One starts learning aikido techniques with a partner from the very beginning. This is a very good way to start because in this way human relationship becomes as important as the technique itself. Other martial arts start learning techniques disregarding the human relationship. When one only wants to practise techniques, one practises by oneself or with material. There was a great champion of Judo before the Second World War in Japan who practised Judo techniques against a tree. Many Chinese Kunfu masters practised their techniques against wooden doll or board. Another way of technical practise without human relationship is to practise a technique with a partner who does not react at all. This way one’s partner is acting like a material. In sports one often practises techniques against a partner who resists but then again there is almost no human relationship when one’s partner tries to resist all the time.
Practising techniques without human relationship might make oneself to behave like a weapon or a robot. Unconsciously one considers that one should use a technique to fight just like a man who uses a gun to fight or a government who uses the army or secret service to win a war. If one applies a material weapon on human life, this material weapon determines the destiny of human beings. This will lead to the destruction of humanity and human lives. The way of aikido practise maintains the humanity as basis of the world.
Most martial arts or sport starts by practise of techniques by oneself. If it is difficult to practise alone, one uses one’s partner like a doll. They sometimes use a material like a punch ball or a dummy as their partner. So they treat their partner like a material and there is no human relationship between them. However, it is impossible to practise aikido techniques against any materials as a partner. Aikido starts from the beginning with a practise of a couple and so one faces the difficulty of human relationship immediately and learns how to deal with it. Aikido techniques are not made to apply against materials but are a part of human relationships in real life. This is called Kumiwaza. Kumi in Japanese means a couple and waza means techniques. So aikido training starts with Kumiwaza. It means a practise of two human beings with human relationships.
In order to learn precise movements, it is convenient to practise the movements by oneself. This is called Hitoriwaza. Hitori means alone. Hitoriwaza can be used as a help to Kumiwaza. You can practise Hitoriwaza with a partner if your partner helps you. Practise of Hitoriwaza with a partner without human relationship is not Kumiwaza. Just like family life, there are many changes in human relationships and one must continue to live each situation. Kumiwaza is a practise of techniques in different situations of human relationship of a couple. When there is no real relationship, a technique becomes Hitoriwaza. It is like sitting alone time to time is helpful to your family life. There are aikido exercises and health exercises as predetermined sets of Hitoriwazas.
After one has learned many Kumiwaza, one should learn how to perform different techniques one after another. This way of practise makes one understand the relationship and meaning of techniques. It is possible to create groups of techniques in order to practise this way. This is called Tsuzukiwaza. Tsuzuki means continuity and Waza means techniques. Techniques in one group should create a harmonious continuity. Some of them became a part of aikido practise since 1975 and now it is time to update them. First the name is updated to Tsuzukiwaza. They should be harmonious and easy to remember. I have already made 33 harmonious Tsuzukiwazas but it is always possible to develop more Tsuzukiwazas. It is also possible to modify each Tsuzukiwaza in order to make it more harmonious or easier to perform.
After practise of Kumiwaza and Tsuzukiwaza with the help of Hitoriwaza, one can achieve a high technical standard of aikido. This is the standard of 3rd dan. Then all techniques become just one movement and one understands that all movements are connected with the whole universe. One can unify Kumiwaza and Tsuzukiwaza with one’s life. Then one can perform all movements alone in relationship with the universe. This again becomes Hitoriwaza. That is why there is Hitoriwaza in 4th dan examination.
The order of performing Tsuzukiwaza can change as long as it is harmonious. It is same with aikido examination. There are several techniques that an examinee should perform continuously so it is like one Tsuzukiwaza. In that case the examiner can create a harmonious order so that the examinee can perform the techniques better. The order in the examination criteria is just one example. Each examiner is free to create an order that is harmonious and helpful for the examinee.