Aikido, Iron Balls and Elbow Power

Aikido, Iron Balls and Elbow Power

The Teachings of Alex Essani

Front cover

ISBN 978-0-9538848-4-1

220 pp.

Size 132mm X 197mm

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About the book

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Alex Essani, the Aikido teacher and practitioner, whose thoughts about the practice of Aikido are expressed in this book, does not actually exist – he is a fictitious character invented by the author as a means of exploring ideas.

However, the training philosophy and methods attributed to Alex Essani are definitely not fictitious: they are based on the author’s personal experiences with real Aikido instructors, in particular his current sensei, and on many years of practising, studying and teaching Aikido. The conversations between the two main characters, Alex Essani and his student Ian, are inventions used to illustrate an important principle or concept. As the author’s real Aikido teacher would put it after telling a tall story, “This is a true story; only the facts have been changed”; insofar as the author has fictionalised real incidents and conversations, this book is the same – it is fiction based on fact.

In this second edition of the book formerly entitled “Iron Balls and Elbow Power”, the author has revised or extended many of the original chapters, and added seventeen new chapters and a completely new Part 3 which describes a range of commonly practised Aikido techniques.


PART 1: The system


Inner harmony

Continuity of consciousness


Etiquette and attention to detail


Ki contact


Tori fune


Higi-ki, elbow power

Non–judgemental observation

Soto gawa and uchi gawa

Junbi taiso

Suwari waza and hanmi-handachi waza

Heavy weapons


Make it look easy



Unbendable arm

Iron ball exercises

The Happy Buddha exercise


Centrifugal force

Push hands

One hand push

Hand and elbow push

Two hands push

Aikido and health

PART 2: Master classes

Flying Lessons

Unbendable arms and iron balls

Iron rings8

Mind Moves


More ego

Altered states

Old Clothes




Oyo Henka Waza



The ancient art of Li Ning

If it moves, hit it

Aikido in daily life

Benefiting from loss

The attack

Hiding intent

Don’t change

Posture again

Yubi waza

Jo waza

Training aids

Kashima-Shinryû kenjutsu


One Movement

Other teachers

Dancing with strangers

The grading system

Suwari waza kokyu ho

Grabs and kicks

Russian dolls

PART 3: Practice

Recommendations for dojo practice

Kokyu ho/suwari waza/ryote dori

Kokyu nage/katate dori (gyaku-hanmi)

Ikkyo/katate-dori (ai-hanmi)

Ikkyo/katate-dori (gyaku hanmi)

Ikkyo/hanmi-handachi (shomen-uchi)

Ikkyo (shomen uchi)

Nikyo/katate-dori (ai-hanmi)

Sankyo/katate-dori (gyaku-hanmi)

Sankyo/katate-dori (ai-hanmi)

Yonkyo/katate-dori (ai-hanmi)

Irimi nage/katate-dori (ai-hanmi)

Shiho nage/katate-dori (gyaku-hanmi)

Shiho nage (yokomen uchi)

Kote gaeshi/katate-dori (ai-hanmi)

Tenchi nage/katate-dori (gyaku-hanmi)

Kaiten nage(soto)/katate-dori (gyaku-hanmi)

Kaiten nage(uchi)/katate-dori (gyaku-hanmi)

Sumi otoshi/katate-dori (gyaku-hanmi)

Koshi nage/katate-dori (ai-hanmi)