2020 - Online Study photos, videos & text

Footwork and Handblades of Unity Aikido

Ju Nana hHon no Kata - 17 Basic Forms

Tori: Hanifa Macfarlane Sensei 8th Dan with Ukis James Carolan Sensei 3rd Dan and Rob Cass Sensei 3rd Dan

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Introduction to safe and effective practice of the
17 Kata of Unity Aikido

This basic, or more correctly, fundamental kata contains many of the principles and skills needed for our Unity Aikido system. Practice is governed by three safety guidelines.
1. Ensure fitness for practice by both partners and take it easy if you are carrying an injury. i.e. Don't hurt yourself!  Assume and maintain correct posture of both uki and tori. Stop if there is any danger or obstacle that could get in the way or someone walks into your field. Stop if/when uki taps out.
2. Start slowly for all new work and ensure full body weight is exerted off the back foot through handblades or any other contact with Uki. Do not suddenly excelerate unless you are working with a very experienced partner and do not use jerky movements which could injure. Do not strike hard on joints. Don't hurt others! i.e. your practice partners.
3. Blend with Uki's movements. AI KI means harmony energy and we should all harmonise our movements with the attack and take care of ourselves and our partner. Blending also applies in a real situation as Aikido depends on Speed, Timing and Skill, not strength. When a technique has become a natural movement is the appropriate time to use more realistic timing and then only with a suitable uki. Have good manners towards your partner and others including the Sensei and the Aikido system!
Manners for yourself are to protect yourself in everyday life by keeping alert and aware of your surroundings. Keeping a safe two arms length (minimum) distance from those you don't know or don't trust. If you don't know or don't trust someone keep calm, don't agrevate them and remove yourself from proximity if possible. If an attack occurs act decisivly slightly ahead of their movement so you can break their balance and give yourself an advantage. Much more could be written on this topic but each one of us needs to be aware, balanced and able to respond appropriatly as in Mu Shin - Mu Gamae throughout our lives.

Master Tomiki taught us Mu Shin - Mu Gamae. No Mind - No Posture. Mu Shin is a mind undisturbed by effects thus able to respond appropriatly. Mu Gamae is a state awareness of always being prepared in any posture or position. An early description of Mushin comes from the famous Zen Buddist monk, Takuan Soho (1575 - 1645) in "The Unfetted Mind". In this work he connects aspects of Zen Buddism with the martial arts. Shin means mind/heart in both the physical and spiritual sense. Gamae or Kamae means posture or stance of readyness. When we assume good posture for Aikido practice such as left or right upright stance we are assuming our Kamae. Please remember the purpose of Kata practice is to learn and embed the skills of Aikido, not to prove the techniques work. That has been done before you. Master Tomiki gave us these skills presented in a safe way for sport and general practice. Once learnt and embedding in our neuro-muscular response they can be effective for self defence such as in the Koryu Dai San Kata.

#1 SHOMEN ATE - Frontal Attack.

Getting started

Warm up first.
This is the first technique of the Basic Seventeen and is a frontal entry between Uki's arms and between their legs, both starting from right posture. Uki makes a straight punch at Tori's face. Tori's  initial balance break is by fending Uki's punch off the midline while advancing forward in a curve aprox 30% offline on the opposite side of the midline and keeping Uki's forward momentum. Immediatly after the second balance break is made by Tori striking upward on Uki's chin to tilt his head back while stepping inside Uki's legs. Tori keeps the balance breaking pressure on while advancing in tsugi ashi through Uki's posture to effect a full balance break and throw. For safety and to aid Tori's learning of a smooth effective movement Uki accepts the chin strike moving up and back into the balance break and a full back breakfall.
Important Points: Uki must be capable of taking the fall safely and Tori must apply body weight through their arms off their back foot right up through their whole body and delivered through their striking handblades for both balance breaks.

#1 DETAILS 1 & 2:

The punch has been fended to the outside and Tori is moving across and about to strike up under Uki's chin. Although Tori's striking hand looks to be leading with the fingers by the time it connects with Uki's chin the heel palm is what makes the connection and the fingers have slipped past without touching as in the photo on right.

Detail 3 below: Tori's footwork direction and extended arms are maintained:

Rob Cass Sensei as Uki
Foorwork position is shown in this photo on the red mat with blue lines helping to indicate position. The attack was down the centre line and Tori has moved across and in at aprox. 30% to the line of attack. Tori advances right into Uki's centre and takes it over with the balance breaking effect of the two handblade actions.Tori will keep on moving forward until Uki takes a back breakfall.

VARIATIONS: From a variety of grasps or weapon attacks. Can also be performed turning especially if Uki tries to evade.

VIDEO 17 Kata Technique #1 Shomen Ate - Frontal Attack.
Tori: Hanifa Macfarlane Sensei, Uki: James Carolan Sensei. Filmed at Ogilvie High School as part of a Kata study session. Thanks to Peter and Liam on cameras 1 and 2.

This is an abreviated version of the first technique. It is used by Unity Aikido and it has its oriqins in the sport kata. Further along we intend to post the original version which derives from a two sword technique. This version was chosen for the first kata studied by Unity Aikido students due to its excellent quality of entering as opposed to giving way. It is not an easy technique as speed and timing are crucial and there is little margin for error if used in response to a real attack. Variations such as throat or nose strike may be more effective then. It was designed for sport competition not a life and death situation. It needs to be practiced in cooperation with a capable uki. Initial practice should be slow and rhythmic to embed the movement structure in Tori's neuro-muscular response.
Our system is Kata first, followed by three levels of freestyle of increasing speed and intensity. 

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VIDEO 17 Kata, Technique #1, Shomen Ate - Frontal Attack

#2 AIGAMAE ATE - Regular Attack

This is the second technique of the fundamental 17 Kata and is in contrast to the first technique in that Tori gives way while fending Ukis punch and breaking balance. Tori starts in right posture, pivots slightly on the left foot and steps back with the right foot. While in movement Tori fends off Uki's punch with an outside turn across the centre line protecting her face from the blow, keeping Uki's forward momentum going and at the same time breaking Uki's balance. Tori's inside turn with the other arm just above Uki's elbow creates a strong angle against Uki's arm. Tori's arm is firmly extended applying body weight against Uki's elbow so Uki is held off at a sufficient distance to prevent him landing a punch with his other fist. As Uki then pulls back to be able to throw the other punch Tori moves in very quickly utilising Uki's reversing movement, extending it bacwards in a balance break by striking upwards under Uki's chin similarly to technique #1. Tori has stepped in with the right leg (and in an advanced versions of this technique can apply a slight leg trap so Uki cannot step back easily). Tori keeps advancing until the balance break and movement execute a throw. Uki accepts the strike under the chin, tipping his head back similarly to technique #1 and takes a back breakfall.

The two images give the relative positions and angles to this technique. Tori keeps control of Uki's arm as long as possible and exerts weight off the back foot through both extended arms moving forward in tsugi ashi, or shuffling steps with the same foot leading.

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VIDEO 17 Kata, Technique #2 Aigamae Ate - Regular attack

 #3 GYAKU GAMAE ATE - Reverse Attack 

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VIDEO 17 Kata, Technique #3 Gyaku Gamae Ate - Reverse Attack

Tori executes a strong balance break, in this case using both hands to exert downward force while over-extending Uki's punch attack.

Tori raises the reverse arm ready to strike down on the side of Uki's head, turning her body to allow for greater impact when unleashing the strike with full body weight turning into the strike.

Tori steps forwad with her outside leg utilising movement forward, downward and spirilic, and towards the left back corner, in combination with body weight for power.
Uki turns his head on the side to accept the strike which is applied carefully so as not to injure. Uki takes a back breakfall.

