Opening/closing the armpit

The “opening and closing” of the armpit is managed by using kyokotsu or sternum in the correct way. This is necessary to perform an efficient movement when aiming for a target.

Using kyokotsu and “koshi” in a correct way (koshi-mawari) is the key to send the power of the base (earth) through the arms into the opponent. About koshi mawari, you can consult: The influence of Chidori ashi.

Controlling “kyokotsu” or “sternum”

Controlling kyokotsu or sternum is explained by Akira Hino in his book: Don’t Think, Listen to the Body.

The picture on the left is a sort of simplification of the mechanism. It has also an influence on the utilization of the koshi.

When the sternum is moving, the spine is also moving. This creates a pelvic tilt.

The pelvic tilt has to be the result of a full body movement. Just doing a pelvic tilt has no influence on the movement of the upper body when there is no connection between upper and lower body. Also just doing a sternum movement has no effect on the lower body if there is tension around the spine.


Straight line and koshi mawari

Directing for the target is a simple action with a lot of difficulties. The skill of opening and closing the armpit has to be entirely understood, mentally and physically.

When there is no control of the armpit, there is a probability of missing the target.

To resume, we can point out:

  • Rotation of the torso
  • Extending the arm in a straight line aiming at the target.
  • Opening and closing of the armpit.

Using a jo to perform taijū no dendō and koshi-mawari

During “corona” time it is necessary in a partner exercise to maintain distance, especially when you are practicing with someone not belonging to your nearest social contacts. The “jo” or medium range stick is the ideal tool to make contact and still maintaining a distance.

This video clip demonstrates taijū no dendō and koshi-mawari with the help of a jo or a medium range stick. It gives the opportunity to feel how partner is using power to push you back. There are some points to take into account on both sides of the stick.

How to push the stick forward?

Starting from a “chidori ashi” posture with the hand holding the stick near the body. Move the center line forward until you feel pressure in the ball of the front foot. Start turning the body while extending the arm forward.

How to receive the incoming stick?

Chidori ashi posture. Move the center line back until you feel pressure on the heel of the back foot. Start turning the body to absorb the power into the floor.

Relationship with compatible martial arts

A clear relationship with Jodo Kata “Suigetsu”. The straight line and koshi-mawari is only successful if there is a control of the armpit and the extended arm holding the stick.

Remark also the straight center line and the advice not to bend the body and arm.

There are of course more examples about opening and closing armpit in relationship with koshi mawari. Simply for the purpose to keep this post compact, my advice to find out by yourself and find similarities in other martial arts.

The influence of Chidori ashi

During “corona” time, we manage to do a lot of solo training. Solo training for a prolonged period can change our movements. It is necessary to understand the mechanism behind the changes. This post is an attempt to explain some points I am working on during this “corona” time. I have the opportunity to practice in my Dojo without the danger to get infected by the virus. Most of you will notice the modifications in my ideas for training, after all, life is always changing according to our experiences.

Chidori ashi

The influence of Chidori ashi is a rather complicated and includes more than the placement of the feet. Of course, there is a pattern for foot placement. But we cannot forget the role of the center line, gravity, pelvic tilt and some other elements.

A basic “chidori-ashi” pattern

Hanmi gamae or half posture is a basic stance in many martial arts and it is used in a lot of circumstances.

Chidori ashi is mostly used to have a bigger range of hip/lower back turning: koshi-mawari.

After some training, you will find out your own direction to use hanmi gamae and certainly the benefits of Chidori ashi posture.

The centre line

The centre line is an imaginary vertical line. In general, this line is perpendicular to the floor. The picture of Teruo Fujiwara shows a perfect centre line.

During taijū no dendō (transferring body weight), the center line can tilt a few degrees depending on the conditions.

Offensive Centre line

The first set of the JAA-Tandoku undo – shomen uchi/shomen tsuki – is using the center line in an offensive way. This originates from swordsmanship. When the sword breaks away from the center line, we are vulnerable to an attack from opponent.

Some points to take into account:

The centre line is a straight line in front of the spinal column. Everybody’s spine has a different shape. Some of us bear a natural hollow lower back, others have almost a hunchback.

