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Old 04-09-2004, 12:59 PM   #1
Fred Calef III
Dojo: International Karate Association/Fairbanks, Alaska
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9
The evolution of Kamae

How has kamae evolved in Aikido?

In Yoshinkan aikido, basic kamae (ready stance) has front and back foot turned somewhere between 30-45 degrees, hips perpendicular to center line, and arms raised in te-katana with one hand chest height and one waist height. Somewhat like this...

/ :front foot
_ :hips
\ :back foot

Aikikai kamae has front foot parallel to center line, hips angled to center line (but not exposing the back), and back foot perpendicular to center line and hands placed near the hips. (also migi-hanmi)

| :front foot
/ :hips
- :back foot

From what I understand, the Yoshinkan kamae is designed to simulate a segan-no-kamae/chudan-no-kamae sword stance. William Gleason Sensei (whom I was lucky to visit his dojo recently) talked about the aikikai stance as being akin to waki-no-kamae (defensive sword stance). I've also heard that having the hips 'disengaged' (not perpendicular to the centerline) is less confrontational and is better to move from. Another understanding is that in Yoshinkan weight is distributed 60-40 with more weight on the front foot (more irimi/omote) while aikikai stance is more 40-60 weight back (more tenkan/ura). My first sensei, Larry Bieri Sensei, now of Finger Lakes Aikido, said (if I remember correctly) that geometrically it makes sense to have more weight over the larger area of the triangle that the feet form, thus the 40-60 stance of aikikai.

So, my question is, if Yoshinkan is considered 'pre-war' aikido and aikikai being 'post-war' aikido, why did the aikikai stance evolve from the yoshinkan stance? When? While physically, I can see how it evolved (hips turned, feet turned, and hands moved down) I'd like to understand more deeply why they became different. Perhaps I am wrong to assume the yoshinkan kamae came first? If so, why did it evolve?

Not trying to start a flame-war over 'my stance is better than your stance', but would like to hear the merits/demerits of each stance considered.


Fred Calef III
Fairbanks, AK
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