The aikido technique tenchinage, heaven-earth throw, against different attacks

Tenchinage ("heaven-earth throw") is one of the basic throwing techniques in aikido. The video above shows tenchinage applied against several grip and strike attacks, both from a static position (gotai) and in movement (jutai). Explanations below.

       Tenchinage is one of the basic throws in aikido, exercised a lot in many dojos. The most common application is on the attack ryotedori, when both wrists are grabbed, but the throw can be done against just about any attack.

       I mostly show tenchinage rather slowly for clarity, usually gotai (from a static starting point). But there is also some jutai (moving as the attack approaches). In most cases, there is little difference between gotai and jutai versions of tenchinage, except the timing.

Heaven-earth throw

Tenchinage means “heaven-earth throw,” which refers to the arm movements in the technique — one arm goes up and the other goes down. At the end of the throw the arms tend to move towards the middle, behind the attacker.

       The arm that goes down gets the attacker out of balance, while the arm that goes up completes the throw in a manner similar to that in iriminage. But the extension of the lower arm is also instrumental in the throw. It is even possible to do the throw with just the lower arm, although that is not recommendable. Using both arms makes the technique more reliable.

       Tenchinage is a popular technique among aikido practitioners. There is a swiftness to it, and it can be done rather fast. It's not uncommon to do the throw so that it leads to a high forward fall (mae ukemi), but mostly I prefer to make it a backward fall (ushiro ukemi). It increases control of the attacker, and the throw can be adapted to the attacker's falling skills.

Strikes vs. grabs

When the attack is a strike, there is no gotai version (from a static position). You need to initiate before the attack reaches, which is jutai. The timing must be such that you grab and lead the attacking arm before the attack is completed and the attacker stops. Otherwise, you may miss it if the arm is pulled back for a new attack.

       On grip attacks, both gotai and jutai are possible. It's good to practice both. If you only practice jutai, you may get stuck if the attacker succeeds to grab you. If you only practice gotai, you will have difficulty learning the timing of the tenchinage throw.

       There is little difference between the gotai and jutai versions of tenchinage, except for the beginning. In both you start by the taisabaki evasive move to avoid collision. Don't just step right in towards the attacker, even if you think you can manage. With some attackers you probably can't, and in any case collision is not the aiki solution.

Omote and ura

Tenchinage can be done both omote and ura. In the former, you step in directly to the side of the attacker, whereas in the latter there is a tenkan circular step bringing the attacker around before the throw. In jutai, if the attacker comes with great speed and force, the ura version is to be preferred so that collision is avoided. That also makes it possible to do the throw softer.

       Also, if the attack is a strike, the ura version is much easier to apply than the omote one. With some strike attacks, omote is simply not an option.

My Aikido Books

Click the images to see the books at Amazon (paid link).
Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles
Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art. The basic principles, philosophy and traditional budo concepts in aikido.
More about the book here.

Attacks in Aikido, by Stefan Stenudd. Attacks in Aikido
How to do kogeki, the attack techniques. All the attack techniques in aikido explained, and how to do them correctly.
More about the book here.

Aikibatto, by Stefan Stenudd. Aikibatto
Aikiken Sword Exercises for Aikido. The aikibatto exercises, practical and spiritual aspects of the sword arts, advice on equipment for training.
More about the book here.

Aikido Menu

Aikido Menu


Aikido Techniques — all the basic moves
Attacks in Aikido
Ikkyo Complete
Suwari kokyuho
Tantodori — knife defense
Aikiken — aikido sword techniques
Jo 31 Kata in four directions
Aikibatto sword and staff exercises
Aiki — joining energies
Ki exercises
Aikido Video Clips
Aikido Photos
My aikido dojo in Malmö, Sweden
My aikido seminars


My Aikido Bio
Aikido Glossary
Tanden, the Center
Aikido Inks
Aikido as Self-Defense
Running a Dojo
Aikido is True
Osensei and Einstein
AikiWeb Columns
Aikido Books Reviewed
Die deutsche Version meines Aikido-Buches online
Aikido på svenska

About Cookies

My Other Websites

Myths in general and myths of creation in particular.

The wisdom of Taoism and the Tao Te Ching, its ancient source.

An encyclopedia of life energy concepts around the world.

Qi (also spelled chi or ki) explained, with exercises to increase it.

The ancient Chinese system of divination and free online reading.

Tarot card meanings in divination and a free online spread.

The complete horoscope chart and how to read it.








Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd

About me
I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both English and Swedish. I'm also an artist, a historian of ideas, and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.