Changing Size

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In a grab, you typically want to become smaller, enabling yourself to jnove with ease within uke's grasp, within your own skin. Combine this exercise with "Letting Go" on page 84.

Mage imagine:

  1. Growing down below the mat and up to the ceiling. Uke test.
  2. Expanding to fit the confines of the room, then beyond, becoming the size of the earth, extending to the ends of the universe. Uke test the effect of various images.

See Breathing and Meditation. See also the video "Powers of Ten" under Books, Movies, and Videos.

Cats have loose skin, as does the Rhodesian Ridgeback, a dog used for hunting lions. Both these animals are remarkably able to move within their skin should it become caught in claws.

Horses are notorious for launching into deep breathing exercises when being saddled against their will; no matter how tightly the cinch is Pulled, breathing out loosens it.

Be at least as wise as a cat or dog or horse and don't get stuck in your clothes or your own skin1.

1 This freedom of movement Is one reason that the traditional judo gi has no ties.


Kokyu-dosa is not wrestling. It is an exercise in mind extension and con trol of One-Point. With nage and uke in seiza,

  1. Nage extends arms, shoulder width apart. Palms are facing with fingers directed slighdy up and elbows bent naturally.
  2. Uke grasps nage's wrists from the outside.
  3. With Unbendable Arm and from One-Point, nage moves directly forward, unbalancing uke.
  4. Hold down: Unbendable Arms with knife-edges of hands at uke's shoulder and elbow.
Dosa Lineart

Uke draws a circle to take you in. Draw yours larger. Uke drops One-Point. Drop yours lower. Ultimately, kokyu-dosa becomes an exercise in whose mind is larger, whose One-Point is lower.

Having trouble? Think not of pushing uke over, but of giving uke and everything behind him a hug.

jf your practice deteriorates into a contest of weight and strength, please stop, center yourself and begin again, thinking not in terms of what can I ¿o against this opponent? but what can we do?

faced with the challenge ofkokyu-dosa with an armless student, it was decided to have uke put his fists at nage's shoulders. To succeed, nage fad to mentally use uke's arms as his own and move with confidence. It worked very well with both uke and nage learning a valuable lesson, flow we practice this often with all students, for it provides valuable feedback on the power of mental intention and physical results.

— George Simcox

Power Feedback

The be8in *> think that budo means to have an opponent or tht^ dow^TT f0 be stron&er than' someone you want to

In true b"do there is no enemy or opponent

— Morihei Ueshiba

Nikyo HandsEdwin Markham Outwitted

Outwitted fíe drew a circle to keep me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win; drew a circle that drew him in.

— Edwin Markham


This exercise done repeatedly in succession without the pin, can be u$ as a pre-class warm-up or as a safe, supportive and low-stress way helping a beginner learn to roll.

  1. Nage throws uke who rolls to the side.
  2. Nage assists uke in returning to the upright position.
  3. Nage throws uke to the opposite side.
  4. Repeat.

Techniques done kneeling (known as suwari-waza) teach you to move from your hips, to move hip with arm. They allow you to practice with small children, reduce the number of variables in the system, and they teach that trying to muscle through with aims alone just won't work. Suwari-waza translate easily to standing forms although standing forms do not translate easily to kneeling ones. This is why O-Sensei used to reprimand students for standing techniques.

Apparently standing techniques became standard in the U.S. because Americans were so unaccustomed to kneeling that the choice was "Standing Aikido" or "No Aikido." And so Americans begin with standing techniques and work up to kneeling ones thinking of them as "advanced" because of waiting for knees to get sufficiently flexible to do what would be a beginning technique in O-Sensei's do jo.

Meanwhile, we lose many beginners because of their fear of falling. With this approach, students aren't falling down, because they're already there. They're simply rolling over. How hard the mat is doesn't matter and even the biggest stiffest bodies (the ones at most risk for damage in falls) can't hurt themselves.

Also with this exercise there's someone there — not just giving advice from the sidelines — but holding and supporting, controlling the roll, keeping the new student safe. New students can work up to the feel of rounding and rolling gradually, be eased into the proper positions, Pr0' tected from awkward ones. Experienced students can practice shifting weight and balance, following, and controlling. All from kokyu-dosa.

¿¿ailing vs. Falling palling is.of course, a large part of Aikido. The following exercises can Ijg used not only as opportunities to practice balance and stability, but as useful training in the mechanics of kuzushi ("unbalancing") which pre-cedes a flail.

Aikido falls occur for many reasons including momentum and rotation of joints a&d spine. But position of the body and One-Point relative to its support {the feet) is critical.

  1. Nage stands in a natural (shizentai) stance; hands at sides, feet parallel and a little less than shoulder width apart forming a square or box.
  2. Uke test by pressing gently on chest or shoulder. Notice that as long as One-Point is over the box, nage is on balance. When One-Point drifts outside of the box (by just a few degrees), nage is now in the process of falling, and must either step or contort posture to recover.


There is also a transition area that surrounds the perimeter of the square.

1. Have the student get a feel for the areas:

  • insMe the square,
  • outside the square, and
  • where the transitions occur.

2. Repeat for an angled stance (foznmOwhere the lines of balance/off-balance will trace a triangle.

t throw anyone. I remove their option to stand up..

— Dennis Hooker

Leaning Backward*

An exercise in controlled relaxation and One-Point

  1. Nage leans back against uke but keeps One-Point.
  2. Uke moves away suddenly.

linage has kept One-Point, stability will be maintained. If not, nage will fall.


  • Notice the points and positions of instability that will result in an Aikido "throw" or fall.
  • To a lean, add rotation.

One reason thatAikido may seem so unbelievable and even Jake" to someone just watching it is that we don't really understand how important balance is in everyday life.

Ask a person on the street to show you "balance" and they will lift a foot „ut extend their arms out like a tightrope walker. It isn't something you think of doing while walking, standing, or running.

/ started Aikido shortly after I moved to Norway after living in in California. I had forgotten about snow .. and ice. Good Aikido is like having a raygun that can turn all the land under the attacker to ice, while you smd on solid ground.

On ice the least little thing can send you out of control. Resistance is futile- and only worksagainst you. A big strong guy leans just a little too far, and a little child can topple him.

—James Acker

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