written and/or compiled by Eddy Wolput °1948 – 7th dan Aikido (JAA-Tokyo/Japan) – 5th dan Iaido – 5th dan Jodo. Part of the material in this article is not directly linked to the Japan Aikido Association (NPO) program or Shodokan approach. Other concepts are incorporated into the study of the subject presented.
There is an interesting aspect on the integration of koshi -mawari in our martial art movements. The range of our movements becomes greater when integrating koshi-mawari.
The skill of koshi-mawari is defined by 3 major aspect:
use of chidori-ashi
vertical turning of koshi
horizontal turning of koshi
There are more aspect in koshi-mawari, but lets keep it simple, if this is possible, and only discuss the 3 major aspects to make the range of the movement greater. Making the range greater is not performed by overstretching the arm, or leaning into the direction of the target. The vertical and horizontal turning of the koshi has a dramatically increase of the range.
By using a sword the range of a cut can be visually presented.
Kiri-oroshi – a vertical cut with the sword
This is “kiri-oroshi” or vertical cut. Of course each “style” has a special flavour, but in general most of the cutting is according this method. Mostly, the head of opponent is the target. If the cut is lower, there is the possibility to cut the wrist or other target.
Chudan no kamae with vertical koshi-mawari
When talking about koshi-mawari, mostly a horizontal turn is considered. Vertical turn of the koshi is more difficult to perform and need a lot of training. The example here is of course a little exaggerated, but it expressed visually the vertical turn of the koshi.
Remark also, there is no change in the position of the sword when performing the vertical turn.
From chidori-ashi to shumoku-ashi
Adopting chidori-ashi no kamae with vertical koshi turning, and again some exaggeration to illustrate the vertical turn.
From chidori-ashi to shumoku-ashi, the range becomes greater. The supplemental range is about the size of the sword part for kiri-oroshi to the target (head).
Koshi-mawari is using a horizontal & verical turn of the koshi.
Integration koshi-mawari in kiri-oroshi
Performing kiri-oroshi while using koshi-mawari (horizontal & vertical turn of koshi) will greatly improve the range, but also an improvement in power generation by using a full body concept.
Tai-jutsu and koshi mawari
Using koshi-mawari (horizontal & vertical turn of koshi) when performing tai-jutsu (unarmed techniques) will have the same effect as the use of koshi-mawari during armed techniques (sword, spear or stick).
The main ways of moving the body and hands were picked from Aiki skills, then simplified and abstracted and organized as the exercise forms.
In the Tomiki system, the use of solo-exercises and paired exercises are incorporated into the training method. Originally it was called Judo Taiso or Yawara Taiso and the purpose was to introduce judo students to Aiki-arts.
It was Senta Yamada who brought Judo Taiso/Yawara Taiso to the UK in the late 50-ties/early 60-ties. Most of his teaching are forgotten due to the focus too much on the sporting side of Tomiki Aikidō. Nevertheless, Judo Taiso is very valuable to understand Koryu no kata.
The creation of “Judo Taiso” (Judo Gymnastics)
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 the exercise forms. These forms are ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso). The plan of making ‘Judo Exercise’ (Yawara Taiso) is 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.
Around 1950-1952, Kenji Tomiki developed a training-system for the many aiki-jutsu techniques. It was called judo taiso or judo gymnastics. This training-system was created according to the judo principles, (Judo Taiso 1954 by Kenji Tomiki) and includes 11 solo exercises (Tandoku Undo) and 8 partner exercises (Sotai Undo)
What is Judo Taiso?
Judo taiso is a modern gymnastic training-system to learn atemi waza (striking techniques) and kansetsu waza (joint techniques). These fundamental movements are the expression of the power and rhythm in atemi waza and kansetsu waza.
Tandoku Undo are exercises to develop good posture and balance. Judo principle shizentai-no–ri (principle of natural posture) is clearly expressed in these exercises. The use of the handblade is a reflection of the many aiki-jutsu atemi-waza and kansetsu-waza learned from Morihei Ueshiba.
Tegatana soho 1 : Kihon no kamae – Fundamental posture, power is concentrated in tegatana (1)
Tegatana soho 7 : Ko mawashi – Compact method of tegatana soho 2 and 3 (16)
Tegatana soho 8 : O mawashi – Big turning forward and backward (17-22)
List provided by Senta Yamada
Sotai undo – 8 partner exercises
In paired exercises the primary concept is the relationship with the partner/opponent and the way of controlling the partner/opponent by using the different tegatana-soho.
Aigamae or regular facing posture
Gyaku gamae or reverse facing posture
Hineri or inward turning of partner/opponent body (or body part)
Gaeshi or outward turning of partner/opponent body (or body part)
Grip to wrist (*)
Movement of tegatana
Ai gamae ude hineri
Gyaku gamae ude hineri
Ai gamae ude gaeshi
Gyaku gamae ude gaeshi
Ai gamae tenkai ude hineri
Soto mawashi tenkai
Gyaku gamae tenkai ude hineri
Uchi mawashi tenkai
Ai gamae tenkai ude gaeshi
Uchi mawashi tenkai
Gyaku gamae tenkai ude gaeshi
Soto mawashi tenkai
* Omote dori : grip to wrist on inside – Ura dori : grip to wrist on outside
Koshi-mawari and sotai dosa
Koshi-mawari is in general translated as turning the hips. From previous posts we know this is not correct. Koshi-mawari is a very complex way of moving with the lower torso. Koshi-mawari can be considered as the movement of a ball (kyūten*)
Kyūten – 球転 Ball rolling, ball rotation
In Chinese martial arts, the concept of Dantian and Chan Si Gong (silk reeling exercises) is related to kyūten and tenshi & tenshikei.
The originals by Kenji Tomiki for this sotai dosa (1), give no indication of a focus on Koshi-mawari. When watching the performance of Senta Yamada, an early disciple of Kenji Tomiki and Morihei Ueshiba, we can see some indications of using koshi. There are many examples of Yamada sensei, where he is using koshi-mawari. Unfortunately he did fail to explain how to perform “koshi-mawari”.
2- Gyaku-gamae ude hineri
From “Judo Taiso” book
In Tomiki’s original from the movie, we can see how he is using chidori-ash and the associated koshi-mawari.
3- Ai-gamae ude gaeshi
From “Judo Taiso” book
4- Gyaku-gamae ude gaeshi
From “Judo Taiso” book
5- Ai gamae tenkai ude hineri
From “Judo Taiso” book
6- Gyaku gamae tenkai ude hineri
From “Judo Taiso” book
7- Ai gamae tenkai ude gaeshi
From “Judo Taiso” book
8- Gyaku gamae tenkai ude gaeshi
From “Judo Taiso” book
Extra Kihon developped by Kenji Tomiki
In Tomiki’s early movie, under the chapter “kihon-waza” he demonstrated 4 extra kihon-waza.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Solo-training is an integral part of martial art training. The difficulty is the absence of the instructor or coach to encourage you. Most people have always an excuse for not doing solo-training during their spare time.
Personal solo-training can be practised any free-time and can give you a lot of benefits.
Benefits of solo-training
Solo-training is your personal tool to create skills usefull during dojo-training. You can use exercises dvelopped by yourself or you can use syllabus items supplemented with your ideas. Of course beginners start better with the syllabus basic solo-exercises. During dojo-training, your coach or instructor will help you with problems and difficulties.
An important benefit of solo-training, you can choose yourself which movement you like to improve.
Solo-training during your spare time is not dependent on the opening hours of the dojo. You only need some space were you can practise your solo-exercises.
Only you are responsable for your practise time.
There are numerous versions of warming-up. If you just want to do some exercises to change from a sedentary moment to a more dynamic moment, warming-up will focus on moving major body joints. Some teachers even say there is no warming-up needed, because Budo movements can be used for warming-up.
A simple method for a short warming-up
Turning of the knees and ankles. For example 10x left and right.
Turning the hips horizontally. For example 10x left and right.
Bend knees and keep together.Turning the waist left & right 20X
Unsoku-ho in Tomiki Aikido is based upon Judo foot movements. When you only practise these patterns, you will find out the restrictive character of these judo foot movements pattern.
Organising another unsoku-ho for a more traditional aikido practise includes turning actions generated by turning “hara” movements.
Extended unsoku-ho can be included into basic tandoku undo.
Ashi no korobi (rolling feet)
Tsugi Ashi (short distance)
Ayumi ashi (stepping)
De-mawari (forward turning step)
Hiki-mawari (backward turning step)
Tentai (180° turning without stepping)
Almost every Aikido group has some kind of solo-training and Tomiki Aikido is no exception. Tomiki Aikido tandoku undo will vary according the organisations syllabus. As beginner you just stick to the syllabus.
Tomiki Aikido Tandoku undo is created around 3 kind of basic movements already discussed earlier.
Uchi & tsuki waza: striking movements
Tegatana Go-dosa: 5 handblade movements
Unsoku-ho: foot patterns
Athough there is a certain sequence in the solo-training, you don’t have to practise the exercises as prediscribed by the syllabus. If you find out you need some time fo improve a certain skill, you can practise only those exercises which include the pattern of the skill.
In his book “Don’t think, listen to the body”, Akira Hino discussed the skill of Hakkei (instant or explosive power). To perform such a skill, the sensation line of Rendo is needed. In fact to actualize a technique, a precise line of sensation is needed. To create such a line, a precise understanding of fundamentals is needed. This is not about techniques or so called basic principles as for example “kuzushi”.
Kuzushi is called balance breaking or balance disturbing and is the result of fundamental actions of moving the body. So, kuzushi is not a fundamental element but rather a basic manipulation action to create a successful technique (kihon waza).
Taijū no ido & Taijū no dendō
It is possible by using martial techniques to identify certain yōso (fundamental elements), such as the displacement of the body weight or transmission of the body weight. (体重 の 移動, taïjū no idō, body weight shift and 体重の伝導, taïjū no dendō, body weight transmission).
The displacement of the body weight (body weight shift) is when we move in such a way that we shift its center of gravity and the transmission of the body weight is an advanced use of the displacement of the body weight which allows to use the weight of the body to the other without giving access to the opponent. Strictly speaking, the displacement of the body weight consists of moving by making of its body a single block. For example, moving forwards, or backwards, by being a solid block. The use of gravity is a fundamental element for a succesful waza.
Gravity has a direct relationship with body weight. When we walk, basically we use gravity to move forward or another direction. The movement of the foot has an image of a rolling ball: 足 の 転 び, ashi no korobi, rolling or rocking the foot. Be light like a rolling ball …and let gravity do the job.
The knee of ashi no korobi is used to create “kuzushi” or using gravity. The body will fall forward in this example. By using the skill of moving the foot forward, the balance of the body will be kept. Unsoku-ho of the exercise of foot movements is using in many cases the skill of ashi no korobi.
Waza, a personal skill
Waza or martial art technique is a personal skill and will be very difficult to teach another person without bodily understanding of fundamental elements. A technique has several fundamental actions and those movements are called gi-jutsu and should be acquired by training and not the waza itself. Waza belongs to the individual, and only yōso * can be taught by the sensei.
Yōso* : literally translated as “principle”, but in the context of our study we use “essential element” or “reality based upon laws and rules”.
Yōso (fundamental elements)
Another important yōso (fundamental elements) is the internal line of motion or undō-sen. Power is needed in order to move the body. Because power has to travel through the body to reach the target and we just have to become aware of the line of motion. Some lines of motion are very obvious. Other are hidden inside the body.
Take for example swinging the arms. The outward movement can be understood by everybody. But if your teacher tells you to swing your arm with the help of the hara, the center of your being. Can you feel the line of motion?
Feeling the line of motion is one of the core fundamentals in martial arts.
Internal line of motion (運動線, undō-sen).
Rendo is the skill of linking body movements with the result of a waza. This linking of body movements is only possible when we “feel” the body and in other words feeling the line of motion, especially the internal one.
Try to view the body in a 3D format. The internal line of motion is a diagonal line from corner to corner. See picture cube.
Linking the movements of the arm or leg to the internal line of motion is a big challenge for all serious martial art practitioner. Can you detect the line of motion? And can you feel the line of motion when you perform such a movement?
Tenshikei or using the internal spiral line for power is already a few times discussed in this blog. In the 3D picture above, there is the perception of a straight line. Of course, in reality the line of motion is following a spiral line. By feeling this line we can transfer power to the tarvet via the arm and hand.
The role of kyokotsu
Hino’s book, previously mentioned, has some explanatory “kyokotsu” pictures. Please visit Amazon to buy the book
Kyokotsu is the lower part of the breastbone. By moving kyokotsu forward or backward, a movement is created in the back muscles (open and close).
Kyokotsu has also a moving effect on the spine, especially the lower part (koshi region: psoas and iliac muscles).
By connecting kyokotsu to arms and legs, a full body movement can be performed. It takes at least a few years of practise to create such a skill. The associated waza becomes more efficient and with the correct strategy gives you a chance to control opponent.
Using fingers and elbows
Connecting elbows to the kyokotsu can be very helpfull when you are grasped by opponent on the wrist of forarm. As explained previously, there is a connection between a moving kyokotsu and the back muscles. When kyokotsu is moving inward, the back muscles will push the elbows forward. When the elbows are pulling in, kyokotsu will move forward.
Do we have to focus on kyokotsu when moving the elbows? No, if we can observe the line of motion, the body will do the job. The difficulty is in the conscious mind which likes to take over the process of moving the body. Just become an observer, don’t interfere in the movements.
When pushing with the elbows, there is of course a limit in the distance. Here start the movement of the hand with the fingers. By stretching the finger into the direction of the target, a pulling action is activated in the forearm. This is already discussed in an earlier post about push/pull action. The mind has an important function. When we can feel the line of motion in the arm (the example of elbow and finger), we can use an image of reaching a far mountain at the horizon: anzen no metsuke.
The relationship with opponent
During our training of martial art, especially aikido, the word harmony is often used to express the relationship with the opponent. Of course harmony has many definitions and harmony in aikido is not an exception.
Generally, awaséru is translated to harmonize with, to match … Harmony is primarly a mental state and the body will follow accordingly. Therefore you should not go together with the gestures of the partner but with the conscience of the partner.
Listen to the opponent. The extreme development of bodily sensibility, does not only concern the capacity to feel the force and the direction of a physical attack, it is also a question of feeling the intention of the other and changing the intention via a point of contact, physically or mentally. If one is not capable of chōkei, one can consider that all that one does is only gymnastics. ” Chōkei has a direct relationship with harmony, because if there is no chōkei we cannot create harmony.
Wagō, means harmony, concordance, agreement, union, unity … We often talk about “harmony” in Aikido. The Japanese word for harmony used in aikido is wagō. This word is made up of the kanji 和, which can be read wa and which notably means harmony, peace; and kanji 合, which can be read aï or gō and which could be translated by matching, agreeing, going together …
Aikido can be explained from different point of views. By using the conscious mind we can find a rational definition for this martial art. By using the unconscious mind, the concept of feeling is more important and the conscious mind act as an observer. Trying to express in a rational way, maybe we will miss the real purpose of aikido. Therefore describing aikido via a poem can express the feeling of the movement……maybe……
Budo movement can be understood as communication between two persons mediated by the body, that is usually considered two separate and independent bodies but rather should be considered integrated as one body communication system. The point where two bodies (in Budo) becomes one body communication system depends upon the condition of the interface between the two bodies or persons. (from: Movement of Budo by : Yosuke YANASE )
A communication system is a moving construction and when communication stops there will be no movement anymore. During a moving process, the feeling of safety is very important and is expressed by the skill of “rikakutaisei, fighting from a distance”. Distancing or using the appropriate distance during a confrontation is a skill often used in martial arts but also in other fields of human behaviour.
Ma-ai, a dynamic concept
In Japanese terminology, distancing is ma-ai(ma, spatiotemporal interval ai, harmony). Ma-aiintegrates space, time, and rhythm and is the ideal situation to control a confrontation. Controlling the situation or in other words “controlling the actions of the opponent” is depending on Hyoshi. Ma-ai is not a fixed distance, it is dynamic. Depending on the situation, distance will change.
Safe and unsafe distance
In another post, ring of power, the concept of a close distance was used to practise posture and power through a grip on opponent. Before we have a proper grip on opponent, we need some skills to gap the distance between you and opponent. These skills incorporate the concept of safety by using “rikakutaisei” or fighting from a distance.
Basically we can distinguish 3 kinds of distance during a confrontation.
When there is no physical contact it is called To-ma.
Making physical contact but still safe in your own environment it is called Uchi-ma.
Chika-ma is the distance for using power. Without controlling opponent actions it is very unsafe.
Don’t confuse distancing or ma-ai with the 3 kind of distance. In each distance, the skill of ma-ai can be used.
Rikakutaisei, fighting from a distance
Rikakutaisei is a word to describe the expression “fighting from a distance”. In general this is explained as a distance when using “tegatana awase” distance. Of course to attack we have to come closer. The attacking distance is depending on the use of ma-ai or distancing.
We know space is expressed by the word “Ma” and it is not fixed distance. Controlling the actions of opponent can give an opportunity to attack. The example here is from “uchi-ma” entering into “chika-ma” to apply power or in other words “a technique or waza”.
Closing the gap between you and opponent
As with everything in martial art, there are many solutions for 1 problem. It depends on the level of the practitioner which skill is used. To create such skills, basic training is used to ingrain basic movements into the subconscious mind.
Stepping skills During unsoku-ho, basic patterns are used to practised stepping skills. In this exercise the skill of tsugi-ashi is practised. Bridging a long distance uses mainly a ayumi-ashi stepping method and will be practised separately.
Controlling skills If we only use stepping skills it is possible we can control an opponent without touching. But at a certain point in a confrontation we have to take a decision and use our hand(s) and arm(s) to create a definite solution. There are many armskills to control an opponent. In the various kata, examples are used to have training in the control of aggression. To understand the principles of aikido, we use our body as a communication tool. The example below shows a kind of body turning, an important bodyskill. Uke is grasping the arm, Tori is not changing the interface of the grip. Tori uses the turning of the body and at the end of the turning the power of the turning is entering into the body of Uke. The distancing performed by Tori is necessary to perform the bodyturn and to use “tenshikei”.
Internal and external distancing
Distancing or ma-ai is not only depending on stepping methods, but can also performed when we cannot do stepping skills. As in the previous example, the body can turn without changing the interface of the grip by Uke. How is this possible?
If some is twisting your arm, your muscles are wrapping around your skeleton. The power of the twist is stored in your muscles but also in your tendons. Tendons have a great capacity to store energy. This energy can be released. This action is a clever way to use distancing internally.
Most of the material discussed in the blog articles is my interpretation of the various teachings learned and practised during seminars, workshops and long-term training periods with interesting people. Sometimes I am using material to explain some topics with images found in articles and books. Mostly I provide the source of the images, but sometimes I fail to mention the source. I apologise…..
2-weeks seminar with Andre Nocquet – La Baule/France 1972
Basic foot movements are a part of basic displacements. We distinguish displacement with and without foot movement. Tsugi ashi is a basic skill and is used in many martial arts in different formats. Mostly it is performed on a flat floor, for example in a dojo with a wooden floor or covered with tatami.
There are different types of tsugi ashi displacement. The most basic one is moving the front foot forward followed by a sliding back foot. When moving backward, the back foot starts first followed by the front foot. Moving into other directions follows the same method. The foot closest to the target starts first, followed by the other foot. In any case, the leg (foot, knee and groin) which is moving first must be flexible and no-weight bearing anymore. Gravity induces the displacement. In the article – Meditative Movements – this movement process is discussed.
We distinguish 2 tsugi ashi methods:
Small step tsugi ashi – short distance for explosive power
Long step tsugi ashi – big distance for long power
The small step tsugi ashi, the front foot heel is lifted and does not bearing any weight, the weight is about 30% on the ball, 70 % is on the back foot (in the middle of the foot). Using small step tsugi ashi is mainly for delivering power.
The long step tsugi ashi is a rolling foot action to cover a relative long distance.
3 kinds of distance Chika-Ma= small step tsugi ashi Uchi-Ma=long step tsugi ashi - musoko-ho To-Ma=ayumi ashi or longstep tsugi ashi
Making a choice will depend on the action you are performing. It is of course always an action of the unconscious mind and not a conscious decission. A conscious mind action is always too late when you like to outwit an opponent.
Small step tsugi ashi
A small step tsugi ashi is a displacement to adjust the distance for an explosive movement. To create “hakkei”, distance need sometimes adjusmentn, but not always. This kind of “hakkei” or “explosive movement” can be used to create balace disturbance (kuzushi) followed by a long step tsugi ashi and/or an ayumi ashi (stepping action).
The action of the front foot has to create an opposing isometric force when the back foot is coming closer to the front foot.
Long step tsugi ashi
Long step tsugi ashi use the rolling foot skill. Mostly this skill is used after an action of “hakkei” or explosive power and continuing with a throw of controlling technique. Rolling foot is using gravity as a source of power.
Shock absorbers and brakes
On many vehicules we have shock absorbers and brakes. Take for example a bicycle.
The shock absorbers damp out the motions of a vehicle up and down on its springs. A bicycle brake reduces the speed of a bicycle or prevents it from moving.
Our body has also some mechanism to absorb and to stop or slow down body movements. It also has a mechanism to prevent (unnecessary) movements.
The back leg functions as an absorber of energy and can rebound to the target. The front leg functions as a brake to stop a forward movement, for example during a small forward step tsugi ashi. The braking system of the front leg can rebound the energy to the target. Both stored energy can only rebound if the body is available for energy transport. Any contraction will stop the transport. The weight on the front foot is on the ball with a slight lifting of the heel, just to put a paper under the heel. The weight on the rear foot is more closer to the heel, but not on the heel. The key to this kind of power manipulation is posture training. Solo or partner training. Unsoku and tandoku undo (tegatana dosa) are good examples for this kind of solo-training Tegatana-awase and shotei awase are examples for partner training.
If you are a real puritan practitioner this post is not really for you. It contains crosstraining ideas from other martial arts and movement methods. But if you are open to new ideas, please read further.
Cross-training refers to training in any martial art or activity that isn’t in your usual practice, with the goal of improving your performance.
An important question arises about crosstraining: At what level can we start crosstraining to have benefit in our principal martial art?
Kenji Tomiki Around 1956, Kenji Tomiki wrote a book about Kodokan Judo and Ueshiba Aikido. At that time he was a 7th dan Judo and 8th dan Aikido. Grades in martial arts can give you an indication of the level of the person in question. Of course the person(s) who is given the grade can also give you some indication. In case of Kenji Tomiki we know he was very skillful in both arts. Originally he started with Kodokan Judo and during his life Judo was always the principal martial art. He always explained Aikido in terms of Judo concepts.
Kodokan Judo randori doesn’t have atemi waza (striking methods) and doesn’t have alot of kansetsu waza (joint techniques). To overcome this lack of techniques, Kenji Tomiki went to Morihei Ueshiba to study Aiki-jutsu. Morihei Ueshiba was a wellknown martial art teacher and his background was very varied.
Hideo Ohba Of course we cannot forget Hideo Ohba, Tomiki’s lifelong assistent, who studied several weapon systems besides his basic training into Judo and Aikido.The influence of his teacher can be seen in the Koryu no kata.
Itsuo Haba Itsuo Haba has some new ideas about aikido randori and formulated these ideas into “Sugamo Toshu Randori” method. He created this method by stepping into the footsteps of Kenji Tomiki. As an experienced aikido practitioner he started to do crosstraining in Kendo and associated martial arts. He also did crosstraining in Judo.
More designers? Of course there are more important persons in the Tomiki Aikido and some of them gave a special kind of flavour to Tomiki Aikido. Tomiki’s successor Hideo Ohba mentioned earlier made many additions from his crosstraining history. Tetsuro Nariyama made some additions due his crosstraining with Hirokazu Kobayashi, AikiKai Shihan and friend of Kenji Tomiki. Other major instructors like Senta Yamada, Miyake, Satoh….. used or using Judo to explain the benefits of Aikido as a martial art.
Start you own design program
Using elements from another martial art into your main systemis not an easy task. I you don't have the basic skills of your principal method, introducing elements of other methods will fail. Using elements from other methods is only possible after sufficient training in the other method. Those methods can be a martial art or another system of physical or mental training.
Sugamo Toshu Randori
Although Tetsuro Nariyama made some additions to Tomiki Aikido which has an influence on Randori, it is Itsuo Haba who redesigned Aikido Randori completely in a new form of Toshu Randori.
Text by Itsu Haba
Sugamo Toshu Randori is an aikido training method which includes the principles of kendo and judo. Kendo principles show how to hit an opponent by avoiding the attack at a certain distance, whereas judo principles show how to throw an opponent by breaking his balance in a grappling situation. In the principle of kendo, techniques are performed by striking or thrusting at the opponent up to the moment of the contact from the starting position. In the principle of judo, however, they are performed after touching or grabbing the opponent. Sugamo Toshu Randori has elements of both kendo and judo and shows how we perform techniques in ‘rikaku’, or “at a distance” situation. In kendo one strikes the other by the technique of a sword. On the other hand, in aikido, we take the initiative with dasshuwaza by the technique of tegatana or the hand blade. What is common in both kendo and aikido is that one tries to strike or touch the opponent without letting the opponent touch oneself.
In judo we grapple the opponent by catching the lapel and sleeve, while trying to throw the opponent down by breaking his balance. We can only use throwing techniques, as dangerous techniques such as striking or kicking are prohibited. In aikido we hold the hand, wrist, arm, limbs or body directly instead of the clothing and throw him down. On the assumption that “dangerous” attacks are delivered, body avoidance becomes necessary, so ideally techniques should be performed the moment one touches the opponent. What is suitable against dangerous attacks are the instant techniques of “atemiwaza’ and “kansetsuwaza”. Judo is mainly composed of “nagewaza” or throwing techniques, and “katamewaza’ or locking techniques. In contrast, aikido is mainly composed of “atemiwaza” or attacking techniques and “kansetsuwaza’ or joint techniques. What is common in both judo and aikido is that one tries to break the opponent’s balance thereby throwing or controlling him.
Dashuwaza and toshuwaza
In Sugamo Toshu Randori, both competitors wear caps, and we try to take off each other’s caps. One wants to take the cap off of the opponent’s head, but does not want to have his own cap taken off. In short, he tries to take the cap off while defending his cap with body avoidance. The principle of kendo works in this process.Using tegatana, like the sword in kendo, the competitor “hits” the opponent without the performer being hit. In the process of this ‘offence’ and ‘defence’ a certain distance is born and ‘rikaku’ is established.
From the viewpoint of martial arts, having the cap taken off means being “fatally wounded”. That is, the face is attacked, the eyes are hit, the hair is pulled, or the ear is taken off. These dangerous attacks are replaced with the safe attacks of dasshuwaza or ‘take away the cap’ techniques, this being from the standpoint of safe modern physical education.
In kendo one strikes the other by the technique of a sword. On the other hand, in aikido, we take the initiative with dasshuwaza by the technique of tegatana or the hand blade. What is common in both kendo and aikido is that one tries to strike or touch the opponent without letting the opponent touch oneself.
Dasshuwaza belongs to kendo principles, while toshuwaza belongs to judo principles. Toshuwaza in randori no kata starts from the natural posture which is suitable for both offence and defence (shizentai no ri), which makes the opponent’s attack useless by fending it (ju no ri), so thereby making it possible to throw the opponent down by breaking his balance (kuzushi no ri).
Sugamo Toshu Randori is a randori training method with toshuwaza, or barehanded techniques which establishes “rikaku” through the medium of dasshuwaza borrowed from kendo principles.
Is there a difference? Of course, the cap gives an impression of a game. The image of a serious martial art is dissapeared at first sight. By looking more closely, we can discover many martial art concepts in this game. The idea of using a cap and trying to take away the cap is replacing an attack to the face using tegatana. By using a rules book, the game can be transformed into a competition with referees. After all, toshu randori and tanto randori (Tomiki style) is in fact a game, bounded by the rulebook. If we consider some “tuishou” formats used by Taichichuan and other Chinese methods, it is also “a game” to destroy the balance of the opponent.
Redesign for health purposes
Martial arts are mainly practiced for self‐defense, as a sport or a way to keep your mind and body healthy. When practised as a method for self-improvement (physical and mental health), most of these self-improvement methods are low-impact, soft body and mindfulness exercises. It can be practised even by eldery people as long there is no danger for injuries or falling accidents. While competitive systems mainly focusing on improvements to athletes’ competitive abilities, self-improvement systems focus on cognitive abilities of the practitioner. Awareness, focus, conscious and subconscious actions are the main goal. Martial arts can partially stop the deterioration of the musculoskeletal system that occurs with aging and reduce the risk of falls and hip fractures.
By using low-impact and slow-motion exercises, the fear of injuries will largely decrease. The implementation of these 2 concepts creates a form of exercises focused on self-improvement for physical and mental health. In most martial arts there is a form of sparring (randori, kumite, rolling,….). One of the aims of this is that the partners will be attempting to remain focused and avoid their partner making hard or too powerfull contact. Low-impact of sparring can be introduced after the practitioner has learned the basic skills of the martial art in question. There are numerous examples of low-impact sparring methods. For example oriental internal martial arts use a form of sparring called “pushing or rolling hands” mostly called “tuishou”. Introducing such “a low-impact game” in aikido will give the non-athletic or the elderly practitioner a method to test the efficiency of the acquired skills. The fear of injury is almost absent if the rules of the game are applied.
We can consider 2 main methods in low-impact sparring:
With fixed posture – without displacement
With dynamic posture – with displacement
Tegatana awase position In case of a fixed posture, starting from tegatana awase position and without grasping or striking, breaking the balance of opponent can be the goal of this kind of sparring. When practitioners have developped a certain skill, foot movement (unsoku) can be introduced. The rule of low-impact has te be maintained.
Katate dori position With a fixed posture, both practitioners grasp the wrist in ai-gamae method. Both trying to create kuzushi based upon the ai-gamae methods of 7-hon no kuzushi. When practitioners have developped a certain skill, foot movement (unsoku) can be introduced. The rule of low-impact has te be maintained.
Wrestling position Starting from a judo position without grasping the dogi, Techniques of koryu no kata can be used to control opponent. The rule of low-impact has te be maintained.
