Stances and Basic Body Movements


Hanmi translates directly as half body stance. The front foot faces directly forward while the back foot is in-line and relatively perpendicular. Both feet are evenly weighted and are an appropriate distance apart allowing for easy movement in any direction. The knees are slightly bent with the back straight and shoulders relaxed. Arms are extended with hands open.

Migi hanmi (right half body stance) - The right foot is forward.

Hidari hanmi (left half body stance) - The left foot is forward.

Ai hanmi (matched stance) - Both partners have the same foot forward (right and right or left and left).

Gyaku hanmi (opposite stance) - Partners have the opposite foot forward (right and left or left and right).

Tai Sabaki

Tai Sabaki means body movement. Hanmi is the primary position that tai Sabaki start from and end in. Tai Sabaki are meant to be smooth and powerful with movement being generated from the body's center.

Irimi-1(front foot entry) Sliding the front foot forward allowing the rear foot to follow up.

Irimi-2 (rear foot entry) Stepping forward with the back foot.

Tenkan-1 (Pivoting) Pivoting the body 180° keeping your feet in place but allowing them adjust to the new direction.

Tenkan-2 - (turning) - turn 180 degrees pivoting on the front foot. If your left foot is forward then turn to the left side; if your right foot is forward then turn to your right side.

Tenshin-1 - (rear foot retreat) - retreat by sliding the rear foot back allowing the front foot to follow.

Tenshin-2 - (front foot retreat) - retreat by stepping back with the front foot.


Maai is the distance between partners. It is not a fixed distance but rather an appropriate distance based on the circumstances. Proper maai helps to keep you safe by allowing adequate time to respond to the changing circumstances.

While Seated

Seiza (correct sitting) - Seiza is the term we use to describe the way students sit during aikido class. In the seiza position, your feet are tucked under your seat, your back is straight and your hands are placed on your lap. Seiza also comes with good focus and attention.
Shikko (knee walking) - Shikko is simply moving while on your knees. It can be a little uncomfortable for us Westerners who don't spend a lot of time on our knees but after a short time most beginners find it easy.