Rolling in the Air

You will often see an experienced uke tilt the head back then fling it forward to start a roll. The weight of the head adds energy to the roll before gravity kicks in and helps keep uke safe especially if nage did not provide enough energy on his own. Uke is rolling long before the first touch of the mat. (See "Weigh Your Head" on page 230). Eventually arms are not needed at all and become less for weight-bearing, more for simply feeling and sensing what is needed to keep their owners safe — sometimes in surprising ways.

An Aikidoistfrom New England Aikikai told me that she attended a Montreal one winter. It was bitter cold but well-attended, so in short order the room was steaming and wet like a sauna. When they opened the door for air, cold dry air met supersaturated hot air. Presto! Fog! — of the ground-hugging variety. Those who were thrown were landing blind, and those throwing would watch their partners disappear into the mist and re-emerge meters away.

— Janet Rosen, Aikikai

Rolling Games and Exercises

Games are not just for children, and they are valuable not just for fun but because the student's focus is diverted elsewhere.

Rolling Tag

Kids love this and although some instructors think it unseemly for adult dignity (or their own), adults have a great time too.

As in any other game of tag, choose someone to be "It" and chase the others, but only with rolls or knee walking (shikkyo).


1. Who can cover the length of the mat in the fewest rolls?

2. Who can fit the largest number of small rolls along the length of the mat? (Tip: cross-rolls are your best bet.)

Rolling Games and Exercises

50 Rolls

This is a series of 50 (or greater number) rolls done back and forth in alternating directions without pause. Key to success (or survival) is to not stand up between rolls. Instead, rise partway then turn and fall, rather like a figure 8. Use the falling momentum to bring you back up so that you can fall again. And breathe!


Work as uke with two partners practicing zempo throws.

1. One partner throw uke towards second partner.

2. Stand, rise, and attack second partner.

3. Second partnerthrows uke back to first partner who throws him back. Uke rolls back and forth between the two. Compare 50 breakfalls.

Forward Rolling Nonstop

There is a tendency to separate motions and undertakings into individual parts. This exercise emphasizes continuous rolling. Do not stop between rolls to reset or regroup, just keep rolling. This exercise is the difference between:

3. Consider... hmmm, perhaps I'll roll again now... and

1. Roooollllllllllll2lllllllllll!l3llllllllllll

Try this in conjunction with Obstacle Course (below).

Rolling in Pairs

Partners hold hands and roll in tandem, matching speed (and direction). They must, of course, roll on opposite arms.

Rolling With a Sword (Yokomen)

This exercise provides practice in overcoming dependency on placing the hands on the mat to roll. The oblique yokomen strike provides the downward beginning momentum which then flows into a roll.

Obstacle Course

An exercise in revealing and destroying mindset. Once students learn to roll, place an obstacle in the way. It may be:

A body or a series of bodies on hands and knees.

Rolling, Falling and Flying

This exercise is also useful for observing the peculiar games your mind plays. It is amazing to see how often we panic at the supposed impediment even when it is even lower or closer than the student's roll requires. It is a perceived barrier, not a real one. The exercise is to roll anyway. Combine with Nonstop Rolls (see "Forward Rolling Nonstop" on page 135) in a circle around the mat. Scatter more harmless laundry or bodies around the mat, use the in-between spaces for target practice. See if you notice any difference in the rolls and notice how to overcome that.

Parking Lot Rolls

If you are an experienced and seasoned upper belt and have forgotten how terrifying rolls (especially forward rolls) are to beginners, consider practicing your rolls (carefully!) on concrete or asphalt in jeans and sweatshirt. This is useful as a demo to the performer and to the observer that "this stuff really works ("On The Street") and it isn't just a function of mats or magic clothes. Especially for circular rolls, once the techniques and dynamics of rolling have been mastered it doesn't really matter whether the "wheel" of your body rolls over a mat or over parking lot concrete or asphalt.

For more variations, nuances, and good solid information, Bruce Bookman's excellent videos on ukemi and advanced ukemi are highly recommended.


A throw with enough energy and forward momentum to be a throw can be thought of as "help in getting back up." In contrast, a breakfall is intended to absorb and neutralize as much energy as possible. Rolling extends and continues energy enabling uke to land safely on his feet ready for the next attack. But sometimes rolling is simply not possible.

