Aug
28

Nishio style execution! Philip Greenwood: Understanding the “Irimi” in Iriminage

In this video, Philip Greenwood Sensei presents the approach of Shoji Nishio to shomenuchi iriminage: “Here I present a 3-minute video from a recent basics class I guest instructed explaining one of the many ways that we do iriminage. I show in detail both atemi and sword relationships (there are corresponding jo forms as well, but I didn’t include them here). Most importantly I resolve any concerns regarding effectiveness because I completely disable the opponent’s ability to do anything including strike, kick or regain his balance – right in the first instant of contact – all without hurting him…”

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Aug
28

Aikido’s iriminage has its origins in the prewar Aiki Budo era: Read about its history!

It seems that iriminage — although not originally named as such — has its origin in the Aiki Budo period in prewar Japan. Aiki Budo is the general term used to refer to the pre-modern form of aikido taught by Morihei Ueshiba in the 1930s and early 40s. As to the time frame of the emergence of this particular throwing art now called iriminage, we can say with certainty that it was being used by 1938, the date of publication of Morihei’s “Budo” training manual. Two of the 50 techniques presented in that book are what we would today call iriminage.

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Aug
28

First trip to USA: “Morihiro Saito brings Iwama Aikido to America!”

Those present could not help but remark the excellent poise displayed by Saito Sensei during the course of the two gasshuku both on and off the mat. He remained centered and calm despite the fact he found himself immersed in a foreign culture for the first time. Noteworthy also was Saito Sensei’s outstanding stamina. He participated fully in all sessions instructing students individually and taking falls…. The impact of his presence and teaching manner was very powerful and will continue to resonate in this region for a long time to come…

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Aug
28

“Unraveling the Origins of Iriminage,” by Stanley Pranin

Morihei Ueshiba’s original iriminage from the the 1938 training manual titled “Budo”

“It’s fairly easy to prove that it was the Founder’s son, Kisshomaru, who was primarily responsible for introducing this ‘new’ iriminage…”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley PraninYesterday I posted a blog asking readers to offer their opinions on a particular way of executing the iriminage throw that is widespread within the Aikikai Hombu Dojo system. Many readers responded with a variety of very helpful perspectives.

Today I would like to briefly discuss the origins of iriminage as a type of throwing technique peculiar to aikido and believed to be original to Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Next, we will see how modified versions of iriminage became popularized within the Aikikai, the world headquarters of the art, and from there spread abroad as aikido established roots the world over.

It seems that iriminage — although not originally named as such — has its origin in the Aiki Budo period in prewar Japan. Aiki Budo is the general term used to refer to the pre-modern form of aikido taught by Morihei Ueshiba in the 1930s and early 40s. As to the time frame of the emergence of this particular throwing art now called iriminage, we can say with certainty that it was being taught by 1938, the date of publication of Morihei’s “Budo” training manual. Two of the 50 techniques presented in that book are what we would today call iriminage.

Interestingly, iriminage does not appear in an earlier film document from 1935, the famous Asahi News film. I don’t recall seeing anything like iriminage in the more than 1,000 photos from the Noma Dojo collection that date from 1936 either. Using these surviving documents as reference points, it appears that Morihei’s version of iriminage emerged between 1936 and 1938.

An important note here is that Morihei’s stresses in “Budo” that in the shomenuchi iriminage technique, nage should seize the initiative and begin an entering movement in contrast to the norm in aikido practice where uke acts first. The rationale behind this seemingly odd manner of treating this technique is complex enough to demand special treatment as it has far-reaching implications.

By the early 1950s, the practice of iriminage — sometimes referred to using the more generic term of “kokyunage” — had undergone a rather dramatic transformation. A legitimate question is how did this modified iriminage come to be regarded as the Aikikai technical standard and who was responsible for these changes.

Actually, it’s fairly easy to prove that it was the Founder’s son, Kisshomaru, who was primarily responsible for introducing this “new” iriminage in which uke was brought off balance and his head lowered only to be allowed to return to an upright position before finally being thrown. This differs from Morihei’s way of executing the technique where uke is immediately unbalanced and thrown, without Kisshomaru’s additional step.

