“We can do a great deal to self-diagnose our techniques and
work toward honing our skills to higher and higher levels.”
Here is a random screenshot retrieved from an online video that exposes several potential vulnerabilities when executing aikido’s iriminage. Although we are looking at a single image, this manner of throwing in iriminage is quite common, especially in mainstream aikido.
When done this way, the setup for the technique involves nage bringing uke downward using centrifugal force and pressure on the neck. After uke has reached the bottom of his downward movement, the logic is he will “rebound” upward in an attempt to save himself. Finally, nage reverses his motion and swings his right arm through as he steps forward to complete the throw. Uke is thrown in a “high fall”. The entire effect is very spectacular and can be seen widely in demonstrations.
Limiting ourselves to this still image — a moment frozen in time — let us analyze some potential difficulties in approaching iriminage this way. Let’s look at the numbered regions of the image first.
1 – Here, uke’s head rests against nage’s right shoulder and upper arm. Uke is partially unbalanced but very close to nage. Uke also has hold of nage’s right arm with his right hand. As you can see, uke is attempting to support himself using nage’s body as a prop. This close contact of uke with nage’s body creates a major weakness that may be exploited.
2 – Though perhaps not obvious, uke’s right elbow is very near nage’s groin and upper thigh. If uke still has partial control — and I would suggest that he does — he might use his elbow supported by his right-handed grip to attack these vital spots of nage.
3 – In a like manner, uke’s right hand can be used to attack nage’s knee. In fact, given the multiple points of contact between uke and nage’s body, uke might collapse his entire structure against nage’s body and execute a counter-throw. This is a very real danger when the iriminage throw is executed in this manner.
An untrained person would not and could not respond as uke does in these iriminage demonstrations due to the high-level of skills involved. The mere fact that uke can respond in a high fall indicates that he has a certain measure of control over his body.
My purpose here is not to criticize any particular person or method but to suggest that we should submit every technique we practice to close analysis. Is uke being fully unbalanced? Does uke have the possibility of responding with a counter-attack at any stage of the technique? Is the technique prolonged unnecessarily affording opportunities for exploitation? These are questions that we should ask constantly. By doing so, we can do a great deal to self-diagnose our techniques and work toward honing our skills to higher and higher levels.
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