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.
In the below video Saito Sensei demonstrates and provides instruction for the second suburi (Nini No Suburi).
Summary of basic movements
- Starting in basic hamni, take a step back with the right foot and assume a hito-e-mi posture (note: back toe is on the same line as the front heel). This movement has the effect of moving the nage off the centre line of an incoming attack.
- Turn the hips to prepare the strike, close the elbows, always move the centre along the horizontal plain.
- Always bring the sword to rest on one spot on the back. Take a step forward with the right right foot and shomen cut down in front on the line of attack.
- Do not complete the strike by moving the front foot outside the line of the sword. The front foot and sword are always on the same line, directed toward the (imaginary) uke’s centre line . End the movement by turning the hips and returning to hanmi stance.
- Do not lift centre when striking – hips move along a horizontal plain.
- Always lift up through the tip of the sword (ie not handle first).
Brief Biography – Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002)
Morihiro 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.