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GEORGIAN COMPETITIVE AIKIDO ASSOCIATION
Exercises - Hand Movements (Tegatana Dousa)

The arm/hand movements form the basis of many techniques in Aikido. Since many of the Aikido movements are descended from japanese sword techniques, when practicing these movements you are actually practicing sword strikes. Your hand should form a 'tegatana', (literally 'Hand Sword') and you should perform the movements as if you had a sword.

At all times you should have a stable posture and during most strikes hips should be straight, facing forward. Strikes are performed against an imaginary target of the same height as yourself. The movements should be performed with feeling and speed: these are not dance moves; they are practice moves for real attacks. Many of the movements are used in techniques.

Once the basic movements are learnt, the whole sequence is performed as one continuous set of moves (kata). Each set is demonstrated twice and then move straight on to the next set, without missing a beat. Don't worry! it is pretty hard to get all of these right, and it takes a lot of practice. There's an awful lot to think about at first and a lot of positioning to learn!. It's also a lot harder to read than it is to do it, as it is difficult to describe.
Set 1 - Strikes to top of the head (Shoumen Uchi)

This exercise consists of a strike straight down to the forehead. Keep the tegatana along the centreline of your body and your hips at right angles to the centreline.

1. With your left hand, raise it to directly over your head. Move forward with your left foot first using unsoku and cut downwards to the imaginary opponent's forehead.
2. Withdraw, moving back and withdraw your hand down to near your belt.
3. Move in, left foot forward, and strike inwards and upwards underneath the chin.
4. Withdraw, moving back and withdraw your hand down to near your belt. Note that you are also changing posture for the next move, so try and end with your feet together (as in the unsoku exercises)
5. Change to your right hand, raise it to directly over your head. Move forward with your right foot first and strike to the forehead (i.e. a mirror image of step 1).
6-8. These are mirror images of steps 2, 3 and 4, with the right hand attacking.

Note that steps 2-4 and 6-8 should be 'arcs' rather than straight lines - e.g. for step 3, start by pushing your hand towards your opponent's belt, then curve upwards to strike under the chin.


Set 2 - Side strikes to the temple (Yokomen-uchi)

This exercise consists of strikes to the temple. This needs particular attention - during the withdrawals each strike, you should end up with the back of your hand touching your head. This will ensure that if you do hold a sword and make the same movements, you don't attempt to pass the sword through your own body to strike the opponent!
This exercise consists of a strike straight down to the forehead. Keep the tegatana along the centreline of your body and your hips at right angles to the centreline.

1. With your left hand, raise it to directly over your head. Move forward with your left foot first using unsoku and strike in a wide arc rightwards to your opponent's left temple (i.e. from your perspective on your right hand side, cutting towards your left.).
2. Withdraw, moving back and withdraw your hand down to above your head, with the back of your hand just touching your head.
3. Move in, left foot forward, and strike in a left-hand arc to the right temple.
4. Withdraw, moving back. Note that you again change posture for the next move, so try and end with your feet together.
5. Change to your right hand, raise it to directly over your head. Move forward with your right foot first and strike towards the right temple.
6-8. These are mirror images of steps 2, 3 and 4, with the right hand attacking.

Note that steps 2-4 and 6-8 should be 'arcs' rather than straight lines - e.g. for step 3, start by pushing your hand towards your opponent's belt, then curve upwards to strike under the chin.


Set 3

This exercise consists of strikes to the chest/armpit area (Armour was weaker in that area because of the joints to allow free arm movement). These strikes curve inwards and forwards, describing the path of a spiral. These are much clearer when demonstrated.

1. Move forward with your left foot first, and strike with your left hand in a curving arc forwards from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock clockwise.
2. Withdraw, reversing the move.
3. Move in, left foot forward, and strike in a curving arc forwards from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock counter-clockwise. Note that the back of your hand follows the circle (palm down at start to palm facing up at end).
4. Withdraw, reversing the move. End with your feet level.
5. Change to your right hand, move forward with your right foot first, and strike in a curving arc forwards from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock counter-clockwise.
6. Withdraw, reversing the move.
7. Move in, right foot forward, and strike in a curving arc forwards from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock clockwise. Note that the back of your hand follows the circle.
8. Withdraw, reversing the move. End with your feet level.


Set 4

This exercise consists of strikes to an opponent to your immediate left or right. The cuts are performed during moves 2, 3, 6 and 7 rather than the strike/withdraw rhythm of the previous exercises.

1. Move your right foot forwards and a little left so it is in line with your left foot. Extend your left hand forwards and up, palm uppermost.
2. Without moving your feet, swivel on the balls of your feet and rotate your body left to face behind you, so you have rotated a full half-turn. You should still be in a stable position. Simultaneously, flip your left hand over and cut downwards and back in a long sweeping arc. Your thumb should almost touch below your belt knot. The arc continues all the way backwards and upwards to the horizontal, ending in a one-handed 'gasho' praying position. In the middle of this sweep, this movement is cutting an opponent to your left, around his belt.
3. Swivel on the balls of your feet and rotate right until you face forwards again. Simultaneously, flip your left hand over again, palm uppermost, and cut horizontally at belt level back towards the front, ending in position after step 1.
4. Drop your left hand and move back to your neutral position, feet level.
5-8. Mirror steps 1-4 and cut with the right hand, left leg forward, turning to the right.


Set 5

This exercise consists of strikes to an opponent behind you, and the movements for iai (drawing and cutting with the sword). This is one of the most difficult to get right, as there is a lot of movement in steps 2 and 4.

1. Move your right foot forwards and left so it is in front of your left foot (as in set 4). Move your left hand to over your head.
2. Rotate left on the balls of your feet to face behind you (as in step 4), then immediately cut downwards with shomen uchi (overhead strike to the forehead) towards an opponent who was behind you, and move your left foot back until it is level with your right foot.
3. Move your left foot forwards and right so it is back in the same position as it started. Swap hands and move your right hand to over your head.
4. Rotate right on the balls of your feet to face forwards again, and cut downwards with shomen uchi towards an opponent in front of you, and move your right foot back into the neutral starting position.
5. Step diagonally back with your right foot and move your left hand to your right hip.
6. Cut up, over and down in a large circle towards a forward opponent. The back of your hand should be higher than your head at the top of the circle.
7. Step diagonally back with your left foot and move your right hand to your left hip.
8. Cut up, over and down in a circle towards a forward opponent with your right hand.

Note that steps 2-4 and 6-8 should be 'arcs' rather than straight lines - e.g. for step 3, start by pushing your hand towards your opponent's belt, then curve upwards to strike under the chin.


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