Most schools in lineages stemming from Kenji Tomiki 富木 謙治 practice a form of solo aiki based movments. These movements are variously called kihon tandoku taiso, judo taiso,budo taiso, tegatana dosa, tegatana no kata, unsoku, or tandoku undo, aiki taiso no tandoku undo, the walk, the walking, the walking ways, the handblade forms. Whatever the modern organizations call the collection of movements, it seems clear that the exercises were from a group of exercises originally called ‘Judo Taiso’, which translates to ‘judo calisthenics’. Judo taiso is a series of drills developed by Kenji Tomiki as part of his style that incorporates Judo teaching methodology into Aikido practice –and vice versa. Although time has formed many variations of the practice, it is composed of Unsoku or taisabaki (body movement) and the tegatana dosa (hand blade exercises).
Thus far here is the earliest written artifact I have found concerning the listing and the names. This was written before the 17 was created. My current wild guess is that this is from around 1960.
In 1944 Kenji Tomiki 富木 謙治 was living and teaching in imperial Japan’s occupied Manchuria. With the surrender of Japan, the occupying army fell and the Russian army rolled in to take control of Manchuria. Kenji Tomiki was captured as a consequence of his involvement. Tomiki sensei developed a series of exercises during his three year imprisonment 1945-1948, and based them on the basic movements that compose efficient budo movement. They are different from the general warm-up exercises in that they offer a variety of deeper meanings and insights into the execution of basic movements. According to the verbal lore, he continued to practice and during his three years of captivity developed what he called the Judo Taiso. In 1953, he was appointed to full professorship at Waseda University – the place where Judo Taiso became widely distributed. The blanket term Judo Taiso includes both the solo exercises and paired work called Judo Taiso Sotai Dosa. During this time he toured extensively and wrote several publications on the topics of Japanese martial arts. He published a book in 1956 with the name Judo Taiso.
In the first minute and twenty seconds of the classic film of Tomiki’s practice we find him demonstrating the exercise that would come to be performed around the world by the students from his lineage.
The first film of the frame reads “Judo Taiso”
The second frame says…
“When the basic movements of “Aiki no waza” are brought together through formal exercises, practice becomes easy”
I have not been able to accurately date this film, but I surmise he probably filmed it around the time the book was being published in the mid 1950’s. Tomiki shows, at least in this stage of his training, a strong preference for large sweeping tegatana motions. He performs the exercises quite briskly, especially the unsoku stepping motions.
Next we see some clips of Kenji Tomiki Sensei practicing his tegatana dosa around 1975. I think this film is intensely interesting - especially since I have not seen anyone from any of his various student lineages perform it in this way.
Nick Ushin Lowry of the Kaze Uta Budo Kai did a detailed study of the evolution of Tomiki's own practice of the exercise. I applaud his work. It is of great value in looking at the subtle changes that happened through time in Kenji Tomiki's work. (edit) I just attended a workshop with Lowry Sensei on the evolution of the tegatana dosa. He has uncovered some fabulous insights.
Senta Yamada studied under Kenji Tomiki. In 1959 he went to England and brought Judo and Aikido with him. He did a taping at the BBC studios and one of the things they filmed was his solo Judo Taiso, although I do not know what he called the exercises at the time. The Yamada film and the Tomiki film are the two true treasures in the historical study of the exercises. I feel that Yamada’s demonstration is probably the clearest remaining representation of the work that was coming out of Waseda University in the late 1950’s.
I personally feel any student of Tomiki aikido taking a deep look at these exercises should take a long look at the oldest examples we have, Tomiki and Yamada's. My analysis of other examples of the exercise are to be compared with these oldest two. The purpose is to highlight the evolution that has naturally happened over time.
At some point the solo exercises began to be known as the tegatana dosa. In the formal syllabus of Shodokan, and the Tomiki Aikido of the Americas they list Unsoku, Tegatana dosa along with basic breakfalls as the first requirements for grading and advancement.
tegatana ・ shutō 【手刀】-hand used like a sword in striking
te 【手】-hand; arm
katana・ tō 【刀】-(single-edged) sword; katana
It seems the J.A.A. under Nariyama Sensei has moved the exercises in a different direction. One of the readers of the blog recommended this as a good example of what they are doing at the Shodokan in Japan.
In the B.A.A. or the British Aikido Association knowledge of unsoku is required for for 6th kyu and complete knowledge of tandoku undo for 4th kyu. In this film we see a group from London Aikido Dojo, I believe a dojo in Yamada's line, practicing the exercises. They do a few repetitions of sections demonstrating more of a exercise over kata feel to the motions.
In the next nice example we see Adrian Tyndale's group performing at an exhibition the exercises. I believe this would be another B.A.A. example. Although much slower and timed to music, it looks they have remained true to the example that Yamada handed down.
Next let's hop over the pond and take a look at an American version from the J.A.A. - Tomiki Aikido of the Americas. This presentation of the tegatana dosa is by Ash Morgan. The first major change we see from Tomiki and Yamada's work is that he drops the turning motions. Everything is performed moving straight ahead.
Michael Gelum from the TAA wrote a criticism of this film.
"Flow and movement are correct, but the tying to the center/hip movement is out of synch. The movements are sword cuts and we all know that the sword is fueled by body movement not arm. If your knot of your obi is leading your exercise, then you are executing good technique. As a suggestion to great technique, practice should be slow...speed will come with proficiency, not the antithesis."
