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!


Small Fish, Deep Pond
February 3, 2008, 17:05
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My moment of Aikido Hubris has passed. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured during my epiphany.

At Mie-Ken Aikidokai I was a relatively strong yudansha. At a Honbu, I am very much in the light-weight division. For a moment or two, I thought (hoped really) that I was going to fit right into training and it would be a smooth transition. Once again, I have found that learning experiences are rarely smooth. The technical strength of the students at Honbu, on average, is much stronger than most of the strongest uke that I have been training with for the last several years. I am humbled by these people. Every time I train there I feel a greater resolve to grow and improve. Most striking, to me, is that it is my ukemi that I find needs the most improvement to start with.

The improvement that I am looking for isn’t about taking flashy high falls or uber smooth rolls. Both are good goals but I am thinking more about the need to blend when I am on the attack. I find that this is especially true in the more “mundane” acts of ukemi as are required during ura variations of the to ikyo-gokyo series. Ahhh… growing pains!

On a technical note, I learned a new pin in Yokota Shihan’s class. After an irimi nage (入り身投げ) the nage often ends up standing above uke who has their back on the ground and an arm extended up to defend their face. This exposes nage’s back to a kick from uke on the ground. Nage can shove their off-side toe under the shoulder (requires switching stance) of uke and then use uke’s extended arm as a lever (nage’s shin is the fulcrum) to cause uke to desire strongly to turn over. As nage, care must be taken to do this slowly and smoothly as it may not be obvious to uke how to respond — this one can be a bone breaker if uke resists.

Happy rolling!

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