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.

Pause as a moving factor

Conscious and unconscious movement

Moving around is part of the most enjoyable activities in humans life and when our movements stop, our life is also stopping. But sometimes we need a rest, sleeping, relaxing, ….. Taking a rest or relaxing is part of our movement and at first sight there is no outward movement. It is no wonder to find out there is a lot of movement inside. These movements are unconscious movements. Our consciousness has no control.
Conscious internal movements concern mostly musculoskeletal alignment and connectedness. They are in many cases not visible externally.
During human moving activities, a pause is often used to give a dramatic performance. Pause is a part of a movement or performance.
The conscious brain is reacting to action or pause with a delayed time. This can be utilized to change strategy or movement (switch) during martial arts performance.

0.5 seconds for the mind to recognise what has occurred

Benjamin 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.

Benjamin Libet is known worldwide for the experiments he has conducted over a long career (his first experiences date back to 1957-1958) on how the human brain produces conscious awareness.
The brain will have a recognisable sensation coming from the skin or some other body structure only if the stimulus continues for at least 500 msec: shorter durations do not elicit any awareness of the sensation.
There is an actual delay of 500 msec for sensory awareness even when the sensation is generated by a single pulse applied to normal sources at the skin.

Pause, a part of our movements

During switching of movements, we need a pause to reset our muscles. Resetting the muscles is changing the tone, or in other words “more or lesser tension” to create a better efficiency movement.
Switching without detection by the opponent is only possible if we can perform this during the 0,5sec mentioned earlier.
We can make the delay longer by using “kuzushi”. This situation sets up a pause in the defense against an attack. Regaining stability is triggered by some survival instinct and will take over the actions learned during martial arts training.
Basically, kuzushi is a kind of switch with hakkei or sudden power. When practising kuzushi slowly and with bigger movements, we cannot consider this as a part of the strategy to make opponents “brain delay” longer.

Pause, an educational tool

This kind of pause is longer than the pause during movements. Practitioners without experience need some time to make decisions how to do a movement. By integrating “pause” into movement sequences, the brain will detect the changes in the sequences and make the appropriate adjustments.
Most of the “kuzushi” demonstrations use such a method to make clear the mechanism of kuzushi. This is an artificial situation, and will always fail in “randori” because it is going beyond the delayed time.

Different types of training


Solo-training is an integral part of a martial art training program. Solo-training is a simple method to introduce martial art movements. There is a perception of “no-resistance”, but this is a delusion. Beginners are not aware of gravity or excessive tension. When we discover gravity and relaxation, partner training is the next step. Nevertheless, keep in your mind: There is relaxation in tension – there is tension in relaxation.
Solo-training start with big movements and done slowly. Remember, we need time to recognize what is happening.
After some time, we can start to make the movements smaller and eventually faster, but not fast.
When you can observe your movements without making any comments in your head, it is time to start to partner exercises.
From a practical view on how to keep students or trainees enthusiastic, sotai dosa or partner exercises are introduced before proper body movements are ingrained. But avoid “tanren” training.

Practical training concepts
Practical concepts depends largerly on ingrained basics in the subconscious mind. Mostly these ingrained concepts will be tested during all kinds of randori, ranging from kakari geiko through hikitate geiko to randori geiko.
During basic training, the concept of pause is mostly considered as an educational tool.
Pause as a practical tool during randori is build upon the skill of relaxation/tension and diverse strategy concepts.

Sensitivity training

Training with a partner, trainer or teacher should led trainee to follow by “sticking” at the contact points and learns to listen (chokei in Hino Budo terms).

Resistance training

Sensitivity training with light resistance. Testing the body/mind integrity of the trainees. Cultivating internal muscoskeletal alignment and connectedness. Using sufficient force (tension) to overcome resistance.

There must be relaxation within tension and tension within relaxation/tension exchange. Avoid rigidity and stiffness.

Technical training

Solo-training of basic movements is an entry to ingrain whole-body neuromuscular movements. Mind-body control is necessary to obtain coordinated whole-body neuromuscular movement.
Partner training has to be seen as an extension of solo-training

Randori training

Randori training is an exercise with a build-in unknown factor. Timing, distance or interval, speed….are unknown factors. Starting with low-intensity resistance and adding proportionally unknown factors cannot emphasized enough. When we start too soon with “hakkei” or sudden power, succes in randori will be far away.