Center line is not a fixed line in a perpendicular format to the floor. It is possible there is some inclination of the center line. If the inclination is going out of range, we need to do some adjustment to avoid too much tension. See below for this kind of adjustment.

When we learn to move “koshi” or lower back, we will take into account the structure of our spinal column. It is not wise to force our structure into a stance which can result in chronic pain.

Before we perform the movements of tandoku undo tegatana dosa, we must first master the skill of koshi mawari.

Protecting the center line

Both hands are protecting the centre line after adopting a chidori ashi posture.

In his book on Aikido, Senta Yamada made a notice about the importance of the centre line. Yamada sensei is using a hanmi gamae.

Stepping into “kamae” – hanmi kamae or chidori-ashi – has to take into account the important concept of the centre line.

The hands are protecting the own centre line and are pointing towards the opponent’s centre line.

A weapon is protecting your own center line, and on the other hand it is also threathening the center line of opponent.

Angle of inclination

The centre line has on top a direction range of 360°. The angle of the inclination is rather small when standing in shizentai.

The angle will increase when adopting hanmi gamae or Chidori ashi posture in the direction of the posture. The range of movement (forward, backward and turning) is influenced by the placement of the feet. (See below)

During inclination, the role of koshi comes into play for adjustment by using a pelvic tilt.

Pelvic tilt

Koshi mawari is a very complex movement and “pelvic tilt” is a part of a complete koshi mawari.

There are 3 positions of the pelvic:

  • Neutral
  • Posterior pelvic tilt
  • Anterior pelvic tilt

Neutral stance is used in the situation when no action is needed. A posterior pelvic tilt is in general used when the inclination of the body is going forward and we need to make adjustments for applying taijū no dendō. A anterior pelvic tilt is used when we retreat for an incoming power. The anterior pelvic tilt is needed to execute the rotational movement of the body – koshi mawari –

Range of turning movement

By using “chidori ashi” posture, our range for koshi mawari is much larger than for hanmi kamae. Chidori ashi posture opens the front of the koshi more than a basic hanmi gamae. While a basic hanmi gamae has a range of about 135°, chidori ashi posture has a range of about 180°

Range of bodyweight movement

When adopting hanmi gamae or chidori ashi posture, the body weight can move in an efficient way forward, backward and turning. A combination of these 3 actions is possible. There are 3 basic body weight postures, and in each posture we can turn the body. By adding “tsughi ashi” or sliding feet, we create almost unlimited possibilities of movements for offensive or defensive tactics.

  • 2 forward – offensive movement
  • 3 neutral
  • 4 backward – defensive movement

Taijū no dendō and gravity

Basically the center line and gravity are in the same area, but it is possible to have a small inclination depending on the situation. For example, just before a strike or a push is applied, the body moves a little forward to put body weight on the ball of the front foot. Releasing this tension will rebound the power stored in the tension. A pelvic tilt is needed to transmit the power of gravity (stored in the tension of the front foot) into the opponent. The line of gravity is moving forward to keep the body up.

Forward movement

The body in the previous picture has an egg shape. If you generate a mental image of an egg shaped central body, you will feel and understand the interaction of the pelvic tilt, the center line and gravity. The influence of Chidori ashi and the associated elements becomes apparent if you practice this on a regular footing.

Partner practise

It its necessary to use partner practise to experience the influence of your solo training. In “corona time”, weapon training can be a solution. This will be a theme for another “post”.

Kokyu ryoku as a result of Taijū no dendō

taïjū = body weight – dendō = transmission, conduction

Kokyū-Ryoku (呼吸力, Breath Power) Is the concept of relaxed power generated from the tanden. There is an implication in the word kokyū that this type of power does not clash with uke. (From Wikipedia)

Kokyu is mostly translated as “breath”, but can be understood as the concept of “prana” in yoga. Although it must be mentioned that breathing is only a small part of the prana concept also called “life force”. Breathing is a dynamic process and is an integral part of our being as a living person.

