021) Genkido: Ikkyo Undo- Week of January 18, 2009

I was fortunate to attend the first Aiki Expo in 2002.  One of the major realizations that I came home from with was that despite over twelve years of training under my belt, my Aikido was sorely lacking.  Technically, I knew techniques, but the heart and soul of Aikido, Ki, was not at a level that I was remotely satisfied with.  I had a personal conversation with my teacher, Imaizumi Sensei and asked him how I could try and raise the level of my Aikido.  His answer was simple, Ikkyo Undo.  This was an apparent paradox; raise your level of Aikido by returning to the “basic exercises.”

Ikkyo undo is one of our fundamental movement exercises.  This apparently simple exercise has within it some fundamental core movements of our torso and arms.  I will now begin to write about some of these fundamentals.

This exercise is done in Hidari Hamni (left stance) and Migi Hamni (right stance).  The starting position is with our front leg extended straight and our rear leg with a bend knee.  We move our torso on a line that is horizontal to the ground at all times.  When we move to the forward position, our rear leg has a straight knee and our front leg has a bent knee.  We then move back to the initial position with a straight front leg and the rear leg with a bent knee.

The initial position starts with our arms relaxed down at our sides and our hands in fists.  As our torso moves to the forward position, our hands have opened up and our arms arc upwards so that our finger tips (palms facing inwards towards each other) are level with our eyebrows.    The arm movement seems simple, but we tend to muck it up by adding tense and contraction movements.  To best understand this movement, let your arms lie limp at your side and have someone pull your index finger up to the proper position.  You will see that your arms swing outward and upwards.  Your elbows and wrists are gently bent (not contracted) and your shoulders are relaxed and not tensed up from contraction of the trapezius muscles.  We then let our arms arc back down to the initial position as our torso moves back to the initial position.

We will spend this week exploring this exercise.  I will hopefully be able to help every student see how this “simple” exercise can open proverbial doors to taking one’s Aikido up to another level.

Marc Abrams Sensei

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