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First lesson in aikido

April 21st, 2011 by dimpledbrain

Aikido, as we know it, is a defensive martial art (vs offensive martial arts like Muay Thai, fondly known as ‘the science of eight limbs’.) The founder, by the way is Morihei Ueshiba or known as O Sensei (which can be loosely translated to mean the great teacher). In honour of the teacher, a picture of O Sensei is usually placed in the dojo (i.e. training place) where students of aikido gather to train.

Yes, your point is…

One of the first things they teach me when I accidentally joined an aikido class some years back ( mistaken it for kendo class, but anyway that’s another story altogether) is breathing technique. In my mind, it’s arguably the most important thing because we breathe every second of our life.   

How should we breathe besides inhaling and exhaling? Duh?

  • refer to the diagram below. the yellowish area is called tanden in Japanese ( or dantian in Chinese, which roughly means the central point)
  • Tanden (simply because we are now in an aikido class) is the place 2 fingers down from your navel/belly button. (btw, it’s inside. Just like our heart is on the left side of our chest, but inside…)
  • NEVER press your tanden. Not everything should be poked, dear!  
  • In short, we should breathe in to tanden and breathe out of tanden.


How to do it?

  1. Place 2 fingers beneath your belly button. (don’t press your tanden!).
  2. Using your fingers, imagine a small round force field around your tanden.
  3. Breathe in and breathe out to/from your round force field i.e. tanden.
  4. Once you get used to it, you can save your fingers for more meaningful tasks.

If this seems too mysterious then just take it to mean what they teach you in PE classes, i.e.  to breathe with your stomach vs to breathe with your chest!

Class ends, bell rings…

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  • I’d recommend a book called “Hidden in Plain Sight” by Ellis Amdur. It delves into the roots of Morihei Ueshiba’s power, and examines the breathing methods he used.