The point of a breakfall is to dissipate energy in such a way that the falling body is not injured. As much surface area as possible is in contact with the ground at one time. No one point hits the mat. Not the point of elbow, not the point of the heel, nor the point of a shoulder or chin. It is a full-body splat — full arm, full side, flatfoot — that spreads energy over a wide area rather than concentrating it all on an elbow, or knee, or a nose.

Exercises below offer a progression in height starting on the mat, to a couple feet, then several feet above the mat.

Some pointers: Do not cross legs with contact. Ankles may bump, bruise, or chip-Men especially may discover other painful results as the upper leg comes crashing down.

136 Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training

Rolling, Falling and Flying i

Another exercise from the same beginning position is to unfurl, not sideways but "over your head, " sort of a mid-air front roll and land. It's a bit more advanced, but more what I think you should be doing in a front breakfall (instead of rolling out to the side).

There are many ways to practice ukemi techniques, just like you would "normal" aikido techniques like ikkyo. I only wish they were taught more often in the dojo...

A "roll-out" begins with a standard forward roll, but ends in breakfall position. -This introduces the feel of breakfall in motion, and helps develop good positioning.

Breakfall Over Partner

This step adds height but adds it safely. In groups of three with a crash-pad,

1. One partner with belt, is on hands and knees.

2. Student slides hand palm-up under kneeling partner's obi for stability.

3. Instructor or other partner applies /cote-gaesft/flipping student onto crash pad.

Breakfall With Jo

"Gaining height" for breakfall is contrary to almost every natural instinct. But, it's good physics. It allows uke to get into position for a safe fall. You will see this demonstrated again and again in "professional wrestling" where nage helps uke vault off his back or thighs in order to come down safely into the supposedly devastating (but mostly just noisy) slam to the mat.

In a breakfall from a kote-gaeshi (a wrist technique) you are falling 3-4 feet. Practice from the few inches of height available from a roll means you've practiced only from a few inches of height. This exercise allows individual practice from any height, controlled by the position of the student's hands on the lower end of the jo.

• Use a T-shirt or gito protect the mat from the edge of the jo.

• Use a crashpad to cushion any landings that will be higher than the student has been previously accustomed to taking.

Rolling Side to Side

This very beginning exercise enables the new student to practice the feel of a breakfall and correct positioning of body, arms, and legs in the safest manner possible. In a slightly more advanced version ("fish-flops") hips and legs are lifted off the mat in the course of the movement. Because the body moves across the mat, this exercise can be used as a game or relay race for children or adults.

1. Lie on back with chin tucked to chest

2. Roll to the right, striking mat smartly with flat of right arm and right palm.

3. Roll to the left, striking mat smartly with flat of left arm and left palm.


A good beginning exercise for breakfalls. It allows uke to learn at his own pace, the "unfurling" action as you turn in the air is natural, and you pretty much land in the "correct" landing position.This exercise provides an actual fall but still allows a low-stress and relatively low energy check for body position and timing. Aim to land on wore on your side than on your back. In a more dynamic fall, landing flat on your back will knock the wind out of you. With nage on hands and knees,

1 • Uke reaches under nage's body to his opposite arm. 2- Uke pulls arm towards him, flipping nage into a breakfall.

Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training 137

Ukemi from Ikkyo

A slightly different technique is possible for ikkyo techniques in which you are diving forward to the mat, secured by one arm. Ukemi for this technique is a sort of modified forward breakfall.

In ikkyo, it is common to see uke flopping down to the mat with full weight on the kneecaps just prior to transferring weight to the wrist at the end of a nearly vertical arm. This may work on the mat but would have devastating results on street or sidewalk: a shattered kneecap, a broken wrist, and a straight arm that acts as a pivot point, pitching uke forward onto his face. Instead, on falling forward,

1. Drop to knee and shin (not just kneecap) of inside leg.

2. Fully extend the outside leg. The extended leg provides a counterbalance which prevents your fa//weight from transferring to hand and forearm. As weight transfers forward,

3. Place entire forearm (not just the wrist) on the mat and extended forward. Arm is Unbendable and slides forward with body.

Grasping the cuff of the g/before taking the fall prevents mat burns.

The following version is limited to persons whose bellies do not extend significantly beyond their thighs. Hence, it is unsuitable for pregnant women or for men of similar configuration. On falling forward,

1 • Extend the outside arm with knife edge of hand towards mat (thumb up). Simultaneously,

2- Kick heels up and back as if trying to kick yourself in the fanny.

This aligns the entire lower body so that impact is spread across the extended forearm, torso, and thighs. Kneecaps are tucked safely out of the way.

I Uke ikkyo because it offers the most control over an untrained uke, and uke doesn 't have to know how to take a fly in g ukemi for me to get uke safely to the ground and Pinned.

On Ukemi

A very pernicious habit, which one is apt to contract in the fencing-room, and which in a duel may easily lead to a fatal issue is the habit of stopping after you have made a hit, instead of immediately recovering your guard and putting yourself out of distance. Never forget this important point; if you do, you may, after wounding your opponent, receive a mortal woundfor which you will have only 2 yourself to blame... The moment you think you have made a hit get back as smartly as you can, and be ready to go on fighting.

— Baron Cesar de Bazancourt, Secrets of the Sword

What is Ukemi?

So many people think that ukemi is about falling down, how to fall down, about being thrown. Well, of course it is, but it is also about so much more. It is about engagement, both physical and energy I which starts way before the | physical and lasts way after).

It is about intent, about attack and continuation of the attack.

It is about looking for the opening to take back control after you have been unbalanced, about keeping up the attack while keeping yourself safe.

It is about sticking in there as long as possible to try to find a hole, so if nage makes some mistake you haven't bailed out and are no longer around.

It is about separating from the other person when it becomes futile to continue, so that you can live to come back and attack again.

It is constant awareness of all that is around you.

So many people just take falls. Yeah, it's fun, and some people may think it looks cool, but many times it's not ukemi. And often after the big jump the person either lies there or gets up but without awareness, so that the person who just threw uke could in fact step on or attack from behind. This awareness, this connection with your surroundings is what / find missing in most practice.

I took ukemi for a shihan at an embu recently. Afterwards, a guy told me " You never took your eyes off him!"

Of course not. I never take my eyes off the person I am engaged with. If I did, I would have a large opening and he could kill me. Sometimes it is necessary to take a breakfall or some "spectacular" ukemi like that. For those rare instances, we must practice such falls but when practicing, not get sucked into the "I wanna take cool looking falls " trap.

Uke and nage both attack each other's center, both must keep themselves safe, both must find a way to take the other's balance, to keep the connection. Always engaged, always connected. This is budo training.

— Lisa Tomoleoni, Aikido Shindo Do jo, Tokyo, Japan

140 Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training

On Individual Ukemi Practice

Ukemi practice as part of regular training is best, not only for safety but because there's far more to ukemi than just attacking and falling down. Everything can be practiced alone in some way, but rolls must be done with special care and good sense. Do not, for example, practice rolls on beds, especially not bunkbeds. Put the niattress on the floor.

If you do practice alone, be very careful. If you live alone and whack your head while practicing, you're in trouble! Jun is wise to do his "solo ukemi" in the do jo with other people around.

— Cady Goldfield

Yup. But some folks eye me warily at time, spontaneously flip up into the air during < provide a few seconds' warning.)

is though I'm just going to r something. (I Usually

- Jun Akiyama (AKA GumbyAKA Tigger)

Or eliminate all the mats and pads and cushions or hard ground and roll in water. Roll into water at the beach or the edge of a pool. Notice the sensation of cool water moving up your neck, back and hips and notice the path it takes. You can't roll across the surface of course, but you can get the feeling of hips going over head.

I did breakfalls in the surf the other day. Got the kids a little tt They didn 't want us to stop. NB: Eliminate the slap.

cited though.

- Tarik J. Ghbeish

Hadfun with a friend from class this weekend. He practiced throws that would need breakfalls on land. I got to take them as flip/dive forward or back in the water. / am so at home in the water and it was cool not to think about how I was landing. Did lose the diagonal feel but it worked without at thought.

On opening night ofRingling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, a wonderful clown came out with a large newspaper, dragging a park bench. Throughout his attempts to merely sit down on the bench (without getting his hands, feet, or head stuck) he took some of the most wonderful ukemi I have ever seen. Ai the park bench "threw " him about, he took backward ukemi (as the bench tipped while he was sitting on its back), forward ukemi, and some major breakfalls. He simply threw himself forward, flipping, and landing on the ground (no mats, and the surface was not particularly giving). To the untrained eye, ¡know it looked phenomenal. To my semi-trained eye, I saw some wonderful ukemi, sometimes with the hand reaching back to "spot" the ground, occasionally with slapping, and one or two that might be described as "falling leaf ukemi." If you think we have it tough learning ukemi, try doing it in size 40 clown shoes!

— Scott Crawford, Yoshinkan

Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training 141

Rolling, Falling and Flying

The story of me and aikido is basically. "Hey... this aikido stuff looks fun. Hey, you get to throw people... and not only do they not get hurt, they're not even angry? And you don't get hurt either! Sign me up! "

harmlessly comes down td earth regarding harmlessly comes down td earth regarding

œœIF^ Many Martial arts teach sre&ck-d^ IntftaJucinj an adversary to the $n*wd, abruptly, useful«» cf ysur trains partner during th» iwrnina proua hd|k¿ if trity art wth the rudwnfs oí br&kfoliin$

œœIF^ Many Martial arts teach sre&ck-d^ IntftaJucinj an adversary to the $n*wd, abruptly, useful«» cf ysur trains partner during th» iwrnina proua hd|k¿ if trity art wth the rudwnfs oí br&kfoliin$

g thi risk 6 injury, Uwrti

— Reproduced by kind permission of David Whitehead. See www.fudebakudo.com.

I never liked ukerni practice and even saw it as an annoying side-trip taking valuable class time from the "real" techniques. At least, that was so as long as I was afraid of it. Later it was flying.

Much later, when I slipped and fell in an ice storm, it probably saved my life. 1 went airborne, then despite tucking and slapping, hit the high curb. I ended up with a fractured skull and severe concussion. Not as bad as it could have been. A 19-year-old girl who did the same thing in the same storm died of her injuries and a classmate lost his father years ago to exactly the same thing. At 10:00 that night the emergency room was packed, overflowing with broken arms, legs, wrists, heads, every possible combination of hurt from falling. How many of those people had ever been mugged "On The Street"? I would guess somewhere around zero to norte, yet on that day, almost every one had been mugged, hit, shot at "By The Street."

Nowadays I tell new students that ukemi is the real self-defense portion of our program. The throwing techniques are just for fun. That isn't quite true of course. Despite the high number of accidental injuries and deaths due to falls, the flip side is purposeful injuries and deaths. That is another thing entirely and it is why we have Aikido techniques.

chapter 6

Grabs and Strikes

Attacks range from immediate intent to harm (strikes and punches) to restraint (to prevent the subject from drawing a weapon or harming another). In Aikido, attacks may be practiced singly or in combination.

In beginning classes, uke normally attacks to the forward foot, shoulder, or ribs. In general, it would be foolish to extend past the forward side and arm to attack nage's rear side or arm. As the Aikidoist becomes more experienced, stance becomes far less rigid but the underlying rationale remains.

Whether attacking or defending, arm moves with leg (see "Standing, Stepping and Stance" on page 43). Since Aikido assumes a right-handed attacker, nage usually does techniques on the left side first. Also note combinations. For example,

• Shomen-uchiis an overhead strike.

• Kata-tori shomen-uchi is a combination of these two basics (grab with strike).

Grabs are easy to break and so many martial arts do just that. In Aikido, grabs are not broken — they may even be secured with the other hand — to provide the starting point of techniques. Grabs tell you where uke is, limits his options (as breaking the hold can mean a new and different attack). And, while uke may be thinking "Ha! I've got you!" from nage's point of view, uke has just tied up or given away one or both or all of his weapons'.

