Atemi

Its marvellous what a difference atemi makes – Tsuki zenpo nage

Tsuki zenpo nage is one of those techniques that for years had me baffled as to how it had any martial relevance  at all.  For those not familiar with the technique, it is more commonly seen in ki aikido dojos and basically involves the nage stepping to the side of a strike to the stomach, taking the uke’s arm and projecting them off.  The idea that a strike or thrust by a uke to a nage’s abdomen could ever result in the uke being able to be projected forward into an unavoidable roll-out in this manner always seem far fetched to me.  Further, I had never had anyone actually be able to do it to me without my full cooperation.  In the end I began to see the technique as nothing more than a rolling exercise.

Recently I came across a black and white video recorded sometime in the 90’s that included a range of hiji waza (elbow techniques).  To my surprise I recognised a hiji waza technique that was clearly tsuki zenpo nage in its martial form – Tsuki hiji nage.

So how did it differ?  Firstly the nage commenced the technique with a double strike to the uke’s abdomen and temple to break the uke’s balance at first instance (see photo of O’sensei at right).

This then easily segued into a locking of the elbow joint which in turn enabled the nage to continue to take the uke’s balance and then project them forward into an unavoidable roll. Any other response by the uke (eg resisting the roll out) would risk serious elbow damage.

Notably in the more typical Tsuki zenpo nage the elbow locking, as well as the atemi, was completely omitted.

Unfortunately, what has happened here is an example of an Aikido application being watered down (presumably for safety or philosophical reasons) to the point it had become martially irrelevant.  By removing the atemi (strike) and the elbow lock, the essence of the technique had become completely lost turning it into no more than an aided rolling or blending exercise.

Far more concerning, however, is that many of the Aiki principles underpinning the technique (you know what we are actually supposed to be learning) had been completely stripped from its application.  These include balance breaking, entering while moving off-line, “heaven-man-earth”, and nage/uke sensitivity and connection, and ukemi responses from an off-balanced position.

In the below video seniors from our dojo can be seen practising  Tsuki zenpo nage with the atemi and elbow lock included in the application.  In some instances, the nage also takes the added precaution of üsing their hip to provide added assurance that kuzushi (balance breaking) is maintained throughout.

 

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Dojo Cho
Aikido Warrior Fudoshin Dojo, Brisbane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training notes: Munadori koshi nage

In the below video, Morihiro Saito Sensei (9th Dan) demonstrates 3 versions of the Aikido technique koshi nage  (hip throw) in response to a front lapel grab (munedori).

https://vimeo.com/189767513/settings

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Mundadori koshi nage (Nage takes wrist from below)

 

  • Munadori menuchi koshi nage (omote)

The below video demonstrates how koshi nage is performed if the lapel grab is accompanied by a strike to the temple.

 

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Dojo Cho
Aikido Warrior Dojo

 

Training notes: Munetsuki kotegaeshi

In the below videos Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002) provides instruction on the traditional version of  munetsuki kotegaeshi as practised by O’Sensei (the Founder of Aikido) in the immediate post-war period of his life. Munetsuki kotegaeshi  is traditionally categorised as a “turn and transform” (kaiten) technique and is practised as a response to a strike or thrust to the stomach (munetsuki).

morihiro-saito-kotegaeshiMunetsuki kotegaeshi is sometimes mistakenly considered a beginners technique on the basis that it often appears in early gradings in many schools.  In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact the technique can be quite challenging to effectively perform, particularly against a centred and responsive uke who either resists or is skilled in countering.  Effective application of kotegaeshi (regardless of the attack) requires significant skills in entering, timing, sinking, maintaining centre, space, balance breaking and moving as a single relaxed unit.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Hand position for kotegaeshi

The below photo and drawing show the hand position for executing kotegaeshi.  In our school the wrist is not twisted to the side.

For video of Maruyama sensei explaining the hand position for kotegaeshi see: Training Notes: Yokomenuchi kotegaeshi.

kotegaeshiKotegaishi hands

 

 

 

  • Atemi (striking)

From a martial perspective, atemi (striking) is an important part of Aikido practice. Depending on the source, between 70% and 90% of Aikido requires an application of atemi principles.

In the below video, Morihiro Saito Sensei demonstrates the atemi for munetsuki kotegaeshi.

