When practicing an Aikido technique, where should tori focus his attention to get a better sense for his own balance as well as uke's movements?

A common advice seems to be that tori should focus on his/her physical center of gravity, which is just below the navel (also called hara). It's kind of obvious that this will improve awareness of one's own balance.

However, it's also necessary to observe uke's line of attack and in which direction his/her center of gravity is going (not to mention the extremities). But then again, giving uke one's full attention would draw away from minding one's own balance.

How can this apparent contradiction be resolved? Where do you typically keep your attention during practice?


If you are still unfamiliar with the technique you need to focus on learning the basic choreography. It's no good focusing on your "Tanden" (center of gravity) if your footwork or grip is wrong. Once this becomes instinctive then is the time to move on to focusing on the "Tanden" The purpose of this is that you yourself should move as little as possible while applying a joint lock and while doing the throw itself. It is the uke that should be moving around you until their legs can't keep up with their center of mass and they fall.

In other words for the majority of throws you should be thinking about the "tanden" only while doing the throw itself. Before the throw you must move off line, and take hold. As you turn to throw you should think of your tanden this is the point you will turn around as you perform the throw.

I use the word "Tanden" here as this is the word for the physical centre of mass. The word Hara just means belly.


You should focus on your basics movements, lines of balance, and how to generate power.

First, your basic movements (the ones you do at the start of the class) are there because they are used everywhere. Any technique will use a basic move, or a slight variation of a basic move. If you cannot see it, ask someone.

Second, the lines of balance are important: where is uke's line of weakness? This is probably where you should be pushing/pulling uke. Most, if not all, techniques follow a line of weakness. Some kata might assume that uke does a certain thing (for example, pulls back on a grab) so uke needs to know what they are going as well. Again, if you are unsure, ask.

Third, sometimes uke is generous and provides you with plenty of momentum to throw them. At other times, not so much -- for example when you miss your timing point. In that case, you need to provide most (if not all) of the momentum to throw uke. In most cases, power comes from your core muscles which generally is what tanden/hara refers to. If you have a strong core, then throw will be easier. As Philip Klöcking kindly pointed out in the comments, not only is the core the biggest muscle group but the centre of mass of the body is generally close to it. As in Judo, keeping your core low makes it harder to destabilise. This works for both uke and tori.

However, I suspect you are overthinking it. Learn techniques slowly at first, then speed them up, and finally add resistance to make sure that they work.

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    While agreeing with your answer in general, I want to add something to the "strong core" point. As an active practitioner of Judo, I can say all of that is true for this art as well. But I found it particularly useful at some point of my development to conciously tensing my "core". Of course, without becoming stiff as dead fish and losing a movable hip. It improved my stand and by this balance a lot in kuzushi and kake specifically. – Philip Klöcking Jan 4 '16 at 14:10
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    Not only biggest muscle group, but gravitational center with the pelvic bone. Another idea related: Lowering the hip may help the OP, too. From experience, a tandem that is too high is one of the main mistakes of students in Judo, effecting balance and effectiveness massively. – Philip Klöcking Jan 4 '16 at 14:31

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