Last night I attended a seminar with, the excellent Japanese aikido instructor, Sekio Endo 6th Dan, hosted by the Aikido Development Society up in Woodford.
Endo sensei has trained for many years with the major teachers of the Japanese Tomiki aikido fraternity. It was great to see that his style of aikido was very similar to what we do in our club.
The focus of his teaching at this event was on the atemi wasa (first five techniques) of the randori no kata. Here is a clip of him demonstrating this kata in full, the 17 basic techniques of the Tomiki aikido system. This was taken in Denver but it gives you an idea of his style.
He emphasized the principles of balance breaking and keeping one’s own body in good posture.
Notably his balance breaks were always down the weak line. The technique that stood out in this regard was aigamae ate (technique two) where he suggested that rather than pulling on uke’s arm down the line of the attack one should direct it slightly down their weak line in front of them.
In techniques like gedan ate (technique four) he said that the back should stay vertical when throwing and throughout he always insisted that one should keep the hands in centre, especially for techniques like gyakugamae ate (technique three), where he said that use of the second hand would help keep both arms centred.
Each technique originated from pretty static, ma ai, position where the hands are just touching, which meant the techniques came across as a little snappy and vigorous. It would be interesting to see how he would use uke’s energy from a more committed attack. I could see how this form would be useful, though, when it comes to tanto randori (knife competition) where the attacker rarely over commits to the thrust.
It was interesting to see that he felt that uke had to have a certain tension in their arm when attacking as in reality if their arm was too floppy they could be easily overcome by tori and attacked and hit, or cut if they had a weapon. This resulted in a slightly different feel to the balance breaking, where you could rely on a movement of uke’s arm causing their whole body to off balance.
As well as the standard form of the atemi wasa, Endo sensei showed applications for each from single hand grasps, ai hamni (natural posture), gyaku hamni (opposite posture) and both hands grabbed. It was lovely to see how the same movements worked in each scenario.
I particularly enjoyed seeing a variation on ushiro ate (technique five) where you throw uke from behind. This variation, coming from a gyaku hamni (opposite posture) or from both hands grabbed, relied also upon creating a tension between uke and tori where tori locks up the elbow of the attacking arm and then suddenly releases the tension to break balance and lead into the ushiro. One to have a play with…
Endo sensei came across as a very humble, happy and friendly person on the mat. His teaching was straightforward and down to earth with clear practical efficiency. I recommend getting down to Folkestone to see him teach this weekend.