Saito sensei's method #3


The learning methodology created by Saito sensei reveals an extraordinary cleverness regarding the mechanisms of corporal techniques acquisition. It is remarkably efficient to learn quickly and precisely the fundamental elements which constitute Aikido movements. It is of the outmost importance that this method is used, transmitted and preserved.

The study that will follow may lead to think that I have a critical attitude on that method and that I take a distance from it: such a thought would be far from reality, I will never stop repeating that it is the best tool we have at our disposal to lead a beginner on the path of Aikido. This is said loud and clear, must be heard and never forgotten. If not, one should avoid reading the articles that will follow.

We can see that the direction in which sankyo omote is applied is identical to the direction of ikkyo and nikyo omote, as analysed in MS #2 : tori's front right.

Let's compare now the picture #4 of that sankyo series with the picture shown as a mistake by Saito sensei and with the corresponding nikyo picture :

We can see that, just as nikyo, uke is far from tori, his left leg is stable on the ground, he is not unbalanced, his arm is sent forward while it should be in front of tori to be properly controlled.

We saw in MS #2 that the difference between ikkyo and nikyo is the rotation of the wrist which does not occur in ikkyo and which creates a spinning effect on uke's arm with nikyo. Si we compare the magnified details of nikyo and sankyo, it becomes obvious that sankyo increases one notch that rotation from nikyo and by consequence the elbow: sankyo is a deeper spin than nikyo on uke's arm:

If sankyo is applied in the same angle, uke's elbow is sent even further than with nikyo. The pictures clearly show this phenomenon and everybody can check this during practice.

In that case, the loss of control on uke with sankyo is identical but even more pronounced than with nikyo. The only way to avoid it consists in increasing the rotation of the body axis. That rotation has the same effects than nikyo:

  1. uke's arm is not sent forward, it naturally sets in front of tori,
  2. uke is properly unbalanced on his forward right and has no left leg support,
  3. tori makes his back evade from any rear attack, he works in a multidirectional way:

The movement is consistent with the principle of spiral, it is executed with a spinning effect : tori does not move, he rotates on the spot, he is at the centre of the movement.

The rotation opens the feet angle of an additional 60 degrees on the right, just like nikyo, but now relatively to nikyo's angle (cf. Kajo #12) :

Along the immobilisation spiral which begins with ikkyo, sankyo immediately comes after nikyo, it is the next stage of the helix, it is the continuity of the spin on the arm, a consequence of the rotation of the wrist and the elbow which forces uke's arm to dive towards the ground, elbow lower than the wrist. Just like nikyo but with a bigger lever on the wrist, the arm is brought perpendicular to the ground at the end of sankyo. This is why sankyo's immobilisation is also done with uke's arm perpendicular against tori's chest while ikkyo keeps uke's arm horizontal on the ground :

That very difference between sankyo's and ikkyo's immobilizations must be seen as the consequence of a wider rotation of the body axis and therefore the spinning effect generated on the arm and this confirms their respective necessity, just as nikyo (cf. MS #2).
The perpendicular immobilization on the ground is the evidence of a spinning effect in nikyo and sankyo that does not exist in ikkyo and which prevents from executing these two techniques on ikkyo's axis.

If, however, we execute sankyo omote on the same line as ikkyo mote, as does Saito sensei, it is inevitable that uke's arm goes forward. This problems does not come from a wrong execution, it is linked to the choice of the work line/direction.

Because uke's arm and elbow are sent forward - because of that direction - tori has to step forward with the back leg in order to fill the gap created between his body and his arm. He does that step in order to get a proper control position, arm in front of the stomach/tanden, as the following pictures show:

But this necessary control position -uke's arm in front of tori's abdomen - is reached with an infinitely more direct and logical way if we use the spiral rather than a straight line: uke is unbalanced and controlled from the beginning to the end of the movement.

This linear work which forces tori to make one step towards uke is nonetheless what was taught in Iwama, in books, the teaching I received directly from Saito sensei. It is a direct and inevitable consequence of a sankyo omote applied in the same direction as ikkyo omote.

I transmitted that teaching in the past and I keep using it until 3rd dan. This method is useful and valid. it is a simplification of a too complex reality to be fully understood and operated by a beginner who needs a far more progressive approach, step by step.

Some may begin to understand where we are heading but we need to dig a bit further in our technical considerations to make acceptable a few revelations that will be uncovered later.

Philippe Voarino, may 2013.

What is Traditional Aikido?

Aikido is not a sport, it is a martial art which laws (takemusu) are in harmony with the laws of the universe. Studying them allows the practitioner to understand his place in the universe. Aikido was born in Iwama, O sensei achieved in that village the synthesis of tai jutsu, aiki ken and aiki jo.

Where to practice Traditional Aikido?

The International Takemusu Aikido Federation (ITAF) brings to the practitioner the structure he needs in order to work as close as possible to the reality O sensei MU defined. The official national representations are the guarantee of a teaching faithful to the Founder's.

The weapons of Aikido, aiki ken and aiki jo

In modern Aikido, weapons are hardly taught, if taught at all. In O sensei's Aikido, on the contrary, aiki ken, aiki jo and tai jutsu are unified and form together a riai, a family of harmonious techniques stemming from one unique principle. Each techniques helps understand all the others.

Aikido, a martial art or an art of peace?

Peace is a balance between a human being and the world around him. The true martial art's goal is not to become stronger than one's opponent but to find in that opponent a way to realize harmony. There is no enemy anymore as such, but an opportunity offered to reach unified ki.
Copyright TAI (Takemusu Aikido Intercontinental)