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The purpose of “kata” training

Many people are aware of kata only as a collection of techniques in a prearranged order, in a solo format or with a partner.
Some Tomiki practitioners believe that a kata is a set of techniques practiced with a partner for teaching the basic principles of various aspects of Tomiki aikido.
The question can be asked : What are the basic principles of Tomiki Aikido?

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

The words are easy to understand in a conscious way. But is it possible to understand with the body?

When researching the ways of training, we find out there are 2 kinds of training methods to study the principles.

  • The traditional method.
  • The modern or the alternative method.

And what about the randori method?
We can consider randori as an application of the basic principles in a non-fixed situation. But we are discussing a fixed situation or a kata-based situation.

Traditional method

Kata was or is the central training method for all bujutsu because it is the only way bujutsu can be practiced without the practitioners being wounded or killed.
Bujutsu exponents concentrate training time on perfecting the skills that would provide the base from which fighting techniques could arise when needed. This was done through innumerable repetitions of kata, practiced with one partner as “doer” (shidachi) and the other as “receiver” (uchidachi).

Alternative method

‘To prepare for randori (free training with or without resistance), it is important to realise, that functional strength needed to perform a technique or waza, can only be developed through exercises not only focus on major muscle groups but also improve the condition and flexibility of the fascia. Kata training has a huge effect on developing fascia strength and your ability to apply that strength in many diverse directions, while still maintaining your body’s centre and balance.

In today’s sport martial arts, the big trend is power that collides with your opponent. If one remains at that level of power, then that person will have a harder time as he or she grows old. Kata training is an ideal approach  for older practitioners to keep their mind and body injury-free. By exercising the fascia the body becomes more flexible and has the ability to emit tremendous power without damaging the own body by overtension of the major muscle groups.

Kata training is not dull

Practice is not a matter of quantity but quality. If your inside (quality) has not changed, it will be pointed out to you during your training, your kata or randori. There is no positive development in the repetition of meaningless practice. It is necessary to think with the body when you are practicing. The important thing is the time that you have spent in quality practice, and not simply the years that have passed in physical exercise. You have to realize this. This is shugyo (committed practice).
The whole point of kata-training (kihon training included) is to be able to progress from waza (technique) to katachi (basic frame of different waza) and ultimately to kata or your understanding by body and mind of the waza sequences.

If you practise katachi to study “the words of Tomiki Aikido principles”, you are on the wrong road to understanding. You cannot study the words, but you have to study and practise the body-skills behind the principles. Everybody knows the principle of ju, the principle of shizentai, the principle of…..

But not so many people understand the body and mind skills behind the principles. It is only through physical and mental training that the body learns how to handle in a confrontation. The difference between Kyogi Aikido and Budo Aikido becomes non-existing if the body knows, because the body and mind will react with the correct method.

Studying is different from reviewing. Finding the body-skills within kata, this is studying.

Body-skills in kata

Body-skills can be learned through practising exercises focusing on a body movement priciples or Yōso.

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

Technical Visuals

You will find some explantion of body-skill exercises on “Technical Visuals” or in the many articles of this blog. See “content”.

Koryu no kata Dai Yon

Kata can have many versions with the personal interpretations of the performer. Koryu no kata Dai Yon is a kata with many versions.

DaiYon PDF document

Schermafbeelding 2018-10-31 om 16.26.12


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Technical Visuals

Study Group Tomiki Aikido “BLOG” is a growing project which spans many years of research and study. Sometimes it is necessary to create a “condensed” format of technical information instead of the elaborated info of the blog articles. You will find here technical sheets. (under construction).

Technical information on “waza” is the integration of our bodywork study and the Tomiki Aikido Kata. Our bodywork is partly built on Akira Hino Budo Theory.

kyokotsu exercise 02

Kyokotsu & Tenshi

Kyokotsu exercises are important to create full body movement.
Tenshi or rotational exercises are at the source of many Tomiki Aikido waza.

17-hon no kata

  • Atemi waza
  • Hiji waza
  • Tekubi waza
  • Uki waza

Koryu no kata

  • Dai san –

Some of the pictures can be found on

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Full potential power through Tanren


‘Tanren’, or “repetitive slow drilling” is highly regarded as a method of power building. But power building is not the equivalent of power training in the gym. It is about moving the body or bodyparts by using all the parts of the body. Please refer to rendo and the rule of 3.
Slow movement improve the learning of new movement skills by reducing the activation of ingrained motor programs.
Directing a performer’s attention away from the minute details of a movement helps with the learning of a new motor skill.
Power generation is always developed from the legs and feet and transferred and augmented up the pelvis and back to be discharged through the striking surfaces like the fist, palm, forearm, elbow and even the shoulder and head.

Repetition or Drilling…The Master of Budo Aikido!

Is repetition or drilling the same? This question is important to progress in Budo Aikido or other Martial Arts.
Drilling is a technique that consists of repetition of  patterns and structures. Its means there exist already a pattern or structure in your brain. This pattern or structure is created by conscious repeated movements. Drilling is the skill to bring the pattern of structure to a part of the brain for instant use when necessary. This action will be performed by the subconscious mind.

