“Tai no henko: Foundation of stable
hips and the execution of ura techniques”

Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, performs tai no henko. Uke: Daniel Toutain Sensei

Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, performs tai no henko. Uke: Daniel Toutain Sensei

“The Vast Curriculum Forged in Iwama by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba”

The Iwama aikido curriculum as disseminated by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, has its roots in the techniques taught by Founder Morihei Ueshiba in the postwar era in Iwama, a small town in the countryside of Ibaragi Prefecture.

Morihei Ueshiba lived, farmed, and practiced his aikido with great intensity in Iwama after the war left Japan in a poverty-stricken state. For the first time in years, he was able to concentrate his efforts on the perfecting of his martial techniques and spiritual development. This period is generally regarded as the birth of aikido as recorded by Morihei’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. O-Sensei used the term “Takemusu Aiki” to refer to his art at this stage. The literal meaning of “Takemusu Aiki” is “Aiki which gives birth to martial techniques.” Morihei explained that this was the highest level of aikido where one is capable of spontaneously executing perfect techniques.

Morihei Ueshiba executing tai no henko with Kazuo Chiba as uke, c. 1960

Morihei Ueshiba executing tai no henko with Kazuo Chiba as uke, c. 1960


Through a quirk of fate, Morihiro Saito, one of Ueshiba’s closed disciples, found himself in a unique position to be the beneficiary of Morihei’s vast knowledge. The flexibility of his job allowed him to spend large amount of time with the aikido founder on alternate days, this in contrast to the few others students who had to struggle to eke out a living in these years of great struggles.

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Morihiro Saito executes tai no henko from "Takemusu Aikido, Volume 1: Background & Basics"

Morihiro Saito executes tai no henko from “Takemusu Aikido, Volume 1: Background & Basics”

“Daily practice begins with tai no henko. First open your fingers. The basis of ura movements is footwork. Bring the toes of your left foot to meet the toes of your partner’s right foot. Turn in a circular movement into a position along your partner’s side. When pivoting, open your fingers fully and extend your ki. Learn to keep your hips stable regardless of whether your partner pushes or pulls. At one time the founder executed tai no henko with a single hand, but in his later years he used both hands. Pivot around and bring the fingers of both hands to the same level.”

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Comments

  1. How does Tori make Uke keep holding his hand and bend forward without reversing his grip?
    Patrick Augé

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