Systematising your Aikido training

Posted by on Feb 1, 2011 in Aiki Stories | No Comments

Bill Witt shihan 7th dan, was one of the first foreign students to train with Saito Sensei at the Iwama Dojo. He tells a story about Saito Sensei’s systematic approach to Aikido instruction:

One day, I walked out of the [Hombu] dojo and Saito Sensei was standing in front and he said to me: “How long have you been training?” I told him and then he said, “How do you like aikido?” I said, “I like it very much, but I don’t understand it.” Then he said, “Neither do I.
I thought that was a pretty significant statement coming form an 8th dan. Then he told me that if I wanted to systematize my training I should make a chart where on one side I put down all the attacks I could think of an on the other side all of the throws. As you learn them you start checking them off and you begin to see that there are parallels. You start breaking them up into attacks and defenses instead of attack-defense techniques.
[from Aiki News #6 September 1974. Interview with Stanley Pranin]

A chart like this appears in Saito Sensei’s Third book, it is reproduced here:


For those who have enquired, the following remarks, appear at the bottom of the page:

1. Circle marks indicate the techniques discussed in this book.

2. TACHI or standing is an abbreviation for standing techniques. Similarly ZA is short for sitting techniques and HAN, which means half, is an abbreviation for sitting vs. standing techniques.

3. OMOTE is short for front techniques and URA for turning techniques.

4. Each technique involves two methods of training, one solid and the other fluid.