Author: Eddy Wolput °1948 – 7th dan Aikido (JAA-Tokyo/Japan) – 5th dan Iaido – 5th dan Jodo
Some of the material in this study is not directly related to the Japan Aikido Association (NPO) program or the Shodokan approach. Additional martial arts are incorporated into this study. This interpretation of the 5 basic movements as taught by Kenji Tomiki just after Worldwar2 is mine. If you have an alternative interpretation, do not hesitate to publish it.
The Principles and Practice of Aikido – Senta Yamada
“There are five basic handblade moves which should be practiced with either hand.”
5 Tegatana Movements
The 5 basic “tegatana” movements are used in tandoku-undo (solo exercises also called tegatana-dosa.
Many versions of tandoku undo tegatana-dosa are created in the history of Tomiki Aikido. Some of the versions are very circular, other are more straight.
Tegatana no godosa
Kenji Tomiki incorporated the 5 tegatana-dosa as the basic movements of the hands and/or arms in solo exercises as well as in pairs. It is said that 5 tegatana-dosa are a natural movement and easy to learn. Unfortunately, the body does not always move the most effectively. We must reprogram our subconscious, the place in our brain where our motions are stored.
The arm and hand movements are always directed by the hara (koshi, tanden, yobu and mata). Without the hara, the movements will depend on the local muscle power or will be perceived as an empty act.
The 5 tegatana no godosa are not privileged to Tomiki Aikido. Other martial arts, with or without a weapon have similar concepts and most of them rely on the strength of Hara.
The mechanism of 5-tegatana-dosa
The perception of tegatana-dosa may be regarded as an action of the arm and hand. The mechanism may be described without giving details about the other body part. The driving force obviously comes from other areas of the body. The strength at the end of the target, in many cases called “tegatana” is not produced by the contraction of the muscles of the shoulder and arms. The muscles, in particular around the root, remain flexible but firm without contraction.
When we consider mainly the physical actions of the arm and hand, we can divide the movement segment action in 3 parts:
- shoulder or root: source of force for movements
- elbow: transfer of force
- target connection or the hand: end of the line of force or the point of transfer into the opponent
This segmentation can also applied to the hand’s action
- Wrist: the root or source
- Palm: the transfer
- Fingers or edge of hand: the target connection
A movement can be practised as an isolated action, but in general a combination is used. The whole body is used to perform an efficient transfer of force into the target.
Rotational motions of the body are important in Aikido. Rotation uses an axis, but body flexion uses an axis as well. Bending the body is to be avoided during training. However, certain movements require a certain amount of flexion.
The angle of bending is limited. When bending forward, other bodyparts can make the bending deeper.
There are 3 kinds of rotation in the case of tegatana no godosa:
- Rotation around the central body axis
- Rotation around the longitudal axis of the arm
- Diagonal rotation by using the skill of kyokotsu or the upper body centre
Rotation around central body axis
Rotation around the central body axis.
Rotation happens only at shoulder and waist level.
Hips, legs, knees and feet are not an active part of the rotation.
Body rotation creates forces
Rotation around the central axis creates arm sweeping action.
Rotation around the longituadal axis of the arm
Rotation around the axis of the arm – creates an arm turn
The tandoku-undo Uchi/Soto gaeshi is an application of arm rotation that is the predominant factor. You will also notice an arm sweep action coming from a body rotation around the central axis.
Moving kyokotsu to the side while turning the upperbody. Don’t lift the shoulder. Moving kyokotsu produces a diagonal stretch from the hip to the opposite armpit.
This movement enforces the power of tenshikei when you release the stretch.
From the use of the rotate the body enters a state of tension. The tendons and the fascia are charged across the tension. By loosening the tension, the force can be directed at the arm. The shoulder becomes the root, the elbow the transfer and the hand is the target connector.
- Jodan no gamae:
- the diagonal tension line passes from the rear foot through the knee to the hip (groin).
- from the hip (groin), the tension passes the tanden to the opposite shoulder.
- from the shoulder, the tension passes the elbow to the hand (tegatana)
- Gedan no gamae: the tension passes the same hotspots as with the jodan no gamae.
- When adopting jigotai, the same principles to create tension can be applied.
Tension lines and rotation
With these movements, there is no contractive force involved. There is a diagonal stretching. Releasing the tension and body rotation creates power in the tegatana.
This mechanism can be applied where diagonal power is needed.
