Nagashi and Hakkei

In this blog post I will try to explain different types or methods to practice Tandoku Undo or the main ways of moving the body and hands picked from Aiki skills, then simplified and abstracted and organized as an exercise course.

The result of this training can be seen in the skills of Nagashi and Hakkei.

Nagashi and Hakkei

These two concepts have already been covered in a separate blog post. Certain explanations are needed to light up a concept of “moving body”.

Nagashi: Within the context of Tomiki Aikido, nagashi is the skill of a flowing movement and its derivative power “hakkei”.

Hakkei: Is a sudden power, generated by using nagashi or flowing movements. Tenshikei and koshi-mawari are integrated components for producing hakkei.

Some advice by Shigeru Uemura, former Shito-Ryu karateka
When we release the muscles, an energy linked to gravitation is released. With the muscular relaxation, the movement is immediate, in a single time.

The moving body

A moving body has 3 main methods to generate force:

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

These are fundamental components of budo. By using the concept of “rendo” or “linking movements” flowing movements are created: nagashi

Body weight and using gravity play a substantial role in generating force when using Taïjū no idō and/or Taïjū no dendō.

Hino Sensei (Hino Budo method) states: “Strictly speaking, the movement of the body’s weight is to move by making one’s body a single block. For example, moving forward, or backward, being a solid block.

Posture training and static tandoku undo-tegatana dosa are the main methods to create one solid but flexible body. Next step is to use the flexible but solid block together with a proper footwork by using the skill of Rendo.

Taïjū no idō

stepping with gravity
Taïjū no idō by using gravity

Controlling own body during displacement is controlling the force of gravity.
Taïjū no idō is a skill for example to avoid an attack from the opponent. By applying the proper footwork, the distance between tori and uke can be managed in favor of tori. Sometimes the skill of avoiding an incoming attack can be done without displacement of the feet.
Gravity gives weight to the physical body and can be utilized to start displacement during footwork.
The force generated during this displacement is called “Ido ryoku”.
Another skill to generate ido ryoku is tenshikei or diagonal tension.

Taïjū no dendō

Taïjū no dendō or transmission of body weight.
This is a skill to transfer body weight into the opponent without pushing or tensing muscles.

Inoue- sensei from Japan Aikido Association is an expert on this matter.

Putting weight into a movement
If we attack with shomen uchi or shomen tsuki (straight forward attack) we need to put the weight into the attack.
When performing tegatana awase, we also can put weight in the tegatana.
Don’t confuse putting weight into the opponent by a pushing action. Pushing in many cases is performed by using local muscle work. Although this is not a mistake, it is more efficient to use the skill of Taïjū no dendō and/or Taïjū no idō with a flexible body and generating force by performing “nagashi”.

How to put weight into a movement?

To answer this question we can use an exercise from tandoku undo as an example: soto-gaeshi in a slow motion version

Body weight is dropping after the arms start to move down. There is a connection between the arms and the body weight. Gravity is used to drop and not local muscle power. Important is to keep the body vertical, in line with gravity.

If we only bend our knees or only using arm strength, there will be no Taïjū no dendō involved.


Using diagonal tension as a source of force is already mentioned many times in this blog. Please refer to the different articles of Tenshikei.

A famous Budoka, Morita Monjuro wrote an interesting essay about diagonal tension.

The perfect handling of the sword is produced by the integration of three elements:

1. the rotation of koshi (koshi mawari)
2. diagonal tension produced by this rotation
3. displacement of the body

Morita Monjuro

Even for Morita Monjuro, a body in motion is needed to produce strength and its application.

An application of rotational force by Senta Yamada

The rotation force is transferred to the uke body using diagonal channels.  To get an idea of the paths of power, one may consult the concept of tensegrity. This is called Budo’s case, Jukozo.

Patterns of footwork

Dynamic tandoku undo is based upon different pattern of footwork. These include:

  • tsugi ashi
  • tsuri ashi
  • ayumi ashi
  • de mawari
  • hiki mawari
  • tentai

Some examples of footwork training methods


In Tomiki Aikido, the exercise unsoku-ho is a very basic footwork pattern and can be adjusted depending on the circumstances. The origin of this exercise can be found in Kodokan Judo.

Basic footwork

By integrating Taïjū no idō and Taïjū no dendō into Unsoku-ho, a new way of practising footwork is created. If you like to experiment with unsoku-ho, don’t be afraid to change the fixed pattern. Aikido is a skill to react in different situations and fixed formats has to be avoided when you reach a more advanced level.

Types of tandoku undo

  • Static tandoku undo – basic – about postures, body movement and tenshikei. No footwork is involved.
  • Dynamic tandoku undo – integration of footwork into postures and creating a moving body.

A number of versions of tandoku undo exist. Mostly we use an adapted version taught by Senta Yamada. The history of Tomiki’s Tandoku Undo is briefly described in my book  The secret weapon of Aikido   Written 2008/2009 and published 2010, free to download. In this blog, many elements of my book are being discussed in light of my growing experience and research on these subjects.

How to practise Tandoku Undo?

There are a number of ways in which the tandoku undo can be practiced. Mostly Unsoku ho or footwork is practised first, followed by Tegatana dosa. Counting every posture in performance is a perfect format for beginners who are not familiar with the sequence of movements. Advanced practitioners are benefiting more from other types of practice. We talked about it in a previous blog post.

As we began our article with some explanations about the “moving body” and its fundamental elements, we must concentrate on these fundamental elements and integrate them into our practice.

Tegatana dosa without footwork allows you to concentrate more on integrating tenshikei (rotational force). Integration of footwork adds an extra item in the training and the synchronisation of the footwork with the movements of the torso and upper limbs is an extra difficulty to overcome.

Each Tandoku undo exercise may be done as often as desired. The concept of “nagashi” or flowing movements can be incorporated without counting the positions. 

Static tandoku undo

In this type of training, there is no footwork. Although a very small turning movement of a foot is used sometimes to create “Chidori ashi and koshi mawari“. Only basic arm movements are used.

  1. Shomen uchi & shomen tsuki
  2. Uchi mawashi & soto mawashi
  3. Uchi gaeshi & soto gaeshi

The names of tegatana movements can be different depending on the use of the tegatana. A more recent version is focused on the use of tegatana as a sword. See also Nagashi kata.

  1. Shomen no uchikomi/tsukikomi
  2. Kiri kaeshi
  3. Maki zuki
  4. Kesa uchi (not discussed in static tandoku undo)
  5. Tenkai/tentai no uchikomi (not discussed in static tandoku undo)

Dynamic tandoku undo

  1. Tegatana – Shomen uchi & shomen tsuki
  2. Uchi mawashi  & Soto mawashi   
  3. Uchi gaeshi & soto gaeshi   
  4. De-mawari Uchi mawashi
  5. Hiki-mawari Soto mawashi
  6. Ko mawashi   
  7. O mawashi

The integration of footwork makes this type of solo workout very dynamic, and depending on the speed usage, it becomes a sort of cardio workout.

By using the concept of “ju & go” power, another dimension can be added. Go-power typically uses a penetrating, linear force, whereas ju-power usually uses a circular, flowing force. The original Nagashi kata, an older version of tandoku undo is characterized by flowing movement and generates ju-power. The first exercise shomen uchi & shomen tsuki is an example of go-power, although there are elements of ju power movements included.

In previous articles on tandoku undo tegatana dosa, using chidori ashi is exaggerated for introducing basic mawari koshi. By adding more velocity** to the exercises, the use of chidori ashi becomes only important at certain points of the exercise. Especially when the direction of the movement must be adapted in accordance with the circumstances. Over-focusing on a concept can destroy the effectiveness of a body movement application.

**Velocity is equivalent to a specification of an object’s speed and direction of motion.

Tegatana – Shomen uchi & shomen tsuki

Static method

This exercise includes some technical applications besides the fundamental elements like chidori-ashi, koshi-mawari and nagashi.

  • A study of postures: jodan, chudan and gedan no kamae
Basic postures
  • A study of basic atemi-waza – striking or pushing techniques

Koshi-mawari and tenshikei is also the key to successful application of “hakkei” or explosive immediate power.

Dynamic method

The integration of footwork makes this exercise highly dynamic. Footwork is based upon ayumi ashi and tsugi ashi. These kinds of footwork are extensively practised during unsoku-ho. In the beginning, it is preferable to use a slow speed method.

The application of atemi-waza becomes more obvious in the dynamic method. During the static method, the integration of chidori-ashi, koshi-mawari and nagashi is fully developed and the benefit of it will come to the surface.

The skill of “hakkei” or “sudden power” during dynamic performance must be considered as a tool for further development of randori and self-defence applications. Timing in this case is a crucial element and cannot be overlooked.

Uchi mawashi  & Soto mawashi 

Static method

Like the preceding tegatana dosa, several interpretations may be used for practical purposes. By utilizing a more linear approach, Atemi waza or striking techniques are more visible. When using “nagashi”, a flowing flavor is noticeable.

Dynamic method

When using footwork, the concept of “hakkei” can be practised and still having flowing movements or nagashi.

Uchi gaeshi & soto gaeshi

Static method

Nagashi is the main feature of this tegatana dosa, though certain hakkei elements may be detected.

Dynamic method

As for the previous tegatana dosa (nrs1 and 2), a dynamic approach makes the concept “hakkei” more obvious.

De-mawari Uchi mawashi

The main feature in this tegatana dosa is a circular footwork pattern. This is an application of “irimi” using circular footwork.

Hiki-mawari Soto mawashi

The main feature in this tegatana dosa is a circular footwork pattern. This is an application of “ura” using circular footwork and soto mawashi.

Ko mawashi   

Sometimes reference is made to “tentai” or 180° bodyturn. Note that footwork is done after you have sufficiently turned the body.

O mawashi

Big movements are characteristics of this tegatana dosa. It can be performed in a more “atemi waza” format or a “nagashi” format.

Influence of velocity

Speed is not just the execution of the exercise with more speed, but the direction of motion has an important part to play. The 3 basic tegatana dosa, the focal point is straightforward. In older versions of tegatana dosa, the performance includes a moving on the side with a rotating body. This can be seen at the beginning of this post. Senta Yamada performing Uchi mawashi.

A rotating body will increase the power of a body motion if it is made correctly.

Body turns may be made at 90°, 180°, 270° or other angles. 

Speed also influences the various levels of impact of the workout on the heart rate zones. This was discussed in Aikido, a Holistic Approach.

Aikido, a Holistic Approach?

Many groups are advertising Aikido as a holistic training method. A way of Life. There is a danger of putting the mental and technical side to the foreground and the physical aspect is sometimes almost forgotten. The “Ki” or life force is only needed to perform. Nothing is less true.

Aikido and holistic training

Holistic: relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis and dissection into parts

Age-appropriate facets of physical training, understanding of technical, tactical, physical and mental factors are needed to develop efficient training methods. These factors are deeply interdependent.

Some tactical information is needed to perform with excellence during fighting and competing, and is according the ethical rule we like to integrate in our methods.

A mental factor in training has to be integrated by using some forms of meditation or other program to boost mental activity during training.

Physical Training

As most of us will notice, a heap of the older practitioners, instructors included are overweight. The cause of this unhealthy situation is a lack of efficient physical training and unhealthy food. We will focus on conditioning the body (and mind).

First, we wish to bring forward some “knowledge” from Wikipedia, Heart Org and Afterward, we will discuss this in the context of our Aikido training.

Intensity Levels

The metabolic equivalent of task (MET) is the objective measure of the ratio of the rate at which a person expends energy, relative to the mass of that person, while performing some specific physical activity compared to a reference, set by convention at 3.5 mL of oxygen per kilogram per minute, which is roughly equivalent to the energy expended when sitting quietly.

Only… This is quite complicated, but if we use a formula, it becomes more clear.

The formula using MET: (MET x bodyweight x 3,5) x 200 = Kcal/min

The problem arises with the value of MET. Which one we have to use? A source of information can be found at “Compendium of physical activities”.

Using Heart Rate

Another method to measure the efficiency of the training is by using the heart rate. This is typically used as a measure of exercise intensity by using a device around the wrist or with a chest band. It is an indicator of the challenge to the cardiovascular system that the exercise represents.

The target zone?

When you work out, are you doing too much or not enough? There’s a simple way to know: Your target heart rate helps you to get max benefit from every movement you make. Knowing your heart rate (or pulse) can help you track your physical level.

First Things First: Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest. 

For most of us, between 50 and 90 beats per minute (bpm) is normal.

Maximum and Target Heart Rate

This table shows target heart rate zones for different ages. Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. This is just a rule of thumb and is not very useful when you enter the level of professional top sport.

Target Heart Rate Zone is divided into 4 to 6 zones depending on the purpose of the training and the goal to reach.

The Heart Rate Zones

By using 4 heart rate zones:

Rest ↘︎40% of heartbeat reserve+ heart resting beat
Fat burning40%-59% of heartbeat reserve + heart resting beat
Cardio60%-84% of heartbeat reserve + heart resting beat
Peak↗︎85% of heartbeat reserve + heart resting beat

Heartbeat reserve is your max heartbeat minus the heart resting beat.

Example : age 30 yrs and resting heartbeat of 60 / max BPM 220-30=190 / Heartbeat reserve= 190-60=130 / 40% of 130=52 / 52+60=112 BPM starting fat burning

How to conform our Aikido techniques and/or movements is a crucial question for our training method. Many fitness and power training exercises have a great value for our health. But are those exercises functional for our martial art?

4 training goals for Aikido

Heart Rate Zones give an indication how intense we can practice the different functional components of the Aikido syllabus without losing the technical correctness of the techniques. Fundamentally, we can distinguish 4 different goals in our training.

  1. Mental and physical preparation, creating a martial body
  2. Healthy movement adapted to develop efficient techniques and/or movements
  3. Developing cardiovascular system to develop physical stamina to endure efficient training performances
  4. Peak performances needed for combat and/or competition

These training zones don’t need to be executed in this order.

Aikido exercises and/or techniques can be used for any of the 4 mentioned training Aikido goals and can conform to the directives of the Heart Rate training zones. Depending on the choice made by a practitioner, training has to be guided by the goal of the practitioner. This is a real challenge for the instructor. Creativity is one of the basic requirements of a good instructor.

Mental and physical preparation, creating a martial body

A martial body can be seen as “a holistic” concept how the body is functioning during training and daily life. Synchronising all the parts of the body is the main purpose of this training method. Posture training and moving posture are the main components together with martial art techniques.

Healthy movement adapted to develop efficient techniques and/or movements

If the movements are executed in a wrong manner, it becomes unhealthy, and can create serious physical problems when we get older. Using the body with a holistic concept can avoid physical problems in the future. On the other hand, the martial aspect cannot be forgotten and must be included in the training method.

Movements like tandoku undo unsoku & tegatana dosa are used as an exercise to develop a link between the 3 body parts. During posture training we become aware of these 3 parts

Developing cardiovascular system to develop physical stamina to endure efficient training performances

By controlling the speed of the exercise, we have an impact on the heart beat. Monitoring the heartbeat with a device (Apple watch, Fitbit, Polar, Garmin,…..) is very helpful. During partner training a watch is lesser convenient, but there are different methods to avoid the problems

Peak performances needed for combat and/or competition

Peak performances cannot be forgotten for those practitioners involving into randori or shiai. Without a firm stamina, people cannot enjoy peak moments in dojo or other places. This has nothing to do with winning or losing, it is about enjoying the art of the moving body and mind.

Personal training scheme example

This scheme is based upon a person – 72yrs/87kg/180cm/resting heart rate 58/heart rate zones – fat burning 93-109 – cardio 110-131 – peak 132+

Training goal (solo training during Corona pandemic)

Keeping body and mind synchronised and in a good shape. Martial art aspect is integrated by using functional exercises.

  • Warming-up: ballistic exercise, kiko (qigong) hachidanken (baduanjin)
  • Posture training: shizentai (central line), gedan (moving koshi-pelvis), chudan (kyokotsu open/close), unstable standing (image=wooden platform in water)
  • Moving posture training: unsoku – tsuri ashi (gedan posture) – ayumi ashi (jodan posture)
  • Tandoku undo – tegatana dosa (static) 1-3
  • Tandoku undo – tegatana dosa (dynamic) 1-7
  • Tandoku undo – flowing – ki no nagare
  • Cooling down – closing the energy posture

Find here 2 examples of heart rate evolution during a 1hr session. It gives an indication of the heart rate zones. By doing “tandoku undo” with a higher speed, the effect is visible. Example 1 is rather slow (bpm 115) and example 2 is more cardio oriented thanks to the speed increase of the tandoku undo (bpm 130). The overal bpm is around 100-110bpm.

Heart rate example 1
Heart rate example 2

An example of heart rate zones

The peak moment in the beginning is an exercise called “pendulum” and is a preparation to take up with Kiko-hachidanken, breathing exercises synchronized with the movements. By doing the pendulum at the beginning, the intake of oxygen during Kiko is more effective.

The science of training

Primary movement patterns.

2895036Humans have several primary movement patterns that are learnt and refined throughout early life. Many of those primary movements are learnt by a baby without an example of another person. The baby has no role model.
When the baby starts to discover other people movements, a mirroring process starts in the brain of the baby and copies the movements of other people. Refer to the book written by Marco Iacoboni.


During your early years of life, your brain records and refines several primary movement patterns that it will need again and again. These patterns, once ingrained, allow your brain to quickly put them in to action and modify them slightly as the environment dictates.

Learning or modifying basic movement patterns

Primary movement pattern is learned without a role model, basic movement pattern is learnt by using a role model like parent, other children…..Or martial arts instructors.
Using walking as an example. Your brain is recalling the basic pattern known as ‘gait’ and could modify this to uphill or downhill or over uneven surfaces or in a crowd with shorter steps than usual.

The patterns are used in many variations but in the brain, the basic movement pattern is always the same. So a strike with the hand-blade, a fist or a knife is a replica of a basic movement pattern in the brain. What changes is the speed at which they occur, the loading in the movement (due to the weight of a weapon), and other minor refinements (where the target is and the timing of the start of the movement).
With a basic movement pattern the relative timing of the body segments stays the same. So, in striking with the hand-blade, if the action took one second the timing and sequencing of the joint movements would all be proportional to that one second. If in a strike with a weapon, the action took half a second the timing and sequencing of the joint movements would still be in the same proportion as in the hand-blade strike.

This allows us to ‘slow down’ and perfect a movement if someone is having a hard time with it, and as if by magic, when we speed the movement up again the improved movement should prevail. This is one reason that getting it right is more important than getting it done. The purity of the movement greatly increases the forces that can eventually be developed and can significantly reduce the injury risk simultaneously.

0.5 seconds for the mind to recognise what has occurred

libet bookBenjamin Libet states in his book, “Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness (Perspectives in Cognitive Neuroscience),” that it takes 0.5 seconds for the mind to recognise what has occurred.
When someone attacks you, you usually try to defend with your hands, but this is just a conditioned response. However, if you enter into your opponent as your opponent is about to attack, your opponent will be turned back on himself and his attack will suddenly stop. This is because you are entering in before 0.5 seconds and entering the unconscious mind of your opponent. That is why you can control your opponent. Once your pre-0.5 seconds unconscious mind is controlled, you cannot break free from that condition. Usually, after 0.5 seconds, both you and your opponent are in the conscious world, and because such pre-conscious control will not work, it will become a simple exchange of power and technique.

Sen or pre-emptive action

5 rings011There is only “one” pre-emptive action, but we discern three types in pre-emptive action.

• One is a pre-emptive action from me to the opponent, and it is called the active pre-emptive action.
• Another is a pre-emptive action when the opponent is to strike me, and it is called the reactive pre-emptive action.
• The last is a pre-emptive action when both the opponent and I are to strike each other, and it is called the interactive pre-emptive action.

There are no other type in pre-emptive actions.
A pre-emptive action is the decisive factor in victory, it is the most crucial in martial arts.
There are many details in a pre-emptive action, but as it is up to the logic of the moment and you need to see the mind of the opponent and use the skill of martial arts to win.
In the “Fire” book (The book of 5 Rings) by Musashi Miyamoto, you will find a similar explanation.

Chikara wo Nuku 力を抜く

In a Japanese dojo, you hear sometimes the expression. Chikara wo Nuku. Chikara means power or force. Nuku means to pull out or withdraw. You may hear for example `katana wo nuku`, to pull out (unsheathe) your sword. It means start of the action.
The “chikara wo nuku” concept is not only important in martial arts but also in everyday life when there is friction between 2 people. Finding the timing to remove the tension is a skill very useful for quarrelling people. There is also an expression when a fighting couple makes up, moto no saya ni osomatta – the sword is sheathed back in its scabbard.

Chikara wo nuku is the ability to drop or release power in a proper manner and timing when you feel resistance in an exchange with the opponent. In toshu randori (unarmed randori), you can either create a tension or pressure and release it or you receive tension from your opponent and skilfully direct and release it. Properly executed, you can create moments of great surprise for your opponent. When the opponent is surprised, his power is often disrupted and creates moments of receptivity in him.

The function of muscles

The most serious mistake that people have about body movements is that they believe movements are primarily generated by conscious contractions because they have consciousness and muscle.
Basically there are 2 kind of using muscles in the training for Tomiki Aikido.

• bridging the distance
• manipulation of opponent

Bridging the distance

In bridging the distance, the function of muscles is not to generate the main power of body movements, but to trigger the start a movement (to lose balance) by using gravity, to control it (to create new balance), and to redirect into the opponent. Using gravity is an economic way of using energy and is certainly according Kano’s maxim :

“Seiryoku-Zenyo” (maximum efficient use of energy)


Manipulation of the opponent

Manipulation of the opponent is the result of the body communication by using the concept of “sen” or initiative.
Besides “sen”, we must also consider the distance between the 2 bodies. The attack of the opponent has to be controlled by using “mikiri” or the manipulation of the distance by an extremely thin margin. This action of control must be very precise. By using the tenshikei skill we can transmit our power into the opponent.
Pulling or tensing the muscles will destroy the capacity of listening to the communication of the 2 bodies

autopietic system

Jukozo – Flexible structure – Tensegrity

Tomiki wrote many articles and books about Budo, mostly Judo and Aikido. In his writings, but also in his lectures he stressed a lot “shizentai” or natural posture.
Shizentai is a posture neither limp or neither rigid. From shizentai we can move in any direction. If someone is pushing we can move away without changing the distance in our relationship with the opponent or partner.
Flexibility is a concept prevalent in all parts of Japanese society. Even in Japanese architecture, flexible structure is a basic concept due to the many earthquakes.
The old temples were built on a principle of flexi­bility, with thousands of interconnecting wooden parts that absorbed and dissipated the force of an earthquake as it traveled up and down the structure. Unfortunately this concept was overlooked by early 1900 Japanese architects until there was a major earthquake in 1923. From a modern architectural perspective flexible structure or “jukozo” was a revolutionary concept, and reinvented by Japanese archi­tects as the only defence against earthquakes.
In Western society, tensional integrity or floating compression is a similar concept (see Tensegrity on Wikipedia).
In martial arts, skill of “jukozo” or the interconnecting parts of the human body is one of the basic premises of study from the beginning in your training. Jukozo is direct related to “rendo” (interlinked movements) which will be discussed later.

Soft-Tissue-Therapy-Tensegrity-Structure1-e1426098026118  tensegritty01