In connection with the editing of our latest O-Sensei DVD titled “Divine Techniques” I happened upon an interesting discovery of a technical nature.
One of the most important and original techniques of aikido is iriminage. I won’t attempt to describe the entire technique in words since practitioners will immediately know the one I am referring to.
Obviously, there are many ways of doing iriminage. In my 47 years of aikido I have seen quite a few variations, some more effective than others. That being said, a good question to ask for serious students of the art would be, “How did the Founder Morihei Ueshiba execute iriminage?”
To isolate a particular point of interest in iriminage, I would like to show you a screenshot from “Divine Techniques” where O-Sensei can be clearly shown grabbing his partner’s collar in preparation for the throw. (His partner by the way is American aikidoka Terry Dobson.) It is actually unusual to see it done this way in modern aikido. The collar grab contrasts with the way the opponent’s head is controled in most approaches to iriminage where instead the hand is hooked around to the opposite side of the opponent’s neck or ear.
Holding your partner’s neck really requires you to bring your partner’s head against your shoulder if you want to maintain good control. If your hand is hooked around your partner’s head and his body is away from you it’s very hard to achieve this.
O-Sensei’s approach allows control whether your partner is close or far away. The opponent also will have difficulty twisting out of the technique when held by his collar while it’s fairly easy to do so when the head is grabbed on one side by the hand.
We seldom discuss the specifics of the Founder’s way of doing particular techniques probably because information and visual references are scarce. Most of what has been preserved of O-Sensei’s techniques is in the form of 8mm films which tend to be grainy making it hard to pick out details. Since this point is so clear in “Divine Techniques,” I thought I would bring it up for discussion.
I would like to encourage readers to chime in on this important technical point and tell us how you were taught to do iriminage. What do you think of this photo of O-Sensei’s iriminage?
Thanks to all of those who have commented thus far. I found another photo from the book Budo where O-Sensei is grabbing the collar: