In my group as a way to practice improving flow we do the following series in every class:

  1. Come into a neutral, relaxed stance) facing north (chosen for sake of ease of directions in this list).
  2. Stepping with the left, look over the right shoulder and turn into an upward, open-hand block. This will have you facing south with your right arm bent at a 45º angle and your fingers spread wide. The left arm hangs loose.
  3. Stepping with the right, you look over your left shoulder and turn, raising your left hand into the same block while letting your right hand fall relaxed by your side. At this point you should be facing north again.
  4. Stepping back with the right leg into a front stance at a 45º angle (facing approximately NE) you take your left hand and sweep it down and across, and then turn it outward (rotating your hips) into an open-hand block that goes to the edge of the body. The right hand hangs limp.
  5. Step up with the right leg and then turn so that the left leg is in the back, putting your facing to the NW and repeating the earlier block.
  6. Step up with both legs and go into ready stance (준비/junbi).

According to my instructor, he practiced it in tomiki aikido (where he says it probably originated) and in a kyokushinkai group where the instructor picked it up from the same tomiki class.

We use it to help improve flow and coordination.

I have a twofold question:

  1. Does anyone know where this technique chain originates?
  2. Does this sequence have a name? It seems very set, and if it does come from tomiki I wouldn't be at all surprised if they had a phrase or term for it.

Yes, that is the final movement of "the walk" - I'm drawing a blank on the Japanese name. Quick google search indicates that some schools call that "taiso", but (a) we've never used that term (b) that term seems to refer to something more general, and (c) our school has always called it "the walk". You can see a version of it in this video around the 42 second mark. Here is another version from Karl Geis' school. Kazeutbodokai has another variation and what you're describing seems to be around the 1:50 mark. For some reason I cannot find a version that matches what we do in Konda-san's school.

I'm not comfortable describing the arm movements as "blocks"; that term has never been used in any aikido school in which I've studied. I won't take the doctrinaire position that aikido doesn't involve blocks, but I would prefer that my own Aikido emphasize evasion rather than blocks (nagashi vice barai if I have my Japanese right). The point isn't to "block", it is to learn to move the body as a single unit. To my mind the arm movements aren't blocks or strikes. Although I may occasionally perform the movement while thinking about a strike, I'm really thinking about structuring my body to transmit from my hips through my spine and arms. I'm thinking about bodily structure.

Does that answer the question?

  • Thanks! Excellent answer. In my class we'd describe it as a "soft block" which for us includes cover techniques and deflections. That may be simply a difference in how we are defining things, or it may be a notational term based on the "looks like" principle, i.e., "this isn't originally conceived as a 'block,' but it looks and flows a lot like the soft techniques we practice, so we call it one." Oct 23 '12 at 15:10

Thanks to Mark C. Wallace's answer, I can see what you mean. This is a very old version of the fifth movement of tegatana doza as can be seen demonstrated by Scott Allbright sensei here. Tomiki was trying to abstract a lot of the moves in Ueshiba's Aikido into some simple moves that could be done as drills. This lead to tegatana doza as it is practised today. Ethimological, te is hand, g[k]atana is sword, and doza is move so those are hand-blade movements.

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