Opening/closing the armpit

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

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

Controlling “kyokotsu” or “sternum”

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

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

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

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


Straight line and koshi mawari

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

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

To resume, we can point out:

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

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

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

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

How to push the stick forward?

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

How to receive the incoming stick?

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

Relationship with compatible martial arts

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

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

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

Kokyu ryoku as a result of Taijū no dendō

taïjū = body weight – dendō = transmission, conduction

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

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

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

Aikido: Tradition and Competitive Edge

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

Don’t Think, Listen to the Body

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

An introduction into the practical use of opposing isometric tension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First step in studying Taijū no dendō

Moving body weight

Body weight can move in 3 ways

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

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

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

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

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

Second step

Ayumi ashi

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

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

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

Repeat this walking several times.

Third step

Tandoku undo (static exercise)

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

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

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

Fourth step

Tandoku undo (dynamic exercises)

Combining stepping and basic tegatana movements.

There are basically 2 methods of stepping:

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

Shomen uchi with tsugi ashi

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

Fifth step

Sotai dosa

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

How to use Taijū no dendō?

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

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

Taijū no dendō gedan

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

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

Taijū no ido & Taijū no dendō

Workshop 14-16 February 2020

This workshop was build around basic aikido movements and the overlapping elements of different methods of aikido.

  • Solo training: warming up, unsoku ho and tandoku undo
  • Partner training: 7-hon no kuzushi – using the central line or seichusen
  • Partner training: 2 aspects of tekubi waza – hineri & gaeshi
  • Taijū no ido & Taijū no dendō or “using body weight”

Solo training is discussed in another blog-post.

Displacement & transmission

  • The displacement of the body weight is when we move in such a way that we shift its center of gravity. Strictly speaking, the displacement of the body weight consists in moving by making of its body a single block. For example, moving forwards, or backwards, by being a solid block.
  • The transmission of the body weight is the action of putting the weight  into the opponent without giving access to the own center. For example when one is grasped at the wrist, use this point of contact to transfer body weight to another. It is not pushing or pulling! By performing tenshikei, an internal line of movement (運動線, undō-sen” is created, this internal line of movement is needed to be able to do body weight transmission without body displacement. The power of this transmission is called “Ido-ryoku”.

Although it seems these concepts (taïjū no idō and taïjū no dendō) are separed items, the thruth is different. Both items are interwinded and cannot be separated.

Ido-ryoku

Ido-ryoku is basically a kind of “power transfer” generated by using taïjū no idō and taïjū no dendō *. Both methods are using a different method to create power transfer into opponent’s body.

There are 2 kinds of ido-ryoku in martial arts

  • long power – usually to throw an opponent
  • short power – usually to create a shock into the body

*taïjū = body weight, idō = movement, dendō = transmission, conduction

Taijū no ido

Taijū no idō or body weight shift creates “power transfer” in the body of opponent by displacement of the body. There are different methods for causing power transfer. Those methods can be used indepentent or as a merged method.

  • Ashi no korobi can be translated as “rolling feet” and uses gravity as a source of power.
  • Tsugi ashi or short step displacement by using gravity and isometric opposing force.
  • Tenshikei can be translated as rotational power and generated by external movements. For example de-mawari & hiki-mawari.

Taijū no idō need distance to create power transfer, if it is not possible to use external distance, creating internal distance is a solution. In this case we can speak of merging Taijū no idō & Taijū no dendō.

Tenshikei

One of the important elements of Tenshikei is the possibility to create a distance inside the body by utilizing the entire body. Generally, power transfer is thought to be increased by using a distance between the body and the object. However a distance can also be created inside the body. Twisting inside the body is creating distance and tension. By untwisting, the stored power is released. Using the skill of rendo (linking movements), the power can be guided to the arms or legs. Of course this is a very simplified explanation for a complex body action. It takes several hours of training to internalize the linking process of the different body movements.

Example

Opponent is grasping wrist. Without moving the feet, create some space by a diagonal stretch.

Taijū no dendō

Taijū no dendō or body weight transmission (body weight conduction) is a skill to transfer power into the opponent by using body weight and gravity.

Example

When opponent is grabbingr at the wrist, opponent is using power to push, pull or grab strongly. Don’t fight the power, but accept by using a flexible body (jukozo) and let the power goes into the back leg when there is a push, or into the front leg when there is a pull. Eventually you need to use ayumi ashi (stepping) of tsugi ashi (shuffle) to adjust the correct posture.

When the power goes through the body and reach the floor at the end of the leg, there is a rebound. When the body weight is going down by the push or pull, the rebound of the power will reach the opponent with the help of the body weight.

Body weight act as a tool to transfer power coming from opponent but also from gravity. The body joints, especially the knee joints are not activily bended, but are flexed and straightened by using the rebound and the added power of the body weight (gravity).

Compilation of workshop 14-16 Feb 2020

This compilation is covering some topics of the 6 hrs workshop.