During the 1970s Tomiki aikido began to take root in the United States. Two major branches formed. One remained close ties to Japan (J.A.A. then later Tomiki Aikido of the Americas). These groups continue to call the exercises Tegatana Dosa. Another branch of the lineage centered in Houston began under the teaching of Kogure, Miyake, Inoue and Geis. This lineage has gone on to spawn organizations that include the Fugakukai, Jiyushinkai, the International Aikido Alliance, the American Tomiki Aikido Association, the Zan-Totsu Kai, and the Kaze Uta Budokai. In this lineage the Tegatana Dosa usually became known as Tegatana no Kata – hand blade kata. Thus far I have not seen any groups outside this lineage calling the exercises by this name. Despite the name ‘tegatana no kata’ the actual use of the hand blade became less emphasized as compared to Tomiki Sensei. Likely instructor preferences started moving towards a palm connection as opposed to the hand blade that Tomiki Sensei seemed to prefer in publications. Many people in this lineage casually refer to the exercise as the “walk”, or “walking”.
kata・ gata 【型】model; type (e.g. of machine, goods, etc.), - type; style; pattern; mold; template; model - kata (standard form of a movement, posture, etc. in martial arts, sport, etc.)
1) Shomen Ashi - forward step
2) Waki Ashi - side to side step
3) Tenkan Ashi - step feet
4) Shomen Te Gatane - straight hand blade
5) Uchi Mawashi - inside sweep hand blade
6) Soto Mawashi - outside sweep hand blade
7) Uchi Soto Gaeshi - forward block & side push
8) Uchi Mawashi Gaeshi - inside sweep & turn
9) Soto Mawashi Gaeshi - outside sweep & turn opposite
10) Ude Goshi Gaeshi - arm & hip turn opposite
11) O Mawashi - major circle opposite
12) Yoko O Mawashi - side major circle both hands
An example of the exercise done from a young member of Fugakukai practicing. We are beginning to see a bit of drift from Tomiki's example. The contact point has moved away from the original hand blade. There are a few palm up lifting motions that I have not seen in other examples. Also in this lineage we see the final motions of the exercises, Yoko O Mawashi, shift far away from the ideas presented in the Tomiki/Yamada model.
I found another example of a Fugakukai / Kihara student demonstrating the walking kata.
Nick Ushin Lowry the head of the Kaze Uta Budo Kai demonstrates his version of the Tegatana No Kata. Interestingly enough, he emphasizes a return to the actual use of the tegatana in his version.
Over my years of training I have heard many high level teachers attribute the ‘walk’ to the influential teacher Tsunako Miyake Sensei. Unless there is any evidence of her practicing it before the 1950s Tomiki film, I feel that it might be a false rumor. I am sure she was pivotal in distributing the exercise to a great number of influential teachers and she might have aided in refining the movements. At this time it seems clear that the movements came from Tomiki’s direct work with the Judo Taiso.
One interesting story recently came to light on the thoughtful Sensei blog. L.F. Wilkinson recently wrote on his blog - http://aikibudokan.typepad.com/
“When one of my Sensei's Sensei came over to the US on tour, my wife and I were tasked with escorting her from seminar to seminar while my wife acted as uke for her teachings; a great honor I might add. It gave us some behind the scenes on how high level Japanese Sensei view some things. We walked into a dojo while on the tour and on the wall the dojo proprietor, concerned about the proper Japanese names, had cobbled together Japanese names and had done poster boards with the names of The Walking (and every movement in it) and the 8 Releases (and every movement in that also). Sensei read the boards, turned away towards Lynn and I so no one could see and used her hand to hide her laughter before she said, "Walking and releases have no name. Not kata. Just walking and just exercise." She appreciated the sincere efforts but she said that Tomiki had never thought the exercises important enough for formal names; there are not being formal kata per se.”
In the 1980s some ex members of the Fugakukai lineage formed their own Tomiki based organization called the Jiyushinkai. This organization continued the practice of the solo exercises that originated from Kenji Tomiki. Like the previous teachers in this line, the emphasis moved away from hand blade work. Instead it took on an emphasis of steady center motion, weight dropping, palm connection and biomechanically efficient pushes. Perhaps for the reason of the de-emphasis on the hand blade the organization changed the name of the exercise to Aiki Taiso No Tandoku Undo (aiki calisthenics – solo exercise). This change must have occurred sometime before 1995, as this is when I first heard the name and began exploring this exercise.
Here is a film from what appears to be a mid 1990's version of the Aiki Taiso No Tandoku Undo. It was practiced by Aaron Clark at the Jiyushinkan in Tempe, Arizona.
A YouTube poster who is apparently part of their system writes, "This looks like the *old* kata video, because Aaron is still going up on his toes without flexing his knees and dropping down, i.e. the way we used to do it, in that one swing-around movement in the latter half of the kata. Sheesh, this takes me back..."
I would love to see a new version, but members of this lineage seem to not like putting practice to film at this time.
aiki【合気・ 合氣outdated kanji】
ai 【合い】joint; associate; to come together; to merge; to unite; to meet
ki 【気】spirit; mind heart, nature; disposition, mood, feelings,atmosphere;essence
taisō 【体操】gymnastics; physical exercises; calisthenics
tai 【体】 body; physique; posture
ayatsuru 【操る】 to manipulate; to operate; to pull strings
tandoku 【単独】sole; independence; single; solo (flight)
hitoe 【一重 ・ 単】one layer; single; onefold
doku 【独】By itself - In combination - walking alone; walking unaided; going alone; standing on one's own
undō 【運動】motion; exercise
un 【運】fortune; luck
dō 【動】motion; change; confusion