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Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor


Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor


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by Cheryl Matrasko

AIKIDO: Principles of Kata and Randori
by Nick Lowry

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Nick Lowry's book is not only a training manual of Aikido, but is also an exploration and adventure into the basic understanding of Aikido, its discipline and it's training. His emphasis is on Fugakukai Aikido, a branch of Tomiki Aikido.

He starts out, explaining Aikido and it's origins, Kenji Tomiki and Tomiki-Ryu, and the branching of Fugakukai Aikido with the leadership and instruction of Karl Geis. 

We are introduced to Ri, the principles of Aikido: posture, Taisabaki (movement off the line of attack), Ma-ai (proper distance), Kuzushi (breaking balance), Kake (attacking a weak or off balanced positioning), Tsukuri (aiki blending movement of both uke and tori), etc. These principles are expanded upon and explained quite well for the beginner and for the advanced student.

For the Katas, he introduces several:
Each of the illustrated kata sets are a series of different movements used in Aikido training that develop and sharpen movements used in techniques and randori.   

  • Tegatana no Kata (Walking katas) develops footwork, hand positioning and other body movements.
  • Hanasu no Kata (8 forms of release) implements use of evasion and breaking the uke's balance for throwing.
  • Ju Nana Hon Kata (17 kata of basic throws and control techniques) is the foundation for which randori skills will be based upon. The techniques in this kata are derived from the Koryu (traditional and old-style moves) that were used previously for more realistic randori training.
  • Owaza Ju Pon (Ten defensive throws) is very dynamic and uses much momentum. Lowry points out that the characteristic of these katas are that they appear wheel- like, in action.

Tomiki and Fugakukai Aikido, randori is heavily emphasized in everyday training, for effective Aikido technique. While randori is a perfunctory part of Aikido practice - not only to control your attackers, you are also learning to control yourself. It is the manner in which the uke and tori perform their individual parts that is paramount to randori - in this system. Successful randori can be a thrilling and enriching workout. In his book, Nick Lowry shows different points to pay attention to in randori practice and suggests drills and exercises to enhance the training.

In addition, while he takes some of the usual approaches to discuss Aikido and its origins, he is very honest and respectful to explain to the reader that there are different interpretations of Aikido. 

Later, we find Lowery discussing several subjects such as: the role development of the student and the instructor,  Aikido and Spirituality.

At the end of the book we find a listing of the Higher kata forms of Koryu, a short chronological biography of Kenji Tomiki, and a glossary of Aikido terminology.

This book is good technically in illustrating some of the more subtle techniques of Aikido, and the budo aspect of Aikido in randori. Much of the Kenji Tomiki's earlier traditional training under founder, Morihei Ueshiba, prior to WWII can be observed in the techniques and in the terminologies used. Most Aikidoists, with over 30 years of experience will appreciate and remember fondly some of the older and more familiar techniques, as well as the original terminology used here. I know, I do.

Overall, Nick's book is an excellent manual for the introducing beginners to Aikido concepts and structure.It  also makes good reference material for those serious Aikidoists that need more education into the roots of Aikido.   

Nick Lowry is the Chief Instructor of the Windsong Dojo, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He holds the following ranks: rokudan (6th dan) in Fukakugai Aikido, godan (5th dan) in Judo, and rokudan in Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo.  


Special permission to extract the various graphics, pictures, AIKIDO: Principles of Kata and Randori, was given by Nick Lowry for this review.


Aikido: Principles of Kata and Randori

by Nick Lowery, 6th Dan

1999, C. A. Matrasko. All rights reserved

Cheryl Matrasko is a Network Analyst for the department of Networking and Communications at a prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the LAN Administrator for Northwestern University Medical School - Department of OB/GYN, and assistant LAN Administrator to the previous MIS of the School of Law. She started Aikido in 1965, studying under Isao Takahashi as her first instructor. She enjoyed working out under many well known Aikido instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei and thereafter following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors in Northern Shaolin Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu. Currently, she is instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus, Associate Instructor at NorthShore Aikido in Skokie, and supporting Aikido World Journal.

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Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
(C. Matrasko as uke)
1978 C. Matrasko

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