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Moving into Kamae

Exercise - Aikido - Beginner - White Belt


Training exercise for developing strong basic stance (called Kamae). 


  1. Stand at Attention
    • Heels together, feet 90 degrees apart
    • Good posture, head upright
    • Arms relaxed at the sides
  2. Move forward into Kamae
    • Let your weight rock forward over the toes until balance would be lost
    • Slide the front foot forward using Suriashi
    • Bring the back foot up if needed to correct distance
  3. Hold Kamae
    • 20-30 seconds
    • Run through mental checklist (see below) from the ground to the finger tips
  4. Move back to standing
    • Begin by relaxing the front knee forward and down
    • Slide the back foot backwards first using Suriashi
    • Come back to your original standing at attention position
  5. Repeat moving into kamae with the other leg forward (lef and right)

Mental Checklist

The checklist, from the ground up through the body:

  • Feet
    • Each angled about 45 degrees from the midline, and roughly 90 degrees apart
    • Heel and "blade of the foot" flat, toes gently gripping
    • The front foot is one pace ahead of the rear (stance width such that if you drop down to your back knee, the knee comes to midway across front foot arch).
  • Front leg
    • Knee bent, soft & relaxed, springy
    • Bent far enough that you can't see your big toe
  • Back leg
    • Straight, solid, conducting force along it into the ground
  • Weight distribution
    • 60-40 to 70-30 as needed
  • Hips
    • Squared (perpendicular to the midline), with a strong "back" hip
  • Torso
    • Aligned with the back leg, such that the whole body has a forward-inclined, gently-curved shape
    • Not totally upright (with too strong a bend in the low back) but also not canted forward with a bend at the hip
  • Shoulders
    • Down and relaxed
  • Head
    • Upright, chin in
    • Eyes open, calmly taking in the big picture, wide focus
  • Arms
    • Out in front of you in a mock sword-wielding stance
    • The higher hand corresponds to the lead leg, the lower hand the back leg
    • The high hand is at the level of the sternum, the low hand at the level of the "hara" or center of gravity (around or just below the belly button or dogi belt knot).
  • Elbows
    • Very slight bend, giving the arms a gentle curve - the same curve that appears when the arms are relaxed at a person's side
    • Down and in
    • Gently pressing in on the midline (tight lats - latissimus dorsi)
  • Hands & Fingers
    • Fingers spread, with engergy projected out into the hands
    • Both ring fingers parallel to the floor (lower / "back" hand is cocked back further at the wrist)
    • Palms on the midline plane

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