Stepping out of the box
Years ago, my children made the remark: “What is the purpose of doing tandoku undo (unsoku and tegatana dosa) always in the same way for years and years like a robot?”
Gitte and Tim were both World-Champion Tanto Randori in 2005. At the center is prof. Fumiaki Shishida.
This question caused me to reflect on the advantages of practicing the “tandoku undo”. It was always said, by doing tandoku undo my Aikido will improve. So, I did some research in the field of martial arts solo-training. I got some experiences of my time doing karate. Several years later, I was exposed to Korindo-Ryu’s solo exercises. Tandoku-renshu or solo practice is also part of Jodo and certainly a main part of Iaido. I learned from one of my Jodo and Iaido’s teachers about the importance of “understanding”.
To return to the initial question about Tandoku-undo from my children, the answer came as a shock.
If we do the exercises with belief by doing it often and many rehearsals, it is an illusion that we will progress.
By practicing the exercises with an understanding of the mental and physical level, progress will come stage by stage. Sometimes the progress will be large as an explosion, but most of the time it will be minor and will occur only after practicing regularly with understanding.
Human behavior (mental and physical) can only progress in a positive direction when we get out of the box full of dogmas. Dogmas are created to keep people foolish and ignorant about evolution.
The concept: Tandoku Undo
Teruo Fujiwara on Tandoku Undo or Yawara Taiso (Judo exercises).
The time when I studied under Tomiki-shihan in 1956-1958 is called ‘the age of Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso). The main ways of moving the body and hands were picked from Aiki skills, then simplified and abstracted and organized as exercise forms, called ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso). The plan of making ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso) was that by doing them repeatedly, we can learn Aiki as if we learned hundreds of thousands of skills which can benefit our bodies in a positive fashion. . ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso) is the valuable legacy of Tomiki-sensei.
Simplified and abstracted
The significance of “simplified and abstract” can be described as a method of exercises which can be used in different situations. We should be able to detach a fixed application derived from performing a tandoku undo exercise. The implementation of tandoku undo in our training must create the gate of “creativity”. By using “creativity” we are able to deal with a different situation.
Movement memory – 2 phases
According to Science, learning a body skill is a two-step process. Mostly, the term Muscle Memory is used, we cannot assume that this search is only built around “Muscles”. The whole movement system is integrated into the research. We can talk about muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, neurons………. and our brain.
- Muscle memory encoding
- Muscle memory consolidation
The coding of information in the brain in Phase 1 is well documented by Science. The coded information has to be transferred to another part of the brain during Phase 2. The transfer of coded information has also been investigated by Science, but Science still does not know where the information is stored. How the transfer occurs is also a source of speculation among the various interpretations.
Bridge between Science and practical use of Martial Art Exercises
Movement Memory is a real thing and is not a fantasy used by people to earn some money by promising unrealistic skills. The bridge between science and the practical use of martial arts exercises (randori & Goshin-ho) resides in how we organize our training. The purpose of the training is to activate the movement memory in an efficient way.
Tandoku-renshu (solo-training) and sotai-renshu (paired training) include both the same body movement skills. Those skills are centered around:
- Body structure (shizentai)
- Methods of using gravity as the power source
- Body weight shift (taiju no dendo)
- Body weight displacement (taiju no ido)
- Coiling movement (tenshikei)
Tandoku renshu and Koryu no Kata
“The main ways of moving the body and hands were picked from Aiki skills, then simplified and abstracted and organized as exercise forms, called ‘Judo Exercise’ (1954 – Yawara Taiso).“
This is a remark on Judo Taiso (Tandoku Undo and Sotai Renshu) by Teruo Fujiwara, an early Tomiki student. In those days, Koryu no kata did not exist as a formal exercise. Students practised most basic waza and exercises. Some classical waza have been used to demonstrate the capabilities of Aikido as an art of self-defense (martial art). It was also during this period that Kododokan Goshin Jitsu was introduced. Kenji Tomiki was the first public demonstrator of this kata. You will find his demo on YouTube.
