Tenshikei – rotational body movement


spiral line012Tenshikei is the Japanese term for chan shi jin or silk reeling, a skill in Internal Chinese martial arts. The name derives from the twisting and spiralling movements of the silkworm as it wraps itself in its cocoon and the pulling off the silk from the coccoon. The body is imitating this by winding and unwinding movements.

Tenshikei uses the diagonal tension and releasing of the muscles and tendons in the central body. Tension and releasing are controlled by the kyokotsu.
Kyokotsu as a control centre of the movement, uses the tanden,koshi and yōbu as the stability platform.

Hara – Tanden, Koshi & Yōbu

Basically Hara is the lower part of the central body. Mostly it is translated as “belly” or “abdomen”.

  • Koshi means the area of the hips. It also includes the lower back.
  • Tanden is a point below the navel, loosely translated as the energy centre (Chinese medicine and martial arts). It is the focus point for internal techniques and exercises.
  • Yōbu is the waist area. The Chinese word is Yao. The waist is the part of the abdomen between the rib cage and hips.

In our study, Hara will be used in many exercises, especially during Tenshikei.
When the body moves, the Tanden is the centre and is the place of a relative no-movement.
The muscles associated with koshi and yōbu will be used to start movements. There are other methods to start movement like using gravity, but this is discussed elsewhere in this study.

Morita Monjuro (1889-1978)
Famous Japanese swordman wrote some interesting notes on the relationship between tanden and koshi in hitting with a sword.

The striking at a single pace: the tanden and koshi by which all kind of strikes are possible

Tanden and the musculature of the koshi form a unity, but their roles are not the same. The tanden controls the koshi. The training of koshi is synonymous with the training of the tanden, center of the body, and thus it becomes a training of body and mind … We can say the training of each technique strengthen the muscles of the koshi and the tanden. Which has almost the same effect as to strengthen the tanden practicing zazen. If the practice remains at a mere technical manipulation, the effect can not be the same. By producing the art of the koshi and tanden, we can strengthen our mind and body.
To hit properly from the tanden and koshi, we must use a perfect structured body and a perfect handling of the sword. This is a gesture that is produced in accordance with the two forces that go diagonally right leg left arm, left leg and right arm.
The perfect handling of the sword is produced by the integration of three elements:

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

Twisting and untwisting

In a basic format the twisting of the upper body will follow a certain sequence.

  1. Turn the shoulder line. Keep gankyo bappai **
  2. Turn the body along the diagonal line.
  3. Turn the pelvis line.***

Feel the spiral movement in the body. Avoid muscular tension by pulling the muscles, the tension you feel is the result of the twisting

Untwisting follows the reverse sequence.

** Gankyōbappai (含胸抜背).
This is a phrase used to describe the postural adjustment at the chest level (Empty the chest & Pull out the back ). Keep the concave shape of the chest and stretch the spine to widen the back. Important is not to tense the muscles.

***Turning the pelvis line is only possible when the “mata” or “kwa” is flexible and not tensed up. If you cannot make the groin soft, you will not make the full twisting movement.

Tenshikei solo exercise – twisting and untwisting

rolling tanden01

Using a modified kyokotsu exercise – see earlier.
The arrows show the direction of the movements.
Don’t tense the muscles, just release the tension when turning to the other side.
The exercise is “one” continuous movement.

Tenshikei and force

Twisting and untwisting creates force, this force can be transmitted into the opponent.

Tenshikei lines

Partner exercises are an example for applying twisting and untwisting.
In the example the force of twisting and untwisting will be transmitted by extending the arm and creates the opportunity to apply “oshi taoshi” or pushing down.
Extending the arm and putting the weight into the opponent will create “hakkei” or sudden power.

Tenshikei from the lower body

tenshikei lower body

The body is a system which includes also legs, feet…. To create a full-body tenshikei, we must take out the tension of the knee.

The lower part of the central body will become involved in a full-body tenshikei.

See example : Bring the bodyweight on the the right foot, take out the tension of the right knee. Make a full tenshikei by moving the shoulder line, the diagonal lines and the pelvis line.

Both shoulders should be moved as 1 unit.


Ido-ryoku can be  translated as ‘locomotive power”. When we grasp the arm of the opponent we can move our body a certain distance, this creates some power called momentum.