The art of repetition

quote by Akira Hino

You cannot really learn and understand the meaning by copying something over and over just because someone told you that there is a significance in doing so.
There is a fine line there… between a genuine motivation to learn and just an intellectual amusement.
If you think the meaning of repetition is just a piece of knowledge given by somebody else. You will not able to learn anything worthwhile on your own.

How many reps does it take to break a bad habit vs learning the correct way first?

How important is it to learn the CORRECT Budo Aikido movement?
Answer: It takes 3,000-5,000 repetitions to change a bad habit into a correct Budo Aikido movement. Although, if you learn the correct movement right from the start, it only takes 300-500 repetitions to make a fresh habit.
Changing the pattern once ingrained requires more work (it’s estimated that 10 times the initial number of repetitions must be performed in the new way to over-write the existing pattern) than establishing the pattern in the first place. The implications of this are that spending time getting a pattern correct early on saves extra work later if you make changes to a problematic pattern.

Releasing power – Hakkei

Releasing the power (developped by tanren) can be done in an explosive way, but can also be used as a tempered use of power for example during locking or controlling an opponent. In all these cases, the power has an elastic quality and is not produced mainly by contracting the muscles alone. The power is stored and transferred by the fascia and connective tissue which has an elastic quality.

store and release

Fascia  and connective tissue system

The discovery that muscles transfer most of their contractile forces onto fascial sheets rather than the tendon attachments to the skeleton is a first step in understanding the concept of “internal” martial art.
Movements like running, jumping and throwing a stone depend largely on the elastic recoil of the fasciae supporting such ballistic movements. Many martial arts are depending on those movements to become succesfull in a confrontation.

What is fascia?

Simply put, fascia is the body’s connective tissue. It is a head to toe, inside to out, all-encompassing and interwoven system of fibrous connective tissue found throughout the body. Fascia is defined as a sheet or band of fibrous connective tissue enveloping, separating, or binding together muscles, organs, and other tissues of the body.

Fascia doesn’t really respond to traditional stretching, as the tissue usually becomes irritated when it is stretched too much. What fascia does need is maintenance. Daily regular movement through a wide range without extensive stretching is likely to maintain the health and flexibility of fascia well into old age. The enemy of fascia is extended bouts of stillness.


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Referee Training

This is a “beginner’s guide” for referees and judges. It is not complete, but it is a starting point for beginners.

Maybe there are some interpretations different.
Most important is the “spirit of refereeing”

Session 7-8 December 2018


The Referees

Enbu – Competition rules

  • 17-hon no kata
  • tanto 17-hon no kata
  • koryu no kata dai san (16)
  • free enbu

Enbu guidelines

The key points of this training was:

  • Posture – Shizentai
  • Eyes – Metsuke
  • Control of the opponent – Tsukuri/Kuzushi/Kake
  • Focus of mind & body – Zanshin

These key points were used as “marks” for judging the performance of Enbu, besides of course the correct waza and the correct order.

Training started with “How to use Flags” after the performance of the competitors.

Next step was how to use the key points during the performance of 17-hon no kata. The idea of how to evaluate “waza” as a referee when performing the techniques.

Some time was spent on questions and answers

Friday 5th October 2018

Session 1 : The role of the Corner Referee


Line up Corner Referees

The 1st training was an introduction to the role of “corner-referee”.
We used tanto strike to create the idea “what is a correct tanto strike”.
Basic information was provided and practised during the training session.
Scoring for waza was not an item for this training.
Some of the participants have some competition experience, and this created a positive feeling amongst the participants.


Organizing and ruling Tomiki Aikido Competition

Aikido related

Tomiki Aikido competition

Our aim is to encourage the use of pure Aikido techniques and the principles of Aikido rather than to submit to competitors natural desire to win at the expenses of showing Tomiki Aikido to have no resemblance to Aikido.

Aikido can be dangerous if applied without control and the competition atmosphere must be kept to a sporting attitude without dampening the enthusiasm of youthful and sometimes not so youthful Aikidoka.

General remarks for developing good competition results

Judges will check sleeve length (minimum 1 fist from own wrist with arm hanging straight down) and trouser lengths not below the ankles as well as cleanliness (body and gi).

Techniques executed with legs being held first will not count, similarly if legs are wrapped round an opponent. But a foot may used to stop the escape so long ass it is not used as a sweep and is kept in contact with the mat.

Techniques executed by means of dragging your opponent down from a static position with superior weight and strength will not count.

Organizers related

Competition officials

  • Tournament Director – overall responsible for the competition event
  • Mat Director – responsible for the events on a mat area
  • Recorders will record the results of the contest on the appropriate sheets
  • Timekeepers & electronic scoreboard – responsible for timing the contest and electronic scoring
  • Referees & Judges

Dress code

Officials are wearing t-shirt or polo-shirt provided by organisers. Trousers are black or dark bleu color.

First aid

Organizers have to provide a first aid team during the complete event.

Mat area

This covers an area of 50 tatami + safety zone

Remark: tatami in European countries are slightly bigger.


Scoring documents, scoring machine, clock, flags (red, white and yellow), red and white tape……

Randori & Enbu

Individual randori events & team randori events

Individual randori events are divided into

  • Womens category
  • Mens category

Team randori events

  • Women category
  • Mens category
  • Mixed category (2 men & 1 woman)

Choosing categories is depending on:

  • How many mat area?
  • Time scheduled?
  • How many competitors?
  • Other practical obstacles

Enbu events

  • 17-hon-no-kata
  • tanto 17-hon-no-kata
  • 16 taijutsu waza koryu no kata dai san – toshutachiwaza
  • free enbu

Mixed event

  • Kongodanteisen – enbu & randori

Individual Randori Events – General Information

  • All competitors must be registered for the event by the closing date stated.
  • Individual contest shall be of 3 minutes duration, with the tanto being exchanged after 1¹/₂ minutes. In the event of 8 points being scored in the first half by one competitor tanto kotae will occur. If 8 points are scored in the second half the contest is automatically ended.
  • For contest to decide where hikiwake would be given, one extension is permitted, this to be two 1-minute halves. (See also decision of contest).

Team Randori events – General Information

  • A match consist of 3 or 5 separate contests between members of each team.
  • Duration of contests as for Individual contests.
  • A substitute player is allowed for a team in the event of injury so long as the substitute player is a member of that team’s club and registered for the global event.
  • An individual can opt to fight for one nominated club if he or she is registered for the event by the closing date stated.
  • If both teams have an equal number of wins the decision is given as follows:
  • The team with the most points wins.
  • If the number of points is equal, the team that has the most “Aikido” points wins.
  • If Aikido points are also equal, an elected representative from each team will play a deciding match. The duration of this will be 2 halves of 1¹/₂ minutes each, superiority by the judge and referees will be awarded for this contest in absence of points and/or penalties.
  • The order in which individuals will fight in a team must be written down and handed to the Tournament Director before the start of the tournament matches and mus be adhered to throughout the tournament.
  • One member of each team shall be named as their representative to fight in decision matches and will be nominated on the fighting order list given to the Tournament Director.

Competition Rules

Referees and judges are not allowed to enter in an event they are judging or refereeing.

Refereeing Team

Each randori contest shall be conducted by 1 Chief Referee and 2 Corner referees, with all three having the same right to judge victory, techniques,……

Where a difference of opinion occurs between the Referees during a contest a discussion will take place to resolve it. However, when a unanimous decision cannot be reached the Chief Referee will decide the issue.

The decision of the Referees Team is final. In case of complains, this has to be solved before “Hantei”

The Chief Referee shall be positioned at the far side of the contest area, opposite the recorders’ table and facing towards it. A the start he will be in the centre of this line and will move laterally in order to view the contest.
 Direction chief referees

The Corner Referees will stand at the two corners opposite the Chief Referee facing him and will move in a L-shaped direction in order to view the contest.

The Corner Referees will hold red and white flags in their hands to correspond to the position on the mat of the red and white player.

 Direction corner referees

Protocol for Refereeing Team

Individual Contest

At the start of the competition the Referee Team for each mat shall walk to the outer edge of the contest area and position themselves facing the recorders’ table.

Al three shall bow in the direction of the table.

The two Corner Referees, in unison, turn inwards towards the Chief referee who shall take a small step backwards – all three officials then bow again together.

At the end of the final contest of the day, on that mat the reverse procedure to the opening procedure will be carried out to formally close the mat.

For the changeover of the Refereeing Teams during an event, the three officials vacating the mat stand in line and bow towards the mat from the edge of the contest area nearest to the recorders table and leave the mat.

The oncoming team will step onto the contest area near the recorders table and walk in a line to the outer edge and perform the opening etiquette.

 referee bowing

Team Events

The refereeing team take up their position first, in a straight line at the far side of the contest area facing the recorders table, and invite the teams to take up their positions on the mat.

Both teams line up on the contest area, approximately 3-4 meters apart and facing ech other. At the Chief Referee’s indication both teams turn and bow in the direction of the table. The 3 Referees are also bowing.

Both teams turn inwards to bow, the Referee Team follows the bowing etiquette described earlier.

The Corner Referees take up their positions and the first two contestants take up their starting places in the center of the contest area, approximately 3 meter apart and facing each other.

 referee and competitors bowing

Handling the tanto

For both Individual and Team contests the Chief Referee shall present the tanto to the competitor wearing the red belt, who will be standing to the Chief Referees right on the contest area.

The Chief Referee shall receive the tanto (generally from the white belt competitor) before the decision has been awarded.

