Sotai renshu – Embrace the inevitable.

One of the very purposes of studying Martial Arts is to learn to utilize and cultivate unconventional movement options.

Sotai Renshu – Partner Training

In pairs, the primary concept is the relationship with the partner/opponent and how to control the power and the mind of the partner/opponent. It is the body which expresses the power originating in the mind.

From a purely technical point of view, we will examine our body in relationship with the body of our partner/opponent. Later, we can go further into the mechanics of the mind and the generation of power.

Relationship with partner/opponent.

We distinguish 2 major technical characteristics.

Our position in relation to partner/opponent

  • Aigamae or regular facing posture
  • Gyaku gamae or reverse facing posture

The result of our action on partner/opponent

  • Hineri or inward turning of partner/opponent body (or body part)
  • Gaeshi or outward turning of partner/opponent body (or body part)

Contractive power versus “jukozo”

Most of our movements in our lives arise from muscle contractions. The muscles always work in pairs, one muscle is the active actor (agonist) whereas the other (antagonist) is the passive actor. This is the conventional way of thinking about how the body moves.

An example to specify the activities of the agonist and the antagonist:

The agonist and antagonist work together in any type of movement. Once a muscle is tensed, it can no longer relax on its own. This requires the contraction of the opposite muscle. So as your biceps contract to bend your arm, your triceps stretch. Now your triceps becomes the active part. As an agonist, the muscle contracts, allowing your biceps to relax as an antagonist.

Furthermore, in martial arts, the use of the power of the partner/opponent is part of the strategy. Unfortunately, contractive power is not always a good partner when we need to use the competence of “jukozo”, the competence to absorb and store incoming power. Especially the contractive power of the arms and shoulder can negatively affect the release of the power of the legs and torso.

But there is an additional way in which the muscles lengthen (other than only through the contraction of the opposite muscles). This functionality lies at the heart of the “Jukozo” concept. It is actually a push/pull concept without local muscle contraction. The push/pull motion is the result of the use of the kyokotsu, your breathing (diaphragm muscle) and the rotation motion of the abdomen, in other words hara, Koshi and tanden.

Basically, jukozo uses the capacity to store power in the muscles, tendons and fascia while stretching or compressing and not by contracting the muscles. Most of the power will be stored in the tendons and fascia, the muscles themselves have a much lower capacity and are mostly actively used for their contractive features. The push/pull action depends completely on the push or pull quality of the tendons and the fascia

The picture shows a push/pull action. The partner/opponent is pushed while he is turned. There is also a pull to with the result he is bending backward. The pull is created by koshi turning and a backward tsugi ashi, the push is the result of a stretching movement while pulling in kyokotsu. There is no muscle contraction or bending the arm. It is a simultanious action.

Tenshikei (Japanese) – Chansigong (Chinese)

Jukozo is based on a skill which favors spiral power. Our body always generates energy by following a spiral path consisting of muscles, tendons and fascias. We may use a special training method to develop tenshikei ability. During the training, we use rotational movements mostly coming from the lower part of the torso. Koshi is one of the most significant components of the lower torso.

Basically, it means that power is not transmitted linearly, but that it coils and spirals along the limbs. This means that there are two directions (clockwise and counterclockwise). When examining Tomiki Aikido Tandoku Undo Tegatana Dosa, we can clearly see the 2 directions of coiling movements in Uchi-mawashi/Soto-mawashi and Uchi-gaeshi/Soto-gaeshi.

Uchi Gaeshi

The rotational motions are created by using the “koshi” muscles and those, of course, follow the rule of contraction and relaxation. But we use an unconventional method, the muscles associated with the arms and shoulders are not contracted. The “hara” muscles (Koshi and tanden) are responsible for the rotation movements. A push/pull action is achieved if the muscles in the arms and legs are relatively relaxed.

The result of tenshikei training takes longer than the well-known methods for improving the core muscles in the gym. To control the movements of these muscles, the average practitioner requires many years of regular training. The control of rotation movements can be seen in the performance of top level sports people.

Controlling incoming power

When the incoming power penetrates the body, most people will respond by contracting the muscles along the power path. It will obviously interfere with the storage of incoming power. A better way is to use the “Jukozo” skill, a skill to absorb and store incoming power in the tendons and fascia.

