Donovan Waite Sensei

Training notes: Katatedori kokyu ho

OSenseiTaiNoHenkoIn the below videos Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002) demonstrates the basic  version of Katatedori kokyu ho.

The application is performed from a single hand grab (katatedori) and is categorised as a breath exercise (kokyu ho) or breath throw (kokyu nage).

Kokyu ho exercises are used in Aikido to assist in developing internal power.  They can also be techniques in themselves (kokyu nage) or form key aspects of other techniques.  At higher levels of practice kokyu ho principles form part of every technique.



  • Technical details


  • Katatedori kokyu ho – Alternate application (1)

In the following video Donovan Waite Sensei (7th Dan Aikikai) demonstrates an alternate application of katatedori kokyu nage.  Waite Sensei’s instruction emphasises the importance of connection.  Also of note in this version of the technique is the use of the elbow to effect balance and the pushing away of the uke to complete the technique.


  • Alternate application (2) – Peter Brady Shihan

In the below video, Peter Brady Shihan (7th Dan Aikikai) provides instruction for an alternate application of Katatedori kokyu ho.


  • Alternate application (3) – Donovan Waite Sensei


  • Alternate application (4) – Peter Kelly Sensei 

The below video was recorded at our dojo on 12 August 2015 as part of a special class given by Peter Kelly Sensei of Aikido Yuishinkai (Tasmania) on kokyu ho applications in Aikido practice.


Have a great week.

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo, Brisbane

Training notes: Katatedori sumi otoshi

Otoshi (or drop) techniques feature prominently in a variety of martial arts, including Aikido, Judo and Jujitsu. Otoshi techniques are typically thought of as “hand throws” and when applied correctly generate a surprising amount of power that literally has the effect of dropping (some might say “driving”) the uke straight into the mat.

Ueshiba 5Sumi otoshi (corner drop) is probably the most common drop technique practised in Aikido. The particularly appealing features of this technique include its directness in execution and the fact that it is able to be used to in response to a wide variety of traditional attack situations.

However, while sumi otoshi looks deceptively simple on its face, in reality it requires considerable skill to apply  with any degree of martial integrity.  For example skills in kuzushi (i.e. off-balancing), timing, moving off-line and centred movement are essential.

In the below video, Mike Jones Sensei from  New York Aikikai provides instruction for sumi otoshi from an attack in the form of a same side hand grab (Katate dori).



  • Alternate application

Donovan Waite Sensei (7th Dan Aikikai) in the following video demonstrates and provides training tips for an alternate application of  katatedori sumi otoshi, as well as the variation in the featured video.


  • Learning ukemi

In every technique ii is important to learn not only how to execute it, but also how to safely receive it (ukemi).  In the below video, Waite Sensei demonstrates how the nage can assist the uke in safely learning ukemi for the sumi otoshi.



  • Aikido Yuishinkai (Tasmania)

The demonstration is by Peter Kelly Sensei of Aikido Yuishinkai (Tasmania). The source material was kindly provided courtesy of Bill Hely.

Ian Grant
Dojo Cho
Aikido Warrior Dojo

Training notes: Zagi waza shomenuchi ikkyo

O sensei - Suwari WazaZagi waza (also referred to as suwari waza) is a form of Aikido practice performed from the initial position of nage and uke sitting opposite and facing each other while kneeling  (seiza). This type of practice is particularly useful for developing skills relevant to maintaining and taking balance, moving the body off-line and as a single unit, leverage principles, breath power and keeping centre line.

In our dojo, suwari waza is practiced at most classes. Initially, the typical form of practice is static in nature and involves the uke holding the nage’s wrists with each hand. This static form of practice is referred to as zagi waza kokyu ho. 

As we progress in our studies, other forms of attack are added to our zagi waza practice including responses to strikes.

In the below video, Chicko Xerri Sensei (6th Dan AKI Aikikai) explores some of the key Aiki principles underpinning the practice of zagi waza shomenuchi ikkyo.  There are many recordings of the Founder of Aikido demonstrating this particular form of zagi waza which is performed in the context of a downward strike to the temple (shomenuchi).



  • Zagi waza shomenuchi ikkyo – technical notes

The below video features suwari waza when responding to a straight strike to the centre of the head (shomenuchi). The demonstrated technique (performed by Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei) is suwari waza shomenuchi ikkyo.