Official Signals

Chief Referee raises one arm high above his head with the palm facing forward – the arm is raised to correspond to the side making the score.
Corner Referees raise appropriate colour flag high above head.

official signals

Waza Ari
Chief Referee shall raise one of his arms tp the side to shoulder height with the palm facing down. (The arm raised should correspond to the side making the score.)
Corner Referees raise appropriate colour flag to their side at shoulder height.

official signals
Chief Referee shall raise one of his arms to the side, palm down, arm straight, at 45° from his body. (The arm raised should correspond to the side making the score.)
Corner Referees raise appropriate colour flag to their side at 45° to their body.
official signals
Hiki Wake
Chief Referee shall raise one hand high in the air and bring it down, thumb-edge uppermost, to the front of his body at waist height.
Corner Referees shall raise both flags high in the air and away from themselves at about 45° to their midline.
official signals
Chief Referee shall raise one hand, palm inwards, above shoulder height towards the winner.
Corner Referees shall raise the appropriate colour flag away from themselves at about 45° to their midline.
official signals

Chief Referee shall raise one arm high above his head with its palm facing inwards.

official signals2

Fujūbun (insufficient)
Corner Referees wave both flags in scissor action several times in front of themselves with hands low.

official signals2

Shido/chui (penalty)
Chief Referee points towards the offending contestant with outstretched arm, index finger extended from clenched fist.

official signals2

Mienai (unsighted)
Corner Referees hold flags crossed in front of their body with hands held low for a short period.

official signals2

Gōgi yōkyu (attention)
To gain the attention of the Chief Referee, Corner Referees shall raise both flags in front of their face and tap them gently.

official signals2
Jogai (stepping out)
Wave the flag of the corresponding contestant up and down at 45° when stepping out of the area 
with 2 feet.
stepping out

Running the Contest

The Chief Referee shall control the contest using the commands of:

  • Hajime (begin)
  • Yame (stop)
  • Soremade (that is all – to end the contest)

The Chief Referee should explain briefly to the competitor the reason for awarding of a penalty.
The Chief Referee will award ippon/waza ari/yuko taking note of the opinion of the Corner Referees and use the other signals as appropriate.
The Corner Referees shall indicate tsukiari by raising the appropriate flag and use the other signals as appropriate

The 5-second rule if applicable.

When Toshu holds Tanto’s knife arm and Tanto braces his empty hand against Toshu while facing each other. The Chief Referee will call Yame after approximately five seconds.

When Toshu holds Tanto’s empty arm and Tanto braces his knife hand against Toshu. The Chief Referee will call Yame after approximately five seconds and give Shido (if applicable) to Toshu.

The Chief Referee must be careful to allow Toshu to persist with balance breaking attempts. Yame should only be called when there is no progress and Tanto is just blocking Toshu’s actions.

Decision of Contest

Please refer to the JAA rulebook for the explanation of the levels for awarding points of the waza. (Ippon, waza-ari and yuko)

Points are awarded as follows:

Positive points

Ippon 4 points
Waza-ari 2 points
Yuko 1 point
Tsuki-ari 1 point

Negative points
To be deducted from a contestant at the end of the contest

Shido 1 point
Chui 2 points

Disqualified competitor

Hansokumake 8 points


The competitor scoring the highest number of points shall be declared the winner.

Where the points are equal the competitor with the most Toshu points shall be declared the winner.

In the case of equal points and Toshu points, the decision will be given by the Chief Referee and the Corner Referees based on superiority, taking into account recognisable differences in skill and effectiveness of techniques and attitude during the contest. (extension is permitted if applicable).

When a contest cannot be continued due to Itamiwake (injury), the Chief Referee gives the right of play to the competitor able to continue if the competitor is able to continue in a reasonable time.

If the match is stopped early on and the uninjured competitor has fewer points than the injured player “hikiwake” is given. If late in the match then the one with the most points is declared the winner. (This depend on the responsibility of the Chief Referee).

If both competitors are injured and unable to continue due to injury, the opponent in the next match is the winner by Fusenkachi.

Where an injury is attributable to the action of a player he will be penalised with Hansokumake.

When a competitor has won a match by Hansokumake but is unable to continue due to injury, the opponent in the next match is the winner by Fusenkachi.


Prohibited Acts

The following are intended as a guide to the awarding of penalties for prohibited acts:


  • The use of techniques and its applications other than those found in the 17-hon no kata.
  • If a competitor intentionally tries to grip the others’ dogi.
  • If Toshu shows no avoidance and attempts to get near Tanto blindly.
  • If Tanto defends against Toshu by means other than tegatana.
  • If Tanto uses tegatana in a dangerous way such as the face, head etc.
  • If when using atemi or tsuki waza a competitor intentionally uses impact.
  • When Tanto drops the knife during the match.
  • If a competitor deliberately tries to go outside the contest area. Tanto is permitted to push the opponent out out the area as a mean of defence, but Toshu must try to stay within the area.
  • If Tanto deliberately escapes Toshu by retreating outside the contest area.
  • When Tanto does not make proper attempts to reach the target area.
  • When Tanto thrusts violently from a close distance.
  • When a competitor makes unnecessary calls, remarks or gestures derogatory to the opponent or Referees during the contest.


  • When Toshu applies techniques when off-balance or in a uncontrolled way or with the use of excessive force such as in wakigatame or maeotoshi.
  • When a competitor continues to apply force after a technique has been effective.
  • If a competitor applies a technique in such a way that ii is not possible for the opponent to do ukemi.

