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Old 02-03-2012, 06:59 PM   #1
Byron Foster
Dojo: Aikikai
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 20
Proprioception Throws

There were a few threads that caught my interest, including the "don't throw to throw" thread.

There are apparently different types of throws. There are leverage throws, timing throws, power throws and then there are those really strange ones that a few people can do that leave you wondering what happened. I have heard them be referred to as proprioception throws.


This is how someone smarter than me explained it to me. There is no way that I would have thought of this on my own!

Theory: There are different nerves in our body with different functions. The nerves that we are consciously aware of are the ones that fire muscles, give us feedback on our muscles and give us pain (simplistically). There is another set, associated with the myofascia that help us orientate ourselves in three dimensional space. We are not really conscious of the feedback that these nerves give us. These nerves can be "tricked".

Demonstration: Stand on one leg, feel yourself struggle a bit to maintain balance. Then have someone stand beside you and hold up a sheet of paper. Touch the paper with one finger. Instantly you should feel more balanced. Obviously the paper is not holding you up, so why should you feel more balanced? You brain now has another set of data (fingers on the paper) to help it orientate itself in three dimensional space.

Step two of this demo will be to stand on one leg and then look away from the paper (or close your eyes). Have the person move the paper sideways while still maintaining contact with your finger. Your brain has already made a decision that your finger is touching a solid object that will not move, and you will not be able to process the data consciously, so you should not be able to tell that the paper is moving. Since your brain has orientated your body based on the "fixed" position of the paper and your finger, you will suddenly feel off balanced and "catch" yourself falling.

Application: This is apparently how Sagawa made his famous throws. He would pulse power into someone, mainly moving them off their center with Aiki-age (or kokyu-dosa in our case). The uke would then automatically try to correct their posture/position to get back to their center, but as they 'fell" back into position, Sagawa would maintain the original point of contact and float it into a new position. The uke's brain would process the original point of contact (say, holding his wrists), and then "forget" about it when he fell back into position. Uke's brain thinks that the pressure on his hands are a fixed point, just like the finger on the paper, but if Sagawa steered them into a new position, uke consciously could not detect it and fight or stop it. The movement was so profound that they would "catch" themselves failing. The tell-tale sign of this is the head snapping back, like whiplash. That is when Sagawa would cue off that it was time to put power into the throw and blam.

Step 1: Put uke off balance.

Step 2: Steer uke into new off-balance position not using power, but by being extremely soft and sensitive to fool uke's brain.

Step 3: Apply power and really throw the uke.

Some examples of the heads whiplashing around during throws are shown below.

Ikeda Sensei links:


Okomoto Sensei links:



Skipping over the really advanced ways that the sensei's above were generating power and putting it into the uke's let's just focus on step 2, the steering of uke as they "fell" back into position. This is really interesting. I use to think that in order to throw strongly, I had to be strong and focus on power. With this concept, now I think that maybe I can work on being sensitive, moving softly with uke, and still be able to throw well. It is an entirely new mental construct to play with.

When this was explained and demonstrated to me, it was a big eye opener. I thought I would share.

So, has anyone experienced this type of throw before, and is it something that you try to work on in your own practice?

Disclaimer: For those that see me at seminars, please do not ask me to actually demonstrate this type of throw. It would just be embarrassing.
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:35 PM   #2
Location: ATL
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 847
Re: Proprioception Throws

Any interesting theory, no doubt. I'm not sure if what we're seeing in any of these samples is quite as high level as your theory though, but who knows. I think what you're describing, at least how you're describing it in relation to the videos, can only exist looking like that with someone not invested in keeping their centers or completely unskilled in doing so. Someone with some skill would feel that connection moving and adjust to it, internal or external, and not get taken so easily. Like push hands or something, but in the flow of a single technique. anyway, that's obviously not the type of scenario these videos are about.

I think the general gist of what you're describing is like an exercise I draft my wife to do with me arounc the house. I'll get in a natural stance, arms out, palms forward and have her push me. She can brace out, do whatever, push as hard as you can to push me over with my feet not moving. So as she pushes i'll connect to her push and just let it pass through me. I'm supporting the force, but by letting it settle through me I can hold it and kind of move the angle of my response and my center and just very slightly push back from different angles. It throws off the connection that she feels to be able to get her force into me and push me over. Eventually she will get me over, as my elbows to collapse over time, but it takes some time. Of course she just using muscular force as her body wants to generate it. Though she's already commented that I'm somehow cheating, as she's starting to feel connection herself without me ever talking about what i'm doing with her. Anyway, again, someone with skill themselves would be actively be doing the same thing in reverse, moving the angles of the force. I've done some more active drills in the same vein and it's very complex and active, but getting under the person and then keeping up with their center is the entire point. I've never experienced it as done in the technique at that subtle a level, but I may be a bad uke.

Great post!

Last edited by chillzATL : 02-03-2012 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:24 PM   #3
Byron Foster
Dojo: Aikikai
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 20
Re: Proprioception Throws

One thing that I forgot to add was that as you thought you were "falling" the falling reflex would take over and you would automatically tighten your grip. This may partially explain why some have commented about the "magnetic" quality of Takeda and Ueshiba's wrists while being thrown.

@ Jason: I have been to Ikeda Sensei's seminars and seen pretty much all of the ukes have their head snapped back during a throw. So I am not sure what level of self awareness you need to have to counter this type of throw.
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:34 AM   #4
Michael Douglas
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 434
United Kingdom
Re: Proprioception Throws

OK, interesting idea, BUT ;
Byron Foster wrote: View Post
That one's just those awful floppy-fish Uke's making a huge meal of it!
THEY give [(Edit: oh, not Aikido then) "Aikido-related martial arts" a BAD NAME.

How could you even link to them and not be embarrased?

Last edited by Michael Douglas : 02-04-2012 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:59 AM   #5
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 813
Re: Proprioception Throws

Interesting take but there's more to it I think as well.

Another level would have nage grabbing uke and the same whip lash occurs. This can't be explain by the earlier concept. Suikami is totally a mind thing on nage's end.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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