Aikido “sumbrada” Practice

There is no “Aikido sumbrada” – or at least there wasn’t …

“Sumbrada” isn’t a Japanese term, but a term and concept borrowed from FMA (Filipino martial arts). While cross-training with some Kali artists back in the early 90’s I encountered “sumbrada” – which loosely translated means “counter-for-counter”. It’s usually practiced in a flowing manner. It can be done with weapons or without, providing high-iteration-count practice that fosters everything from sensitivity and responsiveness to general fitness. It tends to trigger a flow state – which is part of what makes it intense – and intensely fun. My experience with Kali lead me to saying: “Aikido needs some of this”. So, we built some – and wrote this short article to introduce it to Aikidoka.

One of the great things about the concept is that there’s almost no end to the ways it can be implemented to speed-up, intensify, and fun-ify training – on the way to improving students’ ability to deal with dynamic energy and especially as a stepping-stone toward competent randori.

In this first video, Aikido movements are cross-pollinated with sumbrada. This is a standard ushiro tekubitori “attack”, with a standard Aikido escape from that grab. Instead of moving to some terminating method, the “escapee” performs the tekubitori attack back on the first uke. This pattern facilitates high-iteration practice, with a bit of a dynamic feel, leading into naturally-flowing terminations. We show that in other videos…

In this video, we build on the simple foundation of the video above . If the “escapee” does not immediately find a traditional termination, they maintain the flow repeating the tekubitori attack. If they do find a termination handy, they flow into that, after which the pattern is resumed – unless the free-flowing mood facilitates kaishewaza – which you’ll also see in the video. We don’t want this to devolve into a brawl, so consistently return to the foundational pattern to maintain structure in training.


The third video shows a chain of Aikido osae (immobilization) techniques, expressed in the FMA-style “sumbrada” (counter-for-counter) pattern. Partners experience high-iteration, resistive training in a repetitive pattern from which they occasionally break-out – either by completing a termination or by flowing into some other variation or technique.

This is pattern #2 – of a large number of patterns of this type we use to build skills quickly, including specifically the skill of flowing into the “next” technique when one fails or is thwarted – in other words, preparing for how things work IRL. This video includes text and commentary, and is filmed at a slow pace to facilitate other Aikidoka experimenting with the methods.