View Full Version : Aikido solo exercises

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08-10-2008, 06:38 PM
Hi all,
I was thinking lately about the huge emphasis on solo exercises we've been hearing about from various schools of thought on aiki. My main experience with this kind of thing is with furi tama (center shaking) and tori fune undo (bird-rowing exercise). I'm curious what kind of effect different folks experience with these practices specifically, but I'm also interested in other exercises.
I'd also like to hear different analyses on the strengths and weaknesses of these exercises from the "IMA crowd," in particular.

The general benefit I've experienced involves a relaxing (and thus to some extent a strengthening) of my connection from hara to hands. In furi tama my attention wanders from how my hands feel to how my hara feels when bouncing up and down. I get a sense of where my center actually is by focusing on the area of my center and then paying attention to how the momentum of that area feels (and changes as I change my connection). Sometimes I'll change the vector of my "hand shaking" or I'll change the way my hands connect to each other, or the way my elbows connect to my hands, etc.
Tori fune undo seems to be very much the same kind of thing to me, except that it includes more horizontal musubi/connection and greater breathing efforts (for some reason the "yei sa" vocal effort tires me out the most).
Thoughts insights or amusing anecdotes anyone?
Take care,

raul rodrigo
08-10-2008, 07:23 PM
To me, the benefit (and test) of tori fune undo (fune kogi) is what you can do when somebody holds both your wrists strongly. Can you still do the fune kogi movement in a relaxed fashion, still maintaining an unbroken posture, head up, back straight? Can you yank uke clean off his back foot without using shoulder or arm power, just the movement of your weight from front foot to back foot, transmitted to uke through your relaxed upper body? And on the return move, can you tsuki uke backward with the same relaxed stance? Its a way of testing the solidity of one's kamae and whether you can deliver power from the center out to your hands.

08-10-2008, 07:29 PM
As an aikido guy I would say: When you shake your hands, try thinking about each downward shake pushing energy down into your legs.

As someone also studying IMA I would say: that hand shaking business "helps" but unless you get your lines of intent working it's just another "only so helpful" exercise.

Unde furi (sp?! - the one where you spin with your arms out to the sides like a helicoptor) is much more interesting. You can work the "upper cross" while you move - and you get to concentrate on moving your spine, rotating around your spine, and how much you need to move your hips versus your "trunk". I like that one more and more.


08-11-2008, 01:46 PM
Hey guys,
Thanks for your responses! I really appreciate them.
good point about testing the quality of the movement. I've never actually tried it with people holding on to my arms, I'll have to give that a try. I've tried similar kinds of actions with differnt movements, but never that one. Thanks for the idea!
I think that line of intent is a crucial point to make. I'm assuming what you mean by line of intent is the same as what I mean by the shape of my connection, which I'm always playing around with a little bit. The general movements I began with when I first started practicing Aikido (furi tama) were more like when I shake my arms out after a heavy load of sheet-rock moving. They were very unfocused and just generally loosened things up. Now I'm thinking about specific points and vectors and looking for how the internal pressure varies as I shift my connection around.
I forgot about the spinning movement! I haven't practiced that much, but now that you mention it I do really like the upper cross feeling (assuming what I perceive is actually that). Rotating around my spine or doing circle-walking kinds of movements always feel so good on my often tired back (I have some definate postural misalignments I've been dealing with for...ever).
Any thoughts on cutting as a way of practicing the connection of center through to hands? Lately I've been trying to focus on having a powerful feeling when I raise the sword. My thinking is that if my hands are at my sides and an attack comes at me, I'd like to make that "chambering" as potent as the cut. I basically just extend out through my palm chakra and concentrate particularly on extending the "pinkie line," if you can follow my meaning.
Thanks again.
Take care,
ps- I also wanted to ask what you think of the difference between sitting and standing furi tama. When standing I tend to lift my heels slightly off the ground to feel the bouncing extention through them; other times I'm just bending my knees a bit more.

Keith Larman
08-11-2008, 06:38 PM
On the wrist shaking exercise (tekubi shindo undo) I'll sometimes test my advanced students for balance during the exercise. So can they both shakes their hands as they bob a little and still retain a solid core. A small push at the back timed just right can knock most people over. But as they learn to settle and still do the exercise they become remarkably solid.

The arm swinging exercise (udefuri undo in our vernacular) is similar. The focus is on generating power from the center, not the shoulders or upper body. It starts from the center and radiates out then back in. IMHO it is a powerful exercise when done correctly.

In seidokan we'll test students in every exercise in the aiki taiso to make sure they're solid, grounded, with "ki flowing" and all that good stuff. So every class starts with 15-20 minutes of "internal" development for all intents and purposes.

08-11-2008, 07:21 PM
As an aikido guy I would say: until you can find IMA, swinging you sword will help you - but the important part is to swing is as if it is a huge paint brush and you are painting the walls and ceiling. That kind of focus helps for sure.

As an IMA guy I would say: Well bringing you intention into your hands is diffult enough to do slowly, Doing it in sword cuts would probably be too fast to keep it up mentally. I've been thinking about some of the old ninja films where the guys warmed up a bit making some kinds of movements that more resemble the speed in which I am developing getting my intent into my hands. (Then they do Tae Kwon Doo with each other and we are supposed to forget they are supposed to be Japanese. LOL.)