Tanren – The art of repetition

Do not cultivate sequential patterns of response as a solution to the problems of fighting. If you use conscious procedural thinking (sequential processing) to observe, analyze, and then react, you will lose most of your hand-to-hand encounters or confrontations. You cannot predict/anticipate when and from where an attack is coming, and then take appropriate action.
Therefore, instead of wasting time and energy memorizing sequential patterns of movements also called “kata choreography”, let your sub-conscious reflexes automatically execute the proper actions at the proper time without conscious mind- intent.

Kata performed as ‘Tanren’, or repetitive slow drilling is highly regarded as a method of power building

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.

Kata must be simple if we like to use it as Tanren. If kata is too complicated it will be a waste of time. It is better to practise 1 or 2 linked movements with low resitance at slow speed. The mind need time to listen to the body and absorb the principle or concept behind the movement(s).
For example during static postures in standing meditation (ritsuzen) isometric activity of the major leg muscles is a motionless movement to practise drilling the feet to generate power with the support of the floor.
Dynamic examples can be found in koryu no kata. Some kata are complicated sequences and are build upon linking simple basic movements.
Of course, kata training offers more than power building exercises.

Something to take into consideration

The Relative Tempo of Techniques: some techniques are performed quickly, while others are done more slowly. Tempo can be so slow that there is no visible external movement, it is a pause in the external movement.

The Relative Force of Power: The power of a technique derives from the proper balance between strength and relaxation. Power is a balance between ju (soft/strong) and go (hard/strong). Power can be dynamic (ido ryoku) but also static (isometric tension). Isometric tension has no visible external movement, it is a pause in the external movement.

The Control of Breathing: The correct timing during breathing (inhaling and exhaling). After inhaling we need sometimes a pause, to have a better absorbtion of the oxygen. This is a pause in the breathing.

By using these 3 concepts and through concentration, dedication and practice, a higher level of power skills may be achieved, where the movements are so ingrained in the subconscious mind that no conscious attention is needed.  This is what we call Mushin 無心, or “no mind.” The conscious, rational thought practice is not used at all – what was once memorized is now spontaneous.

Hakkei – From potential energy to kinetic power


Movement produces kinetic energy, which can be converted into power. Delivering power into the body of an opponent is not an easy task, it needs a special skill called “hakkei”.
Hakkei (発勁), which literally means ‘release of power’, can generate power with minimal external body motion.
Before  we can use hakkei we need to accumulate pressure in the hara, this is created by using the muscles of the koshi, tanden and yōbu. Those muscles are full of potential elastic energy. See tenshikei and rendo.

Elastic potential energy is the energy stored in elastic materials as the result of their stretching or compressing. Elastic potential energy can be stored in rubber bands, bungee chords, trampolines, springs, an arrow drawn into a bow, etc. But also muscles, tendons and fascia.  The amount of elastic potential energy stored is related to the amount of stretching and releasing quality of the muscles, tendons and fascia.

Converting elastic potential energy

By releasing the pressure or tension, movement is created and “momentum” is born. Using momentum is a skill called ido-ryoku.
It is not always necessary to have physical distance between you and the opponent. It is possible to emit power into the opponent when you already are touching the body. momentum can travel in a straight line , but can also follow a circular line, called angular momentum.


Momentum is fairly easy to grasp, as we all have an intuitive sense of it. Momentum brings mass and speed together as a single meaningful quantity. If I say something is flying very fast toward you, you would want to also know whether it’s heavy or not! A light object with great velocity can have a similar momentum as a heavy object with a low speed. When you catch a ball, you absorb that ball’s momentum and transfer it to you, making you move backward. If you have a good posture and firm footing, you’ll be able to transfer your own momentum to the earth.

Angular Momentum

Momentum can also be considered in rotation, along an axis, which we call angular momentum. It gets a bit more complicated here because, as a body turns, its parts that are further away have more speed (if you have your arms extended while you rotate, the tip of your fingers goes at a much greater speed than your shoulders). This is also tied to inertia in rotation. So angular momentum is about mass and rotation, but also about how far the mass is from the axis of rotation.