From Judo and Aikido by Kenji Tomiki
Jigotai (self-defensive posture) is the attiude with the feet opened widely apart, the knees bent and the upper part of the body lowered. When the right foot is put forward, the posture is called migig jigotai (right self-defensive posture); when the left foot is put forward, the hidari jigotai (left self-defensive posture).
Fumiaki Shishida JAA-Shihan adopting Jigotai during throwing technique.
Mabu (Chinese) or Maho (Japanese) are similar names for Jigotai. Mabu is used in many Chinese martial arts as a tool to improve the skill of rooting. The effect of rooting is mentioned in the “Jigotai” remark of Kenji Tomiki: the upper part of the body lowered. Lowering the upper part is possible when the hara can sink into the legs. If you have the skill of rooting, you can perform this while you are standing in shizentai or natural posture.
Practising 5 Basic Tegatana-dosa
- Uchi mawashi – Inside arm sweep – The cutting edge of the hand is leading the movement in the direction of the target.
- Soto mawashi – Outside arm sweep – The cutting edge of the hand is leading the movement in the direction of the target.
- Uchi gaeshi – Inside arm turn – palm outside and leaded by the tumb
- Soto gaesi – Outside arm turn- palm inside up and leaded by the pink or little finger.
- O mawashi – Big sweep- A combination of sweeping arm movement with a rotation of the arm and hand.
Don’t confuse the following exercises with the wellknown tandoku-undo tegatana dosa. In the tandoku-undo exercises, you will find the 5 basic tegatana-dosa performed in different stepping patterns.
We can practise 5 basic tegatana-dosa as isolated exercises to create the combined skill of using arm movement with waist movement. By using jigotai posture, we build up leg power usefull as power source during stepping exercises (tandoku undo – tegatana dosa)
Kenji Tomiki performing a Tandoku Undo movement.
Using a hidari-jigotai posture.
- First we start from jigotai posture and perform uchi-mawashi, soto-mawashi, uchi-gaeshi and soto gaeshi.
- Thereafter, hidari-jigotai and migi-jigotai is used to perform 5-tegatana no godosa.
- Thereafter perform 5-tegatana no godosa form hidari- and migi-shizentai.
- Finally, you can perform a stepping version from hidari- and migi-shizentai
Kenji Tomiki attached great importance to the study of basic postures – jodan no gamae, chudan no gamae and gedan no gamae. These are incorporated into an exercise – shomen uchi and shomen tsuki.
Jigotai posture – Uchi mawashi
Main movement is “uchi mawashi” using the turning of the waist.
Jigotai posture – Soto mawashi
Main movement is “soto mawashi” using the turning of the waist.
This exercise can be explained as a “kesa giri” exercise.
Jigotai posture – Uchi/Soto Gaeshi Katate
Main movements are Uchi Gaeshi and Soto Gaeshi
Jigotai posture – Uchi/Soto Gaeshi Ryote
Using both hands
Main source of the movements is the hara (koshi, tanden)
Forward Jigotai posture – Uchi mawashi – Soto mawashi
The distance between the 2 feet is about 2x the width of the shoulders.
Forward Jigotai posture – Uchi gaeshi – Soto gaeshi – Katate
The rotation of the body pushes the arm formard. Returning to neutrtal is used for the pulling back of the arm. The elbow is not activily used.
Forward Jigotai posture – Uchi gaeshi – Soto gaeshi – Ryote
The 2-hand method is a big movement exercise and includes a dropping power movement.
Forward Jigotai posture – O mawashi
During this exercise, the turning of the hand arond the longitudal axis, is an extra challenge in the coordination between body rotation and hand/arm rotation.
Forward Jigotai posture – Shomen uchi – Shomen tsuki
The 3 basic postures are used in this exercise. The shomen-uchi attack is almost a trademark of aikido.
Shomen uchi & tsuki & 5 tegatana godosa
Body weight shift
A moving body has 3 main methods to generate force:
- Taïjū no idō – using footwork
- Taïjū no dendō – using body weight
- Tenshikei – diagonal tension
Some explanation was given in the previous paragraphs. But we didn’t gave attention to body weight shift. This can be explained in 2 basic methods.
- First, there is the stepping method: ayumi-ashi and tsugi-ashi are the most basic.
- Body weight shift is basically shifting the weight from one foot to another.
The 3 methods can of course be used in a combination format.
The body weight shift will be a study on his own.