Little House In Ise

A Note on Terminology
May 23, 2008, 20:00
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , , , ,

The technique that I first learned to call jujinage (十字投げ) has long been a source of confusion for me even though the technique itself is pretty straight forward. Uke’s arms are crossed in front of their chest and the lower arm is used as a lever with the other (upper) arm as a fulcrum. The upper arm cuts forward like a sword strike as the two hands are stretched apart. The name comes from the cross formed by the arms which vaguely resembles the kanji character ju (十) and it is from the name that I have been confused.

In an Aikido context, I have also heard what I think of as hijikime nage (肘決め投げ) called jujinage.  I have heard what I think of as jujinage called udegarami (腕絡み) and recently, Doshu called it jujigarami (十字絡み).

This sort of confusion leads to a lot of head scratching on the part of students and teachers in many schools. So, what is right? As usual, my answer is whatever your sensei says is “right”. However, there has to be an element of what you think of as “right” too. In my mind this technique will always be jujinage and when communicating with compatriots from my former schools I will call it that. I still need to be aware that my current teacher calls it something else and I must remember that as well.

The real problem is that most of the things we think of as names are more accurately descriptions. “Crossed arm tangle”, “decided by the elbow”, “wrist return” are the way these things sound in Japanese. Rather than thinking of them as names Japanese instructors described movements or positions and some of these descriptions have been codified as names. Others seem to be more fluid. As an example, ryote tori (両手取り) and morote tori (諸手取り) both basically mean the same thing and some schools use ryoute tori to mean both.

The real take-away from all this is not Doshu says X and Sensei says Y (Waaaa!) but rather that understanding Aikido is not about knowing the name for a thing whether that is a concept or a technique. Knowing the names is important on tests and when chatting with others but real understanding of Aikido is in the body.


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