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Junan kenko taiso | Toitsu taiso | Aiki taiso | Other waza | Taiso Development Video

Ki Aikido Waza

Preliminary exercises

The exercises performed at the beginning of class are designed to coordinate mind and body while stretching, warming and relaxing the muscles. The body performs best when free of stress. The regular of these exercises develops both suppleness and speed. The exercises are divided into three sections. All should be performed with Ki extension.
  1. Junan kenko taiso (soft exercises for health)
  2. Toitsu taiso (coordination exercises)
  3. Aiki taiso (exercises for Aikido arts)
Everything we do is an opportunity to practice extending our mind and ki. Practicing the junan kenko taiso allows us to practice stretching our mind by focusing and putting it in to what we are doing at the time. As your body moves forward and backward during the stretches, do not allow the mind to follow the movements of the body, but rather allow your mind to keep moving in a forward direction at all times as you do your movements.

The count is as follows:
  1. 1-2-3-4 = “ichi - ni - san - shi.”
  2. 1-2-3-4-5 = “ichi - ni - san - shi - go.”
  3. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 = “ichi - ni - san - shi - go - roku - shichi - hachi.”

Junan kenko taiso

(soft exercises for health)
Note: These exercises are often repeated with a partner assisting.


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No 1. With these forward stretching movements it is important to also stretch your mind. Allow it to move beyond the toes, keeping the body relaxed. Avoid over-stretching and putting tension into the arms and shoulders. As all the exercises are performed, count loud and breathe properly (exhale any time you are compressing your body forward). If you learn to put energy into your counting you will naturally be putting energy into your movements.

# 1. Forward count 1-2-3-4-5
(perform twice)

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No 2. With these exercises always start from your left. Avoid overstretching. Sometimes we feel that ‘pleasure – pain’ feeling after stretching believing that was good, in fact what you are doing to your muscles is actually causing a muscular contraction rather than a stretch. As a new student you will see others performing their stretch better than you, do not try to keep up with them, as you are more likely to injure yourself. Work at your own comfort level and with time and practice your ability to stretch further will improve

                                                               2. Left: 1-2-3-4-5         Right: 1-2-3-4-5
                                                                                (perform twice)

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                      # 3 - Leg stretched apart bending forward          #4 First shake down knees, then holding feet,
                                Count 1-2-3-4-5 (perform twice)                           Count 1-2-3-4-5 (perform twice)

No 3. stretch the legs apart as far as is comfortable, and while bending forwards maintain a straight back and pivot from the hips. Remember to breathe out when moving down.


No 4. After you have shaken the knees up and down, hold the feet lightly and bend forwards, the back can either be straight or allowed to curve by tucking in your chin as you bend forward. For extra stretch bring feet closer to the groin.
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No 5. While sitting in the seiza position slowly lower yourself to the floor. If you find this position difficult to do, move back to the hands or elbows first, slowly building your levels up. Note: avoid moving into a position that is painful and uncomfortable, remember this is a stretch.


#5 - Sitting seiza stretch back to the floor.
Stretch to the left, right, back to the centre.
(perform twice)


image No 6. While rocking backwards, ensure the chin is tucked in and your head does not hit the ground. As you sit upright, your posture should be calm without any backwards movement. Ki should be extended forwards fully at all times.
When rolling backwards and return standing up, avoid using the arms and shoulders in a ‘reaching attempt’, but rather stand upright with minimal movements.


# 6 Rocking backwards and forwards, chin tucked in to chest, head does not hit the ground.
Count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 3-4
(perform once)


# 6a - Rock backwards come forwards and stand upright. With this exercise as you come forwards to stand upright avoid raising the shoulders and reaching for something in front of you. This creates difficulty as well as puts tension in the shoulders and arms. Imagine as you come forwards, you intend to carry on into a forward roll, once your body weight is over your centre (or above your feet), simply use your legs muscle to stand upright.

Practicing this method enables you to become more aware of your centre as well and learning to understand about how to move and control your weight under movement. When you have risen and are standing, do just that... stand. Many times students will move around adjusting either their foot positioning or their gi's or are generally restless. Learn to settle yourself as you are moving so that when you have completed the movement, stand upright, still and calm (zanshin)
# 6a - The count for this is 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 3-4

Toitsu taiso (coordination exercises)

The toitsu taiso are exercises to coordinate mind and body, also known as the three minute exercises. Learning these movements will greatly assist you not only in aikido but also in daily life. These exercises are part of the ki examination for shokyu, chukyu and shokyu gradings.

While performing these movements, the first movement is done completely with the body and arms. Then with the second movement, the body must remain still and only the arms move. This aspect allows the mind to catch up with the body, so at the end of the second count, mind and body should be unified.

During these exercises it is very easy to allow the body to ‘bounce’ rather than be still. If you cannot learn to become aware of this you will find it difficult to change. Always try to copy the movements the very best you can from watching the sensei in the front of the class.


image No 7. When performing trunk twists ensure you extend ki fully in one direction and then completely in the other. Allow the hands and arms to rest softly against the body between turns and avoid using tense arms. Ensure your elbows are relaxed (weight underside) as you turn form side to side

Your head and eyes must be level, avoid looking down or looking around the dojo as you turn. Look one way and then focus and extend your mind completely in the other direction



# 7 Twisting the trunk by swing both arms
Left: count 1-2 Right: count 3-4 Left: count 5-6 Right: count 7-8
(perform twice)


image No 8. Allow the head to naturally fall to the side, do not try to keep the head straight. Avoid over-extending the body to one side or the other. Move enough so as to keep the weight on the inside of your thighs. Avoid bouncing the body. Do not look down and allow the hand on the leg to simply slide up and down. Do not use this hand to support your upper body weight. After your first movement the whole body remains still and only the over head arm moves back and forward for a second time.


# 8 Bend the trunk to the side.
Left: count 1-2 Right: count 3-4 Left: count 5-6 Right: count 7-8
(perform twice)


image No 9. Look straight up and down only, your feet should be slightly wider than normal. Start in the looking down position, bending deep in the knees (dropping from your one point - do not 'bend' or lean forwards) in one movement and while keeping the body still allow the hands to move back between your legs for a second time. Rise up keeping your stability and posture, move a second time with just the forearms and hands.

Note: when upright and looking up, bend back only slightly so as not to put strain or tension on your back or your neck. Keep your weight underside otherwise when you come up you can easily loose your balance and weight will move to your heels

# 9 Bending forward (down) and backwards (up)
Down: count 1-2 Up: count 3-4 Down: count 5-6 Up: count 7-8
(perform twice)


image No 10. Slightly different to the illustration, this exercise is now done keeping the body relaxed and unified facing the front. The hands are held lightly together (left thumb and index finger holds the right hand thumb) bringing the elbows down and to the side of the body to the count. Start with the hands held in a central position in front of the body, and returning the hands to this position each time.

Ensure the shoulders are straight and do not twist towards the back as you are doing the movement


# 10 - Count left 1-2    right 3-4   Left 5-6   right 7-8
(perform twice)



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No 11-12-13. Starting position is feet together (natural position). Hands are placed on the hips. Gently move the head from side to side or up and down to the count. Avoid rapid movements, keep them gentle and smooth. ki testing at this point usually checks for standing mind and body unified and also to see if hands cannot be lifted from the hips.
# 11, 13 - Count                                                                     # 12 - Count
Left: 1-2      Right 3-4        Left 5-6       Right 7-8                   Down: 1-2    Up 3-4        Down 5-6      Up 7-8
      (perform twice)                                                                   (perform twice)


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No 14. With this movement, keep posture correct, eyes and head should be forwards and hands on your hips. Ensure your weight is kept forward to your toes the whole time. Practicing to keep your weight underside during this movement will help in keeping your stability.

Avoid looking down as this can create instability. Move from the one point in both directions. (down & up) A ki test here could be gently pushing on uke’s hips as they move down and or trying to raise them from the hips as they come up.

# 14 - Knee exercises (up and down)
Down: count 1-2     Up: count 3-4            Down: count 5-6     Up: count 7-8
(perform twice)


image No 15. Turning on the balls of your feet, extend your left leg first. Pivot from your hips as you bow down, keeping your head and eyes unified as you bow. Allow the hands to slide on your legs; do not use your hands for support. Point the toes up towards your head and on the second count attempt to bow down slightly further keeping the toes up, then turning on the balls of the feet change sides and repeat. Note: when turning keep your weight forward on the ball of the feet so you remain centred so as not to spin yourself off your centre.

# 15 - Stretching the knees
Left: count 1-2       Right: count 3-4       Left: count 5-6       Right: count 7-8
(perform twice)


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No 16-17-18. Circular arm swings.

No 16 is done in one direction, one arm at a time.
No 17 is with both arms and in both directions.
No 18 is done the same as No 17 only this time bending in the knees as you do the movements.

Allow the arm to fall from the elbow (weight underside) and keep the hand on the one plane or line as it drops down. Be careful not to be too forceful on the bottom turn as you are beginning to raise the arm, as this could cause the body to jar and become unstable. Also during these movements avoid the arms and hands swinging behind your body, (as this can put tension in the chest and shoulders) and keep the hands moving on one plane.
At the end of each movement (while the hands are raised in front of you) ensure your hands do not drop slightly, but rather keep ki extending, the hands should appear as if they are still moving, or are intending to move.

# 16 & 17
Swing one arm (single direction & both direction swing)
Left: count 1-2-3-4      Right: count 5-6-7-8
(perform twice)

# 18 - Swing both arms while bending the knees
Forward: count 1-2-3-4 Backwards: count 5-6-7-8
(perform twice)

Aiki Taiso
(Exercises for the Aikido Arts)

The aiki taiso are exercises used to teach specific movements for aikido techniques. The attitude should be the same with all these exercises. (as to all of the movements within aikido). In everything we do, we are taught to always extend strong ki. These movements help us to develop strong ki, as you learn to apply the mind to everything you do.

It is no point practicing the movement if your thoughts are elsewhere. Your mind should be focused on every aspect of your exercises. Is your posture correct? Where is your weight? Is your breathing and movements synchronised?

All these movements must be performed as if you are actually performing the technique. Learn to develop a mind whereby you test yourself, rather than waiting for the sensei to correct you. If you learn this approach you will develop more quickly and remember to practice this approach in your daily life too. If you are extending strong ki, have a focused mind and a relaxed body, you will make your movements powerful and controlled.

The aiki taiso is an opportunity to constantly check and test ourselves. As we move through these movements learn to ‘feel’ that your movement is powerful but make sure that power is not based on strength but more on awareness of your movement and extension of ki.

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No 19. Nikkyo waza

With one hand over the other, imagine you are using one hand to bend the other. Imagine one hand is like a spring, the other hand must bend that spring. Move only from the elbows and avoid raising the shoulders. As the hands are dropped they should drop straight down and avoid swinging them back behind the body.

Left: count 1-2-3-4           Right: count 1-2-3-4
(perform twice)







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No 20. Koto oroshi waza

Apply the same principles as in nikyo waza. During this movement avoid trying to twist the wrist outwards, but rather hold your wrist lightly with ki and bring the movement straight down. Many times this waza is performed with collapsed wrists. This does not help, so feel like your wrist has a spring in it, and you must bend this spring, like all of the movements do not bring pain into your wrists, but rather achieve a soft strong movement.


Left: count 1-2-3-4           Right: count 1-2-3-4
(perform twice)


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No 21. Sankyo Waza

Holding one hand in front of you with palm facing away and thumb pointing down, the other hand holds lightly over the top with the opposite thumb placed in the web of the first hand. Elbows should be relaxed and dropped down. As you extend your hands out avoid the elbows rising. With sankyo waza you should feel the slack being taken up in your wrist. You should not be able to fully extend your hands in front you.


Left: count 1-2-3-4            Right: count 1-2-3-4
(perform twice)



No 22. Funakogi waza
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During this exercise the hands are naturally cupped resting on the hips. As you begin the movement the body should remain in a vertical posture. Using the top of your hands on the forward movements and your wrists on the backward motion, which should be similar to rowing a boat. Your hands should make an infinity sign. Keep your movements smooth and continuous. Eyes and head should be up, practice extending strong ki and keep good posture.
Left foot forward: count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 ,3-4                Right foot forward: count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 ,3-4
(perform once)



No 23. Ikkyo Waza
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As with all waza, posture is very important. Ikkyo waza is no different. An easy way to remember this movement is a ‘body - hands, body - hands’ motion. Move strongly from the one-point and then extend with un-bendable arms. Avoid making the two movements one. (e.g. hands raise up at the same time the body moves forward or lowering the hands as the body moves back). Focus on the correctness of the movement.

If you are having difficulty with this movement, go slowly even to the point of being robotic so as to understand the movements in order to perform them correctly. As with many movements, if they are performed too quickly, then the movements suddenly stop, it is easy to bring tension in to the movement. Think of it as throwing a ball. For a brief moment after the ball has left your hands, your hands are still moving slowly in the direction of the throw and the movement is clam and relaxed. Apply this to your movement and you should notice a great improvement.
Left: count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 ,3-4              Right: count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 ,3-4
(perform once)



No 24 - Zengo Waza
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This is the same as No 23 (ikkyo waza), but after your hands have returned to your side you turn 180 degrees. Now the opposite foot is forward and repeat the movement. Avoid starting the turn as you are lowering your hands to your side. Rather finish the move completely, turn and then start the next movement. The turning movement is included in the end of each count.

Count: 1-2      Turn 180 degrees      Count: 3-4
(perform four times)


No 25. Happo waza
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Is an eight direction turn. This movement also teaches a valuable life principle. That with each new direction we should apply a new mind, attitude, energy and focus. Do not dwell on what has just passed or be concerned about what about to happen but rather you put your mind and energy in to what is happening right now - the movement. After you start off with your left foot, simply move right, left, right, left etc… Move from your one point keeping your body vertical and create a rhythm to your movement much like an ice skater would move themselves along the ice.

Count 1 front      2 - turn (R) 180 3 - turn (L) 90       4 - turn (R)180
5 - turn (L) 45       6 - turn (R) 180 7 - turn (L) 90      8 - turn (R)180
(perform twice)




No 26. Kaho tekubi kosa waza
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Your arms start about 45 degrees out from the body; if you raise your arms too high you will feel tension in your shoulders. Bring your hands to your one-point, finish with your hands relaxed and weight underside. Ensure that your hands finish calm without any movement or shaking. A ki test here would be when your hands are at one-point, uke would lightly attempt to raise your hands towards your face. If weight is underside and arms un-bendable you will easily pass.

Left hand on top count 1-2-3-4         Right hand on top count 1-2-3-4
(perform twice)


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No 27. Joho tekubi kosa waza

With your arms starting at your side raise your hands so that you finish looking at the palms of your hands. If speed is used or there is tension in your arms your will notice that your hands will move when finished. The completed movement should finish relaxed and steady in front of your face without any movement.

As the hands are lowered avoid the hands swinging behind your body in a collapsed fashion but rather allow them to fall to your side. A ki test here would be as the hands finish front of your face uke will gently push your hands towards your face to see if you are extending and keeping unbendable arm.

Left hand on top count 1-2-3-4       Right hand on top count 1-2-3-4
(perform twice)


No 28. Sayu Waza
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When performing sayu waza avoid ‘over-finishing’ with too much weight on your outside leg. During the last part of this movement move from the one point and do not finish by pushing or forcing your arms. When finished make sure your keep your eyes and head straight and looking in front of you. A ki test here would be checking stability by pushing down on the hips at 45 degrees, also un-bendable arm can be tested here.

Left count: 1-2           Right count: 3-4
(perform twice )


No 29. Sayu Choyaku Waza
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Performed in a similar manner to the previous waza - this time with a skip included from side to side. When moving from one side to the other ensure your feet cross rather than bringing the feet together through the movement. Due to the extra movement and speed avoid over stepping and losing your balance. Keep you movements relaxed, controlled and smooth.

Left count: 1-2           Right count: 3-4
(perform four times)


No 30. Ude furi waza

image Ude furi waza is an exercise where you swing your arms from side to side, which sounds easy, but while performing this movement your shoulders must remain straight. Avoid your shoulders (arms) moving backwards and your body to twist during the movement.

If you keep your head still and look straight in front of you. Your shoulder movements should be relaxed with remember to keep your weight underside. With practice you will find this an easy exercise to perform.
Count: left and right 1-2 (seven times)        Last count left and right : 3-4
(perform once)


No 31. Ude furi choyaku waza
image Starting with you left foot forwards and left hand across the front of your waist and your right hand resting behind you. When starting your first direction is anti-clockwise, then, taking two steps allowing your arms to naturally spin out and away from your body. You will finish facing the opposite direction with you right foot forward, and arms in the opposite positions to when you started. This is a beautiful flowing movement and also very powerful when applied in a technique. Ensure to begin your movement from one point and keep weight underside in the arms as you are turning.
Left count: 1        Right count: 2
Last 2 movements count 3-4
(perform four times)


No 32. Zenshin koshin waza

image Zenshin means forward mind, koshin means body backwards. While skipping backwards keep you mind fully focused and fully extended in forward. As you move back maintain a posture where you are always forward on the balls of your feet. Initially many may have difficulty getting this movement smooth. If you maintain correct posture and relax into the movement you will get it much quicker.

Left: count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 ,3-4              Right: count 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 ,3-4
(perform one set each side)


No 33. Ushiro tori waza

image Ushiro means behind or back. This movement teaches one method of throwing someone who has a ‘bear-hug’ hold on you. It is important to move unified. As you raise your hands (palms up) a foot is sliding forward. Just before you bow rotate your arms so palms are now facing down as you drop. Avoid sliding out too far and committing too much body weight on your forward leg.

Left: count 1-2        Right: count 3-4
(perform four times each side)


No 34. Ushiro tekubi-tori zenshin waza
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Cross your right foot in front of your left, as you raise your finger tips and draw them towards your one point. As you raise your arms up along the centre line of your body, your hands should be moving slightly in front of you and not moving up and behind your head. If you do it this way you ‘will’ use strength to throw your partner. By keeping your hands in front of you, you are taking up the slack in your partners’ arms. Then bow from your one point. Know that your partner will be thrown by staying relaxed and unified. As you move from side to side your hands should remain in the centre, as if throwing somebody to your side.

Left: count 1-2        Right: count 3-4
(perform four times each side)


No 35. Ushiro tekubi-tori koshin waza
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Left: count 1-2        Right: count 3-4
(perform four times)


As in the previous movements your hands remains the same, only this time you are stepping backwards as you are projecting your partner forward. As you project your partner ensure you bend forward from your one point and avoid moving your buttocks backwards. Think about keeping the principles of No 32 (Zenshin koshin waza) in mind as performing this move.

OTHER WAZA

No 36. Ushiro ukemi waza
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Ushiro ukemi waza is a backwards roll. Keeping you weight forward, place your left foot behind your right foot, lower yourself down to the floor, keeping your chin tucked in. Most of your weight should be on your left buttock, as you breathe out gently push off with your right foot and roll over your right shoulder, move back to your feet and stand up. Repeat on the other side. Avoid holding your breathe as this will make your movement difficult and very uncomfortable. Ensure you roll over your shoulder and not over your neck. Your sensei will explain this more and assist you during your practice.

No 37. Zenpo kaiten waza
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Doing three forward rolls, this time with left leg forward and right arm forward (cross rolls) continuously without standing in between, and on the last roll finishing cross-legged with hands extended forward (as if presenting a tray) then a ki test is performed. If your mind and body stops you will be easily moved back. Do not put your mind on the test but rather on extending, finish relaxed and calm. Like all the waza there are different levels of ki testing and these will be done according to your level. During the rolls avoid moving back into the normal rolling position. Maintain opposite hand to leg during all three rolls.



SHIKKO (Knee walking)
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Start in a seiza position with your feet flat on the ground. As you begin to move go up on your toes from that point on. As pictured below, when moving forward in shikko your hands should remain on your thighs, head should remain up and your eyes forward. While moving forward avoid stopping on each knee, but rather keep your movements fluid, much like walking on two legs.

As your become more proficient in shikko your will find you can move around the mat area more freely and easily. In time you will also want to practice different ways of moving around in shikko, this will include moving backwards and turning as well as a combination of them. A fun exercise is to doude furi choyaku waza in shikko. With the movement allow the arms to move freely away from the body, and finish in a relaxed position ready to move again. Avoid allowing your body weight to collapse onto your heels


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Ma-ai

Ma-ai is the safe distance to keep your partner at all times. Without leaning forwards, keep your posture upright, arm extended towards each other and your fingertips should lightly touch. At this distance your partner cannot touch you without first entering.

In this manner when they move you also move. So when your partner has initiated the energy for a technique you are at a safe distance to move and blend with the attack.


Tenkan Waza
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The term tenkan is used frequently in aikido and applies to many different aspects of it. When practicing the movement always turn your fingers back towards you in the direction you will be moving and extending your ki. Move first from your finger tips, turn your body, and finish presenting both hands forward.
As you finish the turn ensure your weight on your feet is forward and that your finger tips do not move back towards you. Always keep your fingers moving in a forward direction. Practice and understand this movement well, as this movement has many applications.




                                                 Hanmi
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Hanmi is a stance used regularly in aikido. Like many postures there are variations in them. As pictured to the left, the stance should form the shape of a triangle or the letter ‘ T ’. If you need to turn quickly from this position, your one point remains calm and still and you turn on your centre. Your weight should be forward on the balls of your feet and knee of the forward foot should also be slightly forward. When turning from this position 180 degrees ensure you finish with the knee of the leading foot forward.

You can stand two ways while in hanmi. They are known as ‘full hanmi’ or ‘half hanmi’. A full hanmi would be the distance in s normal walking stride, a half hanmi would be half this distance.



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Shizentai

Shizentai - is the distance the feet should be kept apart, usually shoulder width. In recent years Tohei sensei has refined this stance to a more natural position. Image you are marching on the spot, then stop. This is the correct position the feet should be when standing, your weight should be forward and the toes slightly splayed outwards.



Tekubi shindo waza

Settle your Ki at your one point. Stand relaxed with arms hanging relaxed at your side. Shake your wrists rapidly. The vibration should start from your one point and reach every part of your body so that all tension in the body is released.


Toitsu Taiso Development Video

Shinshin Toitsu Ki Development Exercise Video for Ki Aikido


Summary

All of the waza outlined here are taught by Ki Society Headquarters in Japan (ki no kenkyukai). The brief explanation with each exercise is by no means a complete explanation or outline of the movements, but is more of a guideline on a few of the major points.

During class, and over time, your sensei will explain in much more detail all the finer points associated with each of these movements. How and where your weight should be? Your body’s alignment? Where your eyes should be looking? Where your mind should be and how to improve your ki extension.

With all the exercises there are many different kinds of ki tests that can be performed and at all different levels. The idea behind doing the ki tests during the exercises is to keep you aware of posture no matter what movement you are performing and that your mind is focused on creating the correct movement. When applying this level of thinking to the exercises, it is easy to see how these principles can be applied into our daily life.

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