“Centripetal and Centrifugal Aikido,” by Nev Sagiba

“The unskilled tend to bend over to achieve a ‘throw.’ This behavioural habit will render you at risk in the battlefield”

Navigating energy requires no attack. To remain stuck in the quagmires of aggression in the seeking of resolution is a primitive reptilian brain disposition that somehow failed to become extinct along with the dinosaurs. This approach is doomed to eventual failure each time. There is nothing more disgusting that Aikido techniques badly mimicked with a mind of a primitive lizard at work. It’s not Aikido.

Kuzushi, the refinement of it, requires no strength. No expenditures. No forcing. No gratuitous aggression.

Aikido relies on the natural forces inherent in the universe instead of headstrong wilfulness. Aikido seeks a resolution of conflict, not the repeated escalation of it which is the spiritual malaise that has haunted humankind for far too long.

Aikido deploys centered mind and natural predispositions such as the proper leveraging of centripetal and centrifugal force.

Centripetal force – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centripetal_force
Centripetal force (from Latin centrum “centre” and petere “to seek” is a force that makes a body follow a curved path: it is always directed orthogonal to the velocity of the body, toward the instantaneous centre of curvature of the path.

In simple terms, centripetal force is defined as a force which keeps a body moving with a uniform speed along a circular path and is directed along the radius towards the centre. The mathematical description was derived in 1659 by Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens. Isaac Newton’s description was: “A centripetal force is that by which bodies are drawn or impelled, or in any way tend, towards a point as to a centre.”

Aikido seeks the centre of the centre of the centre. To this end training. The rest is details which come and go.

But this finding of centre accrues other gains. Gains useful in meeting all the challenges that life can throw at you. It gives you the ability to respond instead of react.

All jujitsu, indeed all budo requires the unlocking of the joints, including the knees. This drops your centre of balance or hara sufficiently to access the juxtaposition most favourable for biomechanical efficiency in interaction. Japanese have an advantage here as they have inherently shorter legs. This does not mean however, that people with long legs are excluded from the proper practice of Aiki jujitsu arts. On the contrary. It adds to possibilities.

The unskilled tend to bend over to achieve a “throw.” This behavioural habit will render you at risk in the battlefield because the opponent, if he has a modicum of skill, will pull you to ground where he requires no skill whatsoever to hold you for the few seconds it takes for his compatriots to finish you off.

Naturally, after observing this in battle, the idea of hoping for success on the ground was discounted as useful. Magnificent ki training tool that ground wrestling be.

Instead the triangle posture used in suwari waza and hanmi handachi were adopted for mud, slippery ground, if the need for a very fast drop and stand-up is required, and of course a magnificent training tool.

Ahem, excuses abound. But excuses don’t cook the rice. Feel free to practice suwari waza and hanmi handachi, or not. For the record, it has saved lives repeatedly in those so trained.

Further it facilitates the continued deployment of hand held weaponry and a fast get-up once the purpose is fulfilled. Laying down to fight a real fight is problematic if the other fellow has friends on site. And they always do. Nine times out of ten at least.

Centrifugal force – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifugal_force

Centrifugal force (from Latin centrum, meaning “centre”, and fugere, meaning “to flee”) represents the effects of inertia that arise in connection with rotation and which are experienced as an outward force away from the centre of rotation. In Newtonian mechanics, the term centrifugal force is used to refer to one of two distinct concepts: an inertial force (also called a “fictitious” force) observed in a non-inertial reference frame, and a reaction force corresponding to a centripetal force.

These, variously stated by Morihei Ueshiba, should provide a clue. They were not intended as poetic, rather practical.

“Capture the central energy,” .. “Take charge of the centre.” .. ” Welcome the attack,”.. “Meet the opponent,”.. “Embrace the enemy,”.. “Ki no musubu,”.. “Irimi-tenkan is the key.”

And there are more. Simply read authentic sources such as found in Aikido Journal.

In a forest of words look for the flowers.

Then, since this is the DO of Ai and Ki nothing else remains than to: Do it!

Nev Sagiba

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  1. Daniel JAMES says:

    It seems that often the concepts Centripetal and Centrifugal force have been used to promote the idea that nage’s movements must be circular, rather than linear to and from the centre – so nice to see this redressed

  2. Well put, confronting as usual, but I could not agree more. As time goes on more and more foreigners, and in some cases Japanese Aikido practitioners, are trying to use brute force in a vain bid to somehow emulate O-Sensei’s powerful Ki filled Aikido style. Whilst others rely completely on over co-operative uke going to amazing extremes to make their teachers look good (perhaps in the hope they too will rise quickly through the ranks). So very sad to see, yet they all appear to be rewarded with higher and higher ranks. Rewards of higher rankings does nothing to correct poor Aikido, quite the opposite, it seems to condone and promote it. Sadly, I have constantly watched on YouTube, 7th Dan Shihans (particularly down my way) offer their hand to uke only to immediately turn their backs on their attack completely, whilst performing their interpretation of a “leading” technique. On the street this is not called “leading”, this is called “suicide”. What do students under them think, or don’t they?
    We can only take charge of our own personal journey, seek honestly and truthfully, and above all be true to ourselves.
    Enjoy the journey
    Dojo cho (Yondan)
    Aikido Alliance Australia

    • Nev Sagiba says:

      Yes, offering one’s hand MAY be a strategy but as you say nowadays it is used ignorantly by the disingenuous. A”master” offered his hand to Bruce Lee in a demonstration and Bruce rightly punched him in the mouth, then courteous curbed the conclusion. The ego ridlled idiot, instead of learning from it, and being thankful, vilified Bruce!

