Kuzushi

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

 

Training notes: Ai hanmi katatedori yonkyo

Yonkyo Osensei 2In the below video, Mike Jones Sensei (New York Aikikai)  demonstrates how to perform a basic yonkyo (No 4 wrist technique) from a cross hand grab (Ai hanmi katatedori yonkyo).

The video also includes a step-by-step breakdown of the mechanics of applying yonkyo where the nage has initially responded to the attack as if they were completing an ikkyo technique.  The reason for this approach is that an ikkyo entry is one of the easiest ways to initially set up the conditions necessary for an effective yonkyo response.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Kosadori yonkyo – Morihiro Saito Sensei

Ai hanmi katate dori yonkyo is referred to Kosadori yonkyo in some schools. See below video of Morihiro Saito Sensei (9th Dan) explaining the fundamental elements of  Kosadori nikyo as practised by O’sensei in the immediate post war period of his training life.

 

  • Yonkyo – Ki aikido version 

For comparison purposes, see below an application of yonkyo as practised in Aikido Yuishinkai.  This method of application is typical to that often seen practised in ki aikido schools.

Of note at Step 3 in the the video, Koretoshi Maruyama Sensei changes his hand position prior to executing the yonkyo cut to what is referred to as a “traditional sankyo” hand position.  This is done in part to aid easier learning of the technique.

However, it should be noted that the change in hand position is not critical in the omote application of sankyo if the intent is to merely cut the uke straight to the mat (as occurs in the video).  The hand change without the sankyo is demonstrated in the following photographs.

Yonkyo 1aYonkyo 4

 

 

 

  • Yonkyo doesn’t work on everyone

From a martial perspective, one of the concerns about yonkyo is that it’s effectiveness relies on the uke experiencing ulna nerve pain.  However, about 10% of people seem immune to this type of pain.  This, combined with the possibility of nage error in its application, makes yonkyo a potentially high risk technique.

To minimise this risk it is essential that the technique be applied on a uke whose balance is completely broken.  This facilitates alternate back up options should things not go as planned. For example, in the context of the above method of application, an attempted (although technically not successful) yonkyo can still be used to take an unbalanced uke to the ground.  This is done by the nage directing energy to the ukes elbow and driving it to the mat.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Ian

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo, Brisbane

 

 

Working with resistance – Static hand grabs

A standard feature of our practice at the dojo is to train with static hand grabs where strong physical resistance is applied by the uke (the attacking partner). There are many benefits to this type of training, not the least of which is that we have found it to be an effective method of gaining a practical appreciation of the fundamental principles that underlie Aikido based movements and body structure.

morihei-ueshiba-noma-throwPlease be assured that I am not in any way derogating kotai (static) practice where the uke offers full cooperation or at most a dead weight. Far from it and in fact we also include this practice at the dojo. However, if one only practices in this way the risk is the development of an unstated understanding that Aikido can only operate in a static situation with a cooperative uke.

The below video is an informal demonstration of a number of Aikido options for dealing with static hand grab attacks where the attacker is using high levels of physical strength. The demonstrated techniques are performed slowly and with every effort made not to respond with physical strength solutions, but rather responses based on Aikido principles, including those associated with kokyu. The possibility of using atemi (striking) was intentionally excluded to make the exercises more difficult.

Please note the techniques and attack options are not intended to be exhaustive, merely illustrative. The attacks were selected randomly based on what popped into our heads at the time. The Aikido responses were similarly not pre-planned and were selected at random based on what “felt right” to each of us in each circumstance.

Finally, a huge thanks to Eden for dropping down to the dojo and recording the video. Also to my training partner, Jeremy, who graciously agreed to appear in the recording and basically “wing it”.

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo, Brisbane

Training notes: Ai hanmi katate dori ikkyo

oSensei06Opposite side one-hand hold wrist grabs are typically one of the first basic attacks that a new student to Aikido is trained to address.  Although arguably not a particularly martial or common contemporary attack form, learning to neutralise and redirect an attack of this kind can nonetheless be surprisingly challenging both at static and free-flowing level.

Training to deal with wrist grabs is particularly useful for learning and reinforcing many of the basic principles that underpin our Art.  The less aggressive nature of the attack (compared to say a strike) allows the nage (i.e. the receiver of the attack) to more readily focus on such things as correct footwork, moving around the point of contact, basic balance breaking principles, correct posture and movement, maintaining centre and getting off-line.