Conservation of Angular Momentum

But here comes the fun part: Angular momentum is a quantity that is kept constant, conserved.

Let’s say you are sitting on an “office chair” that can rotate freely .

  1. Start by swinging your arms left and right, first extended, then close to your body. What happens? Your knees rotate as well, but the opposite way, and they rotate more when your arms are extended.
    You started with no angular momentum. As you created some angular momentum one way in your upper body, your lower body swiveled in the opposite direction, keeping the total angular momentum at zero.
  2. Now ask someone to give you a rotation speed, while sitting on the chair, with your arms extended, and bring your arms together.  Your rotation speed increases noticeably.
    This time, you started with a fixed angular momentum, but as you moved your arms inwards, you reduced the speed of your arms by bringing them in, and your overall speed increased as a result, keeping your angular momentum constant.

  A martial arts example: sayabiki


Sayabiki is the pulling of the scabbard (saya) when performing nukitsuke, a cutting motion as you swiftly draws the sword.
Doing sayabiki at the end of drawing the sword allows for greater cutting speed. Furthermore, as you reach the end of sayabiki and the scabbard slows and stops, you also help slowing the tip of the sword and allow for better control of the tip.

The cutting with the sword (nukitsuke) and the pulling of the scabbard is produced by using the muscles of koshi, tanden and yōbu as described earlier.

Budo Aikido example of angular momentum

We start with a big circle to a smaller circle. The initial circular action is building up pressure and tension in the hara, by releasing with the proper footwork, a sudden power or hakkei is produced. See 8 sotai dosa.

The example is a part of the 8 sotai dosa, but also a technique found in koryu no kata dai yon.

soatai dosa 2 A

Hakkei or fajin in Western literature

In martial arts literature (translated from Japanese), we cannot find a lot about hakkei. It has a rather obscure image, although in some books about Aiki-Jutsu and Okinawa Kenpo or Karate we can find “how to do” information. The reason for lack of practical information can be found in the difficulties in the explanation of expressing in words, it is tacit knowledge.
Tacit knowledge (as opposed to formal, codified or explicit knowledge) is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it.

Hakkei fajin

In Chinese literature on martial arts, fajin is a more common item in training.

Hakkei is “sudden” power

Before you can use hakkei, you have to store potential elastic energy in the body, mostly in koshi, tanden and yōbu. You have to convert the potential energy into kinetic power by suddenly release the pressure or tension. Many so-called kokyu nage are a form of hakkei by using the transformed potential energy and breathing. This process of breathing is called “reverse breathing”.

Natural and Reverse Breathing

Not all the teachers of Japanese martial arts are promoting a special method of breathing. Building up pressure in the body can harm your health, especially people with high blood pressure, or people suffering from cardiac diseases. Before you start with a breathing program, pleasmusclese consult your medical doctor.

(from Mike Sigman Blog)

There are two main types of breathing: natural-breathing and “reverse”-breathing. Natural breathing is the type of breathing where the inhale expands the abdomen, hopefully somewhat not only in the front, but in the kidney areas, also. “Reverse”-breathing refers to the idea that on the inhale the lower abdomen comes somewhat in and then goes somewhat out on the exhale. Because the lower-abdomen isn’t allowed to expand on a reverse breath, there is a slight pressure build-up in the abdominal area.

Reverse Breathing is the type of breathing practiced in the internal-arts proper, after real development and training begins. Reverse breathing does a number of things, but it does two things that are particularly important for someone who is learning to move the whole body as a connected unit :

  • reverse breathing controls the body-wide tensions it initiates and
  • reverse breathing helps control the pressures which are an intrinsic part of internal-arts that are controlled by the dantian.

Pressure basics

Within the body cavities, breath initiated tensions are used in conjunction with the increase in pressure to train and develop the connective tissues.

As a person inhales while either slightly pulling in the abdomen or at least holding it in stasis so that it isn’t allowed to bulge outward, the diaphragm comes down. It must come downward or air can’t be pulled into the lungs. As the diaphragm comes downward and the front of the abdomen is kept from expanding outward, pressure increases in the abdominal cavity and kidney areas.