“O-Sensei can easily perform a variety of techniques where uke is powerless to resist because he has lost his balance.”
Many dojos practice aikido’s tai no henko exercise regularly or even religiously during every session. Some teachers will explain that this is a blending movement that allows one to set up for certain aikido throws. But what is really happening? Let’s take a closer look.
First, consider this wonderful image of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba at the point of completion of tai no henko.
Notice that his hand is in a “cupped” position. What is the purpose of this rather strange hand form? Looking closer we see that this tai no henko blend has brought uke’s torso forward and down. Expressed otherwise, uke has been unbalanced.
How has this been accomplished? Uke first grabbed nage’s wrist from the side. O-Sensei’s pivoting motion and cupped hand have conveyed mechanical energy through uke’s arm that has caused him to loose balance forward and down as is readily evident in the photo. From here, O-Sensei can easily perform a variety of techniques where uke is powerless to resist because he has lost his balance.
Here we see the entire process masterly performed by Morihiro Saito Sensei.
Lastly, I demonstrate an adaptation of this same “cupped” hand movement as a setup to unbalance uke before moving to his flank. From here, ikkyo through yonkyo omote techniques can be very effectively applied. This approach is part of my “Zone Theory of Aikido” research.
In my next article, I would like to talk about the mechanics of the kokyuho movement and its function in aikido techniques.