering the hand to the side. This is the transition between inhaling and exhaling.

A pause is a part of a movement sequence, a stop is the end of a physical movement sequence.

Physical and mental movement

Life is about movements, if movements stop, life is also stopping. If we don’t see an external movement, there is of course an internal movement. Physically, the body is in a situation of “paused movement”, mentally there is no pause.

Entering the Arena of Competition

In this “Corona” time, we are waiting for a vaccine to cure the sickness. The vaccine, in most of the cases, is injecting the illness in a very reduced portion. The body is reacting and creates enough antibodies to fight the sickness.

Getting into the Arena of Competition is injecting a vaccine to prepare the practitioner for a fight against the illness of martial arts: Delusion.

Only if the vaccine is not well prepared, the fight in the Arena becomes so important and becomes itself a delusion of invincibility.

Thinking about this “Next Step”, the entering of the Arena, cannot be adopted lightly. I believe, it was not the intention of Kenji Tomiki to create a system with competition the final goal. How to become a “social being” with respect to others must always precede the vaccine of competition.