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How to Do Te Sabaki in Aikido

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


In this video, we're going to cover some of the basic te sabaki or hand movements that we'll generally run into in aikido. One of the things I'd like to point out is that the wrist will generally turn in two directions. It's going to turn inside, and it's going to turn outside. Anatomically speaking, you turn it enough if any direction and it's going to stop turning naturally, and it will begin to hurt, which is what we focus on.

So as the hand begins to turn out, you can see our first technique as it rolls out is kote gaeshi. My hand will roll out and down. If you continue this outward movement all the way, you'll begin to see the shape for shihonage that we've shown. As the wrist rolls in and under, again you'll see the first technique that we have is nikyo. As you continue that movement all the way around, you'll see the hand position for sankyo. So all of these are considered wrist locks or pins that can hurt quite badly and cause a little bit of damage if your partner doesn't move along with it, which is why we want to do some of the stretching exercises you see.

So for kote gaeshi, the first one I demonstrated, you look at your own palm. Take your other hand and place that thumb right in between the ring and pinky finger. Wrap your fingers around the base of the thumb, and I want to use my thumb to push out and around. Go straight down your center as you create that pressure. So this is a good exercise to prepare your self for kote gaeshi.

Turn your hand in the other direction. One hand is thumb-down. The other hand is thumb-up. Use that thumb to take the inside of my palm and my fingers to grasp the thumb at the bottom of the hand. I want to lift my pinky directly to my forehead while keeping my elbow low. Try not to lift it up this way. In, and again drop it straight down your center. You'll begin to feel the stretch.

We also like to just in general flex the wrest, so take the back part of your hand. Pull that straight up your center towards your face, and you'll feel the stretch. You'll also see a variation for sankyo as you point your palm away from you. Put your palms together. I want to twist the hand as I push up and towards my armpit. Again, you'll begin to feel the stretch there. It's a good idea just to loosen up the fingers as well whenever you have a chance. So, basic te sabaki. You'll see the movements for kota gaeshi, nikyo, shihonage, another form of nikyo, and the finger exercises. Te sabaki, hand movements.

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