      In one of the movies, “Enter the Dragon” Bruce shows how to properly lead by extending a hand to take advantage, but it appears that “aikido masters” of today have no clue as to this strategy.

      • nev says:

        Paul, I see this tendency that you refer to everywhere. “..offer their hand to uke only to immediately turn their backs on their attacker completely, whilst performing their interpretation of a “leading” technique. On the street this is not called “leading”, this is called “suicide..” Indeed it is so!
        Students take note. What Paul mentions here is a vital key point.
        Aikido is being killed by the arrogant and self deluded world wide. They imagine they are unlikely to ever go into battle and feel no need for the ruthless honesty true Budo training requires of each practitioner, so they propagate such suicide techniques as you correctly refer to here. This is a disservice to gullible new students who blindly swallow this garbage dance. Such people could not lead a donkey and although I say this in an attempt to be facetious, it is indeed like that. When leading a horse or an ass you cannot do so by either force or self delusion but BY ENTERING BEHIND THE CETRE. Identical in Aikido. That is why I’ve often said, “If you want to understand Aikido , work with horses as did the original jujutsuka.”
        To all beginners, I say THINK FOR YOURSELF AND NOTICE WHAT IS. And if it smells like a cult, you are doing your money and it is not Aikido. Get out.
        All you need is one other sincere person who is prepared to be honest, turn up to training with dedicated regularity and feedback properly, without making excuses or drooling after the artifice of rank, to discover the magnificence of true Aikido!
        There is nothing more disgraceful and ungraceful than the mimicry of a semblance of Aikido using force. Such as these have learned nothing!

  3. Clementino Gisondi says:

    oh my god! this is a really awesome article. it’s well-written but also helps shed some light on Aikido. I’ve been drawn to Aikido for a long time, never knew it was the centripetal force that was pulling me closer!!! Must have been that centripetal energy.

    Thanks a lot for the article. It made me feel great.

    Thanks again,


  4. Paul says:

    Hi Nev,

    I would like to discuss your comment, “…the idea of hoping for success on the ground was discounted as useful”. I agree that going to ground presents danger, however, I think that to discount it entirely is a mistake. Ground skills, which as a former judoka I know you have, provide solutions when the Aikidoka has, for example, failed to maintain correct maai or has tripped, slipped or been otherwise taken to the ground by an attacker.
    I am interested to know if you have read ‘Aikido and Ground Fighting’ by Walther G von Krenner. I have lent the book out but I recall that he is an advocate of ground fighting as part of a continuum: stand up, suwari waza and ground. I recall too that he was uchi deshi to O sensei and that he talked about a takemusu approach to ground fighting and that he advocated not to borrow from BJJ of other grappling arts but to utilise “Aikido ground work” that connects to, and flows from, Aikido stand up and suwari waza. What are your thoughts on this Nev.

    Paul Jansson

    • nev says:

      Hi Paul,

      I would never discount ground fighting. Not only is it foundational essential training, teaches about real “ki,” may become useful briefly in reality but it also adds power to standing combat.
      Put simply: If you don’t know and practice both, you will be hard pressed to to survive when it’s needed.
      This is a nauseatingly silly debate akin to quibbling about whether a car should have one wheel, two, three or more. Well at least 4 is good.
      Or the “weapons in aikido debate” indulged by rampant idiots.
      In budo, standing and supine jujutsu, weapons and at least on other art are essential otherwise no mastery can conclude because mastery cannot be limited to one eyed lopsidedness.
      I’ve hopefully retired from long winded wordfests. Quite simply practice a broad range and the answers will reveal themselves.
      And practice ground wrestling with blades and things will answer themselves even more. Use marking pens, old clothes and goggles for safe training. Then look for the most effective survival tactics and, if you are actively employed in a protection industry that requires deployment the distillation that invariably will emerge is standing jujutsu. If a person dares to call themselves a budoka and has never worked where he had to use survival action he’s no budoka but a fake and fraud with vacuous opinions that usually will get him killed in reality. Frauds have nothing to teach and they do no service when they purport to teach. Get out there do it, survive, then take it back to the dojo, refine it then write your own book.
      Groundwork is integral to Aikido, but it is not a stand-alone entity if it is to have any use in combat.
      That is why you don’t see soldiers on preparing for battle line up in formation and then lay down.

      Re, “Aikido stand up and suwari waza,” yes absolutely, but don’t discount newaza.

      Best regards,


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