Aikido ABC's


This page contains basic technical and terminological information for the beginner.

Practice roles


Aikido is practiced with these roles:


Tori = the one who is performing the technique (aka "Nage" or "Shite").


Uke = the one who is receiving the technique (aka "Aite").



Omote = front of uke.

Ura = behind uke.


Irimi = to enter (move ki forward).

Tenkan = to turn (change direction of ki).

Forearm rotation


There are three distinct ways to rotate your forearm (jap. "kote"):


Kotegaeshi = supinating rotation with palm inwards.


Kotehineri aka Sankyo = pronating rotation with palm outwards.


Kotemawashi aka Nikyo = pronating rotation combined with flexion of the wrist ("hook").


Kenjiro Yoshigasaki (2009) performs these three movements in the video below, 

c. [01:00 - 02:00].

Wrist positions


The most important wrist (jap. "tekubi") positions are the "hook" and the "hand-blade" (jap. "te-gatana").

Yang Cheng-fu in c. 1934 in the "single whip" posture (Essence and Applications of Taijiquan, orig. Taijiquan Tiyong Quanshu). Left hand is palm outwards, right hand forms a hook.

Te-gatana (jap. 手刀, "hand-blade") explained according to Yoshigasaki (2020):

Put your forearm on a table so that it does not move (photo 1).

Your hand can move either towards little finger or thumb. Move you hand maximally towards your thumb (photo 2).

Turn the arm without moving the elbow. Now you have a correct form of Tegatana (photo 3).

Kenjiro Yoshigasaki, 25th of March 2020,

Ikkyo = first teaching


The video below shows the technique Ikkyo (jap. "first teaching") aka Ikkajo ("first principle") aka Ude-osae ("forearm pin") in some usual forms.


The focus here is in tori's hand movements: forearm rotation and changing wrist position. 



Aikido techniques can be roughly divided in two: 1) joint locks ("katame-waza") and 2) projections ("kokyunage").


Kokyunage (literally "breath throw") refers to techniques which project and redirect the energy of the attack.


Naming aikido techniques is often loose rather than precise, and this flexibility can at times be confusing. The same technique can have different names according to which principle is emphasized, and one name can refer to several technical forms.

The most central kokyunage are depicted below. Here their names are based on whether tori moves behind ("ura") or in front ("omote") of the opponent.

Kokyunage ura is also known as Kokyunage irimi ("entering breath throw"), Irimi-nage ("entering throw"), and Udefuri-nage ("arm-swinging throw").

Kokyunage omote is also known as Sayu-nage ("left-right throw"), Sokumen irimi-nage ("sideways entering throw"), and Irimi-nage ("entering throw"). The first technique in the video is also called Kokyunage tenkan ("breath throw with a turn").