The Technical Curriculum of Iwama Aikido

Techniques are divided into three main groups:

  1. Tai-jutsu (body techniques, or empty-hand),

  2. Aiki Ken (sword techniques) and Aiki Jo (stick techniques). These three major groupings of techniques are inter-related through the innovative concept of Riai that O-Sensei developed during the Iwama period. There are also a couple of supplementary groups of techniques:

  3. Tanto-dori (knife-taking), and Shuriken Jutsu (blade throwing), which was taught separately to uchi-deshi of Saito Sensei.

Finally there is a collection of movements which fall outside the categorisation of the above groups, but which are essential to all, and they are everyday movements such as rolling etc, which for lack of a better term are called Kyotsu Waza, common techniques shared by all.

Grade Kyu/DanType of AttackTechniqueOUTS
5th Kyu Shomenuchi Ikkyo X X X X
Katatedori Ikkyo X X X -
Katatedori Shiho nage X X X -
Bukiwaza Ken suburi 1 to 7
Roku no Jo
4th Kyu Shomenuchi Nikyo X X X X
Katatedori Nikyo X X X -
Bukiwaza 31 jo kata
3rd Kyu Shomenuchi Sankyo X X X X
Shomenuchi Kotegaeshi - - X -
Tsuki Shiho nage - - X -
Ryotedori Shiho nage X X - -
Yokomenuchi Kaiten nage - - X -
Katatedori Irimi nage - - X -
Bukiwaza Go no awase
Shichi no awase    

Suwariwaza kokyu ho
Morotedori kokyu ho kihon waza
Tai no henko (+ ki no nagare)

2nd Kyu Shomenuchi Yonkyo X X X X
Katatedori Yonkyo X X X  -
Bukiwaza Jo Suburi 1 to 13
1st Kyu Yokomenuchi Ikkyo to Yonkyo X X - X
Yokomenuchi Gokyo - X - X
2 forms of attack Shiho nage - - X -
2 forms of attack Kotegaeshi - - X -
2 forms of attack Kokyu nage - - X -
2 forms of attack Irimi nage - - X -
2 forms of attack Koshi nage - - X -
2 forms of attack Ushiro waza - - X -
2 forms of attack Tachi dori - - X -
2 forms of attack Jo dori - - X -
2 forms of attack Tanken dori - - X -
Bukiwaza Jo Suburi 1 to 20

Ninin dori (2 attackers)


1st Dan

Suwariwaza Yokomenuchi Ikkyo X X - -
Suwariwaza Yokomenuchi Nikyo X X - -
Suwariwaza Yokomenuchi Sankyo X X - -
Suwariwaza Yokomenuchi Yonkyo X X - -
Suwariwaza Yokomenuchi Gokyo - X - -
Tachiwaza 3 different forms of attack Shiho nage - - - -
Tachiwaza 3 different forms of attack Kotegaeshi - - - -
Tachiwaza 3 different forms of attack Irimi nage - - - -
Tachiwaza 3 different forms of attack Koshi nage - - - -
Ushiro waza 3 different forms of attack     

Hanmi handachi waza - 3 different techniques with 3 different forms of attack

Tai no henko
kihon – ki no nagare
Morotedori kokyu nage
Suwariwaza kokyu ho
Ninin dori

Tanken dori
Tachi dori
Jo dori - 3 different techniques with 3 different forms of attack

7 ken suburi
Happo giri
Migi no awase
Hidari no awase
Go no awase
Shichi no awase

20 jo suburi
Roku no jo
San jyu ichi no kata
7 basic controls

2nd Dan         The program is substantially similar to the program of Shodan, but the techniques should be performed more precisely, faster and more fluid.     
Suwariwaza Yokomenuchi ikkyo X X - -
Yokomenuchi nikyo X X - -
Yokomenuchi sankyo X X - -
Yokomenuchi yonkyo X X - -
Yokomenuchi gokyo X X - -
Hanmi handachi waza 3 different forms of attack 3 different techniques    
Tachiwaza 3 different forms of attack Shiho nage        
3 different forms of attack Kote gaeshi        

Tai no henko kihon
ki no nagare morotedori kokyu nage (forms 1 & 2)

Irimi nage 3 different forms of attack

Koshi nage 3 different forms of attack

Kokyu nage 3 different forms of attack

Ushiro waza 3 different forms of attack

Suwariwaza kokyu ho
Sannin dori 3 different forms of attack

kihon – ki no nagare 3 different forms of attack
kihon – ki no nagare

Tanken dori
Tachi dori
Jo dori 3 different techniques with 3 different forms of attack