The incoming power, for instance, when someone grabs your wrist and does a twisting movement, follows a spiral path through the body. This energy can be stored within the tendons and fascia. Ready to operate with flexibility.

The better we can store the power, the better we can use the stored power to counter the partner/opponent attack. Countering the attack means avoiding conflict with the strength of the partner/opponent.

An example – the wrist grip.

It’s a practice, not a martial application. Nonetheless, the integrated body movement may be used in martial applications..

The partner/opponent has a strong grip on our wrist. There is no pulling or pushing by partner/opponent, but an inward twisting action of the wrist. Start a release action at the foot, thereafter the leg, the hip joint, the torso, shoulder, arm and wrist. Avoid contractions of the muscles, power transfer will stop at the muscle contraction.

By the way, muscle contraction is also a method to generate strength. There are times when such a method can be used. But especially as a beginner, it is preferable to use the jukozo method rather than the contracting method.

Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba during WW2 in Manchuria

Control your own power!

Basically, we don’t want to give the partner/opponent the opportunity to use our own power against us. A highly skilled partner/opponent may simply use a clever action to cause some sort of blocking action in your body.

Incoming power does not necessarily travel within our body. The incoming power could also be very local. For instance, when someone grabs with one or two hands without pushing, pulling or twisting. All power is centered on our wrist.

In such a case, stretch the tendons and fascia the gripped wrist without pulling, pushing or twisting on the arm of partner/opponent . By releasing the power generated by the stretching movement, an undulating movement will distort the body of the partner/opponent.

Senta Yamada is stressing the softness of the body to transfer spiral power into the body of uke.

Active and static power

The body under mind control, may produce various types of useful power during martial art training and its application as self-defense.

Usually two types will be used.

  • Active Power – Power by hitting, kicking, pushing, pulling or twisting and entering the body for the purpose of hurting or throwing.
  • Static Power – The power to immobilize the body of the partner/opponent or part of the body. Many examples in koryu no kata where partner/opponent has a grip on you to immobilize.

The use of different types of power will depend on the circumstances and will become part of the strategy. Every martial art can have a different type of strategy, but the efficient use of power depends on the same principles.

Uke/Tori and switching roles

Perhaps you noticed that I did not use the words Uke and Tori in previous paragraphs. In many martial arts explanations, the words Uke and Tori are used to define the role of the attacking and defending or winner and loser. That kind of thinking is actually a “one way of thinking”. Uke is thus the receiver of a successful movement. Uke act as a loser and this of course has an impact on our way of thinking. During basic training, Uke carries out ukemi or breakfall. Uke has a losing concept. Whereas during the randori, the concept of loser is not allowed. To avoid losing during randori, most of the practitioners will block the movement of partner/opponent. What we have pointed out in the previous paragraphs is completely forgotten. Jukozo or flexibility is replaced by muscle contraction resistance.

Actually, during basic training, randori or martial applications, there are 2 people (or more) performing Uke/Tori movements. Each person acts at the same time as Uke and Tori. In fact, we may be talking about a Uke/Tori person, an expression of duality as described in an earlier post about Ju and Go. The duality in the Uke/Tori person is also related to the concept of Onmyō – Yin/Yang – Our movements are acting by using opposing forces – tension(*) and release. The concept of opposing forces is in Oriental philosophy explained by the well-known words: Yin and Yang, in Japanese: Onmyō.

(*) Tension shouldn’t be confused with muscle contraction. In our case, tension is stretching tendons and fascia to increase power. It is also possible to build power through compression, a skill to allow input power and transfer in the ground. Rebound is the outcome and is only possible with the competence of Jukozo. For this case, an exercise as shotei-awase can be mentioned.

Conscious and sub-conscious mind

When people start with martial art training in an unconventional manner, many new things need to be learned. This process is principally realized by the conscious mind. The motions of the body begin at a slow speed because our conscious mind is actually a slow process. But we got a faster processor, our subconscious mind. The moment we do not have to think about how to operate, the subconscious mind may take control of the process of our body moving.

Even if you are a practitioner with many years of experience, the moment you start the non-standard path, you are again a newbie. Thus, your conscious mind takes control of the process and your movements are still slow until the unconventional method of movement can be performed by the subconscious mind. This process may take several years, depending on the depth to which the conventional method is grounded in your mind.

