Ellis School of Traditional Aikido

Overview of the methods and techniques of Aikido.

Aikido is a Martial Art that includes a large repertoire of techniques. These techniques once thoroughly mastered can be adjusted, adapted and combined to make up thousands of possible techniques.

When Aikido is practiced, it is usual for two practitioners to adopt roles of attacker and defender. The attacker is named Uke (Pronounced oo-Key); the defender is called Nage (Nah-Gee) and can also be called Tori (A term commonly used in Judo) as well as She-te (Generally only used in Yoshinkan Aikido). Nage defends against Ukes attack, which depending on experience can consist of anything from a preset and pre-known attack to a random unknown attacks. These are intended to both optimize the learning process, as well as genuinely test the effectiveness of technique.

The Ellis School uses the teaching methods introduced into the UK by Noro Sensei. This is known as the Forms method, where each attack/grasp etc. is called a form.
For example a straight punch is known as 7th form. Although the school teaches in this way, the actual application of technique is the result of a combination of the various Masters who have taught both Henry Ellis Sensei and Derek Eastman Sensei. All of the various early Masters of Aikido had differing approaches. The key Master who defines the techniques and methods used by the Ellis School is Kenshiro Abbe Sensei, the UK's first Aikido teacher. These methods incorporated the use of technique against a strong Uke so that technique can be properly understood. This approach is often frowned upon in modern Aikido, but this school feels that to be genuinely effective, this method is essential.


For the sake of explanation to the new reader, the teaching of Aikido can be grouped into several areas (In reality these areas cross over).

1. Standing techniques (Tachi-Waza).

Shihonage variation
A variant on the Shihonage technique.

These include techniques against an unarmed Uke, who grabs, strikes or otherwise tries to subdue Nage.
These can further be sub-grouped into Throwing techniques (Nage-Waza),
Control techniques (Katame Waza) involving locks and pins
and Striking techniques (Atemi) involving blows to vulnerable parts of the body.

immobilisation variant
Immobilisation variant, following a Kaitenage technique.

2. Ukemi

- The ability to safely receive a technique is the art of Ukemi.

This is principally experienced by breakfalling out of a throw, but can also be seen in receiving locks and control techniques in a way that both enables the attacker to apply the technique correctly, without Uke receiving undue injury.
Ukemi can also be adapted for use in escape and counter techniques. Fifty percent of your Aikido practice will involve having techniques applied to you; so appreciation of this area is essential.
When first learning Aikido, Ukemi should be the most intensively covered area.

3. Kneeling techniques. (Suwari-Waza)

These were a traditional training method in traditional Aikido from the earliest days. Performed with the practitioners seated in seiza, the traditional Japanese kneeling position.
Here the same technique repertoire as Tachiwaza would be practiced, but from the seiza position.
From a practical point of view, it is unlikely that such techniques would be used today in a real confrontation.
However, the practice of kneeling techniques do force the practitioner to use hip movement correctly and this is where the core of physical power in technique is generated.
These techniques can also be adapted into sitting techniques on chairs, or other situations where Uke's mobility is restricted. This is important as real confrontational situations often do not happen in an environment with the space and freedom of movement offered in a Dojo.

4. Weaponry. (The practice and use of traditional Japanese weapons)

- including:

Jo (Short Staff) This is an Oak staff approximately 5ft long.
Bo (long Staff) This is an Oak staff approximately 6ft long (or longer).
Tanto (Knife) Traditional Japanese knife, but also other knifes.
Bo-ken (Wooden Sword) This is an Oak sword, used for practice and training.
Shinai (Bamboo Sword) This is a Bamboo sword, as used in Kendo. Used to reduce injury during full-on attacks.
Kenjitsu (Live bladed swords, Katana etc.) - Used for Kata (pre-set forms).

Jo randori
Jo Randori (free practice using Jo staff).

5. Empty hand vs Weapons technique.

A repertoire of techniques for an unarmed defender against knife, staff, sword etc. is practiced in Aikido.

6. An appreciation of other Martial Arts.

When Aikido was being taught at the Hut in the early days, practitioners would often cross train in other arts such as Judo, Kendo, Karate etc.
Sensei Ellis and Eastman both practiced this way under some of the finest teachers available.
So classes within the Ellis School will occasionally teach methods from other disciplines.
This would not normally be expected in other Aikido dojos.

Andy Lyon - Ellis School of Traditional Aikido.