Ninin dori 2 partners: 1 ken, 1 jo 



7 suburi

4 Happo giri (ichi no suburi – ni no suburi – roku no suburi – shichi no suburi)
Go no awase, Shichi no awase
Kumitachi 1
Kumitachi 2


20 suburi
Roku no jo

san San jyu ichi no kata

31 no Kumijo 1 - 3 + 4 - 6 + 9 - 11 + 13 – 17 + 18 – 22 + 22- 27 = 27 – 31 kihon + awase
Kumijo 1
Kumijo 2
Kumijo 3


A. Aiki Tai-jutsu

Categorisation method 1.

This categorisation method shows techniques listed both in progressive order of technical difficulty, within labelled sections that describe each step of an attack/defence movement. When applicable techniques are named, according to the following classification:

a) Posture,
b) Directional Aspect - Attack, c) Type of attack,
d) Technique being executed, e) Directional Aspect - Defence, f) Method of finishing.

Many combinations of these classifications are not possible, due to the nature of the movement of some techniques, however this categorisation method is a simple and practical way of defining numerous techniques.

a) Posture - 3 possible combinations of postures that attacker and defender can take
1) Suwari Waza - both seated
2) Hanmi Handachi - nage seated, uke standing 3) Tachi Waza - both standing

Suwari Waza is regarded as basic training, because it teaches basic principles of body movement, while helping to physically develop the hips and rest of body. Even though it is more difficult to perform than in standing position, it learned first in order to impart the correct principles of movement early in the course of learning.

b) Directional Aspect - Attack - 2 possible directions from which an attack may come.
1) Mae Waza - frontal attacks (including from side)
2) Ushiro Waza - rear attacks

Although Ushiro Waza techniques are essentially a repeat of all the frontal attacks, it is regarded as more advanced because of the added complexity of dealing with the opponent gripping from the rear. Attacks from the side can be adapted to become frontal attacks by a simple turn of the body. They are all grouped together because they are within the field of view, whereas attacks to the rear are outside the field of view, and so are treated separately to frontal and side attacks.

c) Type of Attack - 24 different attacks, upon which the full range of possible attacks are based

01. Men-uchi - palm strike to centre-line, raising

02. Shomen-uchi - edge of the hand strike to centreline from above

03. Yokomen-uchi - edge of hand strike to side of body

04. Katate-dori - wrist being grabbed by one hand of attacker

05. Sode-dori - cuff below / shirt at elbow grabbed by one hand of attacker

06. Sode-guchi-dori - inside cuff held

07. Kata-dori - one shoulder grabbed by one hand of attacker

08. Mune-dori - one hand grab/strike to centre-line, chest level

09. Kosa-dori - wrist grabbed in reverse grip by one hand of attacker

10. Tsuki - punch to centre line

11. Ryote-dori - both wrists grabbed by both hands of attacker

12. Ryo-hiji-dori - both elbows grabbed by both hands of attacker

13. Ryo-kata-dori - both shoulders grabbed by both hands of attacker

14. Ryo-muna-dori - two-handed grab to centre-line, chest level

15. Morote-dori - both attackers hands grab one arm

16. Kata-dori/shomen-uchi (or tsuki) - shoulder grab and strike with other hand

17. Muna-dori/shomen-uchi (or tsuki) - chest grab and strike with other hand

18. Ushiro-eri-dori - neck lapel gripped by one hand from behind

19. Ushiro-ryo-kata-dori - shoulders grabbed by attacker from behind

20. Ushiro-ryote-dori - both wrists grabbed from behind

21. Ushiro-eri/katate-dori - neck lapel and wrist grabbed from behind

22. Ushiro-katate-muna-dori - wrist/collar at front grabbed from behind

23. Ni-nin/san-nin gake - 2 or more persons grabbing

24. Geri - variations on hand techniques against a variety of kicks

These attacks are listed in order of progressive difficulty, as well as in order of basic principles being imparted through the training with such attacks. The attacks themselves are not absolute, and the list is not exhaustive, however, these 24 attacks define the full range of possible attacking movements that could be encountered by the Aikido-ka, according to the principles of "Takemusu Aiki".

d) Technique being executed - 6 core techniques, with a further 5 regarded as variations of these techniques.

