Category Archives: Aiki-Taiso

Aiki Taiso…

At Komyozan Dojo, we start with the BodyMajik exercises, an ancient set of core-strengthening exercises, and we have a variety of drills and exercises for relaxation. Our jo-kata teaches many things, and also many of us do the repeated overhead cuts – the ‘hundred cuts‘ – that are characteristic of our sword lineage.

It’s all about internal ki-flow, and internal relaxation. So, with the relaxation, full intention, a strong intention, is essential. When applicable, always imagine you are holding a live blade, or imagine your opponent. And “always practise in a vibrant and joyful manner”.

Once you have the internal ki-flow and relaxation happening, everything becomes way more symmetrically structured.

These  Tokyo-standardized aiki-taiso (starting at 2:17)  that go back to O’Sensei, are excellent, if you can inhabit them with a mind to ki-flow.  There are people in the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba lineage who know this aspect well, and to get you started with Ame-no-Torifune here  are some links, not forgetting the appendices to Journey to the Heart of Aikido.

To start at the source, here is a Taoist classic on ki-flow that O’Sensei must surely have known.

And think of this: your ankles must activate and flow: you’ve got to flex the ankles, otherwise they become just symbolic…  And with no connection to the ground,  you can’t move.

…hand warm-ups…

O’Sensei no kuden: Aiki-Taiso

And in the last analysis, the budo-ka performing shugyou, as he does his [aiki-] taiso, should sense the true shape/form/outlines of the natural universe right in the center of his hara: this is absolutely essential.

– – – – – – O’Sensei,  probably audio-recorded by by Masatake Fujita,  transcribed by Sadateru Arikawa Shihan, published in Aiki-Shinzui,  p.165

Shigenobu Okumura Shihan on O’Sensei’s warm-ups…

Here is [Webmaster: an extract from] an article by Okumura Shigenobu sensei for the magazine Aikido Tankyu #5.

The original title is: Aikido no shugyo o hajimeru hito no tame ni (for people who are beginning their shugyo in aikido). Aikido no jumbi undo ni tsuite (on preparatory exercises for the practice of aikido).

“Ei-Ho, Ei-Ho, Ei-Ho”… The traveler on the early morning bus can, from as far away as the main street, hear and be astonished by this strange chant. The neighbours of Hombu Dojo, on the other hand, are used to this unusual wake up call, around 6:30, the tradition of which goes back more than half a century: these are the preparatory exercises, a kind of gymnastics which combine preparation of the spirit with that of the body.

The practice of the martial arts, of course, requires a physical preparation to ward off accidents and injuries.

In aikido, the preparation is composed of:

1. “purification” exercises (misogi-taiso) – kawa mo shiki [correct movement and utterance for in the river already] – ishi no ue shiki [correct movement and utterance for on the stones beside the river]

2. health system methods (kenkyo ho) – makko hoNishi shiki [Nishi system]

3. various breathing exercises (shinkokyu)

There are thus a variety of preparatory exercises and health systems in the aikido practised today. Ueshiba Morihei, the founder, used to say: “This is good, but that is good too”.  Consequently, the number of exercises was always growing.

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Koichi Tohei Shihan on Ude Furi Undo…

<From Koichi Tohei Shihan’s first book – written ‘under the supervision of’ O’Sensei, a version of  ude-furi undo (stir-arms) that we don’t usually see when folks warm up on the mat, starting in shizentai but moving into hanmi:>

Stand easily with feet apart.

Count One.

Swing your arms to the left, pouring Ki outward and making a circle with the finger tips. (photo 1)

Count Two.

Swing them to the right in the same manner (photo 2)….


Counts One and Two are to be repeated  several times… Then [on “one”] take a step forward with your right foot, turn your body to your left side and step backward with your left foot, always keeping time (photo 3).




At count Two, swing both arms to your right side, take a backward step with your right foot and face the same direction as you did at count One (photo 4). Repeat this several times.




If you can keep the one point at all times, in leaping about and stepping forward or backward for example, you will not make loud sounds with your feet. Begin this exercise slowly, then gradually increase your tempo.

The movements in this exercise are often used in AIKIDO.

The principle involved is the same as that of a spinning globe. No matter who your opponent may be, you can use the principle to suck him in and throw him at will. The one point becomes the center, your arms become the radius and the circles you make with your finger tips as you perform this exercise. If you draw your Ki inward or stop pouring forth Ki, the radius becomes loose and you cannot make the circle that is required.

– – – Koichi Tohei Shihan,  “Supervised by Morihei Uyeshiba [O’Sensei]” Aikido the Arts of Self-Defense,  pp. 71-73

“When we bend forward, the yang ch’i enters…

…When we bend backward, the yin ch’i enters….” – – – Ch’ang Nai-Chou,   tr. Douglas Wile,  T’ai Chi’s Ancestors,  p. 85

  • see the aiki-taiso at 12:18 – – –


There are many precursors to those internal martial arts that we know today: one is the un-named art of Master Ch’ang Nai-Chou (early 18C), whose writings were edited and published by Hsu Chen in 1932…they are lengthier and more detailed than the Tai Ch’i Classics and are especially valued for their wisdom – as well as being an insight into the pre-history of Tai Ch’i Chuan…

…many hand warm-ups…

manyhandwarmups (1)

Memories of O’Sensei (2)…

At six thirty in the morning, excepting those days where quite suddenly he has decided to make a teaching trip away from Tokyo,  Uyeshiba Sensei comes into the dojo. He is truly a “great master” [ – an “O  Sensei” – ], precisely because he never plays at being “Master” and never behaves as if he is in charge.  Already, our paths had crossed in the stairwell, where he was politely climbing the stairs with small steps, in his socks. He had stopped to talk with a Japanese student. He was smiling a lot,   open-faced, bright-eyed. He seemed to be quite amused. He is this way a lot. He looks at one and all with in jovial and sympathetic manner. He talks a lot. In the dojo, he talks all the time…

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