“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.


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.”



Testimonial: “I have the whole collection of books of Aikido Journal in my hands! I’m very happy for this awesome acquisition. My Sensei and sempai can know and enjoy more about practicing Iwama Aikido with these great books. Here is a photo showing my happy face. A big hug from my Sensei and all students from the Ki No Musubi Dojo of Aiki Shuren Kai Chile. Thanks for your great job! Regards, Miguel Macaya”

Aikido Journal has published a series of ebooks authored by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, in high-resolution PDF format. The collection currently consists of 8 volumes in which Saito Sensei covers more than 430 empty-handed aikido techniques. We believe this series of technical manuals to be the most complete treatise on aikido technique available at the present time. With such a detailed technical reference at hand, you will be able to steadily improve your understanding and execution of aikido techniques.

Readers will be able to download their ebooks within minutes of purchase. No more paying for shipping, no more customs charges, or lost packages, no more waiting! This special offer is available for the price of $49.95.



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

    • The most important thing is to stay connected. Once you have gripped the wrist, let no air gap come between uke and nage. You will bend at the wrist and follow through the movement lowering your body and bending the knees while keeping your back and center straight. OSSU!

    • Rafael DesMoya says:

      Tai No Henko is an exercise. That is why it can be done somewhat slow and structured.
      In applied technique that use the same principle, Uke is trying to control you and has sincere intent to keep you from getting away. So the technique happens fast, before they have the chance to think about it, and it doesn’t need to shift Uke’s center as deeply as the Tai No Henko exercise does.

      The exercise is meant to train your centering/posture, extension and foot work, as well as your sensing of Uke’s center. It isn’t an actual technique, although it can be under some conditions.

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