Limitations of low-impact sparring Of course there is not any limit on creating low-impact sparring methods. The rule of low-impact has te be maintained. Although winning can be very pleasant but it is not the main purpose of low-impact sparring. Breaking balance or controlling opponent is the first goal to obtain without using excessive muscle strength.
On the other hand, we must understand the limitations of low-impact in the efficienty during “real” self-defense situations or athletic sparring. How to handle very powerful opponents need different type of training. This is going beyond the main purpose of a self-improvement method with low-impact sparring.
Hida method (Tanden training )
“This way is not mine, it is not my new method, the masters of the past have already largely said everything on the subject. But what I have done is simply to detail more, and at the same time to popularize this teaching, this knowledge. In addition, I experimented directly with myself on each exercise, and for that, looking back, I can not help but feel a little pride “(H.Hida)
The Hida method is in a strict sense not a martial art method, but it contains a lot of concepts useable for martial art. It is often used in martial arts for the research of self-improvement or wellbeing, but nobody, apart from its founder itself, has been able to acquire so many capacities. It is an original creation of Haramitsu Hida. Most of the concepts are focused around the Hara – Tanden – Koshi.
Central power 中心
Note : Shodai Soke Okuyama used to term of Kongouriki (金剛力) as power than focuses and come from the Tanden/hara (Hakko Ryu Shodan Higishi Japanese edition).
Kongōriki)’s Japanese Kanji is the compound of Kongou (金剛(こんごう) Kongō), meaning “indestructible”, which comes from the Japanese word, Kongousho (金剛杵 Kongōsho), meaning “something extremely hard” or “of extreme strength”, which is the equivalent of the Sanskrit word, vajra (वज्र), meaning “diamond” and “thunderbolt”, which is a double-headed scepter weapon used as a ritual object to symbolise the properties of diamond; indestructibility and of having the ability to destroy, and thunderbolt; irresistible force, in Hinduism, and Riki (力(りき) Riki), meaning “strength”.
I am certain you will find yourself if you are ready to start cross-training and have the benefit of these workouts. Cross-training can give you more understanding of your principal art if you can find a complimentary method. If there is no overlapping, I am afraid you are losing your time.
Changing the direction of power in a movement is not an easy task. We cannot interrupt the movement because is will also interrupt power generation. With every stop we have to start over again in generating power. While your upper body muscles are directly involved with the action of the hand/arm, the force is generated throughout your body. Initial force is initiated by your lower body muscles and transferred through your core through to your upper body muscles. Any weakness or excessive tension in the transferring muscles will diminish the force and reduce performance.
6 major directions
We can move in many directions. Basically we consider 6 major directions. Other directions can be seen as a combination between 2 or 3 major directions and can become a spiral movement. Movement can happen with the arms, the central body an/or the legs.
Switching between major directions
Switching is only possible when there is control of all the muscles involved. An example how a switch can work can be more informative than words.
Kakae dori is an attack where an external pressure is applied to the body. Defending against such an attack needs a skill of expanding without using brute force.
If we allow the squeezing action of Uke, we will be thrown easily. If we can create a whole-body force against the squeezing, we will have the opportunity to free ourself. It is a question of using tension and relaxing at the same time. But how to do it? It is based upon “opposing isometric force pairs”. There are of course other switching methods. If we suddenly, without any interuption, switch from outside tension to inside tension, uke may lose his grip and balance.
The exercise is to switch between internal and external pressure. The body needs to adapt to those 2 kinds of pressure images.
Push & pull vs. push-pull
Push&pull are two actions in a sequential order. Push-pull is one action. In the push-pull movement the balance between agonist and antagonist muscles creates a moving non-moving action. Push&pull or push-pull can be a straight line movement, a circular or a spiral movement. When practising aikido or another martial art both action will be utilized to create attacking or defensive movements. Again an example can be highly informative.
The first picture above is a push action into the ground, the second is the rebound of the power, the third picture is a pull action of the back foot bringing again close to the front foot to stabilize the equilibrium.
The first picture above is a push-pull action associated with holding a ball in the arm. Opposing isometric forces will move Uke around you. The second picture is nearly a straight line push-pull. Although we said a straight line, the internal action relates to meguri. The meguri action is an internal spiral movement transmitted from the center of Tori to Uke through rotational movements of the hand/wrist/arm.The result will be a balance between a push-pull action. In other words an opposing isometric force.
When we link all the singular movements of the body the result will be “rendo-movement”. During the performance of rendo movements, there are overlapping moments in the sequence of the actions. In the next example push & pull and push-pull are following a definite sequence. But there is an overlapping between the different action in the sequence.
Picture1: grasping the arm
Picture2: pulling the arm
Picture3: body turn while keeping pulling
Picture4: keeping pulling and starting pushing
Picture5: keeping pulling and pushing while putting body into position to throw
Picture6: throwing and relaxing
Power needs some time to travel through the body, although this happens very fast. If we start too early our overlapping action, the force of the previous action will not be used to the full potential. If we start too late, the power of Rendo will be lost.
Tegatana dosa (tandoku undo) a switch exercise
These “tegatana dosa” are good examples to discuss switching the direction of force. As previously mentioned the mechanism of power generation:
While your upper body muscles are directly involved with the action of the hand/arm, the force is generated throughout your body. Initial force is initiated by your lower body muscles and transferred through your core through to your upper body muscles. Any weakness in the transferring muscles will diminish the force and reduce performance.
Uchi mawashi – Inside sweep
There are 4 arm actions in this exercise:
Turn the arm, palm hand up
Turn core of the body – tenshi
Switch the arm, palm hand down
Sweep the arm with body turn
If the exercise is done as 4 separate actions, there will be a reduced amount of power at the end of the movement. If the link between the 4 actions is established, there will be more power at the end of the movement. By using overlapping, performance will be more powerfull.
Using uchi mawashi in a paired exercise, proper unsoku (footwork) has to be added. Drilling the feet will increase efficiency.
In this example there is another concept which requires considiration.
We find Fibonacci Sequence at work in the principles, shapes, movements and strategies in nature but also within martial arts, by holding your arm with the correct angle at the elbow while extending your mind through the arm. The correct angle of human joints for movements has to be between 90* and 180°.
A push-pull and opposing isometric forces example In the 7-hon-no-kuzushi gedan, spirals and opposing isometric forces are used to create balance disturbing. There are many variations, but basically all are build around spirals and opposing isometric forces.
we can see the Fibonacci spiral in combination with opposing isometric force pair.
Uke will be fixed on the spot in an akward position.
Soto mawashi – Outside sweep
When using soto mawashi in partner training, some adaptations has to be done. The basic actions of uchi mawashi can be applied here too.
Turn the arm, palm hand up
Turn core of the body – tenshi
Switch the arm, palm hand up
Sweep the arm with body turn
Soto mawashi with partner after some adaptations.
Uchi gaeshi – soto gaeshi
In this sequence by Senta Yamada, the meguri concept is not visible. We only can guess if there is some internal movement invoking meguri. In our research, the implementation of meguri and opposing isometric forces can increase the efficiency of these movement exponential. Switching the direction of forces is an aplication of meguri and opposing isometric forces and is needed to perform “waza” or techniques.
The human body as a movement construction is used by most of the people in a very inefficient way. The body and mind are full of tension and this creates during a movement action sometimes a non-movement situation: a frozen action. People think this can be resolved by relaxing the body and mind. Unfortunately relaxation is understood as a lack of tension resulting in collapsing body. During a fight or in our case randori, we cannot have tension or relax. We need to find another solution based upon the concept “tone of the muscles”.
Balancing between tension and relaxing: Opposing Isometric Tension
Yi-quan* is a Chinese martial art famous for Zhang-zuang (Ritsuzen in Japanese) and the use of opposing isometric forces (zheng-li). Other Chinese martial arts are also using these concepts in a more or less manner during their training. The Japanese version of Yi-quan is called Taikiken and is utilizing many concepts borrowed from Yi-quan. In Japanese Budo we certainly can find countless examples of “opposing isometric forces”. Nobuyoshi Tamura**, an Aikido teacher used Baduajin or 8 brocade exercises as a tool to improve inner power. One of the concept in Baduajin is “opposing isometric forces”.
**I studied aikido during my early period (1970-1978) with Tamura sensei, Kanetsuka sensei, Kobayashi sensei – see also Intro * I was introduced to Yiquan by Ilias Calimintzos (France)
Budo and opposing isometric forces
In Kodokan Judo there are many kata to explain the concepts of Kodokan Judo. One of the lesser known kata is “Go no kata”. This kata has many “opposing isometric forces” to keep a power balance between Tori and Uke. It expresses very well the concept of “Go” as a counter concept of “Ju” found in “Ju no kata” and other Judo training tools.
Tomiki Aikido has many exercises to develop this kind of power. Even in other styles of aikido, this kind of exercises is frequenly used as mentioned in a previous paragraph.
Tomiki style opposing isometroc forces
From “Gendai Aiki”
Koichi Tohei famous unbendable arm can be classified in this category.
What are the thoughts of Kenji Tomiki on this matter?
この問題は、現代体育学の、筋肉のトレーニングの事で、アイソメトリックスと言うんです。 Kono mondai wa, gendai taikugaku no, kinniku toreiningu no koto de, isometorikkusu to iun desu. This is a matter of muscular training which is part of modern physical education. It’s called isometrics.
それは、押したり引いたりすることによって、屈筋や心筋が働くわけですが、上手になると、筋肉が働くのが見えないんです。 Sore wa, oshitari hiitari suru koto ni yotte, kukkin ya shinkin ga hataraku wake desu ga, jouzu ni naru to, kinniku ga hataraku no wa mienain desu. That is to say, we can train inner or outer groups of muscles by pushing or pulling. A person who is highly skilled at this form of training hardly exhibits any muscle movement at all during the exercise.
見えないところで筋肉をうまく使えるんです。しかし、それ（このような理論を隠しておいて、大道の安芸人のようなことをすることをさす）を教育の場にもってきたら、非常に おかしい事になってしまうんです。 Mienai tokoro de kinniku wo umaku tsukaerun desu. Shikashi, sore (kono youna riron wo kakushite oite, oomichi no akibito no youna koto wo suru koto wo sasu) wo kouiku no ba ni motte kitara, hijouni okashii koto ni natte shimaun desu. When you can’t see any movement the person is using his muscles very skillfully. But you are making a big mistake in the educational field if you demand a similar level of expertise from everyone.