Another definition can be found in a a popular Japanese book:

Aikido: Tradition and Competitive Edge

In a book written by Tetsuro Nariyama and Fumiaki Shishida – Aikido: Tradition and Competitive Edge – Kokyu-ryoku and toitsuryoku is briefly mentioned. Correct use of the body and breathing can develop focused power: toitsuryoku. Some basic movements are explained to develop this kind of power. These exercises are very basic and you will find them also in other aiki-arts.

Don’t Think, Listen to the Body

Written by Akira Hino is an attempt to create a method to develop a martial body, useful in the many martial arts lacking an understandable method for developing soft power. This method is used as a supporting aid in our research.

An introduction into the practical use of opposing isometric tension

Taijū no ido & Taijū no dendō“, the relationship between the two concepts was discussed by using some Tomiki Aikidō techniques and/or exercises. The article is based upon a workshop we did some time ago. More explanations are needed to deepen the knowledge of these important concepts

In 2017 we made a short videoclip about “manipulation of structure”. At that time we were not aware about the importance of Taijū no ido & Taijū no dendō, and in particularity the use of Taijū no dendō concept. It was briefly mentioned, but the understanding was not so deep.

During Corona-Covid19 time , more people perform solo-training. Unfortunately the focus is mostly oriented upon the sequence and the outer appearance. Of course there are some on-line video clips with more information about the inner development during solo-training. There is perhaps one disadvantage with on-line teaching: no hands-on experience.

The example of bringing Taijū no dendō concept into the training has the same disadvantage: no hands-on experience. If you need this hands-on experience, find someone in the near future to solve your problem and give answers to your questions.

This post is an attempt to describe a solo-training pattern with words and some pictures. It is not the ideal format, but hopefully the near future will bring enlightenment.

There are “5 Steps” to consider in this kind of training

  • Step One: Awareness and moving bodyweight
  • Step Two: Stepping by using bodyweight
  • Step Three: Basic Tegatana movements without stepping
  • Step Four: Basic Tegatana movements with stepping
  • Step Five: Sotai dosa with integrated Taijū no dendō concept

First step in studying Taijū no dendō

Moving body weight

Body weight can move in 3 ways

  • Vertical plane
  • Horizontal plane
  • Combination of vertical and horizontal plane

Becoming aware of the bodyweight is the first step to explore the basic idea in Taijū no dendō. Body weight can move up and down. Imagine a structure as in the picture. Sometimes reference is made to tensegrity also called Jukozo, a term used in Japanese architecture for flexible structures.

Sometimes reference is made to tensegrity also called Jukozo, a term used in Japanese architecture for flexible structures.

Bodyweight can be put on different parts of the feet. During ritsuzen or standing exercises, bodyweight can change in all directions.

Bodyweight can move forward, backward or to the sides. Basically it can move following a 360° pattern. Keep the vertical line straight. Don’t disturb this line by bending the body forward for example. After some time practising, you will experience the vertical line in the body.

Second step

Ayumi ashi

Using the knees to transmit the bodyweight into the opponent is not by bending the knees, but by lowering the bodyweight which creates kneebending. Chidori-ashi walking is an exercise without a partner to learn how to move the body weight.

Another concept in the the training is the concept of “opposing isometric tension”. When the body weight is moving forward, the direction is going down into the front foot, in particular the ball of the foot. This creates opposing isometric tension. When lowering the body weight and the heel is touching the floor, the power of the opposing isometric tension is moving into the floor and makes your posture more stable.

  1. Start with a chidori ashi posture. Hand to the side. Bodyweight backwards.
  2. After turning the body, bring bodyweight forward and create opposing isometric tension.
  3. Put bodyweight more to the heel and release opposing isometric tension in the foot and leg. Koshi is lowering.
  4. Lift back foot and move it forward
  5. Assume chidori ashi posture.

Repeat this walking several times.

Third step

Tandoku undo (static exercise)

In the 3rd step we will introduce basic hand/arm movement based upon the “godosa tegatana” or 5 basic tegatana movements. Integrating koshi-mawari is necessary to create full body movement. Of course Taijū no dendō concept is a part of the movement. There is no stepping involved yet.

Although the exercises are primarly influenced by godosa tegatana, the first exercise is “shomen uchi” and is a basic movement with an origin in swordmanship. Basic tegatana movement, also called Tandoku Undo is a set developped by Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba.