Penalties may be cumulative, or in a more serious instance higher penalties may be given according to the intent and attitude of the offender.

Kata & Enbu Competition

Kata for many people is something totally different from randori or other forms of practice. In reality, Kata is a part of the whole training system of Tomiki Aikido and other traditional Japanese martial arts. The origins of some kata are quite recent although there is some influence of much older traditional kata from different traditional Japanese martial arts.

The purpose of a particular kata can vary just as we can describe kata in different ways.

Find here the most popular definitions of Tomiki Aikido kata.

  • A formal demonstration of pre-arranged techniques.
  • A method of preserving and passing on to future generations.
  • A safe way of practising relatively dangerous techniques.
  • A training method.
  • A method of demonstrating principles or techniques which embody those principles.
  • A demonstration of the depth of knowledge of Tomiki Aikido.
  • A……

In other traditional Japanese martial arts we can find many kata for the same purposes as above. The point to remember is that one kata can be used or described in all of the above ways and therefore the many different interpretations of a particular kata.

Whatever your approach to kata, the basic principles are at the core of each kata and cannot be denied.

The passing on of the principles is the primary job of the Sensei. The teacher cannot pass on every existing techniques even if Sensei is aware of all the techniques from the system. By teaching the principles, Sensei will equip you with the means for finding out much more than just a choreography of techniques.

Unfortunately the present trend is toward learning a sequence of waza rather than just trying to figure out and utilise the basic principles involved. The innate spirit of a kata as well as the principles is intended to be demonstrating and must be known and understood. By practising correctly and thus improving your kata, you will also find that your randori improves and your understanding of Aikido in general is enhanced.

Kata like many Aikido activities is a paired exercise where both parties have to play their role.

Aikido can be translated as the “Way of Harmony” but in general terms that does not mean that Uke must let Tori win particularly if Tori does not deserve to succeed. Harmony in Aikido sense means a blending of roles, uke as attacker and finally the vanquished and Tori the victor.

In kata that means each player must know his role and how it should be played, the performers must also know the place of that role in the overall pattern of the kata.

The person playing the role of Uke must attack swiftly and have the intention to attack. In such a scenario, Tori will understand the truth of an attack and therefore can defend himself in the appropriate manner.

The judging of Kata & Enbu

Basically there are 2 ways for judging kata & enbu

  • The scoring method
  • The flag method

The scoring method

This method was used when kata & enbu competitions were introduced.

A score between 1.0 to 10.0 was given to every pair demonstrated their kata or enbu. The skill of the judges is extremely tested by this judging system.

The flag method

Two pairs are demonstrating their kata and are judged by in 5 judges with red and white flag. When the Chief Judge called “Hantei”, all the judges are raising the flag, red or white. The majority of red or white is winning this bout.

The criteria for judging Kata and Enbu

  • No mistakes in the sequence (if a known kata).
  • Correctness of techniques with convincing attacks and ukemi.
  • Ma-ai, taisabaki, kuzushu, timing, shisei, zanshin….
  • Pace and purpose of the kata reflected in the flow and speed.
  • Whenever possible, techniques to be executed in such a position that the table of officials (Kancho, Shihan and other Officials) can see clearly.
  • Reiho
  • Keeping within the competition area, but making maximum use of the space.
  • If applicable, demonstration within the time limit.

Management of Kata & Enbu contest

The Flag method

Competitors advance to their spot on the contest area. Bowing to the table with Officials after a command by the Chief Judge, they turn to their opponent, Uke to Uke and Tori to Tori. Turning to face the partner.

At he command of the Chief Judge, competitors bow and start their demonstration.

After both pairs finished their demonstratio, Chief Judge called “hantei’, all 5 judges raise red or white flag immediately to determine their choice. Chief Judge calls the flags of the 5 judges. Majority of the flags is called after the command “kachi”.

The bowing sequence is a reverse of the beginning.

Official Signals for Kata & Enbu Event

In case of the flag method


official signals

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Workshop 4 – 7 October 2018


Thursday 4th October

  • Using “rolling feet” in tandoku undo & sotai dosa.
  • Tentai, 180° without stepping.
  • Sotai dosa: ai gamae katate dori hineri & gaeshi
  • Sotai dosa : gyaku gamae katate dori hineri & gaeshi

Friday 5th October

  • Referee training : tanto scoring
  • Ippon, waza-ari and yuko

Saturday 6th October

  • Suwari waza dai san : grading and enbu differences
  • Tachi tai tachi dai san : grading keypoints

Sunday 7th October

  • Tanto dori dai san : grading keypoints
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Tenshikei or coiling power

Coiling movements

In Aikido, many movements have a “coiling”** effect. Mostly we speak about tenshikei, but of course not all body rotation will create tenshikei or coiling power. Some of the body rotations will create angular momentum.

Tenshi is an internal method to create coiling power. Angular momentum is more an external method to create power. Sometimes both systems are overlapping and create a hybrid power – external and internal. To create tenshikei or coiling power, we need space for our winding and unwinding. For angular momentum we use mostly a method of footwork called demawari and hikimawari.