01) Ikkyo to Rokkyo - 1st teaching to 6th teaching

These refer to all the elbow taking techniques, Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo, Gokyo and Rokkyo, which are themselves ordered in a progression of technical complexity. Rokkyo was previously labelled as a separate technique: "hiji-katame", but is now regarded as a progression from Ikkyo. The following techniques have their own classification, but are technically regarded as being variations of the above Movements

02) Shiho Nage - four directional throw

03) Kote-gaeshi - wrist turning

04) Irimi nage - entering throw

05) Kokyu Nage - abdominal breath power throw

06) Koshi Nage - hip throw

07) Kaiten Nage - rotary throw (variation of sankyo)

08) Tenchi Nage - "heaven and earth throw" (mixture of irimi & kokyu nage)

09) Ganseki Otoshi - big rock drop (variation of irimi nage)

10) Sumi Otoshi - corner drop (vaitaion of kokyu nage)

11) Juji Nage - cross-shaped or cross-twine throw (specialised technique)


e) Directional Aspect - Defense - 2 possible directions the defender can move against the attackers force

1) Omote (irimi)- entering across the front

2) Ura (tankan) - turning to the rear

This directional aspect is the movement of the defender against the attacker, as opposed to the above, which is a movement of the attacker against the defender. Omote and Ura are treated as being equally as important, rather like two sides of the coin.


f) Method of Finishing the techniques - 4 methods of dealing with the attacker. 1) Nuke – escaping

2) Atemi - striking

3) Nage - throwing

4) Katame, or Osae - pinning, or controling

These finishes are listed in order of progressive difficulty, however it is Nage and Katame that is usually practiced, because if one is proficient in these, Nuke and Atemi are readily apparent. To make matters clearer, a technique name can be generated by following the path of movement through the above categories, from the beginning of the movement to the end, as seen in the chart below.

For example, to classify a technique where you are attacked from the front by a standing attacker while you are seated, with a grip to your wrist, whereby you perform the 4 directional throw to their rear, finishing with a pin, the technique would be called "Mae hanmi handachi katate-dori shiho-nage, katame". If the technique was practiced as a solid exercise (see below), then you would add "kihon" at the end.

For simplicity however, it would more commonly be stated as, ‘Hanmi Handachi Katate Dori Shiho Nage Ura Waza’.

Categorisation Method 2.

This categorisation method defines the above techniques in a particular training method according to the type of martial principles being taught. Certain of the above techniques can be regarded as teaching basic principles, while others only appear in special circumstances, and all of the above techniques can be defined in terms of one of these training methods.

1) Kihon Waza - basic techniques

2) Henka Waza - variation of basic techniques

3) Oyo Waza - applied techniques

4) Sutemi Waza - sacrifice techniques

5) Kaeshi Waza - reversal, or counter techniques

6) Iko Waza - techniques to deal with counter techniques

7) Jiyu Waza - free techniques


These methods are listed in order of progressive difficulty and complexity, which is consistent with an increasing depth of martial principle.


Categorisation Method 3.

This categorisation method defines the level of intensity in physical movement and amount of intention in the mind of both the attacker and the defender when performing the movements.

1) Kihon - basic

2) Ki no nagare - literally energy in motion

3) Ki musubi – a very intensive method of intention in defence and attack literally a blending of energy


This list shows the training method in order of progressive difficulty, which is consistent with an increasing development in performance. Ko Tai and Ju tai have come to be known as "Kihon" and "Ki-no-nagare" respectively, while Ryu Tai and Ki Tai have become grouped together to form what is known as "Ki- musubi". A distinction should be made between Ryu Tai and Ki Tai however, as Ki Tai is performed with the same physical movement as Ryu Tai, but with the most intense level of intention that borders on fully-intended attack.



C. Aiki Jo Jutsu

Jo Suburi - 20 techniques, basic strikes and blocks – all in left Hanmi

Tsuki (Thrust) Section

1. Choku tsuki/straight thrust - (jo stance – left hand takes centre of jo; right hand takes bottom end and thrust to chest.)

