View Full Version : Firm grabs and ki no nagare

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Jake McKee
03-12-2003, 03:22 PM
Here is a quote from Saito’s “Takemusu Aiki Book 2”

In order to transmit the concept of takemusu, it is necessary to preserve traditional aikido. To achieve this end, I utilize a step by step practice method. There are 4 steps; hard, soft, flowing, and ki levels. I emphasize the first 3 steps, especially the firm aspect, in other words, solid practice.

One day, when I was practicing ki flow techniques, the founder scolded me saying “You cannot do ki flow training until you receive 3rd dan.” I remember that scene even today. Also, the founder always remarked, “If you want to become strong, you should practice after you have become grabbed”. In other words, you should start your technique after letting your partner grab you firmly.

Some dojos teach this way in the beginning stages: Uke grabs strongly before nage starts to do the technique. Other dojos teach even beginners to blend with the grab and move before the uke's grip tightens.

Which way do you train? Do you think starting from a static position is best for beginners? Should "ki no nagare" (flowing practice) be only for more advanced students?

Jake McKee

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Greg Jennings
03-12-2003, 04:01 PM
Which way do you train? Do you think starting from a static position is best for beginners? Should "ki no nagare" (flowing practice) be only for more advanced students?
Being an Iwama dojo, we train the way the late Morihiro Saito Sensei described in your quote.

Other dojo I visit regularly use a more holistic approach.

It's interesting that we each find the other's way of training refreshing at times.

Best Regards,

John Boswell
03-12-2003, 04:28 PM
Mostly, we start off staticly for beginners. The higher ranked students do the flowing, which is good for beginners because then we get to see what we are moving toward.

Personally, I almost HAVE to start off static. There is often times just too much to be taken in and feed back for me to try and get it in a flowing manner. All I know is I'm pretty please with the pace my training moves at. ;)

03-12-2003, 09:42 PM
I actually start every technique statically, asking my partner to get as strong a grip as possible. After a few sets of exchanges, I start to move in a ki no nagare fashion. In our dojo, it takes about 30 years of training to get 3rd dan. By that time I will be over 60 years old. I'm not gonna wait that long to start doing ki no nagare ;)

03-13-2003, 02:05 AM
We start from the very beginning on the 'holistic approach'. I haven't heard the sentence 'ki no nagare' before, but if I understand the concept right, then that's what we do from the very beginning.

Ta Kung
03-13-2003, 06:36 AM
We do ki no nagare very early. It's not on test until 5 kyu (and very easy variations at that). But sensei feels it's important to try it early. I agree.

I know high ranking Aikidokas, who only do kihon waza, static techniques. They have lots of problems on seminars...


03-13-2003, 08:51 AM
I don't think the late Saito sensei ment that you shouldn't start practising awase (or in ki no nagare) fashion until you were a 3rd dan. He was talking about ki-flow training, and to my understanding of it is what O-sensei did alot of in his later years - Inviting uke turning leading (all without even touching uke) etc. etc.

Even the basic (kihon) that Saito taught included awase forms. In the very 'Tai no henko' you soon after the beginning go on to ki no nagare. One still does the static form first every time though, to maintain the stability in the hips correct posture etc..

03-13-2003, 10:17 AM
The last time I saw Saito sensei a few years back, he was mentioning (in Japanese) how he had started to introduce "ki no nagare" or "Tokyo style" aikido at Iwama a lot earlier than 3rd dan.

-- Jun

Jake McKee
03-16-2003, 06:17 PM
Thanks for your responses. I would have been surprised if anyone said that they never practiced ki no nagare before 3rd dan. Who would have the patience for that?

But just about every dojo I've been to starts a technique from static and then by the end of class everyone's practicing ki no nagare more or less.


Jake McKee

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03-16-2003, 07:18 PM
We have one used as part of the warm-up for each and every class. You learn it the first day.