Moving from solo to partner training is actually a test of whether the unconventional method has replaced the conventional method and how anchored it is.

We need to embrace the inevitable. Can we do it or not?

Mushin Mugamae

This expression is quoted many times by Kenji Tomiki and his followers. Mostly it is translated as “Empty mind, empty posture”.

Basically, it’s a good idea to use this translation as a beginning to try to understand Mushin Mugamae. There is more to this expression than just “Empty Mind, Empty posture”. However, putting the phrase “Mushin Mugamae” in your mind makes a mind filled with thoughts. This is also true when we adopt a combat posture. As a beginner, the conscious mind will create the thinking combat pose. Unfortunately, using the conscious mind is too slow to respond to the actions of the partner/opponent.

Unconventional movement and training

One of the very purposes of the study of martial arts is to learn how to use and cultivate unconventional movement options. This process may be regarded as “the path of a martial art practitioner”. Becoming a skilled practitioner is not an easy way, but for those who are on the way, it is an experience that can also be monitored for the purposes of everyday life.

As mentioned above, the use of the conscious mind is too slow to react to a sudden move of the partner/opponent or even sudden events in everyday life. The unconscious mind can handle such events if you have the ability to “mushin mugamae”.

Study or technical training takes place at a slow rate. After acquiring the bodily sensation, stored in the subconscious mind, the reaction may be very quick or even slow. That will depend on the circumstances. An image is slow, while a pattern is slow/fast.

From image to pattern, from slow to slow-fast

There are many ways to bring content to the movements of our body. For instance, how to use weight transfer during walking. Within the brain, there are images of the various aspects of walking. The first image is created when we have learned to stand vertically. Later, we start walking, foot by foot. How to use this image depends on our experiences throughout our lives, and based on these experiences, we have created patterns. Learning new patterns of movement takes time and needs to be done properly from the start.

Beginners are not only associated with “novices”, but also with experienced people who are learning new skills. Starting with a new “model”, we start slowly and sometimes we exaggerate the motion by making it bigger. That allows us to create a bodily sensation. This is a condition of subconscious usage. Without a bodily sensation, every action will depend on the conscious mind or the inborn fight or flight reaction**. The physiological changes that occur during the fight or flight response are activated in order to give the body increased strength and speed in anticipation of fighting or running.

A highly skilled practitioner can use the fight or flight reaction in combination with the patterns stored in the brain. If it is still at the stage of using the conscious mind, the fight or flight reaction will have an uncontrollable effect on performance.

It takes time to build experiences to create a model or pattern after creating an image. Sometimes a pattern is corrupted or may not be used in martial arts situations. We need to reprogram something. Reprogramming is a challenging process because bad habits must be removed and new moves must be created. It takes more time to start again, then start anew as a beginner.

**The fight-or-flight or the fight-flight-or-freeze response (also called hyperarousal or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival

Exercises to develop “mata power”

The power generated using “mata” or “kua (Chinese)” is an action that is hard to explain in words. It involves every part of your body. When you have access to someone who can give you the basics, the following exercises are almost self-explanatory.

We will cover 4 exercises

  • Vertical forward (oshi taoshi)
  • Vertical backward (hiki taoshi)
  • Horizontal forward (chudan uchi mawashi/gedan soto mawashi)
  • Horizontal reverse (chudan soto mawashi/gedan uchi mawashi)

Exercise 1 – Vertical forward

The inspiration for this exercise comes from 3 other exercises.

  • Pendulum exercise, explained somewhere else in this blog
  • Ik-kyo undo, practised by many aikido styles
  • Tandoku undo tegatana dosa (shomen uchi/shomen tsuki)

Basically, a vertical movement is performed containing 2 actions

  • Lifting the arms up to deflect an incoming attack to the face
  • Dropping action to throw an opponent of controlling

Many other applications use this kind of movements.

Complete sequence

Exercise 2 – Vertical backward

A reverse circle is used to perform this exercise. The inspiration is found in other famous exercises

  • Rowing exercise used by many aikido styles
  • Hiki taoshi application (see BASIC 17 – Hiki taoshi)

Complete sequence

Exercise 3 – Horizontal (chudan uchi mawashi/gedan soto mawashi)

This exercise include uchi mawashi (chudan) and soto mawashi (gedan)

Please refer to 7-hon no kuzushi or to original style of tegatana dosa tandoku undo.