2. Kaeshi tsuki/rotating thrust - (jo stance – right hand takes top of jo left hand takes centre – rotate it and thrust to chest)
3. Ushiro tsuki/rear thrust - (jo stance - right hand takes top of jo, place jo under left elbow and thrust to rear)

4. Tsuki gedan gaeshi/thrust and low level rotation - (tsuki stance, 3 steps, thrust to chest, draw jo back into gedan gaeshi then strike to knee stepping forwards)
5. Tsuki jodan gaeshi/thrust and high level rotation - (tsuki stance, 3 steps, thrust to chest, rotate jo above head then strike)


Uchi Komi (Strike) Section

6.Shomen uchi komi/straight strike to the head - (ken stance, same as second ken suburi)

7.Renzoku uchi komi/continuous strike - (ken stance, same as fifth ken suburi)

8.Menuchi gedan gaeshi/straight head strike and low level rotation - (ken stance, cut, step back gedan gaeshi, step fwd strike knee)

9.Menuchi ushiro tsuki/straight head strike and low level rotation - (ken stance cut as in 2nd Ken Suburi, R hand takes the end of the jo, thrust to rear, and strike the chest)

10.Gyaku yokomen ushiro tsuki/opposite side of the head strike and rear thrust - (ken stance, step fwd and strike side of head yokomen uchi, place jo under right elbow and thrust to rear chest height)

Katate (one hand) Section

11.Katate gedan gaeshi/one hand low level rotation - (tsuki stance, slide

back to R, jo held in both hands at front end, strike upwards and fwd)

12.Katate toma uchi/far distance strike - (tsuki stance, slide back left, put jo behind head, step and strike to the side of the head with one hand)

13.Katate hachi-no-ji gaeshi/one hand, figure of eight rotation - (jo stance with jo in right hand to side of right foot, step forwards on the right make a figure 8 movment striking each side of the head and finish in hasso stance)

Hasso Gaeshi (rotation) Section

14. Hasso gaeshi uchi/rotation strike - (ken stance, step back and perform a

chudan parry, come up into hasso stance then step forward and strike with shomen uchi)

15.Hasso gaeshi tsuki/rotation and thrust - (as above for parry then R hand takes end, slide forward and thrust)

16.Hasso gaeshi ushiro tsuki/rotation and rear thrust - (as above, L hand takes end, drop jo to the horizontal then slide back thrust to rear)

17.Hasso gaeshi ushiro uchi/rotation and rear strike - (as above, turn half way to rear, strike to knee)

18.Hasso gaeshi ushiro barai/rotation and rear sweep - (as above, turn to rear, big step back with right foot and sweep to the rear)

Nagare Gaeshi (flowing rotation) Section

19.Hidari nagare gaeshi uchi/left flowing rotation strike - (ken stance, strike as in second ken suburi, let go with the left hand, passing the jo to the left, turn 180 degrees to the rear take with the left hand again, rotate the jo above the head and strike.)

20.Migi nagare gaeshi tsuki/right flowing rotation thrust - ( ken stance, step forward with L and strike to the head, let go with the left hand, step back with the right leg and turn grabbing the jo with the left hand in the centre, then thrust to the chest.)

21.No.19 and 20 flowing together (sometimes merged to form 21)

Roku no jo - 3 techniques, a 6 step combination of suburi that condenses to 4

step, with variations

Sanjuichi-no-Jo - 31 step kata

Jusan-no-Jo - 13 step kata

Kumi-Jo - 10 techniques, applied techniques with a partner

Sanjuichi-no-Kumi-Jo- partner practice to the 31 step kata (kata bunkai)

Jusan-no-jo Awase - partner practice to the 13 step kata (kata bunkai)

Jo Dori- Jo disarming

Jo/Tai Jutsu No Riai, or Jo Nage - throwing attacker who grabs Jo

Ken-Tai Jo - Jo defence against sword

D. Tanto Dori
disarming knife attacks.

E. Shuriken Jutsu

While O-Sensei is not known to have studied, or even mentioned Shuriken Jutsu, the founder's teacher Sokaku Takeda and Morihiro Saito Sensei both were masters of this art, Negishi Ryu Shuriken Jutsu. Saito Sensei taught Shuriken to uchi-deshi after they had signed a "keppan" or oath of sincerity.

F. Kyotsu Waza

These are not really techniques as such, but movements and understandings that students need to learn to enable safe participation in traditional Japanese dojo life. Kyotsu means"shared by all" and simply refers to the common sense things that one should know when in a dojo.

a) Shikko - moving around while kneeling

b) Ukemi - falls, rolls, and high falls (tobu-ukemi)

c) Osoji - cleaning

d) Rei - Etiquette

G. Kuden

Kuden are the oral teachings and written material produced by O-Sensei over his almost 70 year martial career. They consist of calligraphy, poems, oral teachings, poems and writings, all of which contain further information and detail about the art the the founder taught. It is not all collected and kept in a single place, rather, it is spread out over private collections, reproductions in publications, on display in dojo around the world, and held in the memories of the remaining students of O-Sensei and their deshi.