Aikibujutsu & Aikidō
The fundamental idea of Aikibujutsu is the same as that of Aikidō, which is to blend
with and control an opponent’s energy in order to subdue him/or her with minimal
effort, force, and injury. Hence the essence of the Aiki arts is quite different from
many modern competitive arts where competitions or displays of strength are the
central idea. Nevertheless, since Aikibujutsu is a form of Japanese budō, the
technique involved must be effective and realistic. In modern times an aggressor
will attack with punches, kicks, grappling, or use weapons such as knives, or
wooden bats, therefore Aikibujutsu training includes both attacking and blocking
methods that are practical to modern situations.
The most important aspect of Aikibujutsu training is safety. Initially, the student
learns the basics of Aikidō, which includes ukemi (falling and receiving
techniques), osae waza (control techniques) and nage waza (throwing
techniques). The focus is first on soft and flowing techniques, so that students
can learn to harmonize with their opponents and practice taking safe ukemi. It’s
important to understand that at this level of training these techniques are not
practical for self defense. Once students can take safe ukemi and have sufficient
stamina, they proceed to learning Aikibujutsu, which incorporates aikijūjutsu and
Edo torimonojutsu (samurai arresting techniques), which are more realistic and
effective systems of goshin (self-defense). As students advance, they must
thoroughly understand and practice the theories embodied in the basics in order
to use henka (variations) of techniques, which can be adapted and applied to
various real situations. By applying these different variations and adjusting to the
opponent’s attack, the technique will take shape as true goshin (self-defense). In
this way, Aikibujutsu is very practical and strong as goshin jutsu (self-defense
technique) and taihō jutsu (arresting technique).
The Areas of Study of Aikibujutsu
Attacking -Aikibujutsu incorporates basic striking such as tsuki (punches) and keri
(kicks), in addition to the more traditional tegatana (“hand-sword”) strikes. Unlike
some arts, Aikibujutsu does not condone methods of bare-handed disarms against
a swordsman, as these encourage the practice of extremely dangerous strategies
or techniques that are unlikely to succeed against the versatility of sword
Blocking-Shutō uke (sword-hand block)
When an opponent attacks with a tsuki or a strike one must block. Aikibujutsu
incorporates various shutō uke techniques from jōdan (high), chūdan (middle),
and gedan (low) level which seamlessly transition into techniques of throwing,
controlling, and pinning the opponent.
Temochi waza & Tehodoki (techniques and escapes against hand grabs)
When an opponent grabs one’s hand, one must escape the grasp and then moves
into a technique. The six basic hand positions for tehodoki are kagami (mirror),
tekagami (hand-mirror), ten (heaven), chi (earth), jun (obverse) and gyaku
(reverse). After tehodoki, the technique progresses into throwing, controlling, or
pinning the opponent. For example, there are tehodoki movements that transition
from konohagaeshi to ikkajō, and from gyaku konohagaeshi to ikkajō, and from
aikiage to ikkajō, and so on.
Tedori waza & Torite
Torite refers to a technique or approach that is applied before the opponent
attacks in order to make him/or her easier to subdue, and is utilized by police
officers and guardsmen as part of effective arresting methods. In taihōjutsu, the
goal is to defeat the aggressor while minimizing the damage inflicted. Even during
a lawful arrest or in self-defense if one injures the aggressor by kicking or
punching this use of force can easily become excessive or unnecessary. To show
consideration for the aggressor and limit the injuries inflicted is considered the
ideal execution of taihōjutsu. Since it’s best to control an aggressor by restricting
movement, kicks and punches should only be used if necessary to supplement a
Renzoku nagewaza (continuous throwing techniques)
Through combining different throwing techniques in renzoku nagewaza, the
student gains stamina, learns to breathe correctly, and attains the natural
movements of ashisabaki (footwork) and taisabaki (body movement).
Kaeshiwaza (reversal techniques)
When the opponent attacks and the defender reverses the technique and applies
a technique of their own this is referred to as kaeshiwaza. These methods are
taught to advanced students.
Bukiwaza (weapon techniques)
In addition to empty-handed techniques, one learns tantōjutsu (knife technique),
bokutō waza (wooden sword technique), shumoku jutsu (stick technique), jōjutsu
(medium staff technique), and other weapons.
The approach to teaching Aikido to children must be individualized and based on
their physical ability since their joints are weaker and more flexible than adults.
The focus is to develop a foundation of safe Taiso such as front roll, back roll, and
cartwheel, followed by Taisabaki, and Ashisabaki. Once a level of proficiency has
been achieved then basic throwing and control techniques can be introduced. To
accomplish this level of individualized teaching the Aikido instructor must
constantly adjust to the child’s level.
Seishin shugyō (spirit training)
Equal in importance to the training of physical technique is the development of
the mind and spirit. In Shinkendo, Aikibujutsu, and Bōjutsu Tanrendō, students
study the philosophies of Kuyō Junikun, Hachidō, Goiku, and Meitō no Yōsō in
order to cultivate and train the mind and spirit. Seishin shugyō is explained
further in Modern Bushido (Obata, 2011).
ISF honbu dojo