Complete sequence

Exercise 4 – Horizontal reverse (chudan soto mawashi/gedan uchi mawashi)

This exercise include soto mawashi (chudan) and uchi mawashi (gedan).

Please refer to 7-hon no kuzushi or to original style of tegatana dosa tandoku undo.

Complete sequence

Some footage of the “mata” exercises

Koshi-mawari & sotai-dosa

The main ways of moving the body and hands were picked from Aiki skills, then simplified and abstracted and  organized as the exercise forms.

Teruo Fujiwara

In the Tomiki system, the use of solo-exercises and paired exercises are incorporated into the training method. Originally it was called Judo Taiso or Yawara Taiso and the purpose was to introduce judo students to Aiki-arts.

It was Senta Yamada who brought Judo Taiso/Yawara Taiso to the UK in the late 50-ties/early 60-ties. Most of his teaching are forgotten due to the focus too much on the sporting side of Tomiki Aikidō. Nevertheless, Judo Taiso is very valuable to understand Koryu no kata.

The creation of “Judo Taiso” (Judo Gymnastics)

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

Around 1950-1952, Kenji Tomiki developed  a training-system for the many aiki-jutsu techniques. It was called judo taiso or judo gymnastics. This training-system was created according to the judo principles, (Judo Taiso 1954 by Kenji Tomiki) and includes 11 solo exercises (Tandoku Undo) and 8 partner exercises (Sotai Undo)

What is Judo Taiso? 

Judo taiso is a modern gymnastic training-system to learn atemi waza (striking techniques) and kansetsu waza (joint techniques). These fundamental  movements  are the expression of the power and rhythm in atemi waza and kansetsu waza.

Tandoku Undo are exercises to develop good posture and balance. Judo principle shizentai-no–ri (principle of natural posture) is clearly expressed in these exercises. The use of the handblade is a reflection of the many aiki-jutsu atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza learned from Morihei Ueshiba. 

  • Tegatana soho 1 : Kihon no kamae – Fundamental posture, power is concentrated in tegatana (1)
  • Tegatana soho 2 : Uchi mawashi – Inside sweep (2-3)
  • Tegatana soho 3 : Soto mawashi – outside sweep (4-5)
  • Tegatana soho 4 : Uchi gaeshi – soto gaeshi – Inside turn and outside turn(6-9)
  • Tegatana soho 5 : Uchi mawashi tentai – Inside sweep with forward turning (demawari) (10-11)
  • Tegatana soho 6 : Soto mawashi tentai – Outside sweep with backward turning (hikimawari) (12-15)
  • Tegatana soho 7 : Ko mawashi – Compact method of tegatana soho 2 and 3 (16)
  • Tegatana soho 8 : O mawashi – Big turning forward and backward (17-22)

List provided by Senta Yamada

Sotai undo – 8 partner exercises

In paired exercises the primary concept is the relationship with the partner/opponent and the way of controlling the partner/opponent by using the different tegatana-soho.

  • Aigamae or regular facing posture
  • Gyaku gamae or reverse facing posture
  • Hineri or inward turning of partner/opponent body (or body part)
  • Gaeshi or outward turning of partner/opponent body (or body part)

NrName techniqueGrip to wrist (*)Movement of tegatana
1Ai gamae ude hineriUra doriSoto gaeshi
2Gyaku gamae ude hineriOmote doriUchi gaeshi
3Ai gamae ude gaeshiOmote doriUchi mawashi
4Gyaku gamae ude gaeshiUra doriSoto mawashi
5Ai gamae tenkai ude hineriOmote doriSoto mawashi tenkai
6Gyaku gamae tenkai ude hineriUra doriUchi mawashi tenkai
7Ai gamae tenkai ude gaeshiOmote doriUchi mawashi tenkai
8Gyaku gamae tenkai ude gaeshiUra doriSoto mawashi tenkai

* Omote dori : grip to wrist on inside – Ura dori : grip to wrist on outside

Koshi-mawari and sotai dosa

Koshi-mawari is in general translated as turning the hips. From previous posts we know this is not correct. Koshi-mawari is a very complex way of moving with the lower torso. Koshi-mawari can be considered as the movement of a ball (kyūten*)

Kyūten – 球転 Ball rolling, ball rotation

In Chinese martial arts, the concept of Dantian and Chan Si Gong (silk reeling exercises) is related to kyūten and tenshi & tenshikei.

