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Kihon Dosa and its importance in Aikido

“People will do what is comfortable for them. So if you allow them to, they will just make it up for themselves. That is why, you must always return to the basics. This is what is important.”

Gozo Shioda - Total Aikido


"....our ability to capitalise on the very powerful strength inherent in our bodies is enhanced when we have a straight back, with shoulders down, and a posture where our feet are strongly rooted on the ground."

Gozo Shioda Aikido Shugyo


Kihon Dosa consists of a set of six basic movements which are considered the foundation of Yoshinkan Aikido. They were created to teach the correct position of the body in basic Aikido techniques. They can each be performed solo or with a partner, empty handed or with a sword.


 In Aikido, the goal is to move the body as one so that the power of the whole body is unified and focused. Through practising the kihon dosa we learn how to use the power of our whole body in techniques, by coordinating the movements of all the parts of our body. Also, we practice how to maintain a stable posture when moving, both in entering and turning motions. Without a stable balanced posture our techniques will be weak and ineffective.


1)      Tai no henko ichi teaches us to move forward from our centre when pulled.  This is the basic irimi movement used to enter towards uke when they attack.


2)      Tai no henko ni teaches us a strong turning movement from kamae when uke pushes. This is the basic tenkan movement used to redirect ukes energy when they attack.


3)      Hiriki no yosei ichi is based on the basic movement of raising the sword and returning with a cutting motion. Hiriki is an old Japanese word meaning elbow power. With this movement we learn to maintain our centre line when moving and to move our body as one unit as our arms and hands move at the same time as the rest of our body. We also learn to keep the correct distance between our feet by moving our back foot up when we move forwards.


4)      Hiriki no yosei ni is the basic movement of transferring body weight from one direction to the other. With this movement we learn how to keep a stable posture while moving.


5)      Shumatsu dosa ichi is the basic movement behind the shiho nage technique. This movement was originally conceived as an after class exercise to stretch the body out.


6)      Shumatsu dosa ni teaches the turning motion when uke grabs and pushes.


The basic Yoshinkan Aikido techniques can be broken down into component sections. If we look at these sections we can see that they are comprised of parts of the six Kihon Dosa movements. For example, we can see that in the technique gedan tsuki kote gaeshi, the first movement for nage is a tenkan movement, as in tai no henko ni. Then nage extends forwards to draw uke off balance as in hiriki no yosei ni. As another example the first entering movement in shomen uchi ikkyo is hiriki no yosei ichi.


Constantly repeating the Kihon Dosa sequence will lead to three benefits. Firstly the legs and hips will become stronger yet relaxed and flexible. Secondly, learning the correct movements for hands, legs and hips will give the student a solid base for learning the basic techniques. Thirdly,  the repetition will lead to the movements becoming part of our body memory, where the movements will become automatic. Therefore, we do Kihon Dosa at the start of each Aikido class.


However, we must always be mindful of what we are doing while we are performing the Kihon Dosa. We must concentrate on making our movements correct and be constantly aware of our posture. It is only in this way that we will improve and subsequently see the benefit in the rest of our Aikido.


Sue Cooper - Shodan, Koshinkan Aikido


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