The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Brian Workman of the USA.
Hakaru Mori (8th dan) General Affairs Manager of the Takumakai. Born in 1931. Mori was first taught Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu by Takuma Hisa in 1962. He received Kyoju Dairi certification in 1965 and 8th dan in 1973.
Maison d’or Koraibashi #605
Koraibashi 1-5-4 Higashi-ku
When Hisa Sensei was still in good health, there was a time when he focused on training us very exactingly in a certain katatedori (grab to one hand) aiki technique. When an opponent grabbed our wrist, we were to use only a small wrist movement to cause his attacking arm to straighten like a rod; then from that position, we channeled our power through the palm of his hand to his wrist, elbow and shoulder joints in succession, finally gaining control of his body as a whole. When this technique is applied effectively, the opponent’s elbow is extended so that his entire arm from wrist to shoulder becomes stiff like a rod, preventing him from moving it freely and causing him to float up on his toes.
Because this technique relies on extending the opponent’s elbow as one might extend and flatten, say, a folded piece of paper, we called it “hijinobashi” (elbow extending), or because it is an aiki technique, “hijinobashi aiki.”
It may be said of Daito-ryu that the simpler a technique appears the more difficult it is likely to actually be, and hijinobashi aiki is no exception. At a glance it looks like nothing at all, but one only has to try it to realize how difficult it is to do well. While its outer form can be approximated, making it into an effective technique without having mastered its underlying principle is quite difficult.
After trying and failing with hijinobashi aiki many times, I finally asked Hisa Sensei to show it to me again. As I held onto his wrist, he showed me slowly and in fine detail how it was done, saying “Like this, and this, and this…” for each stage of the movement. Nonetheless, despite my best efforts to focus my attention on what he was doing, and no matter how hard I tried to imitate his movement, I simply could not do it. The best I could muster was to control my opponent’s wrist in some a simplistic way that clearly was not how he had done it, and I found it virtually impossible to make my opponent’s elbow straighten.
I knew I had to be overlooking something, some small detail like the angle of my wrist or some specific way of turning it, but I could never figure out what it was. Not wanting to acknowledge my own lack of skill and development, I even started questioning whether the technique itself might simply have been one that had been stripped of any effective content and somewhere along the line lost actual applicability.
Whenever I thought about hijinobashi aiki I could easily recall both what Hisa Sensei had said about it and the feeling of his wrist and the back of his hand as he applied it, which made it all the more vexing that I couldn’t do it. After a while I just started to forget about it and I stopped trying to figure it out. Then it happened one day, some time after Hisa Sensei’s passing, I had an opportunity to take up the problem once again, and after studying it from a variety of angles, I finally discovered the needed principle that would allow me to do hijinobashi aiki successfully. Once I understood, it all seemed so simple! I realized that the key had been right under my feet all the time.
Even better, I also realized that this new-found principle could be applied to a wide range of situations other than katatedori, so that no matter where my opponent attempted to grab me or my clothing I could use it to do an effective technique without necessarily having to turn his palm up and reverse his wrist in the usual way typically done in jujutsu techniques. No matter what the specific starting position of my opponent’s wrist or hand, I was able to straighten his elbow in an instant by applying just a little force in a particular way, in the process sending a shock to his body that sometimes even penetrated to his very center via his abdominal region. An opponent to whom this technique has been applied suddenly becomes unable to release his grip, finds the power draining out of his attack as he is floated upwards, and becomes subject to control by the will of the person applying the technique.
(The full article is available for subscribers.)