**coiling : arrange or wind (something long and flexible) in a joined sequence of concentric circles or rings.

If you understand “tenshi” or internal body rotation you will understand the concept of coiling power. In fact, this is a basic skill and everybody can learn how to use tenshikei (coiling power). There is of course, as usual, a problem.
We rely on training to improve on our actions, but we have to leave entirely to faith that our system will make the right connections to recruit and align the body internally. Even with hard practice, we can sometimes hit a wall, unable to progress. Some talented people have no problems with controlling the body. Other have to rely on training and creating patterns in the brain. The difficulty is in the stubbornness of the muscles set by bad habits.

Slow movement

By doing a correct movement in a slow manner, we can overcome bad habits with a lot of training and focus.
Is this true?
Slow movement is mostly done with the conscious mind. We know our goal is to move with the subconscious mind. Why then we have to move slowly with our conscious mind?
The objective is not to master how slowly we can execute a movement, but to create body-skills and storing them in the subconscious mind.
The body tends to recruit muscles immediately to the action, namely, the muscles of the arm and shoulders to do the work, not incorporating those of the other parts of the body and not coordinating between the left and the right. This is for non-trained people mostly the work of the subconscious mind. The conscious mind has to make a pattern which can be stored in the subconscious mind, ready for immediate action with full body movement.

Slow movement creates body-skills and by storing them in the subconscious mind, they are available for immediate action when necessary

Coiling movement exercises

There are numerous exercises for creating the skill of tenshi.
7-hon no kuzush (omote & ura) can be used to create “tenshikei or coiling power”. This power can be used after the creation of balance disturbing. Throwing or controlling an opponent is the skill of tenshikei.

The kyokotsu exercises are a start to create the skill for using coiling power. It takes at least 2-3 years on a daily basis to feel the existence of coiling power into your body. After this feeling experience, it takes countless training hours to use it for throwing or controlling an opponent in a structured training environment.

Tenshi around skeletonTenshi is winding the tissue (muscles, tendons, fascia…) around the skeletal bones. Tenshikei is unwinding or releasing the power stored in the tissue.

The fascia is a kind of connective tissue where a lot of power can be stored and released. The fascia network is enveloping the entire body and is an important body network for developing “rendo”.

Info on fascia consult Wikipedia

The picture is from Akira Hino’s book “Don’t think, listen to the body!”

7-hon no kuzushi as a coiling movement exercise

To understand fully this exercise, you need an understanding of tandoku undo (tegatana dosa). Tegatana dosa solo-exercises give you  the necessary body skills to perform the balance disturbing.
Tandoku undo can be practised by 2 ways

  • using kyokotsu for controlling the spine
  • or without using kyokotsu

With kyokotsu as the control centre, the coiling power can be stored into the connective tissue around the spine, the torso, arms and legs. The control of the kyokotsu is needed to create an internal movement.

Without the kyokotsu control, the body movement is depending on local muscle power or locomotive power generated by foot movement. Locomotive power is not always possible by the lack of space. Using local muscle power is easily detected by an opponent.

The complete 7-hon no kuzushi (omote & ura) will be covered in a separate article. Here an example to introduce the coiling movement mechanism.

chudankuzushi coiling

Using “uchi gaeshi” movement (tandoku undo movement), turn upper body slightly in the direction of uchi gaeshi. Put power in the tanden by pushing koshi down and forward. The curve of the lower back becomes more straight. This is necessary for pushing power. Use the waist (yōbu) for more turning. At the end of the turning, you have a lot of “tenshikei” to release.

The “basics” for using yōbu is studied in yōbu-walking. The “basics” for tenshikei is studied in kyokotsu exercises.

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Self-defence or self-development

Without self-development, there will be no self-defence

Many people start a martial art with the intention to study self-defence. This is not wrong in itself, but before you can survive in a confrontation, you must study yourself.

  • physical
  • mentally

As long you cannot control yourself, you will be not able to defend yourself.
Fear, for example, creeps up in your body and freezes all flexible movements.
Anger can give you a wrong answer to solve a physical or mental confrontation.

Can we find an answer for fear, anger or other mental situations in martial arts?

This was of course also a problem for famous Japanese swordsmen and they also tried to find answers.
In Japanese swordsmen literature are many stories about this problem. Do they find a direct answer? Lets have a look at some stories.

Yamaoka Tesshu

Yamaoka-TessuYamaoka Tesshu (1836-1888), a famous swordsman from the end of the Tokugawa era through the beginning of Meiji era, wrote an essay about martial arts.
In this essay there is a story of Katsu Kaisu (Japanese statesman, end of the Tokugawa era through the beginning of Meiji era) recalling his encounter with Shirai Toru (1782-1843).
Even after a long period of training, Katsu Kaisu was afraid of the eldery Shirai Toru and his sword.
Shirai Toru gave an interesting explanation about his fear to Katsu Kaisu.

You feel fear towards my sword because you have some knowledge and experience in the art of sword fighting. A person without ego and no thoughts has no fear. That is the secret of the art of sword fighting.