These screenshots from a 1962 film of Kisshomaru Ueshiba clearly illustrate these changes. Compare them with the above photos of Morihei’s iriminage.

kisshomaru-iriminage-1
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Aug
28

Envelop uke to prevent his escape! “Morihiro Saito’s Morotedori Kokyuho”

Learn how to neutralize uke’s power with this blending move taught by O-Sensei during every class. “When your partner stands in right hanmi and grabs your left hand, move your left foot to your partner’s right foot and turn your hips to change from left to right hanmi. Do this movement with the feeling of dropping your shoulder, elbows, and hips slightly. Turn to a position beside your partner, looking in the same direction. This is basic for all kokyuho exercises. The spacing, or maai, between you and your partner will be wrong if you look at him…

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Aug
28

“Takemusu Aiki — O-Sensei’s Crowning Creation — Conceived in Iwama”

Morihei Ueshiba lived, farmed, and practiced his aikido with great intensity in Iwama after the war left Japan in a poverty-stricken state. For the first time in years, he was able to concentrate his efforts on the perfecting of his martial techniques and spiritual development. This period is generally regarded as the birth of aikido as recorded by Morihei’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. O-Sensei used the term “Takemusu Aiki” to refer to his art at this stage…

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Aug
28

Extraordinary control! Hirokazu Kobayashi demonstrates katatedori techniques at 1992 seminar

This video is an excellent compilation of katatedori techniques demonstrated by Hirokazu Kobayashi Sensei at a seminar conducted in July 1992. One of Morihei Ueshiba’s early postwar students from Osaka, Kobayashi Sensei was personally very devoted to O-Sensei and would often serve as the Founder’s uke when the later visited Osaka. The uke is André Cognard Sensei…

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Aug
27

Incurable Japanophile! “Teddy Roosevelt’s Love Affair with Jujutsu” by Joseph Svinth

Then, to prove his point, Roosevelt demonstrated his techniques on the Mooneys using considerably more enthusiasm than control. Professor Yamashita remarked the same problem, of course. According to an American journalist named Joseph Clarke, Yamashita later said that while Roosevelt was his best pupil, he was also “very heavy and very impetuous, and it had cost the poor professor many bruisings, much worry and infinite pains during Theodore’s rushes to avoid laming the President of the United States…

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Aug
27

“Someone please explain the logic of this iriminage throw!” by Stanley Pranin

iriminage-throw

“The completion of the throw involves nage “allowing”
uke to stand back up only to be thrown down again.”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley PraninI have seen the iriminage throw executed this way for most of my aikido career. Using a shomenuchi attack as an example, nage meets uke’s arm and leads him around circularly applying pressure to his neck lowering uke’s body to the position shown in the photo or even lower. The completion of the throw involves nage “allowing” uke to stand back up only to be thrown down again. From there, the ukemi is usually a high fall. This particular iriminage is commonly seen at demonstrations, especially within the Aikikai system.

A few observations and questions:

  • Nage is controlling uke with one hand.
  • Uke must be very skilled and have a fair measure of control over his body to be able to take the fall.
  • Is there any potential for uke to counter using his left hand, for example, by attacking nage’s rear knee or foot?
  • Why does nage allow uke to come back to an upright position before downing him a second time?
  • Is this technique martially sound?
  • Added questions: Did Founder Morihei Ueshiba perform iriminage this way in the prewar or postwar eras?
  • Who popularized this type of iriminage throw and during what time frame?

Your thoughts, please!

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October 5-6, 2013: Weekend Seminar with Stanley Pranin in Las Vegas!

Aug
27

Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, on Morotedori kokyuho

When your partner stands in right hanmi and grabs your left hand, move your left foot to your partner’s right foot and turn your hips to change from left to right hanmi. Do this movement with the feeling of dropping your shoulder, elbows, and hips slightly. Turn to a position beside your partner, looking in the same direction. This is basic for all kokyuho exercises. The spacing, or maai, between you and your partner will be wrong if you look at him. If you face the same direction with the feeling of enveloping him, you will stay close to him and he will be unable to escape. If you look at your partner even slightly, his body will separate from you and there will be too much space between you.

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Aug
27

Exploring Tai no henko… “Foundation of stable hips and the execution of ura techniques”

Daily practice begins with tai no henko. First open your fingers. The basis of ura movements is footwork. Bring the toes of your left foot to meet the toes of your partner’s right foot. Turn in a circular movement into a position along your partner’s side. When pivoting, open your fingers fully and extend your ki. Learn to keep your hips stable regardless of whether your partner pushes or pulls. At one time the founder executed tai no henko with a single hand, but in his later years he used both hands. Pivot around and bring the fingers of both hands to the same level…

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Aug
27

La bomba! “The Body is the Temple of the Spirit,” by Stanley Pranin

What is there to see on this third Saturday of May each year? I’ll tell you what. You can see your aikido past, present, and future at this demonstration. From the playful little children to the teetering old men, you can see the entire range of aikido experience encapsulated. If you follow the teachings of your sensei and the example of your seniors, this is how you will look at all stages of your aikido career. Neat, isn’t it? You can rewind and fast-forward through your aikido life in a single afternoon merely by allowing your eyes to scan the mats. This being the case, I have a question to ask: if I train diligently over a lifetime in accordance with the principles of aikido, how come I still end up a stiff, decrepit old man?

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