 #4 Gedan Ate - Low Attack  

This Technique is also quite a difficult technique to understand and master. It is used in this instance as a counter attack when Uki blocks the #3 technique. It starts with a repeat of #3 technique but Uki blocks Tori's strike. In this instance Tori reinforces control of Uki's arms so he cannot strike back or grab. (In the version below of the five techniques Tori maintains control by using a high control of Uki's arms which then sweeps down in a sword movement as the low strike sweeps up. We can see the origin of both movement from the sword)

In our Kata version we are concerned with establishing the movement flow and doing so without injuring our practice partner, our uki. So the strike across the lower abdomen is applied as a sweeping sword movement designed to break the balance along with the outside leg providing a slight leg trap so Uki cannot step backwards out of it. This is instead of an elbow strike to Uki's abdomen as in self defence situations. It is alwayr risky getting in under the attacker's arms, as they can drop on you, but we attempt to keep Uki off balance and leaning a bit back so that cannot happen. After a sucessful balance break Tori sweeps Uki slightly up (to accentuate the hip balance break) and back to the left, in the same direction used in #3 technique. Uki takes a back breakfall. On an older or injured uki the leg trap should be released for their safety otherwise Uki has to hop back on one leg into the breakfall or land on their spine if they can't do that. Please take care!

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VIDEO 17 Kata, Technique #4 Gedan Ate - Low Attack

 #5 Ushiro Ate - Back Attack 

The back attack is a technique where Uki's initial attack is prolonged with a downward sweep that turns 180% and then rises then falls into the throw as Master Tomiki described it to us "like a wave". All the while Tori needs to keep control of Uki's movement so he cannot regain balance. Tori moves swiftly accross the back of Uki and with a slight lifting then sweeping downward movement while holding Uki's shoulders throws Uki into a back breakfall. Uki takes care to keep his head well tucked in as the momentum of the downward sweep can be strong.

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Video 17 Kata Technique #5 Ushiro Ate - Back Attack

17 Kata First 5 Attack Techniques 

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Video 17 Kata First Five Attack Techniques. This is the end of the first section of the 17 Kata, the five Attack techniques. Master Tomiki explained several ways of breaking the balance of an attacker and one way was by utilising strikes as in these five techniques. Atemi or strikes to break the balance are also used in various techniques further along the Unity Aikido syllabus. The strikes or attacks used by Tori in our videos in response to Uki's attacks are done carefully so as not to injure the Uki but nonetheless they should be effective in thoroughly breaking Uki's balance. One way this can be achieved with safety is if Uki models the movement or balance break which the strikes are designed to create, just slightly ahead of Tori's strike. This also allows Tori to learn smooth movement and thus when really needed the strikes will be embedded in Tori's neuro muscular response and can be applied with great speed in a real self defence situation. 

Modeling the balance breaks is also a way of Uki learning how to slip out of Tori's balance breaks by faster movement so this method of practice bring several benefits of safety and skill. We should always remember the Ju Nana Hon no Kata is for sport and general learning of principles. It needs modification to be effective in self defence.

 #6 Oshi Taoshi - Elbow Push Down 

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 17 Kata Elbow Techniques 6 - 10 

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 17 Kata Wrist and Floating Techniques 11 - 17 

The further aspects of the syllabus are other Katas and freestyle plus weaponry. These practices all use the skills and principles we learn in the 17 Fundamental Kata, the Junana Hon no Kata. Of course there are further developments of our skills and the refinements never end as Unity Aikido is an art form at its highest level. It has been said Unity Aikido is a good foundation for spiritual development. If we really study the fundamental principles in their physical and mental aspects and we realise these principles also have higher spiritual aspects and we try to put these into practice in our lives we will be approaching unity. We were always taught that in Aikido we first find unity and harmony within ourselves, then with others and ultimately, with all life. This is a tremendous program of human development from our basic, selfish, animal self to becoming one who contributes selflessly to the good of the whole and is at peace within themselves. If you read the words of Master Tomiki and Master Kano on the purpose of their respective arts you will find them in accord with this concept.

The Journey never ends

Past Events

Class Times & Fees are on our Welcome page. 
 Aikido Association Inc M/ship required for Sports Liability & Personal Accident insurance cover.                                                         
Sensei Hanifa Leoni Macfarlane 7th Dan UA, 
8th Dan Japan Aikido Association. 0413 425 852

Our demo at the Bream Creek Show
Nicky & Steve Black with Ben Moell & DR Lito in Samurai gear

The team in action; kids juniors & adults having Aikido fun!

Ben doing an Aikido roll over "The Crocodile" onto our crash-mat.
We were a presence at the Bream Creek Show & we all had a great day. The weather was brilliant, the crowds enormous & with good snack food & crafts at the many stall we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Thanks to all the Team & parents who came. 