Fear and anger

After the age of 40, most of the people’s physical power will deteriorate. When we don’t take enough attention to our self-development, fear and anger will come more apparent in a physical confrontation and this will kill you. It is not the opponent who is killing you, you kill yourself, because you cannot control your fear or anger.
Young people are compensating their fear by muscular power, but as we said before, power will deteriorate after a certain age.

There is another  story of Shirai Toru (mentioned higher) and his teacher Terrada Muneari (1745-1825, founder of Tenshin-Itto-Ryu). Shirai (28yrs) thought he could easily handle the elder Terrada (63yrs). But he didn’t have one chance to hit Terrada. Later Terrada said:

Self-awareness and spiritual enlightenment is the only way


Self-development is closely related to self-awareness. How you see and feel yourself. Can you accept yourself, with your quality and your human weaknesses?

Martial arts are a mirror for you. Very soon in your training, your weaknesses are coming to the surface. This is the moment to become consciously aware of these weaknesses, to know yourself is the first step in self-development.

A practical example:

When an opponent (your training-partner) is attacking your face. How are you avoiding or handling this attack? Jumping away, freeze, panic,…..

Just ask your partner to slow down, and perform your defensive action also in a slow manner. From the moment you feel comfortable, ask your partner to add more speed and power. Can you handle? Maybe you have to go back to a slower performance, maybe you have more confidence and you can ask for more speed and power. From very structured training, you can evolve to unstructured training. If you are fortunate you will never use your skill in the real outside world. But you can test yourself in some kind of “competition” set? Not to become a champion, but just to test yourself.


Self-defence is a practical application of martial arts, and are mostly performed with a partner. Remember this model from an earlier post:

autopietic system

Your movement is always the result of a communication with the opponent. This is only possible if you have developped the skill of awareness, physically and mentally.

Having confidence in your abilities and knowing your shortcomings will create the perfect strategy for you in a confrontation, hostile or friendly.

The last words of Musashi Miyamoto

Abstract: The “Dokkôdô” is the last handwritten manuscript by Miyamoto Musashi. Due to its apho- ristic style it is often quoted and used to illustrate his thinking as well as his way of life, it has however until now not been intensively, thematically dealt with, so that the interpretation of several verses is still contradictory, which often leads to misunderstandings. In order to improve this situation we have ini- tially tried to interpret all words in each verse as literally as possible, then from here to form a sentence under consideration of its grammatical as well as its historical context and finally to present the entire translation of the “Dokkôdô”. The author hopes that this small contribution may become an inspiration for further discussion, which could lead us to a deeper understanding of Musashi’s truth.



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Rendo – linking movement segments

Movement segments or the concept of “3”

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

When we consider mainly the physical actions, we can divide a movement segment action in 3 parts:

  • root: source of force for movements
  • joint segments: transfer of force by using the joints of the body
  • tip: end of the line of force or the point of transfer into the opponent

By dividing the human body in 3 major segments we can focus on a smaller part of the body. Each segment can be divided into another 3-part segment. By using this concept of “3”, we can isolate partial movement and focus better on moving the partial segment. By using the skill of rendo or linking skill, whole body movement is created.

  • Upper appendicular segment
  • Central axial segment
  • Lower appendicular segment

The central segment of the human body has 3 parts

  • Head or top of the body.
  • Upper torso – with kyokotsu as control system. Middle of the body.
  • Lower torso – koshi/tanden/yōbu. Base of the body.

The upper appendicular segment, called the arm

  • Shoulder or source
  • Elbow or transfer
  • Hand/wrist or extremity

The lower appendicular segment, called the leg

  • Inguinal crease (mata) or source
  • Knee or transfer
  • Foot/ankle or tip (end of force line – see later)

 3 segments

The article “guide, movement and power” is related with the concept of  “3”.

Segment of central body

Kyokotsu controls the central body. By manipulating kyokotsu, movement of the the arm segment can be controlled.
Kyokotsu has also an effect on the koshi/tanden/yōbu. Of course this area has to be free of tension. The movement of koshi/tanden/yōbu will have an effect on “mata” or inguinal crease.
There are 3 basic movements of the kyokotsu:

  • Forward and backkyokotsu in-out
  • Up and downup & down kyokotsu
  • Figure 8tenshikei solo exercise

Segment of the arm

The power in this segment is a push/pull action. The hand is the leading factor and is a pulling action in the direction of the target, shoulder is the driving factor and is pushing forward. The elbow is transferring the pushing power in coordination with the pull of the hand.

Kyokotsu is controlling the power from koshi/tanden/yōbu and direct the power into the shoulder. The pointing of a finger has a pulling action on the arm, the elbow functions as a transfer for the power in the arm.

 Segment of the leg

lower segment of 3The lower segment (inguinal crease, knee and foot) uses the power of koshi/tanden/yōbu. The power is directed into the front foot, the knee is flexible and is used as a transfer. When the knee is frozen, the power cannot reach the foot. By using the skill of rolling feet, the body will move forward, the back leg is used as a a Nordic** stick for walking.

