Japan, Okinawa, Pentax 645D, Photography
Comments 4

Aikido in Action

Aikido Shoot - Kabayama & Templin

The above image was shot with the new 645 D FA 25mm lens. When using wide angle lenses and still trying to fill the frame with the subject, you can get a little too close to the action. A fraction of a second after this shot, Kabayama’s left foot glided a little too close to the lens for comfort. (When Q lent me the lens he had stated, “Please be careful with this one Willson.)

For the following sequence I used the standard 55mm lens giving me a little more breathing room. The third image is the real money shot – it captures the essence of the shoot in a single image, and it was the most difficult to produce.

Aikido Shoot - Kabayama & Templin

Aikido Shoot - Kabayama & Templin

Aikido Shoot - Kabayama & Templin

To freeze action in this way you have to use either bright ambient light and a very fast shutter speed, or low ambient light and a strobe with a very fast flash duration.

I turned off all the lights in the dojo, then used a strobe system with a flash duration of about 12,000 / sec to stop time.  It also required a little luck to get Kabayama sensei mid-flight as the camera only shoots one frame per second. Very pleased with this shot, I like the way the strobe casts a clear shadow of Kabayama sensei’s left hand just before impact.

A big thank you to Kabayama sensei who was willing to be slammed into the matting repeatedly in the name of photography!


  1. Katharine says

    This is the reason for me doing Taekwondo – I’d much rather get kicked in the head than be slammed to the floor!

    Great photos though.

  2. joey says

    Hi,I find your great photos in Flickr, and i really like your Photos.And i want some raw samples,will you show me some?*pef Format from Pentax 645D,and *rwl Format from Leica M9.Thank you very much.

    • Hi Joey,

      Sorry but I won’t be able to help you as I shoot DNG raw with the Pentax 645D, and don’t own a Leica M9. Good luck with choosing your camera.

  3. Pingback: On the bookshelf – Seal Team Six « Chris Willson's Blog

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