In modern Aikido kaiten techniques are typically referred to as “wheel throws” because the uke is projected in a wheel like shape. Traditionally, however, they were referred to as “open and turn” techniques. In the text “Budo“, Master Morihei Ueshiba describes kaiten as a turn and transform movement.
In the below video Mike Jones Sensei of NY Aikikai Dojo provides instruction on one of the basic forms of kaiten nage from a same side grab (katatedori).
Other common forms of kaiten nage for katatedori
Morihiro Saito Sensei (8th Dan) demonstrates various traditional forms of Katatedori kaiten nage as practised by the Founder of Aikido in the immediate post war period.
Katatedori kaiten nage – Christian Tissier Sensei
In the below videos Christian Tissier Sensei (8th Dan Aiki Kai) provides instruction and technical points for 2 of the commonly practised forms of Katatedorikaiten nage.
Katatedori kaiten nage – “Budo Renshu”
In the below video, Ian Grant and Jeremy Gehrke Sensei of Aikido Warrior Fudoshin Dojo (Brisbane) demonstrate an alternate form of Katatedori kaiten nage inspired by O’sensei’s 1934 technical manual “Budo Renshu“.
Shiho nage (4 directions throw) is one of the most important, if not the most important pillar technique in Aikido training. It contains within it the root of every Aikido technique and there is no doubt its proper execution relies on the nage applying all of the fundamental principles that underlie Aikido practice.
In the below video Morihiro Saito Sensei Sensei demonstrates the omote and ura forms of the Aikido technique Yokomenuchi shiho nage. This form of shiho nage is practised in response to an attack in the form of a side downward blow to the temple area (yokomenuchi).
Technical notes – Morito Suganuma Sensei
In the below video Morito Suganuma Sensei (8th dan Aikikai) demonstrates and provides instruction for Yokomenuchi shiho nage. The instruction incudes both the omote and ura applications.
Initial setup – Technical notes
Omote application (1) – Technical notes – London Aikido Club
In the following video Sensei Andy Hathaway of the London Aikido Club gives detailed instruction on the traditional application of Yokomenuchi shiho nage (omote) as practised by the Founder of Aikido in the immediate post-war period.
Ura application – technical notes – Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei
Alternate application (1) – Christian Tissier Sensei
In the below video Christian Tissier Sensei (8th Dan Aikikai) demonstrates an alternate application of shiho nage yokomenuchi where the nage directly enters to respond to the attack.
Alternate application (2) – Aikido Yushinkai
In the below video, Peter Kelly Sensei, Aikido Yuishinkai, demonstrates and provides instruction for an alternate application of yokomenuchi shiho nage. The video was recorded at a mini seminar at our Dojo in 2015.
In the below video, Christian Tissier Shihan (8th Dan Aikikai) demonstrates the omote and ura versions of the Aikido technique ushiro ryotedori ikkyo.
The demonstrations are completed in a dynamic free flowing form whereby the uke commences the attack by proceeding to the front of the nage, grabbing the nage’s wrist and then moving to the rear (with a view to also grabbing the nage’s second wrist).
This form of practice is referred to in some schools as ki no nagare. In ki aikido schools it is sometimes referred to as ryutai.
Movement and Sword principles
In the below video Chicko Xerri Sensei (6th Dan Aki Aiki kai) explores the sword principles that underpin the higher level practice of ushiro techniques. The exploration is particularly applicable to ikkyo applications.
Our dojo is part of the Aikido Kenkyukai Fodoshin Dojos (Australia). Chicko Sensei is the Shihan for our school.
Balance breaking principles – Kuzushi
In the below video produced by Senshin Center Aikido Dojo, balance breaking principles applicable to ushiro attacks are explored. Kuzushi is unfortunately something that is sometimes overlooked in Aikido. The fact remains, however, that it is near impossible to throw a centred uke unless they are either cooperating or overpowered by a significantly larger nage.
In the below video Chicko Xerri Sensei explores an alternate option for addressing a ushiro attack whereby the uke is not permitted to move to the rear of the nage. Chicko sensei emphasises the important aiki principle of creating a space to move before attempting an aikido application.
In the below video Chicko Xerri Sensei explores a further option for addressing ushiro attacks. The option readiy sets up the circumstances for an ikkyo application.
In the below video, Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei provides instruction on Ushiro tekubidori ikkyo as practised in Aikido Yuishinkai. The method of application is typical of the approach taken by ki aikido schools.
A couple of weeks back, I was talking after class with a relative newcomer to our Art who had been pondering on a number of philosophical issues relevant to the martial practise of Aikido. The discussion went along the lines that if Aikido is not about teaching people how to fight, then what is it really about.
There is probably no right or wrong answer to this question. Speaking from a strictly martial context, my own view is that Aikido is about giving the practitioner skills to allow them the choice between a forgiving response and a destructive response to an attack.
I think it would be fair to say that in most violent altercations the respondent to an attack ordinarily only has the option of a destructive response. This response involves either applying a destructive force to repel the attacker or accepting self destruction through submission. What Aikido facilitates is giving the recipient of an attack another option.
In Aikido we learn to merge an attacker’s energy (or ki) with our own energy such that the attacker’s centre of balance is taken while our centre remains strong. The result is that for a moment of time the attacker is completely vulnerable. It is at this point that the Aikido practitioner is in a position to make a choice between one of 2 options.
The first option is a forgiving response where damage to the attacker is minimalized to that necessary to end the attack (i.e. through the application of an Aikido technique). The second option is to take advantage of the attacker’s weakened structural position and execute maximum damage to the attacker, such as a strike to a vital organ. In Aikido we obviously advocate the first choice.
Taken from this perspective, Aikido is not about learning skills to destroy an attacker, but rather learning skills to have the option of a more forgiving response.
I recently watched an interview with wrestler Hulk Hogan where he said that in professional wrestling the ending is predetermined but the “bumps are real”.
It crossed my mind that this is the same situation in Aikido. When we practise kata or tanininzugake the agreement is usually that at the end the nage will still be standing and the uke will one way or another be knocked to the ground. As in professional wrestling, the pre-arranged understanding between the nage and uke does not change the fact that for the uke the final meeting with the mat is going to be very real.
The message we should probably all keep in mind is that at the end of the day we owe it to ourselves to stay safe. Below are some personal views on ways to keep in one-piece.
Some people will be immediately appalled that I would suggest that tanking (i.e. just falling down) is ever an acceptable strategy. However, in a modern Aikido world where newcomers can be on the receiving end of techniques within 20 minutes of starting their first lesson, tanking is probably the only safe option available for them.
Predictive ukemi occurs where the uke essentially predicts to varying degrees what the nage is about to do and moves themselves into a position to best take ukemi from it with minimum possibility of injury.
I find this type of ukemi particularly useful where:
There is uncertainty as to the ability of the nage to execute their techniques without unnecessarily compromising their own safety or that of the uke’s (This may be linked to the type of technique or practise being explored, the experience levels of the nage or uke, or for other reasons);
the “shape of a technique” is being demonstrated to a person who has not previously seen or experienced it; or
the uke is seeking to experiment or simply develop their ukemi skills when receiving specific techniques.
The below short video is an example where predictive ukemi is used to protect the uke from getting a good belt to the face (and potential trip to the dentist) from an atemi based technique.
I use the term non-predictive ukemi to refer to those situations where the uke strikes or attacks with no regard to the likely technique or action to be taken by the nage. The form of ukemi ultimately employed by the uke at the conclusion of the technique is accordingly unknown until the last moment.
While this is a highly worthwhile and quite exhilarating form of training, it requires a strong trust between the nage and uke, including an understanding that the nage will at all times have the highest regard for the uke’s safety when executing their techniques. Particularly important is that the nage appreciates and adapts the intensity of their techniques to correlate with the uke’s experience level andfalling skills.
This is my favourite form of ukemi. While still non-resistant in nature, the essence of this ukemi is that when the uke feels their centre is being taken, the uke reacts by blending with nage’s actions and attempts to regain their balance. A sensitive nage will immediately adjust the application of the technique to compensate. The typical end result is Aikido being dynamically practised with power and grace.
Many of the Aikido demonstrations by Christian Tissier Sensei (7th Dan) are examples of this type of practice at its highest level – see for example Tissier Bercy 2005 HD (at o:59 to 1:39).
However, I would only recommend engaging in this method of uke arts (particularly in taninzugake) if your ukemi skills are well-developed and have become second nature. My own experience is that the speed in which you come out of the technique seems to significantly increase with this type of training. In addition, I sometimes find the gracefulness can be dangerously deceptive and the final powerful meeting with the mat can be quite a mental shock.
Aikido – I do my own stunts
At the end of the day, we in Aikido do our own stunts and no one stands in for us when we fall from an applied technique. To stay safe, the most important thing for us is to use common sense and practise at a level commensurate with our ability to walk away safely in the most likely event that we meet the mat.
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