First Suburi – Ichi No Suburi

What is suburi?

Aiki ken is the name given to the set of Japanese sword techniques as taught first by Morihei Ueshiba (Founder of Aikido) then further developed by one of his most prominent students – Morihiro Saito Sensei.  Suburi refers to the basic 7 solo movements of Aiki ken.  These solo movements represent the basic cutting movements necessary for partnered sword practice.

First suburi

In the below video Saito Sensei demonstrates and provides instruction for the first suburi (Ichi No Suburi).



Summary of basic movements 

  • Starting in basic hamni  lift the sword through the tip and turn the hips from left to right.  At the same time bring the  elbows in and slide the leading right foot backward slightly without shifting weight backward.
  • When the sword is raised above the head the hips should be in a frontal (i.e. horizontal) position and the elbows closed.
  • In preparing the strike, bring the sword back, resting it on only one point in the middle of the back.
  • When completing the strike, cut down with a shomen cut and end the movement by turning the hips and returning to a hanmi stance.

Other notes

  • Do not lift centre when striking – hips move along a horizontal plain.
  • Do not open grip excessively when lifting the sword.
  • Do not cut too far from body otherwise overbalancing will occur.
  • Head should be straight and aligned with body at all times
  • When finishing the strike, do not turn head to the side. Look in front and only turn the body.

Brief Biography – Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002)

saito_seiza_260Morihiro Saito Sensei’s  practice of Aikido spanned 56 years and he is one of the most important teachers in Aikido history.  Saito Sensei was a live-in student of O’sensei for more than 20 years at his home dojo in Iwama, Japan.

Saito Sensei spent his teaching life dedicated to preserving the technical style of Aikido as practised and shown to him by O’sensei in the post-war period.  Without his commitment to preserving the Aikido of the Founder and extensive efforts to record and document his teachings, much of the Aikido of O’sensei would have no doubt been lost.  The Aikido world owes him a great debt.