Happo Giri

O-Sensei in Iwama with Aiki-ken

O-Sensei in Iwama with Aiki-ken

Happo-giri (ha: eight; po: direction; giri: cut) means an eight-directional cut with the sword (Aiki-ken). Imagine you are performing the happo-giri movements over the centre of an imaginary compass on the ground and your shomen-uchi strikes are executed towards an imaginary opponent standing at each of the 8 cardinal points. The purpose of the exercise is to teach you to move freely and quickly in all 8 directions, maintaing stability and low centre of gravity with the hips. Avoid bouncing up-and-down when you move or change direction and try to maintain your position over the centre of the imaginary compass on the ground, without shifting off-centre in any direction.

Starting in shizen-tai, perform a standing rei (bow) and say the name of the series outloud: “happo-giri”. The movement to draw the ken is called nuki-tsuke in Japanese. Grab the handle below the tsuba with the right hand and at the same time advance with the right foot, moving into ken-no-kamae-migi, in which the left hand grabs the ken at the end of the handle (tsuka), while the right hand grabs above, just below the tsuba; the feet are in migi-hanmi (right foot forward). The end of the sword handle, or hilt (called the tsuka-kashira) is in front of your hara, while the tip (kissaki) is pointed at an imaginary opponent’s throat in front of you.

No. Movement
1 The first shomen-uchi cut is executed directly on the line to the north with kiai, as in the first ken suburi.
2 The second shomen-uchi cut is executed by performing a 180° turn with your hips from right to left to face south, keeping the sword above your head as in the fourth ken suburi, ending in ken-no-kamae-hidari, and cutting shomen-uchi directly on the line with kiai.
3 The third shomen-uchi cut is executed by stepping with your left foot 90° to your right, pivoting on the right foot as you turn your body by moving with your hips from left to right, keeping the sword above your head to face east, ending up in ken-no-kamae-migi, cutting shomen-uchi directly on the line.
4 The fourth shomen-uchi cut is executed by performing a 180° turn with your hips from right to left to face west, keeping the sword above your head, ending in ken-no-kamae-hidari, and cutting shomen-uchi directly on the line with kiai.
5 The fifth shomen-uchi cut is executed by stepping with your left foot 45° to your right, pivoting on the right foot as you turn your body by moving with your hips from left to right, keeping the sword above your head to face south-east, ending up in ken-no-kamae-migi, cutting shomen-uchi directly on the line.
6 The sixth shomen-uchi cut is executed by performing a 180° turn with your hips from right to left to face north-west, keeping the sword above your head, ending in ken-no-kamae-hidari, and cutting shomen-uchi directly on the line with kiai.
7 The seventh shomen-uchi cut is executed by stepping with your left foot 90° to your right, pivoting on the right foot as you turn your body by moving with your hips from left to right, keeping the sword above your head to face south-west, ending up in ken-no-kamae-migi, cutting shomen-uchi directly on the line.
8 The eighth shomen-uchi cut is executed by performing a 180° turn with your hips from right to left to face north-east, keeping the sword above your head, ending in ken-no-kamae-hidari, and cutting shomen-uchi directly on the line with kiai.

To return to your starting position (north), step with your left foot 135° to your right, pivoting on the right foot as you turn your body by moving with your hips from left to right, keeping the sword above your head to face south; then turn with your hips 180° left to right to face north, ending in ken-no-kamae-migi.

The movement to sheath the sword is called noto-tsuke in Japanese. Follow the same movement, but in reverse. From ken-no-kamae-migi, while stepping back with the right foot and aligning it with the left, release the ken with the left hand and with the right bring the ken to your left side with the blade turned up; then, grab the ken in the middle with the left hand and return your right hand to your right side, thereby returning to shizen-tai.

From the shizen-tai position, perform a standing rei (bow) to complete the exercise.

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About Takemusu Aikido South Africa

The Takemusu Aikido Association South Africa (TAASA), formally Iwama Ryu™ South Africa, is a free group of black-belted practitioners of Aikido based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our aim is to promote and spread the traditional teaching method of Morihiro Saito Sensei, direct student of the Founder of Aikido, to all communities in South Africa.