Oyo Waza and Henka Waza

Morihiro Saito Sensei demonstrates Nikyo

Questions regarding the difference between Oyo Waza and Henka Waza are frequent, so it is important to define these concepts clearly to avoid any confusion. Before we begin, it is necessary to define two terms: Tori is defined as the person who is executing or performing the technique, while Uke is defined as the person who is receiving the technique, or the “attacker”.

Kihon Waza is the “basic technique”; the pure form executed when you receive an attack, or when you are being grabbed firmly. The Founder recommended that this level – Kotai – be studied intensely until Sandan (3rd dan or 3rd degree black belt). In Kihon Waza no variation either in the execution or direction of the technique is permitted.

Ki No Nagare Waza includes all the “flowing techniques”, or techniques executed in motion. Tori blends with his partner’s attack or grab and executes the controlling or throwing technique without interruption till the end. There are different and increasing levels of Ki No Nagare Waza for each series of techniques. The Founder recommended beginning the practice of Ki No Nagare Waza only from Sandan onwards.

Oyo Waza literally means “techniques of application”, that is to say when you are grabbed or attacked in a particular or disadvantageous way, or by a very strong opponent, or by a taller or shorter opponent, you are required to “adapt” the basic technique without significant variations.

Henka Waza means “techniques of variation”. In this series, which are considered advanced techniques and should only be practiced once the basic techniques (Kihon Waza) and the flowing techniques (Ki No Nagare Waza) have been consolidated very well, it is possible to recognize the main principle of the basic techniques from which they are derived, but the execution is either completely or slightly different.

Kanren Waza is comprised of a series of “linked techniques”. This means, for example, that while Tori is executing a basic technique, the situation changes, Uke reacts in an unanticipated way, or falls and then gets up again; Tori now has to continue by applying another technique. During the execution it is possible to link more than two techniques together.

Kaeshi Waza literally means “techniques of reaction or of response”. The Founder considered these techniques to be secret (Himitsu Waza), not to be shown in public and to be taught only to a few, very trusted students toward the end of their training life. This tradition, not only typical of Aikido, is derived from the fact that a Master, even if highly skilled, could run the risk of encountering an opponent of superior skill, or may encounter one of the most painful conditions: confronting one of his own deshi (students). This series of very special techniques represented the last chance to win and survive. Usually, Kaeshi Waza are applied when the opponent makes a mistake or if he hesitates and, if executed in a proper way, they do not allow a further reaction from Uke.

It is recommended that students keep these distinctions clearly in mind and avoid mixing them up in order to strictly preserve the tradition of Aikido.

By Paolo Corallini Shihan – Copyright © Takemusu Aikido Association Italy.

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.