Recommended reading: “Irimi,” by Ellis Amdur (April 2005)

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

I recently read a post which includes an oft-used phrase – “get off the line and enter.” Not only does this phrase not do full justice to the concept of irimi (I confess I’ve used it myself), it leads to a mistaken understanding of aikido technique. This mistake is not only intellectual, but expressed physically, probably lies at the root of the technical deficiencies that are, allegedly, so rife in aikido.

“Getting off the line,” at least as most people I’ve observed execute it, is reactive. We side-step, get out of the way of the attack, etc. Irimi is then imagined to be a counter-attack on an angle – martial arts as the application of geometry, so to speak.

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  1. This is excellent! (It’s SO gratifying to find somebody who has the same interpretation. Even more so when they express it better!)

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