Some exercises : Weight shift – practical exercises.

** From Wikipedia – Nordic walking

Technique : The cadences of the arms, legs and body are, rhythmically speaking, similar to those used in normal, vigorous, walking. The range of arm movement regulates the length of the stride. Restricted arm movements will mean a natural restricted pelvic motion and stride length. The longer the pole thrust, the longer the stride and more powerful the swing of the pelvis and upper torso.

The body has more than 3 segments

The 3-part segment is of course a part of the whole body, and it is the skill of rendo to use the body as 1 whole part. Dividing in a 3-part segment is only a tool for focusing on a particular dynamic part of the body. We cannot infinite divide parts of the body, because it must be practical during training.

An example:
The end of the leg segment is the ankle/foot. By looking at the foot we can see a new 3-part segment.

  • Heel or source
  • Ball or transfer
  • Toes or end of line

3-part foot

Linking segments

In Tomiki Aikido there are many solo- and partner drills with the purpose to link segments together.

Solo drill
Tandoku undo (tegatana dosa) is one of the favorite solo-drills for linking segments. In the next videoclip, tandoku undo – tegatana dosa is covered from the “segments” point of view. The first part is covering some isolated segment exercises. The linking is covered in the solo-drill of tandoku undo.

Solo exercises from Eddy Wolput on Vimeo.

Partner drill
Basically all aikido techniques or waza can be used as a drill to create a specific skill. Creating the skill of rendo is very basic, unfortunately one of the most difficult to perform. Disturbing balance exercises is an ideal method to create whole body movement. It is not only arm movement, but all the segments needs to be linked to create balance disturbing.
Find here an example

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Randori rules

Randori rules for competition

In judo we grapple the opponent by catching the lapel and sleeve, while trying to throw the opponent down by breaking his balance. We can only use throwing techniques, as dangerous techniques such as striking or kicking are prohibited. In aikido we hold the hand, wrist, arm, limbs or body directly instead of the clothing and throw him down. On the assumption that “dangerous” attacks are delivered, body avoidance becomes necessary, so ideally techniques should be performed the moment one touches the opponent. What is suitable against dangerous attacks are the instant techniques of “atemiwaza’ and “kansetsuwaza”. Judo is mainly composed of “nagewaza” or throwing techniques, and “katamewaza’ or locking techniques. In contrast, aikido is mainly composed of “atemiwaza” or attacking techniques and “kansetsuwaza’ or joint techniques. What is common in both judo and aikido is that one tries to break the opponent’s balance thereby throwing or controlling him.


Toshu randori rules: updated rules toshu randori august 2018

Tanto randori rules: tanto randori rulesbook

Training tips by JAA : Aiki Toshu-Randori Practice Method

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Weight shift – practical exercises

(Taijū idō wa budō ni okeru jūyōna sukirudesu.)

Weight shift is an important skill in martial arts. If you cannot control the shifting process, you are vulnerable to balance disturbing techniques by an opponent.

By using a walking exercise in slow motion, you can detect the difficulties in weight shift. Relaxation of the lower body segment parts (inguinal crease, knee and ankle) must be acquired for a smooth transition of the body weight. Of course, the rest of the body needs also the skill of relaxation.

Relaxation is not collapsing. In the walking exercise, the body is maintained in a vertical position for better control of the movement. Neck and shoulders are very hard to relax, especially when you make a mistake and lose your balance. The body reaction will tense up the muscles. This of course is a serious mistake for a martial arts practitioner.


Walking exercise

ayumi ashi yobu

Starting from a neutral posture, put a foot on the heel forward. Roll the foot and keep the angle between lower leg and foot. When the knee is coming forward, the angle is slightly smaller.roll the footBody weight is on the back foot (80%). When the foot rolls, body weight is changing to the front foot (80%). This is the moment to start the turning of the waist (yōbu).
relaxing the kneeThe body weight is changing to 100% on the front foot and back foot is only touching the floor. When you release the tension of the waist turning, the back knee is coming forward and initiates a forward stepping.

Slow motion gives you the opportunity to feel (taikan) the weight shift. The feeling is only possible when you relax sufficient. When the pattern is established in the brain, you can perform this kind of weight shift without conscious thoughts.

Sliding foot exercise

When we have to bridge a short distance, sliding foot (tsughi ashi) is used. The name “sliding foot” is misleading, because the front foot is using a rolling action. The sliding of the back foot is initiated by relaxing the back knee. Pushing and throwing the opponent has in many cases a sliding foot action. The back leg is not used to push down on the floor, during the rolling front foot action, the weight is mostly on the back foot.

tsugi ashi roll the foot

Weight shift with arm movement

The arm movement is synchronized with the movement of the front foot. By using gravity the body is moving forward. The power in the arm is generated from the forward movement, not from using the local arm muscles. Don’t tense up the muscles of the neck and shoulders.

weight shift tandoku 1

Basic solo exercise – uchi mawashi & soto mawashi – is using the same mechanism with a rotation of the waist (yōbu).

weight shift tandoku 2 2