Interview with Kenji Tomiki – Aiki News
Opposing isometric force pairs
The steering of a movement is the result of a neuro-muscular action. This action has 2 main components:
The use of internal and external factors: body and gravity
Using the mind as the manager of the internal and external factors
Movement of the body need always a support point and in most cases earth is the major support point. The mind is observing the body which is build according a vertical line in relationship with gravity. The mind is not interfering with this body action. Keep in your mind, standing is a movement. Feeling with the feet the solidity of the earth, feeling the returning (rebound) power of gravity towards the head. Keep this stretch because this is the opposing isometric force by using gravity and correct body posture. Tanden (hara) plays an important role by becoming the center of the body. Gravity is always present even in non-vertical force lines.
Major opposing isometric force pairs are:
combination of major lines
After developing major opposing isometric forces lines, the next step is to be applied them during movements. Keeping the isometric forces lines is a real challenge and we cannot expect an immediate result during training. Mind and body must become one and “ego” or “the monkey brain” ** cannot interfere with our movements, mentally or physically. Reaction to an attacking movement by an opponent must be handled by a spontaneous reflexive action.
**Taming the “Monkey Brain” We all experienced the noise in our head when the monkey brain is talking during our exercises. Stopping thie noise is not a solution, because the monkey brain is not listening. Better is to ignore the noise, and after a while you will notice “the noice is gone”. You really start to feel the exercise and the dynamics of the body. This is forging the body and mind. It is not about bigger muscles, or more muscular strength. I can feel my body and its movements…..the rest is a side issue
How to develop opposing isometric force pairs
Opposing isometric force pair is a state of equilibrium between two tensions. If the two forces are equal, a balance is established between them. This implies this form of tension inside the body which solicits two distinct zones. If we consider our body as a dynamic system, all types of force will involve the opposition of two forces regardless of direction. For example, when you jump up, you use a force to hoist yourself up. You can also say that you exert a force down (ground). To achieve upward movement, use the downward force. Similarly, to achieve a forward movement, it is necessary to exert the force towards the back. We can interpret the function of the legs as that of spring which makes you bounce in height when you make a push towards the ground. This image speaks easily of the movement of legs that function as a pair of springs. Let’s now look for the mobility of the trunk whose examination is fundamental to understand what an opposing isometric force pair is. The mobility of the trunk is not very visible, which makes it difficult to place the image of spring in relation to the movement of the legs. But the function of the trunk is crucial to organize the application system of the overall force of the body. Like the springs of the legs, imagine that at the level of the sternum – kyokotsu – existed a spring that goes inwards to its antipode back. Following this example, let us situate imaginary springs inside the trunk to zones corresponding approximately to those of the chakras in yoga. These are in addition to the sternum, under the throat, plexus, navel and lower abdomen. All these springs are placed inside the trunk and their other end rests on the dorsal projection of these five points. By putting the mind on the kyokotsu or other points of the body, we can move the kyokotsu in this example forward and back and use the image of the spring to create resistance. The spring image can be internal, but can also have an external quality. If we use a spring connected between our elbows, we can open or close our arms and feel the resistance between the elbows. A step further is to use the spring image between you and your training partner.
Developing spontaneous reflexive action
Reflexive action conditioning is primarily neuromuscular coordination training. You must have a firm foundation in multi-directional awareness before you can start this training. The goal is to achieve mind-intent and body action arriving simultaneously. Internal movements during solo training can give an impression of “no movement” when there is no external movement visible. It is called “pause”. Posture training – ritsuzen – is mostly internal movement training wihout visible external big movements. When doing moving exercises start always slow and use rather big movements. Tegatana dosa, also called tandoku undo, are exercises to build this skill using the change between the different body (arm, hands,….) movements. After many repetitions and using correct body movements with mind-intent leading the action, it will become a spontaneous reflexive action under control of the mind while maintaining the isometric tension. Next step is to use these movements in paired exercises and all kinds of randori.
The centre line is the vertical line which marks the centre of the body. We use our centre line as a guide in our practice. Basically, our hand should not move over the centre line to the other side of our body.
The centre line is important in order to keep our central equilibrium.
Central equilibrium can only be achieved through correct and diligent training by always lifting up our head top, and pressing our feet into the ground. This skill can be improved by practising “posture”, also called “ritsuzen”.
With strong central equilibrium, we can absorb or redirect the incoming force, and countering very quickly. In short, our defence or attack will be much more efficient if we have strong central equilibrium.
The more we deviate from the centre line, the more our central equilibrium will be subject to muscular tension to keep our balance. Our body will respond automatically to such situations. There are 3 options:
Ankle action will happen when practitioner keeps his body under tension.
Hip action is basically trying to drop the bodyweight, but by keeping the knees stiff the hips will bend.
Stepping action will occur with unexperienced practitioners, but is also a strategy of an experienced practitioner. (see Unsoku-ho and tai-sabaki)
Experienced practitioners keep their body in the vertical line (centre) and will use tenshikei, Keeping the joints flexible and strong is an important body condition. Tenshi is a rotational skill to absorb incoming power and redirect it to the opponent.
The previous example shows you the stiffen up of the body trying to defend against the action of Tori. To avoid further “kuzushi”, Uke steps but the upper body is halted by the arm action of Tori.
Defending the centre line
Basic posture to defend “seichusen”
Defending the centre line is an important concept and can be applied in different situations. We can distinguish 2 major kinds of defending the centre line.
By keeping “tegatana” in front of the centre line, opponent have difficulties to attack your centre.
The sword is an extension of the tegatana and is protecting the centre.
In tegatana-awase, a multipurpose exercise, tegatana is used as a shield and prevent a straight movement to the centre by opponent.
In this method, we use “tegatana” as an active tool. Ridatsu-ho and seigo-ho are methods to defend yourself against grasping attacks. Free hand tegatana can be used to apply an atemi on the centre line of other vital point of the opponent. What kind of atemi will depend on the goal you are looking for. Be the fact that we are going to throw the opponent or that we want to apply a shock to the body.
You will notice, the centre line has many vital points and can be used in self-defense situations.
Body movement exercises & centre line
We mentioned tegatana-awase in a previous paragraph and how to protect centre line with tegatana. Of course there are numerous body movement exercises and basically protecting the centre line or attacking the centre line is included. Also remember the importance of the centre line in keeping the central equilibrium. When we lose our balance, in most cases we also will lose the protection of the centre line.
Tenshi exercises Solo and paired tenshi(kei) exercises are an integral part of the regular training.
Unsoku-ho – defending by stepping
Avoiding an attack by stepping is a strategy to bring the mind and body into a position where the attacking power cannot get hurt. On the other hand, stepping is not running away from an opponent. It is important in order to control the situation, physically and mentally. The concept of ridatsu-ho and seigo-ho is in fact an extension of stepping. It is avoiding and/or controlling the power of the opponent. The exercises of unsoku-ho has to be considered as tools to study breaking away and/or controlling an attack of the opponent. This can be punching, striking, kicking, grasping or any action from opponent to hurt you or control you.
Avoiding an attack
Avoiding an attack needs to take in account the concept of “Sen”. Running away is not always the correct method because there is always a chance opponent is much faster. There is also the mental side of running away or not running away. This can be of course the subject of another blog-post. We do not wish to become frustrated because we are afraid of a confrontation. During avoiding an attack our body and mind must be in a state of defending/attacking mode. To create such a state of being, the study of “opposing isometric forces” can be very helpful. Subject of another blog-post.
“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” ― Gustav Mahler–
Can we improve our Budo Aikido with exercises? Yes, but unfortunately there are too many for practising during 1 training session. As we all know, prof. Tomiki is famous for rationalizing aikido and created logical structures for practising. Some of the movements can be catalogued as exercises, other are catalogued as martial techniques.
Well known are:
Unsoku ho: foot movements
Tandoku undo (Nagashi kata): hand and foot movements
Tegatana awase: moving with a partner when “tegatana” are joined
Shotei awase: using hand palm as a flexible power exercise
Some problems with the standard exercises
If we follow Tomiki’s scripts do you think there will be some improvement? Kenji Tomiki studied for many years with Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan Judo and with Morihei Ueshiba the founder of Aikido. The question arises: Did he incorporate all the skills he learned in his concept of Aikido?
Maybe the way of training he compiled is an ideal method for Sports Aikido, but certainly not for Budo Aikido. Some elements are missing in the training model.
How to attack a “physiological” weak point.
How to use tanden/koshi/yōbu (hara)
How to connect arms and legs to the central body
There are some pictures of goshin-jutsu atemi, but there is not any explanation about how to use a body-part as a weapon (fist, handblade,….). There is also a belief Koryu no kata will give you a better understanding of self-defense (goshin). Without proper instruction, the positive effect of koryu no kata will be minimal on your training.
How to solve these problems?
Because the old masters are gone, we cannot ask them for advice. Some of the present day “shihan” are trying to incorporate their “cross training” ideas into Tomiki Aikido, either Sports Aikido or Budo Aikido.
Cross training for Budo Aikido
Not every martial art is compatible with Budo Aikido and not all the components of a martial art are usefull for Budo Aikido.
Study Group Tomiki Aikido instructors have a broad experience in different martial arts. A very compatible method is Hino Budo, a composite martial art created by Akira Hino.
Martial arts like Iaido, Jodo, Karate (Wado Ryu), Hakko Ryu, Renshinkan Daito Ryu…. have also an impact on the training syllabus.
The challenge is of course “How to integrate?”. The answer is not that simple because we need to understand physically and mentally the compatible components. These problems are not only for martial arts, but also for other fields of society. To solve the problem we have to look at the Toyota Kata , and in particular the Improvement Kata.
Connecting the kyokotsu with the elbow is a matter of using your mind. Focus on the kyokotsu and on a specific point of the elbow. Once you notice the connection, you have access to the power of the central body.
