Little House In Ise

Irimi Nage Technote
May 16, 2009, 23:26
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , ,

I have grown wary of old men with unusually good posture and confidence that takes more than just years to acquire. They knock you off balance with subtle shifts, they bind your arms or wrists with gentle but devastating twists and they enthusiastically remind you where the mat is. One such fellow took an hour out of his sunny Saturday to show me and another victim the joys of old school irimi nage (入り身投げ: body entering throw). He demonstrated a very reasonable evolution of this throw before it gelled into common modern variations.

The primordial version started with a hard entry to the side. Nage extended two “unbendable arms”, one blocked uke’s same side arm and the other struck uke in the kidney. The block, punch and entry were all one swift motion with power driven from the hips. The punching fist could then reach up, grab uke’s collar pulling them back and down. In time with the pull, nage would step through (again powering all motion from the hip) with the leg closest to uke and planting it at about uke’s third point. All the while hammering uke’s face with the blocking arm. All this together was intended to smash uke down on top of nage’s bent knee, possibly breaking their back but certainly inflicting severe injury — so much for fuzzy wuzzy Aikido.

The next stage of the evolution of the throw, as described by the very hard-minded gentleman, was softening the kidney punch. The entry was very similar though perhaps a bit deeper, entering all the way behind uke. If entering to uke’s left then nage’s left arm would be blocking and their right arm would, instead of punching the kidney, would slide up uke’s spine and gently shove uke forward. At which point, nage would cut down and around with the arm that was blocking (left in this case) and as uke came around nage could smash them in the face and break their back as before. Eliminating the kidney punch didn’t so much make it a softer technique, it just made it rounder. However, it paved the way for the irimi nage as it is now most often practiced, i.e. as something other than a way to maim or kill an enemy. Simply by not dropping uke across one’s knee, this becomes a very vigorous, hard irimi nage and not too far out of the normal seen in most Aikido dojo today.

This may not necessarily have been the actual historical evolution of the technique but each step has both the feel of martial validity (I needed extra ibuprofen after that one) and the progression also makes sense. At any rate, it might be worth doing a few irimi nage and noticing where a kidney punch could fit or where it can be modified into a hip throw. Have fun!


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