Basic Practice

Basic practice below is for the beginning student working as uke with a more experienced nage. Variations will provide nage with additional practice in response to attack. At home, the new student can also work with a "Closet Uke" (see page 223) or even an arm chair. For an effective drill with a partner, 1 ■ Experienced student as nage calls out names of attacks. 2. New student as uke provides the requested stance, grab, or attack. 3- Reverse roles. Variation

As uke provides the requested grab or attack, nage notes the direction of motion, and continues the energy and motion of the attack. Nage can also test effectiveness

1 Hence Aikido described as "The Art of 'I've Got You, I've Got You :.. Oh Nooooo!'"

of the hold by raising/lowering hand or moving it from side to side. Also apply the hitori-waza/aiki-taiso exercises from Chapter 4. For example, for katate-tori,

• For inward motion, rotate attacker's wrist inward with tekubi-kosa-undo (page 88), start of many /77m/'techniques. Notice uke's shoulder.

• For outward motion, duck under uke's arm (start of sankyo, page 190).

• For incoming motion or static attack, turn tenkan. Notice what makes the easiest and most effective tenkari (page 97 and page 175), and the difference between relaxing the held arm and trying to force your way through it.

• Deflection ("wax on, wax off). See how little effort deflects by a few degrees.

• For two handed grabs, funekogi-undoto start the motion, thon continue motion into another exercise such as tenkan.

• "Standard Response." As punch or grab comes in,

1. Sweep your opposite arm down uke's attacking arm stopping at the wrist.

3. Draw up forward foot, ending in hanmi.

Observe the difference between a) brushing down incoming hand then stepping back and b) stepping back and then brushing down the incoming hand.

Focus on attacks, their names, and the exercises. Do not continue on to a throw. Note real-life differences between attacks on men and attacks on women. Men lend to attack men with punches and blows, in a pummeling, face-to-face, territorial, dominance sort of behavior. Restaurateurs and bartenders report that a common attack is what we would call a John Wayne right/left hook (yokomen), perhaps because it is so common in movies that many think it is the way to fight. Men tend to attack women with chokes. The most common street attack on women is from behind, in predator/prey mode, typically with ushiro kuhe-shime, the "mugger's hold" (page 152) of one arm in a stranglehold around the target's neck, the other grasping one hand.) Another common attack, especially in domestic violence, is the choke from the front.

I recently heard two dojo-mates dismiss a botchcd attempt at a choke-hold technique: "Oh, well, it's not like anybody would actually attack anyone like that anyway."2 Actually they do. For women, practice in groundwork and choke-hold techniques may be critical to training and safety.

2. A new student sputtered when she heard this. Contrary to popular belief, street attacks by strangers against women are rare. Attacks by abusive husbands or partners are not rare, and choke holds are common. Her estranged husband had attacked her on four separate occasions, each time with a chokehold. "But of course!" she said. "So easy when he is big and you are small. It also isn't as blatant or obvious afterwards as shooting or stabbing or breaking an arm but offers total control as you will do anything to get air." Each time, however (and with no training) she was able to turn the attack into a hip throw; he knocked himself cold on the hardwood floor. She then resolved to buy a gun to protect herself. On the way to the store, she realized that she had protected herself — and started Aikido instead.

144 Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training front Grabs

Judo grip or "aiki grip " or "soft grip" to a wrist starts by grabbing first with the little finger then each finger in order up to the index. This, as opposed to starting the grip with the index finger and bringing each finger into play down to the little finger. It's like holding a sword, the reverse grip of milking a cow.

— Dennis Hooker, Aikido Schools of Ueshiba


ADS3: Attack #1 ("Single-hand attack" [to same-side wrist]); TOT: Katate-mochi, pp. 58-60. Katate-tori is the basic beginning attack in beginning Aikido.

Uke: RH and RF forward, grab nage's LH; fingers toward nage like gripping a tennis racquet, not towards self. Nage: LH and LF forward, palm down

Observe all the different ways that an attack can be a one-handed same-side grab but be entirely different, for example, pulling in, pushing out. Using different motions above, nage practice setting up the beginning motions for: Sankyo, rotating uke's arm in relative to uke's body (see page 190).

Shiho-nage, rotating uke's arm out relative to uke's body (see page 194).

Tenchi-nage, leading uke's arm out and down behind his body (see page 215).

Technique: "Katate-Tori Kokyu-Nage Tenkan Ude-Oroshi" on page 211.

References to "ADS" are to Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere by Westbrook and Ratti (1970); "TOT" to Total Aikido by Gozo Shioda (1997), "KIA" to Ki in Aikido by C. M. Shifflett (1997); "ZC" to Zen Combat by Jay Gluck (1997). LH=Left Hand, RH=Right Hand, LF=Left Foot, RF=Right Foot.

Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training 145

Grabs and Strikes

Katate Kosa-Tori

ADS: Attack #2 ("Single-hand cross attack"); TOT: Katate-ayamochi, p. 107, for nikyo. This "cross-handed" attack is the start of Kokyu-nage Basic. If "overhead" (a strike instead of a grab, with slight change in angle) it becomes shomen-uchi (page 154).

Uke: RH and RF forward, grab nage's RH; fingers toward nage like gripping a tennis racquet, not towards self. Nage: LH and LF forward, palm up, palm down, or with hand vertical (thumb up and pinky finger down).

For palm up, rotate ukets wrist inward across his body by rotating your hand thumb down. Observe behavior of shoulder and its natural lead-in to irimitechniques.

• As for "Katate-Tori" on page 145, practice setting up the beginning motions for sankyo (page 190), shiho-nage (page 194), and Nikyo 2 (page 189).

• Technique: See "Kokyu-Nage" on page 201 and "Katate-Kosa-Tori Kokyu-Nage Irimi Tobikomi" on page 202 ("Kokyu-Nage Basic").

jCatate-Tori Ryote-Mochi

/\DS' Attack #3 ("Attack to single hand with both hands holding")

RF forward, both hands grabbing nage's LH.

R (outside) hand is above L (inside) hand on nage's arm; this protects uke by keeping nage's elbow from bending out for a strike.

Nage: LH and LF forward, palm up or down.

• Tekubi-tori. Combined with tenkan and ude-mawashi, generates a ferocious spin used in several en-undo techniques.

• As for "Katate-Tori" on page 145, practice setting up the beginning motions for sankyo and shiho-nage.

• Technique: See "Ryote-Mochi Kokyu-Nage Zempo-Nage Tenkan" on page 213. See also "Katate-Kosa-Tori Kokyu-Nage Irimi Tobikomi" on page 202. From Katate-torl ryote-mochi, the technique would become "Katate-toriryote-mochikokyu-nage irimi tobikomi."

Katate-Tori Ryote-Tori

ADS: Attack #4 ("Both [single] hands grabbed by both [uke's] hands"); TOT: ryote-mochi, p. 164.

Uke: RF forward, holding both of nage's wrists.

Nage: LF forward, palms down.

Tekubi-kosa: rotate uke's mists by rotating yours. Observe how difficult or impossible it is for uke to halt this motion and what can be done with it, including conversions to tenkan, irimi, and shiho-nage movements. Reaching under one hand with the other, grasp knife-edge of uke's hand. (See "Kote-Gaeshi 3" on page 200). Funekogishifts a static uke into motion. Technique: "Katate-Tori Ryote-Mochi Kokyu-Nage Tenchi-Nage" on page 215.

Kata-Tori / Kata-Mune-Tori

ADS: Attack #5 ("Lapel-" or "shoulder-attack"); TOT: Kata-mochi, p. 63.

Uke: RF forward, seizing L lapel of nage's gi.

Nage: LF and L shoulder forward.

• Tenkan. This is often combined with shomeri or yokomenstrik (ADS attack #17). Notice how easy it is to turn tenkan provided you do not freeze up and get stuck in your own clothes.

• Try stepping back into a no-hands iunekogi.

• For incoming motion, practice "Standard Response" (page 144) three or four hundred times, brushing down on incoming arm, stepping back, and drawing up the forward foot. (Step back first if uke is already holding.)

Ryo-Kata-Tori / Ryo-Munetori

ADS: Attack #6 ("Grab to both lapels/shoulders"); TOT: Kata-mochi, p. 63.

Uke: RF forward, seizing both lapels of nage's gi.

Nage: LF forward, hips squared.

• Tenkan. Notice that this still works just as for the one-handed lapel grab.

• Experiment with a no-hands tunekogi.

9 As for kata-tori, for incoming motion, practice the "Standard Response" (page 144) reaching over the near arm to brush away the outside arm with an ude-furimotion, or to deflect the outside arm into an irimi motion.

148 Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training

Grabs and Strikes


ADS: Attack #8, "Rear-Elbow-Attack"; TOT: Ryohiji-mochi, p. 68.