Ogilvie Girls School is doing a series of classes with us. Their teacher has been walking the girls up to the Dojyo on a weekday for an Aikido experience. We do some basic self defence, like blocking attacks and balance breaking the attacker, keeping balance when pushed or pulled, safe falling and escaping from holds. We also have a play with the soft swords which gives us the chance for quite a bit of fun and the moves are good for self defence.
One of the girls, Brooke, really took to Aikido, is blessed with a natural gift of movement and is coming to our regular classes as well. Here she is with sensei Joseph. You can see some clips of her progress at this link.

Progress on the Painting preparation.
Adam is the organiser of the Maintenance team & he's doing most of the work, too. The 'No more gaps work is nearly complete so with the new ENORMOUS gas heater and no gaps the dojo is more & more comfortable. Thanks Adam & the team of helpers. Special thanks to Ben's Dad Rob for his professional painting work recently on the doors & window frames. It makes such a difference. Your Dojyo is becoming more beautiful as well as functional.

Sensei Christine's ladies Self Defence on Tuesday evening at 6.30pm - 8pm is progressing and welcomes new members.
Sensei James's Men's Function Fitness Thursday pm uses martial skills to acquire fitness & flex.

The Crash Mats bought with our equipment grant from the Glenorchy City Council have been ordered and paid and we will pick them up as soon as they are available. Thanks a lot City of Glenorchy.

May News: visiting sensei, market postponed to Spring

We had a great visit from Aikido sensei Julius Aib & one of his senior lady students, Irene Metter. Thanks for coming.
Sensei Julius teaches Aikido in Melbourne. He has studied many styles and now formed his own school incorporating Yoga. He was a former student of sensei John Gay. He visited us for the opening & took some great pics which he kindly gave us for our publicity.
We trained together at the Dojyo on Saturday, shared lunch and did a pre-paint working bee which they helped us with. Thanks so much. We just received some excellent photos from Julius of our garden and some of us at the end of training. We liked these.

We need lavender cuttings for the front garden, please!


Kids & Parents 10-11 Saturday.
Samurai kids: Monday & Wednesday 3.30-4.30, Saturday 10-11am,
older Kids may extend to 11.30am
Juniors/Teens: 4.30-5.30 Monday & Wednesday, Saturday 11-1pm
Home-schooled Juniors can also attend 10am-12noon Mon & Wed.
Adults: Monday & Wednesday 10am-12noon, 6.30-8.30pm,
Saturday 11am-1pm
Mature Age Adults: Tuesday 6-7pm.
Women's Self Defence Tuesday 6.30-8pm.
Men's Functional Fitness Thursday 7-8.30pm.

Next Craft Market fundraiser Sat. May 16 or 23nd To be decided soon!

Contact sensei Hanifa 0413 425 852 for stall bookings. $20 per stall from 9am-3pm. Set up by 8.30am. Supply own trestle or table. Inside and outside places available.

April showers, garden & Dojyo growing well! Saturday morning Kids & Parents class booming.

April is here and the winter rains have fallen early, so trees in our garden are growing abundantly. Soon, when sipping coffee in the Japanese front garden, we won't be able to see the mountain for birch leaves; until they fall!
Women's Self Defence night [Tues. 6.30-8pm] with sensei Christine Benbow, 2nd Dan U.A. is building up as the word gets around about what a good class it is.
Thanks to all the coffee drinkers etc & generous doners.
We made our monthly TARGETS!!!
MAY 23 likely next Fundraising Market
Great news from the fund-raising pole. We reached our $500 per month target on average through Jan. Feb. & March. We are buying our building for ourselves and each dollar raised is worth almost $2.50, because we are saving on interest by fund-raising above the regular mortgage payments. Great work all. Keep it up. Dojyo organic coffee $3, instant coffee & tea $2, biscuits 50c.

Dojo open for 2009 on Sat. 3 Jan. Happy New Year

Dojo now reopened. New Times/Days. Tues & Thurs classes move to Mon & Wed. See class times page for details.
New Master Class for older adults with sensei James Carolan 2nd Dan, Thurs 6.30-7.30pm starts Jan. 8 '09.