 

  • Alternate standing pin

kotegaishi pin

  

 

 

 

  • Kuzushi and balance taking principles 

In Aikido the uke’s balance is typically not taken by movements of the nage’s upper body, but by the correct movement of the nage’s lower half of their body, particularly the hips. In munetsuki kotegaeshi, for examplethe nage’s hand on the uke’s wrist is merely the connection point.  However, it is the movement and sinking of the nage’s hips that breaks the uke’s balance.

In the below video,  Morihiro Saito Sensei, demonstrates how the correct use of the hips and sinking can be used to take the balance of the uke at first contact in munetsuki kotegaeshi.

 

  • Munetsuki kotegaeshi – Ai-hamni stance

In the below video made by the London Aikido Club, munetsuki kokyu nage is examined from a traditional kokyu ho perspective.

The London Aikido Club studies the Aikido of Morihiro Saito Sensei and generously shares many of its teachings on the web.  Those interested in the study of traditional Aikido as taught by the Founder in the post war period of his life may wish to check out the London Aikido Club’s You tube channel.

 

Application options

In the below video Christian Tissier Sensei (8th Dan Aikikai) explains the 3 options available for applying kotegaishi and the circumstances that favour one option in preference to another.

 

  • 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 from the post war period would have been lost.

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Dojo Cho
Aikido Warrior Fudoshin Dojo

 

Parrying – Shomen strikes

atemiFor those interested in Aikido as a method of self-defence, an important aspect of Aikido training is the practice of methods for parrying and deflecting attacks.

In the below video produced by the TenShin Aikido Federation, instruction is given on how to effectively deflect a shomenuchi (downward temple strike) using what is sometimes referred to in Aikido as a suriage movement. This method of deflection is particularly effective in addressing a shomen strike and when done correctly readily sets up a variety of Aikido applications.       

 

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Suriage movement – Kaiten nage application 

In the below video taken at a class at our dojo, suriage is used to set up a kaiten nage (or wheel throw).

 

  • Acknowledgement of Tenshin Aikido

Aikido Warrior Dojo would like to acknowledge and extend its appreciation to TenShin Aikido Federation for making the featured video.  In 2003, Renshi Santos Shihan founded the TenShin Aikido Federation (TAF) in honor of O’Sensei and those who introduced TenShin Aikido into his life, including Steven Seagal Shihan.  For some excellent videos on Tenshin Aikido check out their “Rogue Warrior” channel on You tube.

“Free Wielding Sword” (Bokken Kata 2) – Aikido Yuishinkai

In the below video Master Koretoshi Maruyama, Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai, gives a demonstration of one of the three major bokken katas practised in Aikido Yuishinkai  – “Free Wielding Sword” (Bokken Kata 2).  For further detail on key aspects of the kata see videos in the “Detailed Notes” below.

 

DETAILED NOTES

  • Overview of kata

 

  • The first four cuts

 

  • Kyu and ju cuts

 

  • Ju san and ju hachi cuts

 

  • Ju roku cut 

 

All the best

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo

 

Hitotsu no tachi – Aikido Yuishinkai

Bokken practice - partnered.In the below video Master Koretoshi Maruyama, Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai, provides instruction for the partnered bokken kata – Hitotsu no tachi as practiced in Aikido Yuishinkai.

Hitotsu no tachi (like all partnered bokken practice in our school) is choreographed with both participants having predetermined movements and roles.

Skills developed through 2 person bokken kata directly transferable to unarmed training include those related to:

  • blending and parrying;
  • timing;
  • using small body movements to generate power and move off-line (this is achieved through correct use of the hips and moving the body as a single entity);
  • Entering and related footwork; and
  • Stillness of mind.

 

The video was recorded in 2012 in Rotterdam as part of an Aikido Yuishinkai International Seminar.  It was made available courtesy of Aikido Yuishinkai International Instructor, Martijn van Hemmen Sensei.

Have a great week.

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo

 

“Four Gods” Bokken Kata – Aikido Yuishinkai

4 GodsIn the below video Master Koretoshi Maruyama, Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai, provides instruction on one of the three major bokken katas practised in Aikido Yuishinkai – “The Four Gods” kata (Shishin no ken).

The video was recorded in 2012 in Rotterdam.  In addition to instruction by Maruyama Sensei, it includes a demonstration of the kata by Aikido Yuishinkai International Instructor, Martijn van Hemmen Sensei.

 

  • Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Martjin Sensei for both making available and giving me permission to publish his video recordings of the 2012 International Aikido Yuishinkai Seminar.

Have a great long weekend.

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo