Skip to main content

How to Do Tai Sabaki in Aikido

Learn how to do tai sabaki from the instructors at The New York Aikikai in this Howcast aikido video.


As most of the videos in this series are showing, my initial movement, and the most important thing for me to do at the moment of an attack, is to move my body off line and away from the threat. Before we worry about our hands and what to grab and what techniques we're trying to do, before we can do any of that, we have to learn how to get off line and how to move our body, our hips and our legs, before you worry about the hands. So in the very beginning, I'm going to use hanmi, which is a very thin stance in Aikido, it's not a terribly wide stance, both heels are almost on the same line, take a comfortable step back, one of the first things that you'll see is irimi, which literally means to enter, and basically just looks like a step forward. So irimi one step forward, irimi step forward.

So in Aikido you generally consider the movement to be very circular, which is true, your hips are moving in a circle, but the feet are moving on a very linear fashion, so irimi, irimi. The next set of tai sabaki or body movement that we're gonna see is tenkan. Tenkan, basic hanmi, pivot the hips and step straight back, pivot the hips and step straight back. Again like in irimi this is a very linear foot movement, they move backwards on a line, not a large circle. So we're keeping our feet close together, in a linear form. The other side, pivot step back, tenkan, tenkan, tenkan.

So the next series or set of tai sabaki that we use quite often is kaiten, and kaiten is literally just a pivot. So just going to turn my hips, the feet stay relatively close to where they began. Kaiten, kaiten, kaiten. So it's not a terribly complicated group of movements, we've got three basic steps irimi, tenkan, kaiten. So with a partner, you can generally see how a lot of the techniques look a little confusing, shomen uchi, this is a lot of movement. When you break it down, irimi, tenkan, kaiten, kaiten, irimi. So just using those three steps that we've learned, we can execute larger techniques. Shomen uchi, irimi, tenkan, kaiten.

So right now ikkyo ura, irimi, tenkan, irimi, tenkan, kaiten, irimi, tenkan, kaiten. So many of the techniques that we do in Aikido look very complicated, but once you get the basic steps down and figure out how to arrange them in various orders, the Aikido techniques become much more simplistic. Tai sabaki, basic body movement.

Popular Categories