I was looking at some video footage of Ueshiba and noticed (possibly unsuprisingly) that he does some warm-up techniques that are specified in the general aiki-jitsu warm-up (as I have observed in aiki-jistu texts). In addition these aiki-jitsu texts also have an hanmi-hamdatchi 8 direction throw (ryote dori) which Ueshiba obviously draws upon in his own demonstrations.
I have started using these warm ups for our class and found them very very helpful, both for warming up people's bodies (including their back) but also in developing excellent technique. Instead of spending half an hour stretching* I have now started thes other excercises:
For each person do 20 of each (ryote dori):
- shiho-nage (but just keeping each hand on each wrist)
- tenchi-nage (but folding in uke's closest elbow)
HOWEVER, instead of putting uke down, just stretch their back (once in this position the throw is easy anyway).
Exceelent for developing good extension and good stability of hips as well as timing (I have found that you can have a very tiny lead in with tenchi-nage to tip uke's hips towards you, and this repeated excercise helps to improve nages ability to do this). Also, helps nage to do technique at full speed, whilst still at a beginners level. (I think often the technical difficulty of aikido often delays the ability of students to do 'realistic' technique at an appropriate speed).
Since they are done regularly and many individual movements can be done in one go (I usually say to do 20 of each) they quickly become instinctive responses! Also, I do them before weapons sessions, 'cos being outside we cannot do normal throws.
Other warm ups include irimi-nage (using morote dori) and yonkyo (morote dori), as well as the 8 direction throw (though this is obviously a lot slower - good ukemi warm-up).
* recent studies (on military personnel) have suggested that stretching does not have an effect on reducing injury, although warming up the muscles does (New Scientist).