In Newtonian mechanics, linear momentum, translational momentum, or simply momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object. It is a three-dimensional vector quantity, possessing a magnitude and a direction. (Wikipedia)

Another meaning, although related to the previous one, ido has the idea of “shift”. It is not always necessary to move the feet. Body weight shifting (taijū no idō) is a method to produce power without the use of the feet.


Ido-ryoku is the effectiveness of “physical movement” that works even without a locomotive power in a mutual relation between two practitioners. (Prof. Shishida – Aikido Lecture & Seminar at the 11th TAIN International Festival / 2015 Aikido World Championships On Thursday October 22, 2015.)

Unsoku ho – Footwork exercises

Forward and back unsoku

An exercise about “kuzushi” or feeling and using gravity
Using gravity is only possible if the knees and hip joints are flexible.
Again, the sensation of feeling and using gravity will avoid to give a signal to the opponent .

unsoku zengo

We start slowly and sometimes we exaggerate the movement by making it bigger. This gives us the opportunity to create a bodily sensation. Use the kyokotsu point to start the movements.

Sideways unsoku

The previous remarks have the same impact on the sideways unsoku.
By pushing into the ground, the body will raise. Of course we can direct the power sideways, but still we are giving a signal to the opponent.

unsoku sayu

wrong & correct

walking stick

Use the line from the foot to the shoulder line as a stick to keep balance.
The knee of the leading leg must be flexible.
The “walking stick” knee is not locked but not bend.

Diagonal unsoku

In this kind of unsoku we must consider the use of the central body axis or seichusen.
As with the other kind of unsoku, don’t push the leg in the ground to generate power, but use gravity.

unsoku naname zen

unsoku naname go 01

unsoku naname go 02

seiza exercise
The concept of the central axis can be used during suwari waza or sitting techniques.


The driving force of the movement of the body on the earth, the weight of the body is more fundamental and important than the muscle contraction force. The weight is conscious, but whether you desire or not is constantly working towards the center of the Earth. Movement is established only when there is weight.

The biggest mistake a human being with consciousness and muscle makes in the movement of the body is to think (consciousness) that the main power of movement is muscle tension contraction. The main role of muscle contraction force is not to create the main motive force of movement, but to create a trigger for movement (to break the equilibrium relationship), to accommodate movement (lead to a new equilibrium relationship), amplification / adjustment It is to do. What is more important is to receive the information (energy / weight) conveyed from other parts and to convey the muscle itself to the next part as a conduit / conductor. In the meantime, it’s the task of proper amplification and adjustment. It is a very serious problem that you are not aware of the seriousness of the ability to accept / conduct this information (weight / energy), and therefore you are not trained in that ability.

Gravity – reality & bodily sensation

Gravity, or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon and is related to our body weight. Using gravity in body weight displacement is an economical way of moving around. The moment when a baby start to stand up and walking, gravity will affect the movements. Unfortunately during our life we forget sometimes the feeling (taikan) of gravity.

An exercise to feel the effect of gravity on the body.
It is a natural reaction putting a foot in the direction of a balance disturbing situation.
The body reaction is immediate and there is no conscious thought about how to step.
The sensation of “gravity” can be very helpful to avoid the use of pushing power into the ground when trying to accelerate an attack. Pushing into the ground gives a signal to the opponent, so the opponent can respond easily.
It is also helpful to understand “pushing” power without using local muscles (arms).

feeling gravity

Budo or Sport?

The emphasis is on Budo Aikido which includes randori geiko (not shiai). There is no “rules book” in Budo Aikido.

