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Exercise - Aikido - Beginner - White Belt

"Basic Building Blocks" of Movement: Shuffle - Cross-step - Pivot - Shift


The fourth and final basic building block of movement, the shift, like the Pivot, involves a change in the direction kamae points, by shifting on the balls of both feet. The stance (left side / right side) switches to the opposite side. The movement is the second of two ways to change the center line (change the stance direction or angle), the other being the Pivot. The shift shares several features in common with another basic building block, the Cross-step: both require breaking the kamae connection to the ground, both pass through a moment of 50/50 weight distribution, and as you pass to the opposite side stance, both require taking care to re-form a strong kamae on the new side.

The movement is the central feature of the Hiriki No Yosei Ni (Elbow-power #2) Basic Movement.

Beginners should practice it initially with their hands on their hips, the development of a strong lower body being the priority. When incorporating the upper body, as the stance switches to the opposite side, the hands try to do the least amount of movement possible, and switch which hand is the high hand in time with the movement (e.g. the hands cross at the moment the shift reaches 50/50). Care should be taken with shifting to ensure that the front toe and knee are pointing in the same direction, and a short shuffle may be required on the end of a shift in order to correct the foot position. Avoid torque on the knee which can produce repetetive strain injury over time if practiced the wrong way.


  1. Start in left or right side kamae
  2. Begin by relaxing / softening the front knee, moving the center of gravity forward.
  3. Pivot both feet on the balls of the feet, keeping the feet in place.
  4. Shift the weight 180 degrees across to the other sided stance
    • Shift so that the body passes through a 50/50 weight distribution as the center line passes the 90 degree mark.
    • Keep the weight low
    • Shift fully to the new kamae facing the opposite direction from before, with 60% weight down the new front leg, 40% down the back leg.
    • Bring the (new) back hip strongly square in kamae.
    • A very strong shift may produce a shuffle on the end of it, which can also help adjust foot positions to allow for a full 180 degree shift.
  5. Once in the new position, take a moment to run through the "mental checklist" to ensure a strong stance.
  6. Repeat shifting back and forth several times on each side.


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