Connecting “kyokotsu” with knee
As with the elbow/kyokotsu connection, it is the mind that makes the connection. When you feel the connection you have access to the central body which included “Tanden- Koshi-Yōbu”, the power center of the human body. The power from earth can be directed to the arms into the opponent via the controlpanel: kyokotsu
The power center of the human body is mentioned many times in martial arts. But can you feel this center? To make it simple or more complicatied, the center of gravity in the human body is located in this area. If this is disturbed, we have difficulties to keep our balance. A solution is to tense all the surrounding muscles of the center. This is of course not the best solution because our movements will be limited. Using the kyokotsu as a tool to move the spine is restricted. Tenshi movements of the central body becomes limited and in some cases can damage the body. Learning to relax the body is a skill to be learned for all facet of human being. A skill to find balance between relax and tension.
Resilience, a balance between relax and tension
Making the connection is not always easy. Mind and body need to be in a state of resilience. When someone is relaxed, there is no power. When someone is strained, there is too much power. To make the connection between kyokotsu, elbow and knee, resilience is the first condition. But what is exactly resilience? Resilience is the ability to cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. It is a skill useful during martial arts training and its application when you have to deal with an aggresive movement, physically and/or mentally.
How to obtain the state of “Resilience”?
Among the many exercises, Ritsuzen occupies a place of first choice and is a prime for finding the center of the human body. It requires no special equipment, it requires very little space and especially because it can be practiced alone. Then, it is one of the very few exercises that, from a medical point of view, has no harmful side effects for the body.
There are some scientific studies on the effects of ritsuzen on the body. What is interesting is that, in general, we do not speak in too abstract terms when we try to explain this extraordinary exercise. Expressions such as “ki” are not used. It is all about good oxygenation and increased circulation of blood, nervous relaxation, strengthening of the immune system and heart muscle, increased sensory perception. The body becomes in a state of resilience after practising ritsuzen on a regular base.
Zhan zhuang is the Chinese word for Ritsuzen. More info on Wikipedia.
Other exercises to obtain “Resilience”
The Study Group Tomiki Aikido exercises are not fixed and will change slightly or dramatically according the experiences we encounter during our training sessions. To follow in the footsteps of Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba just by copying the methods is not creative and our aikido will become meaningless. And as Gustave Mahler said one time: “we must maintain the fire alive“.
Tenshikei, creating power from rotational and spiral movements
Kata, the ultimate exercise
The practise of kata is always controversial. It is the representation of an ideal aikido image and for this reason it can become a delusion.
Kata can be viewed as a group of exercises. But the exercises are not fixed, their nature is very dynamic and during your training in the long term it will change. Kata in the beginning is very simple if we look at the outside. During training we will discover more and more the many possibilities of our mind and body, our kata changes from a 2D image into a 3D image. Because there is also the dynamic nature, this will also affect the final form. Of course we can ask ourselves “is there a final form?”.
Section 3 of koryu no kata dai yon is called Oyo Waza
Oyo Waza literally means “application techniques”, which means you are using basic techniques in different attacking situations. You are required to “adapt” the basic technique without changing the concept and principles.
Section 3 – Techniques 1-4
These waza don’t use a lock. The first 2 waza are using an atemi waza, an application of gyakugamae ate. The next 2 waza are using a wrist-grip.
Section 3 – Techniques 5-8
A lock is applied to perform a throw.
Section 3 – Techniques 9-11
Using “tenshikei” makes these throws an efficient aikido waza.
Koryu dai yon a basic training tool
From a technical point of view, koryu dai yon has a different view on aikido waza as promoted in 17-hon no kata or 17-hon no kata in Tomiki’s aikido method. Mostly it is associated with the Kodokan kuzushi concept. But looking at the content of this kata, the relationship with Daito Ryu is more evident. The use of the hand (tegatana) is the most important aspect in the kata. Examination of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu waza, the use of Aiki-age and aiki-sage are important and basic skills. Without these skills, other waza are not efficient.
When Kenji Tomiki was involved in the creation of Kodokan Goshin Jutsu kata, he visited Renshinkan Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu dojo headed by Maeda Takeshi, student of Matsuda Toshimi. Matsuda sensei was a student of Takeda Sokaku. As a sidenote, founder of Hakko Ryu Aikijujutsu was a member of the Matsuda Daito Ryu lineage.
Tomiki Kenji sensei, a student of Ueshiba Morihei and Jigoro Kano, asked Maeda to see the real Daito Ryu.
By examining the Renshinkan syllabus, the resemblance with Koryu dai yon is remarkable. The use of “tegatana” is from the beginning a basic skill.
From a BAB movie: Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu Renshinkan Part.1 Zadori 〜Aiki in sitting position
Toyota Kata defines management as, “the systematic pursuit of desired conditions by utilizing human capabilities in a concerted way.” Rother proposes that it is not solutions themselves that provide sustained competitive advantage and long-term survival, but the degree to which an organization has mastered an effective routine for developing fitting solutions again and again, along unpredictable paths. This requires teaching the skills behind the solution.
Teaching the skills behind the use of the jo
When reading the biography of Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba, there are references to sword and other weapons schools. Some of those references are from the time when Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba were in Manchuria. Both were exposed to military martial arts especially sword, spear, bayonet and short sword. In Koryu no kata the yari or juken is replaced by the jo, but of course the length of the jo is not fixed like the jo of the Shindo Muso Ryu jojutsu or Kendo Renmei Jodo.
There are 8 jo no tsukai kata in Koryu no kata dai san and 4 kata in Koryu no kata dai roku. The 4 dai roku kata are an extension of dai san jo no tsukai kata.
All kata start with tori thrusting to the suigetsu (solar plexus) of the opponent (uke). Note the use of rolling feet.
Uke is avoiding and grasping the jo either with 2 hands or 1 hand.
All actions of tori after the grasping are following the same logic.
The study of kata is very complex and depends on harmonizing the action between tori and uke. By trying to describe all the actions in the kata, there is a danger someone will depend totally on the description and will deny the creativity of a human being. Remember the words of Gustave Mahler
“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” ― Gustav Mahler–
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr1
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr2
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr3
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr4
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr5
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr6
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr7
Koryu no kata dai san – Jo no tsukai nr8
Koryu no kata dai roku – Jo no tsukai nr1
Koryu no kata dai roku – Jo no tsukai nr2
Koryu no kata dai roku – Jo no tsukai nr3
Koryu no kata dai roku – Jo no tsukai nr4
Why practising with jo?
To understand the purpose of weaponwork in Aikido we must accept that development does not rely upon techniques or weapons, but on independence of it. If a sword is used, do not realize it as a sword. If using a Jo, do not depend on it, but feel the common harmony in body movement.
By using a weapon there is a real threat towards the opponent or training partner. Unfortunately by doing too much shiai, the feeling of a threat not mentioned in the rulesbook will be ignored and some parts of the training can be spoiled by such an attitude. For this reason a balance has to be created between randori and kata, even if someone doesn’t see or ignores the purpose of kata training. Understanding the logic in the kata is necessary.
There are different opinions on the meaning of ura-waza.
reverse or counter technique, also called kaeshi-waza.
alternative performance of kuzushi with application
7-hon no kuzushi ura-waza
In Koryu no kata Dai Yon, the 2nd section is called Ura-waza. This section is build upon the omote-waza discussed in a previous article.
The start of the 7 waza are the 7-hon no kuzushi without the throw of the omote-waza, followed by an alternative action. Some of these actions are applications for randori (restricted free fight) or goshinho waza (aiki self-defence). The “kuzushi” element is a prime factor for a non-muscular approach.
Non- muscular actions
Movement is based upon muscular actions. When we say “non-muscular action”, we are talking about extending muscular actions, and not flexing muscular actions.
For a technical explanation see Encyclopedia Britannica.
Pulling and pushing are 2 different movements, but from a non-muscular point of view both are using an extensor action. Basically all “kuzushi” movements are based upon the non-muscular concept. The moment when we use a flexor action, opponent will intercept and can do a counter movement.
All non-muscular actions in koryu no kata dai yon are movements away from the centre to the outside.
A main component of Dai Yon is the (un)famous 7-hon no kuzushi. The 1st part of the Dai-Yon is about throwing an opponent after acquiring a perfect “kuzushi”. This possibility in a fighting situation will be very rare….although it can happen if…..
Koryu no kata Dai Yon
Nage no kata – omote waza – 7 waza
Nage no kata – ura waza – 7 waza
Oyo waza* – applications – 11 waza
*Oyo waza designates applications build upon 7-hon no kuzushi basics.
Nage no kata – omote waza
The 1st part of the kata is build upon the 7-hon no kuzushi. A throwing action is added after the kuzushi.
The focus is on the action of the hand and arm doing the kuzushi. The efficiency of the throw is depending on the elasticity of Tori’s body. When the body is stretched power is stored and can be released into uke’s body.
The dynamics of the kuzushi (loss of balance) will undergo the influence of gravity.
There is a mechanism we have to take in account when we use stretching and release.
With the muscular relaxation, the movement is immediate, in a single time, this movement is much faster than with the muscular system of contraction. If we try to throw with muscular contraction, opponent will sense your intention and will block your movement.
Using meguri and tenshi-kei is necessary to create efficient kuzushi.
Jodan aigamae & Jodan gyakugamae
Kuzushi is created by using a rotational movement of the hand, followed by a body movement with the elbow as a transfer joint.
When you try to lift the hand and arm, Uke will feel and block your movement.
Jodan aigamae & gyakugamae are actions on the inside of Uke’s arm.
Chudan aigamae & Chudan gyakugamae
Kuzushi is created by using a rotational movement of the hand, followed by a body movement with the elbow as a transfer joint.
The skill is to turn opponent’s arm in hineri fashion without stretching opponent’s arm. Rotating the arm is the message.
Chudan aigamae & gyakugamae are actions on the outside of Uke’s arm.
In the 70-ties I had the opportunity to study aikido with Hirokazu Kobayashi. In that time I didn’t understand the concept of meguri* and tenshi (body rotation). Kobayashi stressed on many occasions the spiral movement of the wrist and the dropping of the elbow. Using the koshi was also one of his favorite remarks.
It was Akira Hino’s explanation about “tenshi-kei”, the power of internal rotation, that gave me a better understanding of meguri* and the use of koshi (lower back).
*A defensive movement when grasped at the wrist, is the skill of “meguri”, meaning flexibility, rotation of the forearms. The use of the koshi as engine for power release increases the efficiency of defense action.