Frequently I am asked about the difference between Aikido as a martial art (Budo) and Aikido as sport (Kyogi).
Budo has 2 parts : Bu and Do
The word do means path or way, but refers to a special way – a path which its goals leads to nowhere, and is followed for its own sake. It becomes The Way. The Way follows no particular route, it is self-traveled, naturally individualized path to spiritual enlightenment.
Bu means “war” but it also suggest the sheathing of the sword or the cessation of struggle.
During the “Flower Power” movement in the Western countries Budo became less orientated to the idea of fighting.
Another evolution created a kind of Martial Art more orientated to the competition arena. Before the war, of course there were also competitions in Martial Arts. Examples are Kendo and Judo. Prewar competitions rules book was slightly different and not so elaborated as nowadays. Modern competition has a lot of “olympic” influence. In the past Budo training and competition were very close to each other, while today the difference is more obvious for practitioners.
Sometimes the general public cannot see or understand the difference between Martial Sport and Budo.
While in Kyogy-Aikido there are you versus the opponent, in Budo-Aikido you try to become one with the opponent and this is a precondition for using the concept of “Sen”, control of the movements.
Budo-Aikido people are generally more sensitive to the movements of the training partner. Technically precise movements are the goal in your training. Many Kyogi-aikido practitioners are relying more on muscle power, body weight, speed, combination techniques. In Kyogi-Aikido you can win by making half points, while in Budo-Aikido there is only total control of the situation.
Speaking about ethics, it is your choice how to finish a fight in a Budo environment. In Kyogi-Aikido, there are no ethics, only rules how to make points and prohibited actions. Ethics will vary according to the society people belong. Western people have different ethics than Japanese or other Asians.
Both methods have their merits and can be useful in daily life and can have a positive effect on our behaviour. The application of Aikido as self-defense or goshin-jutsu need of course some adaptation to become practical in real-life situations.
There are more similarities than differences when we compare both methods. Many Aikido methods will have a hybrid format with either the emphasis on the sporting side (Kyogi) or the classical side (Budo).

Budo or sport

Non-conscious body driven & conscious mind driven

The legendary Zen master Takuan Sōhō (1573-1645) said: “The mind must always be in the state of ‘flowing,’ for when it stops anywhere the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death. When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he cannot think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy’s sword movements. He just stands there with his sword which, forgetting all techniques, an is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man’s subconscious that strikes.

The big difference between Sport and Budo is in the use of the conscious and non-conscious mind.
In Budo Aikido, the body is driven by the patterns stored in the mind. These patterns are not mind driven but act as the circumstances are asking for it. In Kyogi Aikido, the practitioner is planning everything and actions are always according the rulebook.
The concept of mushin is a basic element of Budo Aikido, the mind is neutral and not interfering consciously with the martial action. Kyogi Aikido is a limited version of Budo Aikido the mind is always busy interfering with the action.

Hajime and Mate

In Sports Aikido there is hajime and mate. In Budo Aikido this doesn’t exist. If you ask a western practitioner about “hajime”, his answer will be probably : starting training, starting a technique or starting a match.

Yōso* – Fundamental elements

Kenji Tomiki was inspired by the ideas of Jigoro Kano in formulating his Aiki method. Kodokan Judo is based upon “principles”. Principles are concepts and are the essential characteristics of the system.
Man has formulated many laws related to our environment. The laws of Newton are such an example.
There are laws specific to the human body, rules specific to the relations between human bodies, as well as rules proper to the relations between the human beings within the framework of martial arts. All these laws are real and concrete realities, and together with the principles creates a system useful in the Eastern and Western countries.

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

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

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

Yōso in Budo-Aikido and Kyogi-Aikido

There are many fundamental elements in Aikido and most of them can be applied in Budo-Aikido and Kyogi-Aikido. There are 2 Yōso in both methods which are the most basic.

• The relationship between your mind and body
• The relationship between you and the body – mind of the opponent

From image to pattern

In order to understand laws and rules in human movements, many specific movements must be analysed to understand before we can create a pattern. There are many ways to put content into each of these movements. One of the content is for example the displacement of body weight during walking. In the brain there exist an image about walking.
How to use this image depends on our experiences during our life, and according these experiences we have created patterns.
Sometimes a pattern is corrupted or not suitable for use in martial arts situations. We have to (re)program a pattern.
Especially at beginners level, the conscious mind is used to remember the script of the movement.
Beginners level is not simply associated with “novices”, but also with experienced people who are learning new skills.
When starting with a new “pattern”, we start slowly and sometimes we exaggerate the movement by making it bigger. This gives us the opportunity to create a bodily sensation. At this point of your training you are going to use the unconscious mind.

The Standardisation or Guidelines?

Stylization and standardisation go hand in hand when an “Institution” creates a syllabus with techniques for grading or competition purposes. There is obviously a potential danger around the corner. The creativity of the practitioner will be killed when the Institution is taking too much the lead in the training process.
Of course, we need some guidelines depending on the characteristics of the martial art.
In this document is explained how to move the body. Don’t confuse guidelines with ”how to do techniques”.
The purpose of the guidelines is the creation of basic body movements patterns.

Pattern inclusive taikan (bodily sensation/experience) is your personal standard based upon guidelines practised during training. You will use taikan to sort out useful information and not becoming confused by an overload of information swirling around on the internet.
On the other hand, pattern is useful to understand diverse information from skilled bodywork teachers or martial arts instructors.

The parameters for basic movement pattern

How do we know our guidelines are correct?
To answer this question is necessary to understand the purpose of our basic movement. We have to set up the goals of our basic movement.
The efficiency of martial art techniques can be measured by the result we are obtaining after setting the goal of our manoeuvre. Stylization and standardisation can become a trap for you. Winning a “kata” by using stylization is a delusion. Your movement is maybe acrobatic but not efficient. Doing a grading using stylization and standardisation is a delusion and gives a signal you don’t understand what you are doing.
It is important from the beginning to start a body movement correctly. Ishiki or consciousness and awareness are necessary to develop efficient patterns.
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.

Not all the knowledge can be written in books or taped on video clips.

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. For example, that Tokyo is in Japan is a piece of explicit knowledge that can be written down, transmitted, and understood by everybody. However, the ability to speak Japanese need also interaction with a person. There is non-verbal communication and this will be learned during conversation lessons.
Martial arts belong to the category with non verbal knowledge. This knowledge will be transferred by the teacher during one to one training. Taikan or bodily sensation is one of the secrets.

Bodywork in Tomiki Aikido

Bodywork existed in the original Tomiki Aikido and included solo & partner exercises. The use of the body was extensively explored in these exercises. Of course studying these exercises is time-consuming and if the focus is solely (for university students) on competition much of the knowledge will not be taught.

Central Body Axis or Seichusen

Central body axis or seichusen

Aikido claims to be a circular method and even Kenji Tomiki made a point of it in his book “Goshin Jutsu”.







Central Line






turning axis

Circular movement such as twisting & untwisting is one of the motive forces for the whole body movement. To understand and feel correct circular movement you have to know and feel the central body axis or seichusen.

The advantages of circular movements

1.An easier transition from one technique to another as the completion of one technique would blend into the one that follows. In other words, a series of movements can be made without stopping between the movements.

2. A whip like motion like gyaku gamae ate could generate a lot of speed and a great impact as it hits a target.


A fundamental item in training martial arts is the control of seichusen, the axis of the body. As the definition of this term varies from school to school, let’s just consider here the vertical line from the top of the head which passes by the middle of your body, to the floor. (see pictures)

Seichusen is a virtual line and can only be understood by experience.
The classic interpretation would be that one considers that two standing people are equally centered. Yet even in neutral position, everyone has tensions that unbalance his body, even if it is stable and its column is vertical, the seichusen can be not correct. It is something that one learns to feel in oneself and to see in others.
When a person has a better seichusen than his opponent it becomes very easy for him to act. On the other hand, with a bad seichusen, even though the form will look the same to an untrained look, the technique will rely on muscular power, speed, etc …

Developing one’s seichusen is a fundamental practice.

Central body axis exercise

Keep the shoulder line, don’t use actively hip joints and don’t use the knees.
The turning of the central body (shoulder line and waist) creates tension in the abdomen. By releasing tension, the stored power can be used to generate spiral power. This will be discussed with “tenshikei”.
Keep your attention to the feeling of the central body axis, later you can use this feeling in other exercises and techniques.

central axis


Kyokotsu – sternum control

Kyokotsu – 胸骨 = sternum
胸 mune = chest
骨 hone = bone

Hino’s Budo Theory opened my eyes to improve my movements, especially the basics in Tomiki Aikido (unsoku-ho, tandoku undo tegatana dosa, sotai dosa……….)

It is a misunderstanding to label Tomiki Aikido as only competition. There is more…..

rolling tanden01

Kyokotsu – Control Centre of the human spine

tensegrity modelThe spine plays an extremely important role in our body as it supports the upper body’s weight, provides posture while allowing for movement and flexibility, and protects the spinal cord.
The muscles attached to the spine are very strong and are used to generate efficient body movement with the help of the arms and/or legs.
Controlling the muscles attached to the spine is not an easy task.

“Use the spine but don’t think about the spine.”

In our bodywork we are using “kyokotsu” as a control centre of the spine. If our attention is to the spine, the spine muscles becomes tensed and our body will act rigid.

Relationship between elbow and kyokotsu

The freedom of the arm is in direct proportion to the use of the elbow. The elbow is controlled by the kyokotsu.
When the kyokotsu moves backwards, the arms will move forward due the activation of the back and shoulder muscles.
The elbow will give direction to the hand when the back and shoulder muscles are activated. To create an efficient movement guided by the elbow a “pattern” must be created in the mind which can be used by the unconscious mind.
Putting the mind on the “specific point” of the elbow will greatly improve the efficiency of using the arm and hand.

Our skeleton is build in 3 sections, one of them is the upper axial skeleton. Some info you can find under “power management”.

Why is it important to put your mind on the elbow?
The movement of the kyokotsu is connected to the elbow due the movement of the back and shoulder muscles. When turning the shoulder line, in normal cases the elbow will follow the shoulder line rotation. By putting the mind on the specific point of the elbow we can direct the elbow in a straight line to the target.

In Atemi* Waza the elbow is often used to give direction to reach the target.
On the other hand the target is not always the face or the stomach, but it is also possible targeting by gripping the opponent’s wrist , shoulder or other joint.

* Atemi is a general term in martial arts or Budo/Bujutsu to describe the techniques for punching, thrusting, striking, kicking,…aimed at critical areas of the body.

Kyokotsu exercises

When working with kyokotsu and koshi, it is advised not to focus on koshi but focusing on kyokotsu.
Why? When you focus on koshi you will have tension on the muscles of the koshi area. This will disturb the concept of yukozo and the result is a lesser mobility and flexibility.

There are 3 kind of kyokotsu movements to practise

1. front and back
2. up and down
3. figure 8

kyokotsu in-out

Forward and back

Push the kyokotsu forward without changing the position of the shoulders. Thereafter move the kyokotsu backwards.
Be careful not to use the shoulders.
Pulling in the kyokotsu is not done by pulling in the stomach muscles!

Keep the abdomen in a relaxed way.
When doing the exercise correctly, the pelvis will start to move, but don’t put too much attention to it, the pelvis movement is the result of the kyokotsu movement.

Up and down
Push the line between the nipples up. This will stretch the sides of the body. You will feel this on waist level. Lower the sides of the torso.
During the up and down movement, the elbows are moving up and down by the movement of the central body. The pelvis is not moving up, it serves as an anchor from which the upward stretch is done. Visualize your are pulling up and pushing up the kyokotsu.

up & down kyokotsu 01

Figure 8

The movement of both elbows are simultaneous and rotate on the central body axis, like a figure 8 around the kyokotsu.

3d figure 8
When turning the shoulder-line, stretch the body up, turn back and pull in the kyokotsu, stretch the body up……….

tenshikei solo exercise

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

Sotai Renshu

Paired exercises

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


The eyes are the windows of the mind.

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

(from Conversations with Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda).

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

This advice is for tori and uke

the eyes

(Picture from Goshin Jutsu by Kenji Tomiki)


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

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

Basic Tomiki Aikido Sotai Renshu (paired training)

Tegatana awase

Shotei awase

Old style Sotai dosa – included tenkai waza

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

Nigiri gaeshi – taking over the grip

Training make wonders

old pictures shizuoka shihan

1976 – Shizuoka City
Korindo Ryu Dojo

“You don’t have the skill to understand me” Hakamatsu Shihan

Korindo Shizuoka kopie

How to become skilful?

I realize that there will be no end to my training to become skilful. The interesting part is “the way” to become skillful. It is not a large “boulevard”, no it is a road along small squares, interesting people and much to fall and get up.

Don’t take falling down too literally…….

Every time I come across interesting people, I try to listen to them in an empty mind. The goal of this empty mind is to absorb as much as it can. That information has to become a part of my body………

Improving our aikido by practising and understanding the language of our body

When we do not improve something, it tends to degenerate and worsen as time progresses.

Therefore, I firmly believe that it is up to us to try to understand the many exercises and their objectives. Unfortunately, the creators have already left us a long time ago and only a few written documents or movies, mostly bad quality, are available or were left behind. This means that we must rely on our intuition and understanding of our anatomy and kinesiology to discover the wisdom and true teaching hidden within the exercises.