Shikko Knee Walking is an exercise done in Aikido right from the early stages, so students get used to moving around on their knees and eventually being able to fight from that position too.
Virginia Mayhew Bailey, my first Aikido teacher, used to call Shikko knee walking ‘The Samurai Walk’; and I didn’t even know it was called Shikko until I learned a different style of Aikido more than ten years afterwards.
The idea of Shikko knee walking comes from the Samurai days of feudal Japan, where Samurai would move around indoors using their Shikko Walking fo they didn’t stand up while they were indoors and in the presence of their boss. To do so would have been a breach of etiquette (bad manners, disrespect).
And yet these Samurai still had to function as warriors and bodyguards. They had to fight, if necessary, from the Seiza kneeling position… the way martial arts students sit while kneeling at the edge of the mats in the Dojo.
The kneeling techniques of Tomiki style Aikido are called the Koryu Katas, and are practised at black-belt level; not by beginning students (who are still learning their Shikko knee walking and basic Aikido moves).
Shikko knee walking takes a whole lot of swiveling from the hips and has a tendency to burn or rub skin from off your kneecaps. It’s probably another good reason that the Japanese Samurai wore a thick Hakama (split trouser/shirt) on top of their white cotton pants, but I can’t prove it. 🙂
David’s Tips to do Shikko Walking (the Samurai Walk)
Imagine your ankles are tied together with a set of elastic bungee cords…
You are kneeling. Then you lift up your right knee and place the right foot flat to the floor.
The imaginary ‘elastic’ pulls both your heels together, so your left heel svivels across to touch your right heel. The heels are together again.
Using your hip, and leaving your feet where they are, allow your right knee to kneel down again. You have just moved forward about 19 inches (50 cms).
Now raise the left knee and bring the left leg forward so the foot is flat on the ground and the left knee is raised. (Your ankles are apart again, so imagine that elastic pulling them together again.)
Swivel your right ankle now so it meets the left ankle again.
This is basic Shikko knee walking, the Samurai Walk.
As you practice week after week, you learn to keep good posture, to move backwards as well as forwards, and eventually you will be taught how to defend against an attacker who is kneeling or standing, while you are sitting or kneeling in the Seiza posture.
This is what Shikko knee walking is all about. Moving smoothly on your knees like a Samurai warrior at court hundreds of years ago.