you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
This book outlines
training ideas and principles for the committed Aikidoka (Aikido artist).
It is hoped that through reading and understanding the various ideas and
principles within, one will have the means to map out a personal strategy of
dissecting Aikido into its parts and reconstructing the ideas to create new
knowledge, and then keeping those ideas in mind, applying it to one’s Aikido
practice. Many of the principles within this book also relate to other martial
arts. For Aikido beginners or those who practice other arts, a brief
introduction of Aikido terminology and training practices is necessary.
Aikido is commonly
referred to as The Way of Harmony. Just as a Judoka practices
Judo, so an Aikidoka practices Aikido. Japanese terminology is italicised
and is further explained in the glossary. The dojo (training hall) is
where we train and to make life easy, we use tatami (training mats). The
sensei (teacher) sits at the far wall opposite the door and the students
line up. Out of respect, teacher and students rei (bow) to a picture of
O-sensei (Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of Aikido) and then to each other at the
beginning and end of class. Students also rei to each other every time
they change training partners.
The attacker is called
uke (receiver of applied technique) and the defender is called tori
(the do-er). When uke falls, they are said to take ukemi
(break-fall). Aikido techniques are done from three positions: tachi-waza
(standing techniques), suwari-waza (kneeling techniques), and
hanmi-handachi (one standing and one kneeling techniques). Three weapons are
incorporated into Aikido training: bokken (sword), jo (staff), and
tanto (knife). Two main principles of Aikido are irimi (entering)
and tenkan (turning). Sometimes called omote and ura, these
two principles usually dictate the training routine. The idea of irimi is
to enter uke’s attack and to cross uke’s front. It is quite a
difficult concept to comprehend and might be likened to entering the attack with
the intent of reversing it back upon uke. Contrasting this, when
performing tenkan, tori turns, moves to the rear, and allows
uke’s attack to continue in its intended direction. Typically, uke
attacks tori four times alternating left and right. The first two times
tori performs two irimi techniques, typically one from right
posture, and then another from the left. The second two times, tori
performs two tenkan techniques, again, from both the left and right.
After that, the roles are reversed. Also, in Aikido, the role of uke, the
receiver, is often considered of equal, if not more, importance to that of
tori since being controlled or thrown offers insight into how the techniques
Aikido movement can
broadly be divided into three types: (1) Basic exercises train the body to move
in a predetermined way; (2) Kokyu-ho (breath exercise) and kokyu-nage
(breath throw) are mid-way between exercise and technique and consist of simple
movements that help tori to harmonise with and move uke in
efficient manner; (3) Aikido waza (techniques) consist of
immobilizations, where uke is directed to the floor and held down, and
projections, where uke is thrown. The technical aim of Aikido is not just
to learn a vast array of waza, rather, it is to perfect a limited number.
One has to internalise what is learned in the basic exercises and kokyu
practice and incorporate it all into the waza; easy to say, very
difficult to do. With time, one will become aware of endless variations as the
principles of Aikido become more apparent. Unfortunately, many never get this
far, which is why I hope this book will be useful.