Cross hand wrist grabs in Aikido practice are referred to as Ai hanmi katate doriKosadori or Katate kosa dori.  The name used depends on the school and some use the terms interchangeably.  Generally speaking, ki aikido schools tend to use the term Katate kosa dori. 

In the below video, Mike Jones Sensei (New York Aikikai) demonstrates and provides instruction on the 2 basic forms (omote and ura) of the Aikido technique ikkyo when applied in response to a static cross hand grab. Further detail on how to apply the technique is provided in the Additional Notes section below.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Kosadori ikkyo omote (Basic) – Morihiro Saito Sensei 

See below a photo demonstration (including description) and accompanying video by Morihiro Saito Sensei (9th Dan) of the key elements that make up the basic form of Kosadori ikkyo omote. 

kosadori-ikkyo-1kosadori-ikkyo-2

*Source: “Morihori Saito’s Complete Guide to Aikido” (2015)

  • Kosadori ikkyo omote (Basic) – London Aikido Club 

The below video provides important training tips by Sensei Andy Hathaway (London Aikido Club) for performing Ai hanmi katate dori/ kosadori ikkyo (omote).

 

  • Kosadori ikkyo (ki no nagare) – Aikido Warrior Fudoshin Dojo

In the below video seniors from our dojo demonstrate the way we typically practise kosadori ikkyo at ki no nagare (free flowing) level. Notably, the application incorporates a direct entry movement combined with an atemi intent (i.e. an elbow strike) to break the balance of the uke.   As demonstrated in the video, this method of application is more easily learnt by first practising it from shomenuchi ikkyo.

 

  • Ai hamni katate dori/kosadori ikkyo (ura) – London Aikido Club

The below videos provides important training tips by Sensei Andy Hathaway (London Aikido Club) for performing the traditional version ura version of Ai hamni katate dori/kosadori ikkyo.

 

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo, Brisbane

 

 

 

Training notes – Yokomenuchi irimi nage

In the below video Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002) demonstrates the three traditional versions of  Yokomenuchi irimi nage as practised by O’Sensei (the Founder of Aikido) in the immediate post-war period of his life.

Irimi means to enter physically and spiritually into an attack while at the same time simultaneously side stepping it. In the demonstrated technique irimi nage (“entering throw”) is being used to address a traditional strike to the side of the head.  This form of strike is called yokomenuchi.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Technical notes – Kihon application (1) – London Aikido Club 

 

  • Technical notes – Kihon application (2) – Morihiro Saito Sensei

 

  • Technical notes – Yokomenuchi – Ki no nagare – Morihiro Saito Sensei

 

  • Additional technical notes – Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei 

In the below video Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei (8th Dan Aikikai) gives instruction and training tips from an alternate perspective.

 

 

 

All the best

Ian Grant
Dojo Cho
Aikido Warrior Dojo

Martial moves – Peter Kelly Sensei returns

While in town for the upcoming Brisbane Aikido Yuishinkai seminar this weekend, our Chief Instructor Peter Kelly Sensei dropped in to the dojo to take our Thursday night class.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo say his teachings were most insightful would be an understatement. I’ve heard the statement sometimes said that Aikido techniques can be divided into 2 categories – “those for go and those for show”. Peter’s motto is more like there are 2 types of techniques – “those for go and those you haven’t figured out yet”.

Anyone with any doubts that Aikido is a powerful and most effective martial art would certainly have had them wiped away on Thursday night.  Strong centred attacks were the name of the game. Full kuzushi on contact using traditional sword based movements, a heaven-man-earth body structure and applied yin-yang principles was how it was played. Loved every minute of it!

Big thanks to Peter Sensei for taking the time out of his busy schedule to visit us.  As is typically the case, we had a camera and took some photos.

Looking forward to attending this weekend’s seminar.

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo

 

Aikido – A forgiving approach to self-defence

Zenponage - Ian Grant and Brendan Carter 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.

All the best

Ian Grant

Other references which may be of interest

(a) Some thoughts on self-defence by Dan James Sensei at http://www.aikidorepublic.com/articles/brisbane-self-defence

(b) Toppling (kuzushi) by Dan James Sensei at http://www.aikidorepublic.com/internal-strength/03topplingkuzushi

(c) Aikido: Christan TISSIER in Budapest 2013 (teaching) at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9PQv5aR_hsg (particularly at about 11.07 mark) – Christian Tissier Sensei comments on the destruction/forgiveness choice in Aikido applications.