What is suburi?
Aiki ken is the name given to the set of Japanese sword techniques as taught first by Morihei Ueshiba (Founder of Aikido) then further developed by one of his most prominent students – Morihiro Saito Sensei. Suburi refers to the basic 7 solo movements of Aiki ken. These solo movements represent the basic cutting movements necessary for partnered sword practice.
In the below Saito Sensei demonstrates and provides instruction for the third suburi (San No Suburi).
Summary of basic movements
- Start as in the second suburi, assuming the hitoemi position, taking a step back with the right foot.
- Breathe in, lifting the tip of the sword as in the second suburi, but this time lift the sword straight up over the head.
- Extend arms and whole body upward. Do not keep the centre at the same level and instead extend as much as possible.
- Move to waki-kamae by lowering the sword and body slowly (see video).
- Bring the sword to rest on the back (right) thigh. The movement is executed on the centre line (do not move off-line).
- Always look at the imaginary uke, resting the sword on the back thigh and executing the movement without breathing. The uke should not be allowed to see the sword (as it is hidden off line).
- From this position start prepare the cutting strike by turning the hips from right to left and closing the elbows.
- Step forward with the right foot, without lifting your shoulders or the sword, but rather lowering the hips and relaxing the shoulders;
- Then exhale forcefully and strike shomen cut and return to the hamni position.
Brief Biography – Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002)
Morihiro 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 would have no doubt been lost. The Aikido world owes him a great debt.