Nikyo is not an easy technique. Some questions were asked about this technique during the trainings in Balerna and at the last seminars. That's why I've put together some information here. Below are quotes from Ratti & Westbrook, by Tohei, by Saito and by Yoshigasaki, who explain nikyo. It is worth trying out the different aspects on the mat and developing your own explanations. With a lot of practice, we can certainly master the complex technique of nikyo.


Taken from: Ratti & Westbrook, Aikido and the dynamic sphere, 1967
"This immobilization is known as nikyo or kote mawashi (wrist twisted outwards) and represents one of the most powerful techniques in the practical repertoire of Aikido, capable of forcing even the strongest people to their knees if applied correctly.
Its functional characteristics consist of a typically twisted position of the opponent's forearm, wrist and hand, which causes intense pain. In fact, while the forearm bent at the elbow is forced to rotate downwards and outwards, the hand is led to rotate inwards, in the opposite direction. The resulting physical pain is concentrated in the wrist and shoulder of the captured arm. The aggressive energy is then twisted on itself in a closed and painful circuit."


Taken from Ratti & Westbrook

"Such a position of Uke's arm can be achieved
1. With a grip based on the use of your hands and shoulder.
2. Or on the use of your hands alone.
3. Or around your wrists and forearms.
All these instrumental applications will result in the identical position of the opponent's arm, similar to the letter "S", and in the reversal of its natural extension, both physical (structural) and functional."

Nikyo is a method to bring Uke under control. According to Yoshigasaki, elbow control is used to control Uke's whole body. This is achieved by twisting Uke's forearm so that Uke loses his freedom of movement. Older forms of Nikyo rely on pain as a powerful control tool.
In Ki Aikido you only go as far as it is reasonable and with a certain amount of practice you can then bring Uke under control with little or no pain.
But let's see what other Aikido teachers say on the subject:

Koichi Tohei - Hitoriwaza

Taken from: Coordination of Mind and Body for Self-defense, 1961

"Imagine that your arm is a short length of water hose, your mind, water and your wrist, a nozzle. If you want to extend your mind through your arm in any dirextion at will, your wrist must be limber yet strong. This is one of the exercises for training the wrists. Stand naturally with shoulders relaxed and your mind concentrated on the one point.
At first you may feel a good deal of pain, but as you continue to exercise, your wrist will become more limber and stronger and there will be no pain.
This nikyo art can often be used to subdue an opponent when he seizes you by your lapel or chest."

Koichi Tohei - Technique

Taken from: Coordination of Mind and Body for Self-defense, 1961

"Nage: Holding Uke’s right forearm with his left hand, pushes tightly with his right hand the back of Uke’s right hand to bring it close to his own left shoulder by leading it with both hands. Then Nage uses his left hand to lead Uke’s arm, grasping it after bending it fully at the wrist. He pushes Uke’s right forearm down as though to split his body down the middle (Photo 87). Uke cannot stand the pain and sits down but Nage then seizes Uke’s right elbow again with his left hand and throw him to the mat. This technique is the same as exercise nikyo undo. In exercising, you usually train yourself. But in the technique, you are trained by your opponent."

"Do not push Uke’s wrist down suddenly. Because this technique is painful to the one on whom it is applied, it is advisable to apply it very gently to beginners. It can be dangerous for Uke if he resists unnecessarily. If the training is taken gradually and the muscles and sinews are stretched and loosened, you not only feel no pain but after the exercises, you naturally feel fine.
Because there is some pain involved in AIKIDO, many students are inclined to think that it might be harmful to the body. On the contrary, it is good for the health. There is no need to worry at all because the wrist is bent only in the natural way that it bends, the elbows are bent only in the direction they naturally bend. Then sinews are tight when not exercised and become painful when first stretched, but when gradually relaxed, there will be no more stiffened shoulders.
One point to remember is that if Uke resists unnecessarily, the force that he exerts boomerangs. Nage and Uke must both so practice as to avoid unnecessary resistance."

Morihiro Saito

Taken from: Aikido, Vol III, 1974

"Grasp your partners hand with your left hand and grasp the back of his hand with your right hand. Lift the back of his hand up to your left lower lapel and twist yourhips an impulse-imparting motion. "Bend his arm in the shape of (Hiragana ku), causing his little finger to turn toward his nose." (KUDEN, oral tradition, mnemonic). For the sake of effectiveness, your right hand, rather than your left hand, had better be implemented in applying the technique."

While Tohei describes the shape of the arm with an S, Saito recalls the character , which is not surprising, given that his book was originally published in Japanese. Other teachers compare the shape of the arm to a Z.
The English version of Saito's text is puzzling. How do I twist Uke's wrist so that his little finger points to his nose? Have a look at the original Japanese text: 相手の腕をくの字に曲がって、相手の小指を鼻の方を向くように (口伝).
"Bend the opponent's arm into the shape of a く so that the opponent's little finger points towards the nose (KUDEN)."
This doesn't talk about Uke's nose. It is obvious that Nage's nose is meant.

Yoshigasaki Sensei - Hitoriwaza

Nikyo Undo
"Close your arms and bend your wrists. You will find the Nikyo form. Push the back of your left hand with your right hand to find the very stable Nikyo form. Do the same with the other hand. You will use this form very often in Aikido techniques and you have to practise so that you can keep it during your techniques. Count four times as you push the back of your hand.
You should be able to keep this hand form as you open and close your arm."

Yoshigasaki Sensei - technique

Katatedori Ryotemochi Nikyo Irimi

Beppe Ruglioni - technique

Katatedori Ryotemochi Nikyo Irimi and Tenshin
3 different speeds:
1. Slow, to show the technique
2. Normal speed, dynamic execution
3. Slow motion, very much slowed down

Michiharu Mori

Yoshinkan Brisbane
The technique is applied here without much ado.
"Of course you can break his arm if you want. Or you can break his neck if you want. You don't have to, of course. But if it's necessary..."
Aikido Yoshinkan was founded by Gozo Shioda (1915-1994) in the years after World War II. It is used by the police in Japan and other countries. More about Mori Sensei, who was uchideshi at Gozo Shioda for 9 years, can be found here. The full video can be found at YT.

Hocke oder Kniestand

A technical feature:
In some of the above examples, Uke merely crouches in a squatting position when nikyo is applied. At Ratti & Westbrook, at Beppe Ruglioni and at Michiharu Mori, Uke has raised the knee closest to Nage. This is the stable position that protects him from being knocked over. As you can see in the video above, there are still ways to torment him or even physically harm him.
The rapid crouching into a squatting position carries the risk that the knee joints receive too much strain. Kneeling down with the correct knee up to the partner requires some practice. With beginners, and partly also in the videos above, one often sees the opposite, obvious normal reaction. You feel the pressure or the impact of the nikyo technique on your shoulder and you immediately fall to the ground with this knee.

Commentary on Yoshinkan Aikido:
Yoshinkan Aikido is generally perceived as very application-oriented, hard and painful Aikido. On the other hand, Mori Sensei writes: "... but Master Shioda Sensei performed his technique so quickly that I hardly felt anything except a small movement, then all the muscles in my body were immediately blocked. It felt like a vibration was going through me and my whole body was controlled by that little old man, although I didn't feel any pain."
Yoshinkan is based on the Aikido that Ueshiba Morihei practiced until World War II. After that, he found the ideas of Omotokyo more important and transformed his Aikido into a practice to reach "higher" goals.
Obviously Mori Sensei masters the techniques perfectly. But he also needs an Uke who can support all this without having breaken his bones right away. Both, Uke and Nage, have a very intensive training behind them.
In Yoshinkan, in the beginning, they practice basic movements for a very long time and no techniques. A video on YT may illustrate this: Kihon Dosa.
Then come the techniques, which are repeated over and over again in the same form. This is the traditional way of training. Mori Sensei describes this very vividly in his report of the 9 years he spent as an Uchideshi at Gozo Shioda.
The original can be found here .