Using Kyokotsu

Controlling “your movements and techniques” are based upon 3 important elements :

1- Kyokotsu control (Kyokotsu is a point on the sternum, about 2 cm above the solar plexus): Kyokotsu is at the core of whole body movement. It initiates the stretch of inner core muscles. You can connect limbs such as arms and legs to the kyokotsu.
2- Rendo (connected movement, interlinking):
Rendo is needed to control movement, from dynamic one to precisely one.
3- To feel the body or Taikan:
To feel is to recognize stimuli happening in your body. And by tracing the sensation of the stimuli, you can create a real control of your movements and techniques. This process is extremely important to liberate the body from preconceptions and conscious thoughts.

These 3 requirements need to be made as 1 package. Even the 3 basic kyokotsu exercises have an element of rendo and taikan.

Connecting elbow(s) to the kyokotsu

As in another article about “Guide, movement and power“, the elbows are movement factors and are a part of the appendicular body system. This system is connected to the axial body system with the kyokotsu as the control center.


Kyokotsu is controlling, via the spine, the upper part of the appendicular system, but also the lower part.

By connecting kyokotsu to the upper and lower part, a complete whole body system will provide the necessary power for movements and techniques.

Exercises to develop the connection between kyokotsu and elbows

Exercises to develop connection are mostly partner exercises. The role of the partner, sometimes called uke, has an important function as a training-partner, not an opponent who is fighting you. We must consider the 3 basic requirements: kyokotsu, rendo and taikan. Without them, the exercises will become a matter of local muscle power or a contest “who is the strongest?”. The role of “uke” is about appropriate resistance and not blocking the action of “tori”.

Basically sotai dosa are exercises to develop connection between elbow and kyokotsu. When the 3 basic requirements are included into sotai dosa, the connection can be made in an early stage of the training. If there are difficulties, isolation of a movement can be used as an exercise to improve the connection. We can consider some elementary movements with the elbows.

  • Moving elbows to the outside
  • Moving elbows to the inside
  • Moving elbows up
  • Moving elbows down
  • Moving elbows circular (or spiral)

Applications in Koryu no kata

In many techniques of koryu no kata, kyokotsu plays an important role to create space or to generate power for locking or throwing. Movements of the kyokotsu need a lot of training. Making the connection between elbow and kyokotsu is the method to create efficient techniques.

Tachi waza (dai san)

  Mune dori – kote mawashi

Mune dori kote mawashiFigure-8 kyokotsu exercise is at the core of this technique. The line between the 2 elbows will move synchronic.  Connection between kyokotsu and the front elbow will give the necessary power to lock the wrist of uke without damage.

Kakae dori


By pulling in kyokotsu, shoulder blades will slide to the outside. When connection is made between kyokotsu and elbows, via shoulderblades, space will be available to move the body and grasping the hand of uke is possible for executing tenkai kote hineri. Don’t push tanden forward without using kyokotsu. The movement of kyokotsu will also have an effect on the koshi.

Changing direction of power

When uke is resisting your movement, it is not a good idea to use local power from your arm or shoulder to finish a technique.
With kyokotsu control, rendo and taikan, the power of the movement can be changed in any direction easily. The connection between your own elbow(s) and kyokotsu is a necessity.

Kyokotsu – sternum control

Kyokotsu – 胸骨 = sternum
胸 mune = chest
骨 hone = bone

Hino’s Budo Theory opened my eyes to improve my movements, especially the basics in Tomiki Aikido (unsoku-ho, tandoku undo tegatana dosa, sotai dosa……….)

It is a misunderstanding to label Tomiki Aikido as only competition. There is more…..

rolling tanden01

Kyokotsu – Control Centre of the human spine

tensegrity modelThe spine plays an extremely important role in our body as it supports the upper body’s weight, provides posture while allowing for movement and flexibility, and protects the spinal cord.
The muscles attached to the spine are very strong and are used to generate efficient body movement with the help of the arms and/or legs.
Controlling the muscles attached to the spine is not an easy task.

“Use the spine but don’t think about the spine.”

In our bodywork we are using “kyokotsu” as a control centre of the spine. If our attention is to the spine, the spine muscles becomes tensed and our body will act rigid.

Relationship between elbow and kyokotsu

The freedom of the arm is in direct proportion to the use of the elbow. The elbow is controlled by the kyokotsu.
When the kyokotsu moves backwards, the arms will move forward due the activation of the back and shoulder muscles.
The elbow will give direction to the hand when the back and shoulder muscles are activated. To create an efficient movement guided by the elbow a “pattern” must be created in the mind which can be used by the unconscious mind.
Putting the mind on the “specific point” of the elbow will greatly improve the efficiency of using the arm and hand.

Our skeleton is build in 3 sections, one of them is the upper axial skeleton. Some info you can find under “power management”.

Why is it important to put your mind on the elbow?
The movement of the kyokotsu is connected to the elbow due the movement of the back and shoulder muscles. When turning the shoulder line, in normal cases the elbow will follow the shoulder line rotation. By putting the mind on the specific point of the elbow we can direct the elbow in a straight line to the target.

In Atemi* Waza the elbow is often used to give direction to reach the target.
On the other hand the target is not always the face or the stomach, but it is also possible targeting by gripping the opponent’s wrist , shoulder or other joint.

* Atemi is a general term in martial arts or Budo/Bujutsu to describe the techniques for punching, thrusting, striking, kicking,…aimed at critical areas of the body.

Kyokotsu exercises

When working with kyokotsu and koshi, it is advised not to focus on koshi but focusing on kyokotsu.
Why? When you focus on koshi you will have tension on the muscles of the koshi area. This will disturb the concept of yukozo and the result is a lesser mobility and flexibility.

There are 3 kind of kyokotsu movements to practise

1. front and back
2. up and down
3. figure 8

kyokotsu in-out

Forward and back

Push the kyokotsu forward without changing the position of the shoulders. Thereafter move the kyokotsu backwards.
Be careful not to use the shoulders.
Pulling in the kyokotsu is not done by pulling in the stomach muscles!

Keep the abdomen in a relaxed way.
When doing the exercise correctly, the pelvis will start to move, but don’t put too much attention to it, the pelvis movement is the result of the kyokotsu movement.

Up and down
Push the line between the nipples up. This will stretch the sides of the body. You will feel this on waist level. Lower the sides of the torso.
During the up and down movement, the elbows are moving up and down by the movement of the central body. The pelvis is not moving up, it serves as an anchor from which the upward stretch is done. Visualize your are pulling up and pushing up the kyokotsu.

up & down kyokotsu 01

Figure 8

The movement of both elbows are simultaneous and rotate on the central body axis, like a figure 8 around the kyokotsu.

3d figure 8
When turning the shoulder-line, stretch the body up, turn back and pull in the kyokotsu, stretch the body up……….

tenshikei solo exercise