Creation of Koryu no kata
In about 1958, we practiced mainly the unsoku, tandoku undo, yonhon no kuzushi (the original version of the present nanahon no kuzushi) as well as the jugohon no kata (fifteen technique kata). In around 1960, the junanahon no kata (17 technique basic kata) and the roppon no kuzushi were created and then the dai-san no kata was devised as a kata of classical techniques. During the mid-60 Ohba Sensei and others worked on the creation of the kata forms of the dai-ichi (first) to dai-roku (sixth), which we presently practice as the koryu no kata, in order to work on techniques for demonstrations and for purposes other than randori. What Ohba Sensei particularly stressed in formulating these kata was the organization of different techniques in such a way that students could learn connections between techniques easily and naturally. After he had organized the techniques to some extent, Ohba Sensei reported to Tomiki Sensei and demonstrated what he had done for him. He received some advice from Tomiki Sensei and then added corrections to the kata. (“Bujin Hideo Ohba,” Kyogi Aikido Soseiki no Ayumi; Ohba Hideo Sensei o Shinobu, p. 67)
A tangle of movements
The source of Koryu no kata is mainly on the art of Morihei Ueshiba, especially the pre-war training methods. In the original Tandoku Undo, there are more body moves to explore than in the modern version of the Japan Aikido Association and the Nariyama Shodokan Method (Osaka). Unfortunately, when researching older versions of Tandoku Undo, the first challenge is the myriad of different movements. The use of all these Aiki-skills in a logical order without loss of effectiveness is the next difficulty. There are a number of successful and unsuccessful attempts in the history of Tomiki Aikido.
According to Teruo Fujiwara the original Tandoku Undo can be described as follows:
Tegatana soho in Yawara Taiso
Tegatana sosaho or handcontrol exercises
Tegatana soho 1 : Kihon no kamae – Fundamental posture, power is concentrated in tegatana
Tegatana soho 2 : Uchi mawashi – Inside sweep
Tegatana soho 3 : Soto mawashi – outside sweep
Tegatana soho 4 : Uchi gaeshi – soto gaeshi – Inside turn and outside turn
Tegatana soho 5 : Uchi mawashi tentai – Inside sweep with forward turning (demawari)
Tegatana soho 6 : Soto mawashi tentai – Outside sweep with backward turning (hikimawari)
Tegatana soho 7 : Ko mawashi – Compact method of tegatana soho 2 and 3
Tegatana soho 8 : O mawashi – Big turning forward and backward
A young Senta Yamada demo of Tandoku Undo Tegatana Dosa
Kihon no kamae
Uchi gaeshi/soto gaeshi
Uchi mawashi tentai
Soto mawashi tentai
In the next videoclip, Kenji Tomiki is performing an early version of “Tandoku Undo Uchi gaeshi/Soto gaeshi”. It is not very clear if Tomiki is performing an arm twist (inside and outside), or is he just swinging his arm forward and sideways. In the Yamada clip, there is an impression of a more clearer arm twist.
From the Early Tomiki Movie around 1950
Uchi gaeshi & Soto gaeshi
Back to the future
Can we recognize “the main ways of moving the body and hands” in koryu no kata, as the simplified and abstracted movements found in Tandoku Undo?
There are some videoclips of Kenji Tomiki performing old style aikido (koryu). Unfortunately, his movements are not very clear and give no clues how to move the body in a more efficient way. The performance of Senta Yamada demonstrating old style aikido gives a better impression. His movements are much closer to the movements of Hideo Ohba.
Ohba’s movements gives the impression of a loss of body structure. Tomiki and Yamada are showing a much better control of the body structure. But, on the other hand , Ohba’s seems to use more taiju-no-ido skill, using momentum to control uke’s body. Circular movements are frequently used in koryu-no-kata.
An example by Kenji Tomiki – Kote Mawashi
It seems Tomiki uses taiju-no-dendo of bodyweight transfer to control Uke. Koshi movement is a part of this body control.
An example by Senta Yamada – Kote Mawashi
Senta Yamada use his structure to control Uke. There is no unneccesary movement.
An example by Hideo Ohba – Kote mawashi
Hideo Ohba gives the impression to use shoulder power to control his Uke.
Another example by Hideo Ohba
Taiju-no-dendo or bodyweight shift is a part of controlling Uke
The key to success lies in your creativity.
I learned about Tomiki Aikido at the end of the seventies of the last century. I was taught unsoku and tandoku undo by Dr Lee ah Loi. Most of the time, this was the modern version of JAA, but there was an influence of Senta Yamada. Whereas the JAA version is a fairly straight version, the influence of Senta Yamada is circular.
Another important person for my footsteps on the way to Tomiki Aikido is Itsuo Haba. He taught me some basics for randori, but also something about the effectiveness of gentleness in body movements.
After more than 40 years of Tomiki Aikido, it is a natural evolution, my Tandoku Undo, Kihon Waza and Koryu no kata are “not” the same as of Tomiki or Ohba. Of course you will find influences of many instructors, wellknown or not, but at the end it is my Tandoku undo. Maybe it looks like Tomiki Aikido…..maybe……