Tentai is a class of Taido techniques based on gymnastic-style tumbling and aerial movement.
Though closely related to unshin, the difference is that unshin is transportation, while tengi include integral strikes or other techniques. The most difficult obstacle to executing tengi is the tendency to perform them as a tumble-then-technique. Ideally, it should be a seamless transition.
Doko Go (5) Kai for Tentai
Each technique class in Taido is defined by a set of characteristics describing its proper execution, called Doko Go Kai.
Here’s the key points for execution of tengi:
- Tentai raido – Imagine lightning breaking a rock. Your body should rotate very quickly.
- Kihatsu seiyo – Do not allow your opponent to catch your waist. You must also strike immediately upon completion of your revolution. The time between a roll or flip and the adjoined technique is especially vulnerable to attack. Be careful that the opponent does not block the momentum of your hips at this time.
- Oten raika – Move with speed and power so that you can add force to your technique.
- Sankyoku dosetsu – Use your knees, back and head to form a tight ball.
- Maai sokketsu – Be sure to gauge your distance. You must watch your opponent carefully and choose the best technique to execute without hesitation.
Examples of Tentai Techniques (Tengi)
In most martial arts, flips and gymnastics are used to show off. To be honest, that’s mostly what we use them for in Taido, but ideally, they should be useful as attack and defense movements as well.
- Zentenzuki – A forward roll ending with a punch in ejizuki.
- Sokutengeri – A cartwheel in which the front foot kicks before finally coming to the ground.
- Bakuten ebigeri – A back handspring that ends with ebigeri.
- Shazenten hangetsuate – Shazenten is a shoulder roll (literally, “angular front roll”). In this case, the rotation is transferred into a twist for hangetsuate.
- Koten karami – Koten (or Hai Koten – hai means your back) is a backward roll. In this case, the roll transitions into ashigarami or dogarami – leg or body scissors.
- Bakuchugeri – Back flip kick.
- Tomoenage – This is an old Judo-style throw in which you grab the opponent and roll backward as you brace your foot against his center of mass.
There are two ten hokei in Taido:
- Tentai no hokei
- Tenin no hokei
Here’s a great performance of Tentai Hokei from the Sakura Matsuri tournament a few years ago in Aomori:
And here’s some practice footage of Tokyo Medical & Dental Uni students working on Tenin: