Shomen Uchi Undo.

This exercise helps increase your feeling of one-point and relaxation. It doesn't look like much, but it can be used to develop great power.

Double click the black & white picture above to play a video of Shomen Uchi Undo, single click to stop. If the mini-video didn't download automatically, you can get it while you're reading. It's only 50 K.
(Get the most recent Quicktime plug-in for best performance.)

How to do it.
Stand with your left foot forward, and your arms at your sides. Keep your hips and shoulders square to the front.
Smoothly move your hips forward, using them to throw your arms up in the air.
Let your arms drop back to your sides.
Move your hips back to their starting position. Repeat steps 2-5 a number of times, then switch sides.
  • Here's a way to get the feeling of using your hips. Stand with your left foot forward, arms at your sides, and feel very relaxed and loose. Move your hips forward and back repeatedly so as to get your arms swinging forward and back, too. Use your hips to swing your arms all the way up as you saw in this exercise.
  • You're only moving air! So don't work hard. The surprise in aikido is that power doesn't come from muscle, it comes from relaxation and positive thinking. So don't tense up.
  • Remember your posture. Keep both feet on the ground, most of the weight on the balls of your feet, and your heels lightly touching the ground.
  • Look forward. Feel as though you have something in each hand (like a shoe) that you are throwing across the room.
  • Keep One-Point. This is where true power comes from. Feel as though your hands are attached to one-point by a short string, and you must move one-point forward with enough force to propel your hands into the air and break the string.
  • If you have a friend handy, try this test. When you have thrown your arms into the air, keep them there for a moment and have your friend put her right hand under your right elbow and gently lift. Keep one-point (concentrate on your lower abdomen, but without putting your strength there), keep your mind forward, and your arm won't go up. Get stiff, or think too much about the person who's lifting, and your arm will go up.
  • When you've gotten pretty good at that, try this: With your friend still lifting your elbow, drop your arms down to your side. Don't work hard. Just smoothly move your arms down as though a gnat (okay, a fairly strong gnat) was doing the lifting.
  • Just catch a good rhythm and enjoy. Don't try to incorporate all of these ideas at once. When you're doing it right, all of these thoughts will pretty much go away, and the exercise will just feel good.
  • By the way, that's pretty much the point of all these ki exercises: Helping you to catch a good feeling. I do them every morning. Not because I think they will help me develop a greater feeling a mind/body coordination some day. But because they help me to feel better immediately.
  • Let your hands open on the way up. Close them into light fists (starting with the pinky) on the way down.
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