  • Suwari waza shomenuchi ikkyo – Seishin no Shugyo Dojo, Tasmania 

The below demonstration is by Peter Kelly Sensei, Seishin no Shugyo Dojo, Tasmania. The source material was kindly provided courtesy of Bill Hely.

Ian Grant
Dojo Cho
Aikido Warrior Dojo

Class Training Notes 19/1/2013

Another hot Saturday morning and another excellent turnout.  It’s always great to have guests drop in from other dojos.  This week we were fortunate to have Erwin Sensei (Nathan Dojo), Angela (Aikido Republic Dojo) and Neil (Aikido Republic Dojo) drop in for a visit.

Okay lets’ look at what we covered.

Third-third-third principle

The big emphasis this week was having regard to the third-third-third principle to maintain optimal balance. Under this principle, the distance between the feet is divided into thirds and the Aikido practitioner’s centre moves only within the middle third.  The principle applies regardless of whether you’re standing stationary (e.g. in hanmi) or moving.

The principle was explored in the Aiki Taiso (Exercises for Aikido arts) with particular reference to the Ikkyo, Sayu and Sayu choyaku exercises. It was also looked at in the context of applied techniques, including atemi (striking techniques).


Ukemi this week focussed on breakfalling.

I recently watched Erwin Sensei teach breakfalling by having the uke roll out multiples of times from a zenpo nage (projection technique), but each time rolling out smaller and smaller until they ultimately rolled out into a low breakfall.

I intended to cover this rather novel and natural approach to breakfalling in the class today.  It was an absolute bonus when Erwin Sensei decided to visit the dojo.  Big thanks to Erwin Sensei for agreeing to take this part of class and sharing his knowledge.

Yoko otoshi (side drop)

In terms of applied ukemi, the technique this week was yoko otoshi (side drop).  This technique really tests the uke’s ability to take ukemi from a strong projection.  The technique is also interesting as its one of the few sacrifice techniques in Aikido.

20100928081322(3)For those wishing to explore this some more, there are a few examples on You tube (e.g. see Aikido yoko otoshi).  You may also wish to search under uke waza which is the Judo equivalent to this technique.  Maruyama Sensei also covers the technique in one of his earlier instructional DVD’s (sorry no You Tube clips available).

Munetsuki techniques

At Susan’s request we covered menutsuki (punch to stomach or chest) techniques this week.  Techniques covered were as follows:

  • Menutsuki ushirodori (hold from behind)
  • Menutsuki koteagaeshi (outward wrist turn)
  • Menutsuki kirikaeshi (cut and return)
  • Menutsuki zenpo nage (forward projection) – using a single cut.

I particularly like menutsuki ushirodori – it’s simple, direct and effectiveIt’s one of those techniques that just seems to always work once you get the hang of the kuzushi (taking balance) part and the “wet blanket” feel when applying it.

Although slightly different from the munetsuki ushirodori we tend to do in our School, I found some interesting instruction on this technique in the following You Tube video.  What I like about this video is that it demonstrates the power that can be generated if the technique is done properly.

We also looked at responding to munetsuki strikes from the open side. To me, use of atemi (striking) is strongly advisable if the nage is going to avoid the possibility of a second strike from the uke’s other hand.  We looked at entering using Ikkyo atemi for this purpose (again employing third-third-third principle).


With gradings coming up in a week’s time, taninzugake (multiple attacks) was a big part of the class.  Taninzugake is  particularly emphasised in our school as it gives students the opportunity to develop their techniques in free form practice.

I found this short taninzugake demonstration by Master Koretoshi Maruyama (the founder of Aikido Yuishinkai).  Those who haven’t seen it before may find it quite interesting.

All the best


Class Training Notes: 12/1/ 2013

Well Saturday was a scorcher in terms of the weather and I must say I was surprised how many of us decided to hit the mat.  I can’t recall the last time I trained in such heat.  The fact that we all stuck in there until the end (including a rather energetic round of taninzugake) is either a testament to our dedication or madness.   Anyhow – on with the notes.


This week we looked in more detail at the backward roll (ushiro ukemi).

As most people will attest, backward rolling when you first start out can be something of a challenge.

Roll 1In essence a backward roll is nothing more than a forward roll executed in reverse. The problem is if you have poor form in your forward roll (e.g. you circus tumble) and then attempt to execute that poor form in reverse, the chances of successfully executing the roll are close to nil.  There is also the possibility of injuring your neck in the failed attempt.

Below is a link to a You Tube video demonstrating step-by-step how to forward and backward roll by Donovan Waite Sensei (7th Dan).  I would highly recommend anyone who is learning to backward roll or just seeking some pointers on how to improve their backward (or forward) rolling to closely study this video clip.  Further, it’s an excellent resource that caters for those interested in beginner or advanced ukemi.

Link: Aikido Ukemi – Meeting the mat

kaeshi waza

This week we practised kaeshi waza in the context of reversing the execution of katatedori shihonage tenkan (i.e. same side one hand hold – four direction throw).  The significance of this practice was to demonstrate how relatively easy it is to reverse a katatedori technique if the ukes balance is not taken at the moment of first physical contact with the nage (the person executing the technique).

For those interested in looking at this kaeshi waza technique again, you may wish to check out the first part of the following You Tube clip: Kaeshi waza 1 (at o:40 mark).


Katatedori techniques were the theme this week with a particular emphasis on unbalancing the uke (the attacker) at first contact.  This takes considerable practice.

In class we looked at how to unbalance a uke by making contact with the uke’s grab prior to that expected by the uke and, in addition, unexpectedly offering no clash at the time of the early contact.  A You Tube  video that neatly demonstrates and explains this concept is Aikido  Kuzushi Katsu Hayabi  Effortless Activation.

For those who keep a record of such things, the techniques practised this week were Katatedori ikkyo ura and Katatedori irimi kokynage.


Craig Boyd Sensei kindly agreed to provide us with an instructional session on full contact kokydosa with a standing nage.  I find this type of training quite interesting as it really steps up your sensitivity and hones your awareness of your center.  One thing that I did notice was that when we eventually went back to practising standard kokydosa, the practise from the nage’s perspective felt absolutely effortless.

I would like to particularly thank Craig Sensei for sharing his knowledge of this rather novel form of practice with us.  It’s really interesting stuff and also a reminder of the rich Samurai heritage that predated the formation of Aikido.

Weapons kata

With gradings set for 26 January 2013, Gary and Zac gave excellent demonstrations of the “sword of nine ways” and “Shooting star” weapons katas.

Skills acquired through committed weapon practice translate directly and positively to improving our unarmed techniques. Benefits of weapons practice include the development of ki extension, correct posture, calmness of mind, foot work, atemi (striking), moving from one’s centre, coordination, focus and calmness of mind.

Big thanks to Craig Sensei, Gary and Zac for their contributions in this part of the class, which also served as a tool for looking at some of the ceremonial aspects of our martial art, particularly in a grading context.

Look forward to seeing you all next week.


Class Training Notes: 5/1/13

First training Saturday of the year and an unexpectedly big turnout. It was also a nice surprise to have seniors from Nathan Dojo and Aikido Republic visit and train with us.  Being the first class of the year, the emphasis was on revisiting Aikido fundamentals.

Okay so what did we cover.

The four principles of being an effective and safe uke

The four principles underpinning effective uke arts were examined from an applied Aikido perspective.  These principles can be conveniently summarised as follows:

  •  maintain contact throughout the entire interaction;
  • offer a committed attack;
  • remain relaxed;
  • be sincere.

Reference: Aikido Ukemi (Volume 2) Instructional DVD by Donovan Waite Sensei (7th Dan – Aikikai)

Ian 10Improving your front roll  

The front roll was explored in detail.  For further information and instruction (including video) on how to safely and effectively execute a forward roll from beginner to advanced levels see – How to do a forward roll.

Kaeshi waza (Reversal techniques)

Kaeshi waza shihonage  was explored with a view to improving both our forward ukemi and improving our uke connection throughout the execution of an Aikido technique.  For an excellent You Tube video explaining this Kaeshi waza application see  Kikentai-Berlin: Kaeshi-waza Aikido shiho-nage by Sutemi-nage. 

Characters of Aikido – what do they mean?

The word “Aikido” is made up of three Japanese characters: AI, KI and Do. In basic terms:

  • “Ai” means literally “to fit” (not “harmony” as is sometimes stated);
  • “Ki” means “energy”;
  • “Do” means “way”.