Uke: Behind nage, holding both elbows back.

Nage: Shizentai

• Ushiro tekubi-kosa, ude-furi, funekogi, and tenkan.

• With ushiro tekubi-kosa, flow into position for sankyo. With tenkan, flow into position for kote-gaeshi.

• As variation, compare with the standard schoolyard attack of one arm behind and forced upwards along the spine. It seemed like the Ultimate Attack at the time, but see what happens now if nage turns tenkan in the direction of nage's elbow.

Ushiro Kata-Tori

ADS: Attack #9, "Rear-Shoulder-Attack"; TOT: Ushiro ryokata-mochi, p. 67.

Uke: Behind nage, holding both shoulders of gi.

Nage: Shizentai

• Ude-furi choyaku, funekogi, tenkan and bowing. See illustration on page 42, a zempo-nage which can be also be applied to a standing bow.

• I/Zee's intent is to unbalance nage to the rear by moving shoulders behind hips. What happens if you move your own hips backward? Considerthe difference in difficulty between tilting a standard chair backward and attempting to do the same thing to a chair on casters.

Ushiro Attacks

Ushiro ('behind") in a technique name indicates an attack from the rear. When nage was armed with two swords, the safest place to be was behind them, a situation vividly portrayed in the opening scenes of The 47 Ronin. The point of ushiro-tekubi-tori ("wrist attack from behind") is to pull nage's arms to the rear, rendering the target supposedly helpless while the attacker remains safely behind, shielded by nage's own body. You may remember the name and the configuration of arms pulled back and seen from above as:

shiro shiro


ADS: Attack #7, "Rear-Wrist-Attack"; TOT: Ushiro Ryote-Mochi, pp. 65-66.

Uke: Behind nage, pulling both wrists down and back.

Nage: Shizentai

• Ushiro tekubi-kosa and ushiro tekubi tori. Try raising arms out to sides then compare with doing the exercise by raising hands up center.

• Technique: "Ushiro-Tori Tekubi-Tori Ura-Gaeshi" on page 214.

• With above, flow into position for sankyo, shiho-nage, ikkyo, kote-gaeshi, etc.

• As an exercise in balance and stability plus a good stretch, combine with the "Paired Chest and Hip Stretch" on page 118.

Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training 149

Ushiro Attacks

Ushiro Kubi-Shime

ADS: Attack #10/#16, "Rear-Neck-Attack"; TOT: pp. 188-189

This is commonly known as 'The Mugger's Grab." It is the most common street attack on women4.

Behind nage, R arm around nage's neck, LH grabbing nage's L wrist. Aläge: Shizentai

• Ushiro-tekubi-tori (page 99): As L wrist rises (preparatory for sankyo, zempo-nage), combine with sankyo and see what happens to uke's neck grab.

• press the arm holding your neck into your chest. Observe the difference between holding the arm in place and attempting to pull it away.

• What are the positions of neck and head where you will choke yourself against uke's arm? What are the positions which will give you breathing room? Note that the best option is noipressing your neck into uke's forearm in an attempt to "get away."

• Observe also, how little control uke has over your hips.


ADS: Attack #11/12, "Rear-Attack"

Behind nage, a bear hug with both arms around nage's shoulders or waist, pinning arms.


Ushiro-tori-undo (page 98). Observe what happens to uke's stability when you rotate or do not rotate thumbs down or raise arms.

On moving into throwing position, observe what happens to uke (and how successful the eventual throw would be) If you bend forward from the waist versus rotating and bending from sideways with knee, hips, shoulders, and arms in the same plane. The throw is actually from the rear arm (triceps) out the forward finger. Experiment with feeling the connection between the two.

According to studies by IMPACT Self-Defense.

The venerable Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, by Westbrook and Ratti, is almost The Standard Aikido Textbook. Its numbering system for attacks and techniques (such as Projection #3 Against Attack #1) is a neat solution to the problem of different terminology between styles. However, it can be difficult to decipher, especially for beginning students. The following chart is organized by attack number and name, keyed to the "Immobilization" (Imm.) or "Projection" (Proj.) and referenced to the page number in Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere on which the combination appears. Practice the attacks moving into the set-ups for different energy and options which result in the different techniques.


Attack Name

Defense Name






Imm. #2

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