Meguri and tenshi are the main components in 7-hon no kuzuzhi, the balance disturbing exercises of Tomiki’s Aikido. Without spiral rotations, the balance disturbing will only rely on muscular power of the arm. Only by using “rendo” or synchronizing body movements, the power of meguri and tenshi will create the necessary balance disturbing followed by a throw or control action.
7-hon no kuzushi
The concept of balance disturbing in Tomiki’s Aikido is partly the result of the influence of Kodokan Judo, but also Morhei Ueshiba’s Aikido is prominent present.
Morihei Ueshiba’s Aikido is build around the use of rotational and spiral power.
In the picture, there is the downward rotational movement of the body. By using a meguri pulling action on the sleeve or arm, the rotational movement changes into a downward spiral movement.
Some teachers use an almost linear approach, others use a more circular approach. This of course will affect the perception and will have a negative influence on the performance of lesser skillful practitioners. The external movements has to combined with internal movements, this is only possible through the skill of “rendo”.
The 7-hon no kuzushi is build around :
central axis rotation
The basic positions are “aigamae” & “gyakugamae” for the vertical and horizontal movements. You will notice, Uke is grasping the wrist with the right hand and keeps the left hand ready for the follow-up action. This can be a strike with the fist or another grasping action.
The central axis rotation start from a rear attack position. Of course the central axis rotation is also present in the vertical and horizontal movements.
When studying 7-hon no kuzushi, we have to understand these movements are simplified and will not work in a randori environment without adaptation to the circumstances.
The movement pattern of these exercises has to be written in the subconscious part of the mind for immediate access when necessary
There are 2 vertical modes in 7-hon no kuzushi:
upward – jodan-kuzushi is mostly characterized by a hineri movement
downward – gedan kuzushi – mostly characterized by a “gaeshi” movement
Horizontal kuzushi movements are mostly characterized by a hineri movement
When performing from the right posture, opponent can attack from 2 positions:
Central axis rotation
The idea here is an application of spinning top power.**
**A spinning top is a toy designed to spin rapidly on the ground, the motion of which causes it to remain precisely balanced on its tip due to its rotational inertia.
Meguri and tenshi in 7-hon no kuzushi
A “kuzushi” movement is succesful when we consider the following:
target: the wrist attacked by the opponent
the hand of the grasped wrist to indicate the direction
the elbow: the transfer joint for the full-body power by using meguri and tenshi
Opponent can grasp the wrist according 2 modes:
omote dori – outside wrist
ura dori – inside wrist
Each mode has an influence on the hand movement of the grasped wrist. In the go-no-sen mode, opponent has the initiative of the grasping. Defender has the initiative in the sen-no-sen mode.
There are 2 grasping methods:
junte dori – regular grip
gyakute dori – reverse grip
In 7-hon no kuzushi only the junte dori is covered. Gyakute dori or reverse grip is used in kote gaeshi, kote mawashi ……..
How to grasp a wrist?
Grasping a wrist is “almost identical” as grasping the hilt of a sword.
Most of the holding power is in the thumb and middle finger. Little finger, ringfinger and index finger are envelopping the wrist. Grasping is not a static action. The dynamics of grasping is the result of “meguri” and “tenshi”.
The hand of the grasped wrist
As already mentioned, Tori can act in a go-no-sen or sen-no-sen mode.
The hand in most of the cases can move freely. There are 2 basic modes:
By using the turning point in the hand, the tendon of in the forearm will stretch. If the point of turning is close to the wrist, the stretching will not happen. By stretching the tendon(s) it is easier to use the elbow in the desired direction.
Meguri and the use of elbow
Meguri is based upon the flexibility and rotation of the forearm.
The flexibility and rotation of the forearm and elbow is depending on the connection with the kyokotsu, a point at the breastbone. When pulling in the arm by using the biceps muscle, the shoulder will be locked and the power from the central body cannot travel through the elbow to the hand.
In his book “Goshi Jutsu Nyumon”, Kenji Tomiki used a picture to explain hand and elbow movement around a fulcrum, the grasping point by opponent. The picture is only showing the principle of leverage and does not include meguri action.
It is not always possible to move efficiently just by using simple leverage as seen in Tomiki’s fulcrum picture. The elbow movement is only possible if the shoulder is free of tension.
Rotation of the forearm when grasped at the wrist is possible by using the skill of “tenshi” or internal rotation. Tenshi-kei is the power of tenshi and can be used to make waza efficiency higher.
We can use body rotation and internal rotation at the same time to increase waza efficiency. An example can be the rear wrists grasping where we use an external body rotation and tenshi or internal rotation.
Basic 7-hon no kuzushi
7-hon no kuzushi is an exercise to study body movements which can be used in all forms of balance disturbing. The belief that 7-hon no kuzushi is the method for balance disturbance is a delusion. It is an exercise to learn how to use the body with external and internal movements.
There are many versions of 7-hon no kuzushi. The early versions are created when Kenji Tomiki was still teaching. During the creation of Koryu no kata, the study of 7-hon no kuzushi became a part of the training and was incorporated into Koryu no kata daiyon.
History of Koryu no kata
Takeshi Inoue the autor of a book on Koryu no kata, who knows in detail the background of the creation of the Koryu no kata wrote:
In about 1958, we practiced mainly the unsoku, tandoku undo, yonhon no kuzushi (a former version of the nanahon no kuzushi/7-hon no kuzushi) as well as the jugohon no kata (basic15 kata). In around 1960, the junanahon no kata ( basic17 kata) and the roppon no kuzushi/6-hon 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 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)
Some examples from an old Waseda movie 1975
7-hon no kuzushi by Takaeshi Inoue
The illustrations: Tomiki Aikido-Book 1-1978 by dr Lee ah Loi
Tori: Takeshi Inoue
Jodan – aigamae
Jodan – gyakugamae
7-hon no kuzushi application examples
Some applications we can find in “Koryu no kata dai yon”.
Examples are: Jodan kuzushi aigamae nage waza
Jodan kuzushi gyakugamae nage waza
From “Koryu no kata dai roku” Jodan & gedan kuzushi
There are many explanations for Aiki-Do and from a historical point of view we have to look a the lineage of the many educational lines of Aiki-Do.
Morihei Ueshiba can be credited to be the founder of Aikido and was a student of Sokaku Takeda, the founder of modern Daito Ryu Aikijutsu (or Aiki-Jujutsu). Morihei Ueshiba modernized Daito Ryu and therefore changed the mechanical but also the philosophical concepts.
Is there a difference between Aikido and Aiki-Do?
The distinction between the two can be summarized as follows:
Aikido: the martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba, based upon a concept of natural rhythm, a free flow of personal expression that offers no conflict with nature.
Aiki-Do: a method to learn the skill of aiki which is to provide a method of hand-to-hand combat.
According to Japanese Martial Arts scholar Don Draeger, the personal view of Sokaku Takeda on aiki is:
The secret of aiki is to overpower the opponent mentally at a glance and to win without fighting.
Morihei Ueshiba modernized Aiki-Do, sometimes called Aiki-Budo or other names, in such a way that the concept of Aiki is different from the Daito Ryu Aiki concept. The concept of Aiki by Morihei Ueshiba is explained in “Aikido” by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the son of Morihei Ueshiba. This book is written under supervision of Morihei Ueshiba.
Aiki is the expression of Truth itself. It is the way of calling people together and reconciling them with love whenever they may attack us.
Our interest of course is in the lineage of Kenji Tomiki. He was a student of Morihei Ueshiba for his Aikido (previously AikiBudo or other names) and this is the reason why there is a link with the Daito Ryu lineage. But can we conclude Tomiki Aikido is Daito Ryu? In my opinion, Tomiki Aikido has some Daito-Ryu influence via Morihei Ueshiba, but is not following the Daito-Ryu syllabus and therefore the movement patterns will be very different.
Another person who has an influence on Tomiki’s Aikido is Hirokazu Kobayashi from Osaka. Some of his student are claiming Kobayashi was a Daito Ryu shihan. But this seems a controversial assertion. To learn more about the link between Kobayashi and Daito Ryu, you can read an article by Guillaume Erard.
Tetsuro Nariyama, shihan of the Shodokan Dojo in Osaka has a great influence on the modern version of Tomiki’s Aikido and he was for many years a student to Hirokazu Kobayashi. During the time he learned from Kobayashi, he introduced Tomiki’s randori method to university aikido clubs under Kobayashi’s control.
Explanation by Kenji Tomiki
Kenji Tomiki gave an explanation for 2 important words, Aikido & Aiki.
Aikido: the old saying goes, “It is the spirit that carries the mind and controls the body.” The people of ancient times believed that man’s mind and body and consequently his strength were under the control of the spirit.
Aiki means making your spirit “fit in” with your opponent’s. In other words it means bringing your movements into accord with your opponent’s. After all it means the same thing as the “principle of gentleness,” for it is an explanation of the principle from within.
The perception of Kenji Tomiki is a “pragmatic” one, and most people approach his method very technically. In my opinion, Tomiki explained Ueshiba’s Aikido according the ideas of Kodokan founder Jigoro Kano, but tried to keep the spiritual message of Morihei Ueshiba. Tomiki seems to use almost non-religious words to explain a spiritual message. By using a non-religious language, some Western people are very highly attracted by the logic he used to explain his Aikido understanding. Other people regret the absence of a kind of aiki-mystery in the method.
But is this just a perception or maybe we don’t understand Tomiki’s message?
There is an interesting quote of Tomiki in Geof Gleeson’s book: Judo Inside Out:
When training in aiki jitsu under Professor Tomiki he often used the symbol of prayer, the placing of two hands together as signifying the purpose of prayer and religion – the duality of God and man, the yin and yang, becoming one.
Human Lifelong Activity
If we try to understand Aikido in a pragmatic way but as a lifelong activity, we cannot just build our understanding on techniques, exercises or technical kata. We have to find out the elements which can be used as criteria for Aikido as a human lifelong activity. I am not referring to the 3 principles of Judo used by Tomiki (Natural posture, Breaking the posture & Principle of Gentleness) because they are included in the Fundamental Elements.
Yōso – Fundamental elements
Yōso literally translated as “principle”, but in the context of our study we use “essential element”. Of course this is already discussed in other articles on this blog. But I would like to stress the importance of this way of thinking: A human lifelong activity.
This is only possible if we change our way of thinking from raw muscular power into a method based upon physical & mental skills, creating an Aikido method for everybody. This method is using technical skills to control attacking power of an opponent by using fundamental elements without raw muscular power.
What are the fundamental elements in the method which can be practised by everyone?
Ma : distance & time interval
distance between 2 opponents or more
the distance to step to the opponent to control him, for example grasping the wrist
Time Interval :
the relation between distance and time
big and small movements and time relationship
Controlling the distance and the time to bridge the distance doesn’t need excessive muscular power, only our natural way of moving is needed. The relationship with the principle of natural posture is evident.
The exercises unsoku-ho & tandoku undo are a very basic training tool to practise how to move in a natural way. When a training partner is involved, we are confronted with the distance and the relationship with time when moving into a safe zone after a movement of the opponent. The concept of “rikakutaisei” is her involved.
Hyoshi : cadence, rhythm, tempo
cadence : Cadence is the total number of repeated movements (cycles) taken within a given period of time.
rhythm : creating movements within a pattern (waza). You create rhythm by repetition of similar movements with a variations pattern
tempo : the speed of a movement cycle
Learning the skill to change hyoshi with the purpose to control the opponent. There are 2 opportunities:
Changing the own hyoshi to create an opportunity to control the opponent.
Changing opponent’s hyoshi to create an opportunity to control the opponent.
Repetitive training is a basic method to learn the concept of hyoshi an includes the following parameters:
cadence : the total number of repetitions in a certain time
rhythm : repetitions of a movement pattern without changing the choreography
tempo : the time to perform 1 movement pattern, which is repeated several times at the same speed
Combinations of cadence, rhythm and tempo can be used.
Aiki (in aikido) is the skill to read correctly the Ma & Hyoshi of the opponent and controlling his actions. Reading the opponent is called “yomi”* and comes from “yomu” which is “to read”. We can read before or during the actions of the opponent. When this reading is correctly done, the use of power will follow the laws of natural movements with the body. No tension is required to apply power. Therefore it becomes a lifelong activity.
The concept of reading goes far beyond the use of the eyes. The total body can be seen as a sense organ and will be used to “yomi” correctly the Ma & Hyoshi of the opponent. It is most important to “un-tension” the body if we use it as a “yomi” sense organ.
Some advice by Shigeru Uemura, former ShitoRyu karateka In internal martial arts we advance by releasing the muscles, in other words by falling. When we release the muscles, an energy linked to gravitation is released. With the muscular relaxation, the movement is immediate, in a single time, this movement is much faster than with the muscular system which is done in two stages. It is by releasing the weight of the body that we move. By synchronizing the muscular system, the tendinous system, the nervous system and the bone system, which makes it possible to move with high efficiency.
By following this advice the skill how to move is improving which has a great influence on reading and anticipation of opponent’s movements.
* Sometimes Yomi is referring to a kind of fortune-telling.
The word nagashi is used in martial arts when a strategy of deflection is needed. Iaido kata “Uke-nagashi” is an example where deflection and power of the opponent’s cut is used to counterattack. Other Japanese martial arts are using the same strategy with different names. In Wado-ryu Karate, nagashi is frequently used to explain the art of deflecting and redirecting the power while keeping contact with the opponent. We find the word “nagashi” also in the names of some traditional Japanese Festivals.
Hina Nagashi 雛流し March 3
The Hina Festival is a traditional Japanese event for girls in which people imbue dolls called “hina” with their wishes for the healthy growth of their children. Each year, a stately ceremony called “Hina Nagashi” is held on March 3. People write their wishes on the hina dolls, place the dolls on boats, and allow them to drift out into the spring ocean. The dolls, which are dressed in scarlet and yellow kimono, sway beautifully on the open sea that glitters in the sunlight.
Actually our interest goes to the idea behind the word. Nagasu verb, meaning “to spread”or “to flow”…… Basically the concept of nagashi in martial arts is absorbing the incoming attack and give back. This in fact is another definition for “Ju no ri” or the principle of gentleness formulated by Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo. Kenji Tomiki used this concept to describe the idea of using the power of the opponent. The aim is to absorb the energy of the attack and not to damage ourselves. There are several basic ways to make this move, but everything lies in the union of two actions, the first action is to synchronize our movement with the opponent attack keeping the rikakutaisei distance, the second action is to move your body weight in the proper angle to absorb opponent’s power. Nagashi s a type of protection that allows a movement of continuity, deflecting or accompanying the attack of the opponent.
Nagashi-kata movements are the basics for tegatana-dosa, also called tandoku undo. The 5 handblade movements are combined with unsoku or foot-movements. There are many versions of tegatana-dosa since the birth of Tomiki’s Aikido, and each has a different purpose. The names of handblade movements can be different depending on the use of the handblade. Find here 2 important versions of tegatana-dosa tandoku-undo.
Uchi gaeshi & soto gaeshi
Uchi mawashi tentai
Soto mawashi tentai
Shomen no uchikomi/tsukikomi
Tenkai/tentai no uchikomi
The version developed in the 50-ties of the 20th century, are expressing the concept of nagashi more clearly than the 70-ties version. The movements of the 1958 version have a flowing character, while the 1975 movements have borrowed concepts from Kendo (modern swordsmanship).
The 5 handblade movements can be used as an offensive movement. Yokomen-uchi and gyaku-yokomen-uchi are atemi waza to the side of opponent’s head. Uchi -mawashi and soto-mawashi are used in this case as atemi-waza in combination with the proper “ma and hyoshi“.
Exercises can have a rather simple choreography, but the content can be very complex.
There is omote and there is ura. We can consider nagashi-kata atemi-waza as an omote version. The ura version is a defensive application of nagashi-kata. See picture.
An interesting concept in the defensive movements when grasped at the wrist, is the concept of “meguri”. Literally meaning flexibility and rotation of the forearms. This concept was intensively taught by the late Hirokazu Kobayashi from Osaka.
The rotation of Tori’s wrist can be seen in this movement-clip.
Kobayashi had a cordial relationship with Kenji Tomiki. On 10 October 1969, Kobayashi invited Tomiki to Osaka, where the latter gave a short course to introduce competitive aikido to students from six local universities.
There is an interesting aspect connected to the fighting position of Tomiki Aikido method. In randori no kata, Tori always stands with his right foot in front: migi-gamae. The same applies for Uke. Of course this situation applies for right-handed persons.
But where does the systematic use of the right-sided position, migi-gamae, come from?
First of all we have to understand that randori no kata do not represent a boxing attitude to the fighting situation. We are dealing with classical bujutsu, especially Japanese fencing, kenjutsu. The swordsman always puts his right leg in front. In western boxing or Japanese karate a right-handed person in general takes the left stance. Some Tomiki Aikido competitors use this kamae also during their randori.
The basic kamae in randori no kata mimics that Tori and Uke have a sword in their hands. Randori no kata promotes the basic concepts of kenjutsu. These concepts are how to shift the body away from the line of attack (tai-sabaki) and keep a safe distance (rikakutaisei). There are 2 basic methods to step out of the attacking line.
you can avoid the line of attack to the inner side or
to the outer side of the line of attack
Ai-gamae and gyaku-gamae
The basic method to practise randori no kata is by using ai-gamae. Both perform a kamae with the right foot in front or with the left foot if the practise is focussing on left handed performance.
The exercise of tegatana awase (see on the left) can be practised with ai-gamae or gyaku-gamae. In gyaku-gamae, tori can put tegatana on the inside of uke’s arm or on the outside.
Touching the tegatana of the opponent is the starting of a waza while practising randori no kata.
Using gyaku-hanmi in randori no kata
In basic 15 (randori no kata), the position of gyaku-gamae is used in to some “waza”. Gyaku-gamae-ate is such an example.
In the beginning of this article we stated: Tori always stands with his right foot in front: migi-gamae. Why is Tomiki sensei changing his posture to hidari-gamae? It is more logical if Uke is changing his posture, because this creates a training opportunity for Tori to practise against a left-handed attack. Of course we can practise randori-no-kata from a left-handed situation. But we cannot forget the origin of the right-handed posture: Japanese swordmanship.
The role of Uke
In randori-no kata, the role of Uke is an offensive one. Mind and body must reflect the intention to attack. When Uke lift his “tegatana” up and towards Tori, there must be an intention to attack. For training purposes, Uke can physically attack with shomen-uchi without lifting the hand to jodan posture.
The role of Tori
The role of Tori will depend on the action of Uke and can be performed according 3 specific situations:
go-no-sen (reactive initiative)
sen-no-sen (simultaneous initiative)
sensen-no-sen (pre-emptive initiative)
As previously mentioned, tegatana-awase is the start of the physical performance of a waza. But it is also possible by “not touching” tegatana, Uke’s mind is of course offensive, there is no physical attack. The previous example of gyaku-gamae-ate is such a situation.
Timing or Sen
Mostly in tanto-randori no kata (basic 17) a specific kind of timing is used: go-no-sen. This means reactive timing. The opponent performs an attack and the defender reacts to this and deals with it with the help of a body shift with simultaneous a nagashi movement (sliding parry) followed by a counterattack. There are two rhythms connected to this timing. The rhythm can be one-two, for example in a case of aigamae-ate, or it can be one, which means that parry and counter attack are performed at the same time. Hiki-otoshi is such an example.
Can we use other timing situation in basic kata for randori (randori no kata)?
Sen-no-sen: This means simultaneous timing. This needs a different state of mind. Tori tries to sense the intention of the attacker and starts to move simultaneously with him. In Tanto-randori-no-kata, a sen-no-sen action can be used when a tanto-strike is at the beginning of the action.
Sensen-no-sen: This means pre-emptive timing and it is the most demanding to perform. To perform it correctly would mean that Tori should be able to feel the movement of Uke before it takes any physical movement. In Japanese budo there is lots of material to be found about this timing: to pre-emptive strike at the point when Uke is still planning his own attack. In this level you take the initiative when you sense the intention of the attack in the opponent’s mind or in his ki, as the Japanese say.
The game in Randori-no-kata
By changing posture and situation, we stimulate the creativity of the practitioners. And to make it more interesting, playing with 3 kinds of timing is multiplying your numbers of possible waza.
Next step is to use all your waza in randori (kakari geiko, hikitate geiko and randori geiko)