It seems reasonable to suggest therefore that a simple working definition of Aikido is “the way of fitting (or merging) energy”. This definition also aids in understanding as to how Aikido is intended to work in an applied context.

How does Aikido work?

At its essence, applied Aikido operates as follows:

  • the uke executes an attacking energy (eg strike or grab);
  • the nage steps off the line of attack;
  • The nage merges with and leads the uke’s attacking energy in such a way as to neutralise its effect (note this merging ideally begins to occur prior to physical connection between the nage and uke and requires timing, a calm state of mind, relaxed execution and sometimes atemi);
  • the attacking energy will in most instances be effectively neutralised if the uke is placed in kuzushi (i.e off balanced) and the nage is stable and centred. Ideally entry into kuzushi should  occur at the point of physical contact;
  • The nage merges and redirects the energy of the off-balanced uke in the direction which causes them most likely to fall.

To make their Aikido work, a student Aikido must engage in repetitive and considered practice with a variety of effective uke.

I recall being told when I first started Aikido that it takes 3000 proper practice executions of a technique for a uke to get even a basic idea of how the technique should feel and work with a cooperating uke in a basic kata.

Techniques covered in class

Katatekosadori  (one hand hold – opposite side) techniques were explored with an emphasis on understanding the importance of kuzushi (i.e. breaking balance) in an applied Aikido context.

Katatekosadore Shihonage and Ikkyo techniques were examined with particular reference to using the elbow to neutralise the uke’s attack and maintain kuzushi.  For an excellent You Tube video on applying Katatekosadore Shihonage from this perspective see – Donovan Waite Sensei 2008 YMCA Class (see at 1.20 min mark).

In addition, Kotegaeshi and Iriminage techniques were covered with an emphasis on achieving kuzushi at first contact.

Aiki self-defence application – Dealing with a strong katadori attack

Simple self-defence applications were explored in the context of using Aiki principles to respond to a strong katadori attack (one hand shoulder or front lapel grab) after contact has been made.  I got lucky with this one and found a most informative You Tube video dealing with the same applications (plus some additional ones) see –  Aikido Shihan Robert Nadeau:  Aikido vs King Kong.

An important message here is that it is okay and quite natural to be startled, panic, freeze etc when confronted by a real-life threatening and strong attack.  Training helps us to promptly regain a calmed mind and appropriately respond in this situation.

Another important message is that in a real life self-defence situation – keep your response simple and as direct as possible.

Kokyu Dosa

The “two fingers of doom” to the chest kokyu dosa technique was explored.  Okay that’s not its real name – I just made it up.

The purpose of  the exercise was to demonstrate the effect of applying ki extension from the outset before the koky dosa exercise has begun and before physical contact.  If this approach is taken the uke can be effortlessly off-balanced by lightly applying just 2 fingers to the chest or shoulder.

A sampler of full-contact koky dosa with a standing nage was also briefly looked at. This is new for all of us and something I would like to ask Craig Sensei to demonstrate further in future classes.


Two ukes-one nage taninzugake (free form multiple attacks) was practised.  Ukes were given a choice of  Katatekosadori or katatedori attacks.  The two attacker dynamic turns up the pressure a bit on the nage and is certainly a worthwhile practice, particularly as we had so many seniors.

All the best. Look forward to seeing you next week for those who can make it.

Ian Grant      

How to do a forward roll?

Roll 1For many people, learning to forward roll is probably one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of Aikido training.  I read recently that fear of rolling is one of the major reasons that people avoid taking up Aikido.  It is also apparantly one of the major reasons people leave.

Over the years, I have had the misfortune of witnessing way too many Aikido practitioners mistake a forward roll as some form of straight over the head circus tumble.  The end result is always the same – injury followed by fear.  This is particularly so if you try to circus tumble out of a correctly applied Aikido technique.

One of the most effective forward rolling methods that I have seen is that developed and applied by Donovan Waite Sensei (7th Dan).  This method of rolling is what is taught at our dojo.  Major benefits include that is more gentle on the body, easier to learn, and importantly martially effective.

For further information on falling arts in aikido – see our video library

Ian Grant
Dojo Cho
Aikido Warrior Dojo