Warm-up exercises are an important part of Aikido. They reduce the possibility of injury and, additionally, form the basis of many of the moves. Most sets are done to a count of: “One two / three four / five six / seven eight”, usually repeated twice. When not part of the movement, loose hands rest on the hip/thigh. As with all exercise, the body should not be pushed beyond what is safe and comfortable for the individual. We are all different! The fundamental 10 exercises (Kenko-taiso) (also needed for Ki test) are immediately below with additional, optional exercises after that. These fall into two groups: additional stretching exercises and hitori-waza - exercises, like the kenko-taiso, are performed individually and are the basis of particular Aikido moves.
1.Raise arms above head, palms up to stretch lower arm muscle. Keeping the hips facing forwards, twist shoulders left and right to turn and stretch the trunk of body. (The old way was to: Brush both hands alternately to right (twice) and left (twice) side of body.)2.With one arm and hand arched over the head and the other down by side, push to stretch the side of the body.3.Bend forward and down pushing hands through open legs, one two, then arch back and with loosely clenched hands over and above head, three four.4.Shoulder blade exercise. Lightly grasp fingers and jab elbows alternately to left and right sides of body whilst facing forwards. Keep elbows up.5.Nod head down, one two, then up, three four (return to straight ahead between nods).6.Turn head to left side, one two, then right side, three four (return to straight ahead between turns).7.Bend knees, 1, 2 rising to toes for 3, 4.8.Stretching the knee. Turn to the left. Left leg straight-ish on heel, right leg bent. Hands on thighs. 1, 2. Repeat to the right 3, 4.9.Repeat circling both arms at same time, down into body in ‘hugging’ motion for 4 then reverse direction for 4. Bend knees at same time. (can first be without knee bending for extra exercise).10.Shake out the hands; downwards with hands to the side of the body.
Additional warm-up exercises can be incorporated into or after the above. For example, circling each arm in turn in front of body for 4, reversing direction for 4, repeating with other arm (this is the way it used to be done) before exercise 9 above. Other exercises include:•After nodding and twisting head: Incline head to left side, one two, then right side, three four; keeping it facing forward.•Sit. Tuck right leg in. Lay left leg over right. Rotate each toe 10 times each way. Massage foot.•Repeat on other side.•Open legs. Stretch first to left by touching toes with left hand. Hold. Repeat to right.•Similar to above but put twist in hand to stretch a twist in the spine. Look up.•Lay back from kneeling. Hips between feet. As far back as possible. Hold. Roll out to side to release.•Roll out onto toes. Toes underneath to stretch toes.•Sit. Right leg under, Left out to front. Roll back down one side of the body, returning down the other side. Change legs as doing so, so left leg is tucked under. Repeat 4 times. (Variation is to roll back to kneeling or even standing before going back down again).•Repeat above touching the extended leg toe on the ground behind.•Repeat above touching the extended leg knee on the ground behind.•Repeat above rolling out; then walking forward on knees. Alternate sides.•Wrist stretches in nikyo, sankyo and yonkyo holds (count to 4 for each hand).
Hitori-waza (Solo practise techniques)
Notes:Hitori-waza – ‘alone techniques’ – ie practising by one’s self – solo techniques.Kumi-waza – ‘couple techniques’ – ie two people practising together.Tsuzuki-waza – ‘continuity techniques’ ie techniques woven together one after another.‘Undo’ means exercise and is used here but sometimes seen as waza, meaning technique. Broadly relates to Kyu syllabus that follows but does not match exactly and not yet found descriptions for all exercises:
5th Kyu – Yellow Belt
Jo Kenko Taiso – Jo exercise (kenko taiso is Swedish/Inverness way of doing first warm-up exercise, ie with arms raised above head and turning trunk).Ude-furi Undo – similar to the first warm-up exercise (Kinloss way).Udefuri Choyaku Undo – lift and step with front foot, turn through 180, bring front foot back. Arms swing naturally out.Sayu Undo – feet apart, weight swings onto one foot as arms swing up to the side into ‘here you are’ pose. Weight settles onto that foot and arms settle at same time (keep lower hand at groin, upper hand extended at shoulder level).Sayu Choyaku Undo – As above but with a step behind before settling.Yoko Ukemi (backward) – gentle half roll to the side (yoko) and backwards to SE and SW.Yoko Ukemi (forward) – gentle half roll to the side in crouched position to E and W.Shikko – knee walk for 4 steps forward.
4th Kyu – Orange Belt
Jo Aiki Taiso: Funakogi Undo – hold Jo horizontal at waist height, one foot forward. Push Jo forwards then bring back to solar plexus level, push down to waist level and repeat. The next 3 exercises can be done as described or with the Jo (making the description, Jo Aiki Taiso: Ikkyo Undo for example)Ikkyo Undo – swing both arms forward from hip starting position, elbow bent, open hand at head height; bend front knee to rock forward.Zengo Undo – Ikkyo waza technique but in 2 directions.Happo Undo – Ikkyo waza technique but in 8 directions.Tenshin Undo – Similar to Ikkyo Undo except a step forward is taken (rear foot is brought up to behind the leading foot ankle (no weight on it).Mae Ukemi and Ushiro Ukemi – 3 forward and 3 backward rolls on left and right sides.Zenshin Koshin Undo – stepping backward from right leg forward to left leg forward posture.Zenshin (forward) Koshin (backward) Choyaku Undo – stepping backward from right leg forward to left leg forward posture but with a hop.