Aikido breakfall

Aikido Warrior Dojo – Moments in Aiki

10653835_10152773559605928_4157188167238557708_nSee below a montage of video clips and photos from classes at our dojo over the last 12 months (with the odd exception).

Our dojo is an Aikido Yuishinkai affiliated dojo and is committed to studying Aikido as envisaged by its Founder Master Morihei Ueshiba (O’sensei).  Master Koretoshi Maruyama established  Aikido Yuishinkai in 1996.  He was a direct student of the Founder of Aikido and was given his teaching licence by O’Sensei in 1967.

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo

Dojo shodan grading – Neil Neilsen Sensei

When it comes to milestones in an Aikido practitioner’s journey, testing for shodan is one of the biggest. With this in mind, I had the privilege today to convene a shodan testing panel for one of our dojo’s founding members – Neil Neilsen.

One of the great aspects  of the culture at our dojo is that grading milestones are a community event. It’s important to all of us that those being tested not only pass but pass with “flying colours”.  Neil’s grading was no different with everyone banding together to help him train for his test though the Christmas/New Year break.

As for the actual grading event, Neil readily exceeded the technical testing requirements and continually opted to do the “extra mile”. When it came to the 3 person attacker component (sanningake), for example, he resolved to take 4 attackers.

Similarly, after completing the formal requirements in the syllabus, and despite being understandably tired, he requested to have his ukemi tested (a dojo tradition).  This essentially involved him being the uke in 6 consecutive taninzugake (free form practice), each with a different dojo senior.   Neil effortlessly took endless breakfalls and other complex ukemi as part of this.

The video below gives some of the grading moments captured by our resident photographer Eden.     


Congratulations to Neil on his grading and a huge thank you to all the ukes who participated. Big thank you also to Michael Sensei (Bald Hills Dojo) and Mike Nash Sensei (Aikido Republic) who joined us on the day to support Neil and participate in the grading.

Have a great weekend.

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo Brisbane


Moments in breakfall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUkemi (the art of receiving technique) is something we take very seriously at the dojo.  It is not only a critical skill to ensure our safety, but also plays an important role in developing  fundamental skills associated with balance, using relaxed power, correct body movement and flexibility.  Further, it is impossible to learn how to execute a technique unless you have someone willing to receive it.

In every class, there is always a segment dedicated to learning and improving our abilities to receive technique.

In the below video, which was taken at various classes during the year, dojo seniors can be seen using Aikido breakfalls to safely receive technique.  Breakfalls are one of a number of ukemi options that are available to Aikido practitioners when receiving a throw. Another commonly used option, depending on the circumstances, is rolling away.

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior




Breakfalls and Aikido – Are they really necessary?

Ueshiba 5The question of whether breakfalls are really necessary in Aikido is one that seems to attract very different opinions even amongst those who practice in the same school.

I have heard senior practitioners on many occasions argue that breakfalling is pointless, dangerous and really only has a place in demonstrations where the nage needs the uke to make them look good or “wow” the crowd.  I have also heard the converse argument to the effect that breakfalling is necessary to learn Aikido at advanced levels and is a critical skill to minimise the possibility of injury at the dojo.

bokken koshi nageThe reality probably lies somewhere in the middle of these arguments. It is also in part influenced by the holder’s perspective as to whether Aikido is primarily a system of self-defence, a health art, a physical manifestation to study philosophical expression, or all of these things and more.

At our dojo, self-projected high falls from techniques are banned. “One flung dung” throws are also not permitted (i.e. techniques where the nage takes no responsibility for being the uke‘s safety anchor). We also have the philosophy of “severe technique – soft throw”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANotwithstanding, breakfalls are part of our regular practice and dojo culture.  Aspects of these falls are practised and studied at every class.  There are 2 fundamental reasons for this and both are game changers when it comes to the decision to include breakfalls in Aikido training.

Peter KellyThe first is that breakfalling allows us to study the full spectrum of Aikido techniques, including, for example, traditional techniques such as hip, shoulder and drop throws.  Without breakfalling skills, many of these traditional techniques developed by O’sensei (the Founder of Aikido) would in effect be denied us.  This is because a breakfall is the only option to receive them.  While there is no doubt one can study Aikido by excluding traditional applications (and many do) – its just not what we are about.

Secondly, we also hold the view that for Aikido to have self-defence relevance, study of  “kuzushi” is fundamental (i.e. the need to completely break the balance of a uke to a OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAexecute technique). Once a uke‘s balance is broken, it is critical that they have the full range of ukemi options at their disposal to allow them to land safely, including breakfalls. Admittedly, some Aikidoka regard kuzushi as being unimportant to their study of Aikido and even go as far as to suggest that it is contrary to their philosophical beliefs as to what Aikido is about.  However, as that is not the position we hold at the dojo – breakfalling skills again come into play.

In the below video, various techniques are shown where breakfalling skills have been called upon by dojo members over the year to safely receive a technique.

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo, Brisbane

Learning to breakfall – its a lot easier than it looks

Yokomenuchi kokyu nageAt our dojo learning to breakfall is an accepted part of our training culture.  The ability to breakfall is something we learn and develop to make sure we stay safe in our practice and to enable us to practice Aikido at its more advanced levels.

Most classes include a breakfalling skills development component. The focus of the training tends to be on traditional breakfalling, as this form of ukemi can be  universally applied to receive any technique.  In addition, some seniors also venture down the supplemental path of what is sometimes referred to as “feather rolling”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA key aspect of our training is to not only focus on the uke, but also the nage. Given that the decision as to whether the uke is to breakfall generally lies with the nage, it is important that the nage has the skills to not only remain stable and anchored (if for no other reason so as not to fall on their uke), but also support and turn the uke to assist them in landing safely and correctly.

The below video shows a selection of some of the breakfalling exercises that we commonly do at the dojo. While some may appear daunting at first look, they are surprisingly easy to pick up with the appropriate instruction. They are also a lot of fun.  You will note from the video that they are being practised by persons of varied ages, sizes and experience levels.

Have a great weekend

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo, Brisbane

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