1- Ai-gamae ude hineri

From “Judo Taiso” book

Below: from 1950 movie


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

Senta Yamada performing sotai dosa “Ai gamae ude hineri”

The originals by Kenji Tomiki for this sotai dosa (1), give no indication of a focus on Koshi-mawari. When watching the performance of Senta Yamada, an early disciple of Kenji Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba, we can see some indications of using koshi. There are many examples of Yamada sensei, where he is using koshi-mawari. Unfortunately he did fail to explain how to perform “koshi-mawari”.

2- Gyaku-gamae ude hineri

From “Judo Taiso” book


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

In Tomiki’s original from the movie, we can see how he is using chidori-ash and the associated koshi-mawari.

3- Ai-gamae ude gaeshi

From “Judo Taiso” book


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

4- Gyaku-gamae ude gaeshi

From “Judo Taiso” book


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

5- Ai gamae tenkai ude hineri

From “Judo Taiso” book


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

6- Gyaku gamae tenkai ude hineri

From “Judo Taiso” book


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

7- Ai gamae tenkai ude gaeshi

From “Judo Taiso” book


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

8- Gyaku gamae tenkai ude gaeshi

From “Judo Taiso” book


Tomiki’s Movie around 1950

Extra Kihon developped by Kenji Tomiki

In Tomiki’s early movie, under the chapter “kihon-waza” he demonstrated 4 extra kihon-waza.

Ude gaeshi rotation


Ude gaeshi rotation




Haishin Undo


Grasping the wrist

VoorvertoningSchermSnapz491Early Tomiki Aikido (around 1950-1960) was a training method not focused on competition but on randori and kata. Solo exercises with basic foot movements (unsoku) and basic foot/hand movements (tandoku undo) formed the fundamentals for many partner exercises and free play.
There are training sets covering strikes to the head or grabbing attacks to the wrist or other parts of the body. Tomiki’s judo background can be clearly seen in some of the attacks he used to explain basic movement and techniques.

Shomen ate or tsuki sotai dosa

The opponent is attacking with shomen ate or shomen tsuki, the defender is using uchi mawashi or soto mawashi. After the yielding, grasping the wrist is a possibility to control the opponent.


Tegatana dosa “yielding” actions can be used in “hyoshi” exercises as advanced training. Hyoshi exercises are tools to practise the skill of “cadence, rhythm and tempo”.

Grasping the wrist

grasping the wrist001In aikido grasping the wrist is often used to introduce basic techniques. Reference is made in many cases to stop the swordman grasping and pulling out the sword.

Of course there are other explanations. Opponent is trying to grasp your dogi in judo fashion. By grasping the wrist and keeping distance (rikakutaisei), you have the aikido distance in your favor.



Katate dori sotai dosa

There are 2 ways of grasping the wrist. The ai gamae position or gyaku gamae position. Each position has 2 methods : omote and ura. In sotai dosa grasping can be done with ura dori or omote dori. Ura is the front of the body. The inside of the arm or wrist is ura.

Ai gamae katate dori (omote dori) & Gyaku gamae katate dori (omote dori)

The 4 first movements(yonhon no kuzushi) of the 8 sotai dosa are the predecessor of nanahon no kuzushi (7 balance disturbing movements). The last 4 movements of the sotai dosa are about tenkai movements (180° turning).
Sotai dosa is a tool to understand many techniques of Koryu no kata, especially the tenkai techniques.

From a technical point of view, these exercises create a pattern how to manipulate the arm of the opponent. Basically the arm of the opponent will be turned in a “hineri” fashion or a “gaeshi” fashion.


Basically, when opponent is attacking you by grasping with 2 hands, your reaction will be almost the same as in the 8 sotai dosa. You can use sotai dosa 1 or 2. It is even possible to use sotai dosa 3 and 4.

Opponent can also grasp both your wrists or both wrists from behind (ryote-dori – ushiro ryote dori). Using the basics from tegatana dosa and sotai dosa will give you the solution. Your action has to start from the subconscious mind, otherwise the opponent will sense your reaction.

