Taninzugake demonstration (1): Yokomenuchi

In the below video, Peter Kelly Sensei, Chief Instructor, Aikido Yuishinkai Australia, gives a demonstration of yokomenuchi taninzugake.

In our School, taninzugake (or free form practice) is commonly practiced at the end of each class.  This type of practice allows the nage to respond to the selected attack type by using any technique they so choose.  The attack type in the video is yokomenuchi, which is a side blow to the head.

Yokomenuchi taninzugake forms part of the Aikido Yuishinkai grading syllabus for 1st kyu (brown belt) and dan (black belt) gradings. 

Have a great week

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo


One Saturday morning – Aikido in stills

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are plenty of blogs on the internet devoted to reports about Aikido seminars and other special events.  However, what is not seen so often, are blogs dedicated to a regular Aikido class. That is, the type of class most of us train at each week.

This month’s blog is about one such class that I lead at Everton Hills Dojo on the outskirts of Brisbane, Australia. The date: Saturday, 7 September 2013.

I was going to write a detailed overview of the class.  Then I thought, “what the heck”, a picture (or in this case a photo) paints a 1000 words, so I did a photo library instead.

When you look at the pics, keep in mind most of us are over 35 (some into our 50’s), hold full-time jobs and practice Aikido around our life commitments. Also, those without a hakama (i.e. the black Japanese pants) have been practising less than 2 years.

All in all – I think we do pretty well.

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Ian Grant

Aikido training – Drawing the line between cooperative and pointless practice

The need for a cooperative dynamic in Aikido practice is widely acknowledged by most of us who practice the Art.  Aside from the non-competitive philosophy that underpins Aikido, there is the practical reality that many techniques would be unsafe to practise without at least some element of compliance from our training partner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA question worthy of consideration, however, is where to draw the line between cooperative practice and pointless practice (i.e. practice that removes or substantially diminishes the opportunity for both parties to learn).

For example, having our training partner just “tank” at the first opportunity removes the learning opportunity for both the nage and the uke. The same could be said where an often well-meaning training partner just rolls out of a technique regardless of whether the person supposedly executing it has functionally done anything to cause such a reaction.

For training to have learning validity, I think a good starting point is an acknowledgement that Aikido practice is between two equals.  That is, it’s not between a human and a rag doll, or a human and some form of “uke-bag”.

Quite the contrary, Aikido practice involves an ongoing  2 way interaction between the attacking  and responding partners (i.e. the uke and nage) who are acting as equals with a view to enhancing their mutual knowledge and skills. This is so, whether it be in the form of kata or free-form practice (taninzugake).

That being said, where one draws the line between 2 equals engaging in productive cooperative practice, as opposed to pointless practice, is something that might cause reasonable minds to differ. Certainly, even the very notion of such a concept as “pointless  practice” imports an element of subjectivity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHowever, as a working model for uke’s trying to keep on on the right side of the cooperative line, I think a practice methodology whereby the uke acts as follows is not a bad start:

  • The uke does not give up their centre (this is something the nage learns to take, which is not possible if it is sacrificed by the uke);
  • The uke gives the nage their weight to work with (without this, the nage has no sense of the reality of what they are doing).
  • The uke gives an honest attack (e.g. if the attack is a strike to the head, they don’t aim to miss or predict the nage’s response).
  • The uke gives a committed attack  (i.e. the uke follows the attack through to the end and doesn’t stop half way);
  • The uke stays mentally connected with the nage from the beginning through to the completion of the attack (aside from importing an element of realism, this also enhances the safety of the practice);
  • The uke ensures that the intensity of the attack is commensurate with the abilities of the nage, the skills of the uke to safely respond and the purpose of the practice.

How far the uke can go beyond this line before degenerating into competitive and potentially dangerous practice is worthy of an article on its own.  Certainly, enthusiastic free form practice can inadvertently and quite quickly slip over into competitiveness and potential danger.  Fortunately, one of the roles of the class sensei is to intervene at this point and save us from ourselves!

Ian Grant

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