The use of opposing isometric tension is also a start for “hakkei” or explosive power. When the opposing isometric tension is guided into the floor, there will be a rebound and this can be directed into the hands. As a simple example “shomen uchi’ with isometric tension. Five basic tegatana movements use the same isometric tension method to produce “kokyu ryoku”, power generated by Taijū no dendō.

Fourth step

Tandoku undo (dynamic exercises)

Combining stepping and basic tegatana movements.

There are basically 2 methods of stepping:

  • Ayumi ashi: discussed earlier in this post – see Second Step
  • Tsugi ashi: using opposing isometric tension can create a sudden step forward full of power.

Shomen uchi with tsugi ashi

In Tomiki’s Aikido, Tandoku undo has a lot of versions. Most recent version use “shomen uchi” as the starting movement. Shomen uchi is a vertical downward strike to the head of an opponent. There is a relationship with a vertical strike with a sword (kiri oroshi). In koryu no kata daisan, tachi tai tachi, the first kata is ai-uchi or simultaneous strike. In many Japanese martial arts, a vertical strike belongs to the omote-waza or the first set of techniques/movements.

Fifth step

Sotai dosa

Using Taijū no dendō concept during paired exercises. An example can be seen at the beginning of this post.

How to use Taijū no dendō?

Using Taijū no dendō is already discussed in the 5 steps mentioned earlier. Sometimes it is necessary to step out of the box and introduce Taijū no dendō in another situation. Because we don’t have always a partner to experience bodily contact in real-time, we can mimic situations during solo-training.

For example, imagine someone is grasping your wrist and you like to apply balance disturbing with the gedan concept from 7-hon-no-kuzushi.

Taijū no dendō gedan

The turning of the hand can be used in aiki-age (upward movement or jodan) or aiki-sage (downward movement or gedan).

The turning point is in the palm of the hand. When using the wrist as a turning point, the line of power will be broken. An example with “gedan”.

Taijū no ido, Taijū no dendō & Tenshikei

Taijū no ido & Taijū no dendō

Among the fundamental skills for generating power are taijū no idō or body weight shift and taijū no dendō or body weight transmission most prominent together with tenshikei.

The displacement of the body weight (taijū no idō) is when one moves his center of gravity. By using gravity, taijū no idō generates idō ryoku or locomotive power. Most of the footwork exercises can be used as a tool to avoid the impact of an attack, but also as a tool to generate idō ryoku or locomotive power. It is even possible to use taijū no idō without footwork.

The transmission of the body weight (taijū no dendō) is the action of putting weight  into the opponent. For example when one is grasped at the forearm, use this point of contact to transfer weight without using local muscle power. Even the intention to use muscle power will be detected by opponent. This skill can be used as a method to fix an opponent.
The perception of putting  weight into the opponent can give the impression of pushing or pulling without movement. Atemi waza, for example aigamae ate use the pushing version of taijū no dendō before taijū no idō is applied, while sumi otoshi or hiki otoshi use the pulling version of taijū no dendō.

Tenshikei

It is not always possible to use taijū no idō as an external body movement. Sometimes the opponent is grasping us very strong by the arm or dogi. Tenshikei is a skill to create distance by using internal rotation. This kind of rotational power together with taijū no dendō can be used without footwork

To summurize.

There are 2 basic powers to make aikido waza efficient.

  • Rotational power – tenshikei
  • Gravitational power – jūryoku (重力) – taijū no idō & taijū no dendō

Most of the aikido waza will use those 2 kinds of power simultaneously.

Both skills can be improved by using exercises where 1 kind of power is predominant.

Rolling feet and pushing

setting upPushing practise is a resistance exercise which includes rolling feet. Pushing exercises & rolling feet improves the efficiency of your aikido waza.
Another feature in pushing practise is gankyōbappai* (含胸抜背).

*This phrase is 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. Again the use of local muscle power is not necessary.

By understanding rolling feet, you will develop the skill of taijū no ido and taijū no dendō.