How to grasp a wrist?

Grasping a wrist is almost identical as grasping the hilt of a sword. Most of the power is in the thumb and the middle finger. This is in contrast with the belief of grasping with the little finger.

holding wrist

Breaking through “kamae”

Budo Aikido practice provides a safe space where violent actions can be experienced.

In fact the title is misleading, it is not about “breaking”, but is about using opponent’s kamae to start the necessary actions for controlling or throwing. As always when you start a new skill or reviewing an existing skill, the movements are big and in a moderate tempo. After a while, the form and hyoshi will come closer to “a reality”.

What is reality in Budo Aikido?

Any training in the martial arts, if entered into seriously with a sincere mind will make your free play (randori geiko) a reality. Some aggression in you will come forward, and it is your responsibility to control it. Where is this aggression coming from? Maybe you are unhappy with the situation. You like to throw the opponent, but his kamae is too strong, so your solution : break through.
You can choose to fight the person, or you can choose to fight your own negativity and frustration that lead to unhappiness. To revert this unhappiness, we can use the concept of “yielding”. It is not about running away or avoiding, it is about changing the situation into your favor. However, first you have to feel (taikan).

Ishiki 意識

Ishiki has 2 kanji, 意 = I, and 識 = shiki.
“Shiki” means identification, it is the act of recognizing someone or something.
“I” means intent, it is the determination to do something.

In Eastern Martial Arts, the concept of “I” (Yi in Chinese) or intent is the birth of power through the use of “Ki” (Qi or Chi un Chinese). For many Western people, this concept is too metaphysical. However by using this concept and using non-metaphysical words, we can understand the function of it.

Budo Aikido is built on using “Ishiki” or “Consciousness” and utilizing “learned body reflexes”, which are movements created as patterns in the brain through training.
Ishiki is awareness on the conscious level, you are just a conscious observer. The body will react on the input by the feeling and observing action with an appropriate pattern
Breaking through kamae is a matter of ishiki, feel the line of power and act accordingly in a subconscious way by using patterns stored in the brain.

The line of power

Power is traveling along lines using the body. As Budo Aikido movement involves no conscious, intentional use of the muscles, you must not use your consciousness to plan or intend anything. Use your consciousness only to feel. The moment when you touch someone, you can feel his power. Maybe only the power for keeping the posture. Power has a direction, feeling the direction is important. Let your subconscious taking over the action, don’t interfere with local muscle power.



Randori-no-kata is an example where chudan-no-kamae is often used. In fact this basic kata is far away from randori geiko. The performance of this kata is a demonstration of concepts useful as training ideas.
The chudan-no-kamae is adopted by uke after a few steps forward. Sometimes in toshu-randori (unarmed freeplay), the opponent is using this kame to close the door, you cannot easily reach the opponent.
By using soto mawashi or uchi mawashi whe can neutralize opponent’s kamae. This is also helpfull when opponent is attacking to your face with shomen ate or frontal attack. After contact with your tegatana on uke’s arm, you can grab the wrist and apply “kuzushi”.
In a more dynamic format, tandoku undo tegatana dosa 1 can be used to practise neutralizing opponent’s forward movement.

gyaku gamae ate01

The example is one of the many choises you have during the sotai renshu tegatana dosa.

Tegatana dosa 1 & tegatana dosa 2


4 Basic neutralizing approaches

There are 4 basic exercises, 2 ai gamae (regular facing body posture) and 2 gyaku gamae (reverse facing body posture). Soto mawashi and uchi mawashi are used to sweep away uke’s arm. Integrating internal mechanisms will greatly improve the potential of power.

  • ai gamae soto mawashi
  • ai gamae uchi mawashi
  • gyaku gamae soto mawashi
  • gyaku gamae uchi mawashi

VoorvertoningSchermSnapz489Aigamae soto mawashi


VoorvertoningSchermSnapz487Ai gamae uchi mawashi


VoorvertoningSchermSnapz488Gyaku gamae soto mawashi


VoorvertoningSchermSnapz490Gyaku gamae uchi mawashi


8 sotai dosa

There are of course more than 8 sotai dosa exercises. These are the most basic and can be studied by beginners after some bodywork skills (kyokotsu, tenshikei,….)

Ai gamae ude hineri

Ai gamae ude hineri with bodywork application. See also tenshikei.

Tenshikei lines

There is a similar body movement in relationship with tenshikei, when doing iaido nukitsuke/kirioroshi, a horizontal and vertical cut with the sword. By doing sayabiki a tenshikei action (twisting) is produced, the potential energy of the twist can be used to proceed with furikaburi (lifting the sword) by untwisting. In sotai dosa ai gamae ude hineri, the same actions will direct the tegatana.

nukitsuke kirioroshi

The nukitsuke movement in iaido is a rotation movement of the arm and the sword. As such, it follows the laws of conservation of angular momentum. From that perspective, sayabiki has the following positive effects:

  1. By providing rotation in the opposite direction, it allows for greater speed of the sword arm and the sword tip.
  2. At the end of the movement, the slowing down of the tip (and control to avoid over-extension of the movement) is helped by the associated movement of slowing down at the end of sayabiki.

Gyaku gamae ude hineri

Gyaku gamae ude hineri with bodywork application. See also tenshikei.
The untwisting of the tenshikei starts with turning the feet. Body turns with the feet have many applications in koryu no kata.

starting sotai dosa 2

sotai dosa 2 feet

In iaido we have a similar body movement, the feet is stepping forward to release the twisting of tenshikei. The untwisting will be facilitated the lifting of the sword.

iai & sotai2

Ai gamae ude gaeshi

Sotai 03a

sotai dosa 03

Gyaku gamae ude gaeshi

Sotai 04a

sotai dosa 04

Ai gamae tenkai ude hineri

Gyaku gamae tenkai ude hineri

Ai gamae tenkai ude gaeshi

Gyaku gamae tenkai ude gaeshi

Taijū no idō & Taijū no dendō

Among the fundamental elements for generating power are taijū no idō or body weight shift and taijū no dendō or body weight transmission.
The displacement of the body weight is when one moves his center of gravity.
The transmission of the body weight is the action of putting the weight  into the opponent. For example when one is grasped at the forearm, to use this point of contact to transfer his weight to another. It is not pushing or pulling!
By performing tenshikei an internal distance is created, this internal distance is needed to be able to do body weight transmission. The power of this transmission is called “Ido-ryoku”.


How to create distance and space when grasped by the opponent?

If someone is grasping you on your wrist and twist you forward. You will feel it first in your wrist and elbow (1), the shoulder (2), it affects the other shoulder (movement will be felt front of the body (3), the twist will be go down at the back to the opposite hip (4), the movement will pass via the front of abdomen to the other hip (5), the knee (6) and the ankle (7). The feeling is important (taikan).

The untwisting is following the reverse order.

The opponent will not feel the untwisting until the power enters in his body with taijū no idō or body weight shift and taijū no dendō or body weight transmission.

from the book written by Akira Hino (2017) Listen to the Body.

Sotai Renshu

Paired exercises

Although solo exercises are of great importance to improve your body movements, it is a delusion to believe you can study Budo without an opponent. An opponent also called “uke” is the person who will point out your weaknesses during training. There is also another function of paired exercises: improvement of body movement and increasing the ability of generating power. But the most important items are: Metsuke and Shisei


The eyes are the windows of the mind.

The difference between “to look” and “to see” is basically that “looking” is being able to confirm through our sight that the world is as our reason tells us that it is, and “seeing”, is the ability of men of knowledge to perceive the world through energy charges.

(from Conversations with Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda).

Practising with a partner is all about how we “see” our opponent. Don’t “look” at the weapon (handblade, fist, knife….), but see where the attack starts. Keep your eyes on the face of the opponent.

This advice is for tori and uke

the eyes

(Picture from Goshin Jutsu by Kenji Tomiki)


Without a proper posture, we cannot see the truth in the eyes of the opponent. Most of the people will give a signal when they really start to attack. By keeping a proper posture, you have the possibility to avoid or to control the power of the opponent. This is already explained somewhere in this document, but it is very important to emphasise this matter.

By using a proper shisei there will a communication between you and your opponent. This is only possible when the communication line has the proper tension.

Basic Tomiki Aikido Sotai Renshu (paired training)

Tegatana awase

Shotei awase

Old style Sotai dosa – included tenkai waza

•7-hon no kuzushi (New style sotai dosa)

Nigiri gaeshi – taking over the grip