Little House In Ise

2010 Mid-Winter Training at Honbu
February 4, 2010, 17:53
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , , , ,

The two coldest weeks of the year seem like an excellent time for some hard training, right? Honbu Doju held its 2010 Kangeiko (寒稽古: mid-winter training) from Monday January 25 to Wednesday February 3rd. Regular and irregular students of all stripes showed up making an effort for kaikin (皆勤 : perfect attendance). After about three days the crowd thinned back to busy normal and stayed that way to near then end when the mat grew crowded again. The day after winter training ended the only people left were a few foreign visitors and some hardcore regulars (OK, I was there too, but I live in the neighborhood).

As per my usual, I attended ichibangeiko — the first morning class — taught by Doshu. The curriculum was as follows with each day devoted to a specific attack.

Monday 正面打ち Shomen uchi (forehead strike)
Tuesday 横面打ち Yokomen uchi (side of head strike)
Wednesday 逆半身片手取り Gyaku hanmi kaktatetori (toe-to-toe wrist grab)
Thursdsay 諸手取り Moretetori (two hands grabbing the wrist)
Friday 両手と売り Ryoutetori (both wrists grabbed)
Saturday 後ろ両手と売り Ushiro ryoutetori (both wrists grabbed from behind)
Sunday 肩面打ち Katamenuchi (grab shoulder punch face)
Monday 交差取り/合い半身片手取り Kosa tori / Aihanmi katatetori (cross hand grab)
Tuesday 突き Tsuki (punch / stab)
Wednesday 肩取り Katatori (shoulder grab)

On the Thursday following Kankeiko, Wakasensei substituted for Doshu and focused on shomenuchi.

All in all, I had a lot of fun but the my biggest revelation from this training was that I still have a pretty big hole in my iriminage (入身投げ: entering throw). When students of Aikido first see iriminage their impression is usually, “OK, I finally understand something — just smash him in the face with your arm, right?” Subtlety can really suck sometimes and this is one of them. Iriminage does NOT mean clothes-lining uke. However, it does mean that you need to be able to maintain the threat of smashing uke in the face throughout the technique so, if uke drops their defense, nage should be in a good position to knock their block off.

All that said, the key to iriminage isn’t the arm. The key is position (caveat eric: this is as I understand it now, if I discover that the key is actually a mystical force I will edit this article appropriately). Nage must enter behind and as close to uke as possible. From this point the tenkan and throw happens. It is also at this point that many of us find that we didn’t quite enter deeply enough or close enough. Entering too deeply is also a problem but, I think, less common. At any rate, if you don’t enter to the sweet spot, uke can very easily disconnect and walk away. Worse yet, a good uke can stay connected, over-rotate to the point where they are lined up perfectly to gut you.

What I have been experiencing recently is the latter. When a certain sempai decides to resist he has shown me that he can over-rotate, re-enter my space and pound me in the stomach. After repeated demonstrations of my lack of prowess, one of my favorite mean-old-men noticed my confusion and took the opportunity to point out a remedy. His claim is that a good way to practice finding the correct position for iriminage is to repeatedly do the “drop-em-on-their-ass” variation.

Uke attacks, nage enters deeply to uke’s rear. Nage is now standing close behind uke, almost touching. Nage puts both hands lightly on uke’s shoulder and then does a reverse tenkan, swinging the foot on the side from which they entered. While swinging their foot, nage lowers their center, dropping uke onto the ground. Repeat until it works without effort — I’m still working on that part.


3 Comments so far
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Hi Eric, understanding in Aikido is a fickle mistress. My understanding of iriminage is that there are a myriad of ways that it can go wrong. My current focus is not positioning to the rear, although that is important, but connecting, blending, guiding and removing uke’s balance. Once uke’s balance is taken away, he is easy to throw as long as you don’t give it back to him. I accomplish this by, as you said, not focusing on the arms(although connection is important), but focusing on moving and rotating from my center. One way to do this is to keep your elbow close to your body when you rotate and throw. Also, as you said, clotheslining is not the goal, but moving together with uke in a smooth and flowing motion where it is difficult for uke to stop or regain balance.

I’m not sure I follow how uke ‘over rotates to be able to strike’, but I can only imagine not being close enough to uke, allowing him room to maneuver, or allowing him to regain balance. Perhaps the hand that goes around uke’s shoulder/neck/head is too loose allowing excess room. In any case, close proximity and a solid frame should allow you to guide uke off balance and keep him off balance until you leave him on the mat.

Have a look at my latest Aikido 2 video at around 5 minutes. There are quite a few iriminage although none from shomenuchi. Keep in mind our dojo might differ in style.

Good thoughts and I like the rear drop variation.

Cheers, Eddie.

Comment by Eddie deGuzman

Hey Eddie,

I just took a look at the video you posted. Thanks. I really like the wave-like up and down energy that you put into the throw. Also, I was struck by your follow-through. Do you always walk through it at the end of the throw? Stylistically that was the biggest thing that stood out to me. That and that the throws were pretty direct.

The throw that I was having trouble with was sort of a “bad doggie” variation. You know what I mean? You take the guy down and then circle a bit keeping them down and then allowing them to come up. As they rise you take them over and down. In this case the bad doggie was spinning out and we were ending up face to face but with him inside my arms so he was perfectly set to disembowel me. Yuck.

Take care,

Comment by Eric Holcomb

Hi Eric, if you noticed, a few times we didn’t walk through. We can do both, but it’s much more important to work on continuing the flow, nagare,IMO.

I think I see what you mean. Last year my “bad” partner at honbu stopped the circular motion on iriminage and stood there for 5-10 seconds waiting for something. I guess he was waiting for me to stand up.

I think it’s better to focus on connection rather than allowing uke to regain balance. That way you control the entire motion. And if you lose connection, then you can plow through. I’m not a fan of the clothesline as a first option though. As I said before, I think it’s a matter of moving with uke and not against him. Not everyone will agree.

Curious though, how do you mean our techniques are direct?

Cheers, Eddie

Comment by Eddie deGuzman

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