“Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi: Part 27 – Shichi No Ken Suburi” by James Neiman


This is the 27th and final article in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi, and the 7th in a series of 7 articles on the Aiki Ken Suburi. All articles in the series are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.

Shichi No Suburi

In this article on the Aiki Ken, we examine Shichi No Suburi, which is the seventh and last of the Aiki Ken Suburi. In summary, Shichi No Suburi is nearly identical to Rokku No Suburi, with the distinct difference of adding a movement about the line of attack to thrust on the left side. This exercise, the final of the Aiki Ken Suburi, is the second in a two-part culmination of the study of these Suburi. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 9 major sections:

  1. Ni no suburi
  2. Left Side Thrust
  3. The yokomen strike from Go no suburi
  4. Left Side Thrust
  5. Pivot and shomen strike
  6. Left Side Thrust
  7. The yokomen strike from Go no suburi
  8. Left Side Thrust
  9. Pivot and shomen strike

Begin with Ni No Suburi. Your right foot will be in front after you complete the strike, and you will push forward from the ball of your right foot and begin to transition into a left-side thrust using the Hitoemi stance. The Hitoemi stance is designed to allow the bokken to remain on the line of attack toward the uke while both your feet are completely off the line with your body safely behind your bokken, using the bokken as a barrier between you and your uke. Your front foot, the left foot in this case, will be turned slightly toward the line instead of directly ahead as normally occurs with traditional hanmi. Your back foot is in the same relative orientation as with hanmi, but there may be more distance between your feet. The bokken is slightly angled, so that the blade is diagonally oriented down and to the right, and your rear shoulder, the right shoulder in this case, is back so there is no danger to it from the line of attack. When you finish the thrust, your weight will once again be mainly on your left foot. You have completed the left side thrust movement.

Transitioning back to traditional hanmi, execute Go No Suburi, followed by a left-side thrust. Then execute a pivot and shomen strike as you did with Yon No Suburi and Go No Suburi, followed by another series of thrust, Go No suburi, thrust, and final pivot and shomen strike.

At this point there is opportunity to discuss the dynamics of this suburi: the primary value in this exercise is being able to transition smoothly between right hanmi and left hitoemi using a variety of strikes, while being able to change direction using the pivot movement. Being able to execute such a combination of movements allows you to practice all the basics of Aiki Ken in an organized manner, as is often done with traditional kata.

At various points in this exercise, it can also be useful to put the bokken down and practice taijutsu applications with 2 or more partners.

Now that you have gained exposure to all Aiki Ken Suburi, you are well positioned to apply the lessons learned to the Kumi Tachi, Ken Tai Jo, Tachi Dori, and find connections to Tanto Dori.

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