Fixing an opponent

If you push someone, opponent will react by resisting your power or will step back. In both cases we need the skill of fixing the opponent. Kuzushi or balance disturbing is a kind of fixing an opponent and creates opportunity to apply atemi-waza or kansetsu waza. Don’t forget taijū no dendō can be an important factor during kuzushi.

kuzushi and fixing

Another one is attacking with metsubushi  (eye  blinding), opponent will close the eyes and there is an opportunity to proceed with atemi-waza or kansetsu waza.

metsubushi abe
Tadashi Abe metsubushi

The concept of “aite wo suemono ni suru”

The first word “aite wo” means your opponent.
The second one is the key word, “suemono”. One of the most popular meaning of this word is used in Iaido. It is a roll of straw that is used for a cutting exercise with a sword to check its cutting ability.
The last word of the concept, “ni suru” means to make or set.
The meaning of this concept is to attack an opponent which cannot move his body and/or his mind.
Of course these actions are monitored by a part of the brain where your survival instinct is located. By using some actions we can invoke these survival movements in our favour to neutralize or throw the opponent.

Aikido waza and rolling feet

The skill of rolling feet is necessary in most aikido waza as a method of throwing in combination with tenshikei. Atemi waza, especially pushing techniques use a lot of rolling feet skill. But it is also possible during kansetsu waza. Don’t forget rolling feet is a key factor in footwork for taijū no ido and taijū no dendō.

rolling feet 3

rolling feet 3

rolling feet007

Kansetsu waza use a lot of tenshikei. Tenshikei is a rotational skill and can be used when there is not enough external distance. Tenshikei is using the internal distance to create power.

gyaku gamae ate05In some aikido waza both skills, taijū no ido and tenshikei, are used to make the technique efficient. For example gyakugamae ate, tenshikei will improve the skill of taijū no ido. Gyakugamae ate is one of the basic atemi waza in Tomiki’s aikido. Atemi waza can be used during randori as an attack to a dynamical weak point. Kenji Tomiki selected a limited number of techniques to formulate a method for randori. During the history of Tomiki’s aikido for randori, the numbers and nature of techniques changed a lot.

5 Basic Atemi Waza

There are more than 5 atemi waza. Why to learn only 5 atemi waza?
Body positioning is one reason to start with 5 basic atemi waza.

We can consider 3 kinds of positioning in relation with an opponent. You can take a position in front (1), left or right (2) and behind (3) the opponent.

The left (or right) positioning can be a regular facing posture or a reverse facing posture.

5 basic atemi waza depending on positioning are:

  • shomen ate – frontal posture
  • aigamae ate – regular posture
  • gyakugamae ate – reverse posture
  • gedan ate – lower posture
  • ushiro ate – behind opponent

Kihon Waza

Kenji Tomiki created basic 15 in the early 50-ties which included 3 atemi waza, in the 60-ties he added 2 more (gedan ate & ushiro ate). Information about basic 15 and basic 17 or basic 22 –>see basic15 & basic17

Even in basic 15 or basic 17, there are many versions depending on the point of view by the instructor or student. As mentioned elsewhere, katachi is a basic format to study principles or fundamental elements. Understanding of the fundamental elements cannot be ignored. Without the understanding, the performance of the practitioner becomes shallow or empty.

Yōso* – Fundamental elements

Kenji Tomiki was inspired by the ideas of Jigoro Kano in formulating his Aiki method. Kodokan Judo is based upon “principles”. Principles are fundamental elements and are the essential characteristics of the system. Principles 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..

Training in martial arts will take in account the laws and rules of

  • Psychology, the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and subconscious phenomena, as well as thought.
  • Physics, lit. knowledge of nature, the natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion and behavior through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force.

Yōso* : literally translated as “principle”, but in the context of our study we use “essential element” or “reality based upon laws and rules”.

 

Integration of Taijū no ido, Taijū no dendō & Tenshikei in Kihon Waza

Because Taijū no ido, Taijū no dendō & Tenshikei are ruled by laws of nature. The body will use these fundamental movements without using conscious thoughts.

Every teacher can create his own basic 15 or basic 17 depending on the understanding of the body and mind. The choreography of the katachi will be almost the same for everybody, but the fill-in of the Yōso can be different according to the level of understanding.