“The secret to performing tai no henko against two uke,” by Stanley Pranin

“Notice in particular how Saito Sensei’s grabbed hand
hardly moves at all when he performs tai no henko”

This photo is from a recent seminar I gave in Las Vegas jointly with Pat Hendricks Sensei. Here I am just completing a tai no henko throw against two uke. There are some interesting things about this photo that illustrate important points about tai no henko.

First, some background. This is a simple exercise anyone can try where two uke grab nage strongly. If nage attempts to use physical strength, he will be easily overwhelmed by the combined power of two people grabbing. In such a situation, nage must relax and attempt to blend.

Nage has the ability to move his wrist because he is grabbed on his forearm. Nage can also adjust his hips and move to a certain extent as long as he does not oppose the power of the ukes. Try this: nage curls his wrist towards his center without disturbing the grabs of the ukes. Nage then moves his center to his curled hand and joins it to his body structure and pivots as in tai no henko. If nage does this without power, the mechanics of the movement will tend to bring the torsos of the ukes forward and downward.

Then an interesting thing happens. Both ukes are brought together and clash against one another. Their body structures are unbalanced which greatly weakens their ability to grab. Their power is thus neutralized. Since nage has harmonized with the two ukes and remains stable while the ukes are unbalanced, he can control the situation without a great amount of exertion.

This brings us to the place shown in the above photo where both ukes are unbalanced and nage is able to throw without strain or having resorted to the use of force. Nage’s extended arm across the first uke’s chest is very heavy because it has the weight of the second uke added to it.

Below is a classic video clip of my teacher Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, explaining and demonstrating tai no henko. Notice in particular how Saito Sensei’s grabbed hand hardly moves at all when he performs the basic tai no henko. For this reason, he is not resisting uke’s grab. Uke does not sense how Sensei will move because his grab is not challenged. Sensei then blends, executes an ura pivot thereby unbalancing uke, while his posture remains rock solid.

Photo courtesy of Li Li of Aikido of Irvine


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