Ikkyo omote is the primary inside line approach. Remember it is a principle entry – a return on the same line that the attacker used to approach. By focusing on aihanmi and shomen we can show the ‘universal’ response meaning intercepting a line (shomen) or any point on the line (aihanmi) should not change the response.

Ikkyo omote is a fundamental positional relationship to uke on the inside line.  Once ikkyo omote is understood then the ‘lock flow‘ responses of nikkyo through yonkyo are simple hand exchanges executed in the same basic body relationship to uke. We spent most of the time exploring the takemusu presentation of a hanmi change and then added the more advanced interior blend (back foot tracing the circle): And briefly explored the advanced perpendicular (90 degree) return The next approach to explore would be the direct entry on the outside line.  This line would be iriminage.  If you think of ikkyo as meeting uke directly then iriminage is the basic ‘slip’.  Both are direct and linear approaches – ikkyo on the inside and irimi on the outside.  This is best understood if you think of the response with a sword.  Think on that point and it should become clear what I mean by that – when done as a strike ikkyo and iriminage are the same just on opposite sides on uke’s sword.  Ok enough concept.  Takemusu presentation – if aihanmi ikkyo is palm down (as if you are drawing your sword) aihanmi iriminage is presented palm up.  From that position there are a number of variations in elevation (gedan, chudan, jodan) and then means of extraction (thumb over, shyuto over) and these will transfer to shomen easily.   If this isn’t clear then remind yourselves by thinking of the 5 basic methods of knife retention I have showed and the means of extracting your grasped hand should become more obvious. Once the grasping hand is ‘defeated’ remember that the grasped point is lead forward to allow your body to slip to the back – movement in two different vectors simultaneously.  All this to get to the shikaku when achieved rotate on the balls of the feet to become parallel to uke.  And here execute the mandatory test points:

1) Back hand control uke’s neck bring uke to your shoulder 2) Your front shoulder becomes the pivot point for the rotational action focused on uke’s chin 3) Front hand passes over uke’s head with thumb down so as to bring uke down toward (not away) from your center

There are of course a multitude of variants but those are not primary (takemusu) forms.  The thumb down is a life preserving sword (the thumb is the spine, mune, or false edge). If the shyuto is presented for the throw it is a killing stroke (with the edge) and more importantly it is impossible to control uke’s center with the edge.  If the palm is used then the back hand must be pushing from the opposite direction.  All variants and more advanced.   More to explore in class and in person but at its most basic irimi nage is: Enter straight to uke’s back on the outside line, blend parallel, control the next to start destabilization, culminate with a rotational throw with the front hand to generate torque at the neck.

An example of good neck controlIMG_0328

As uke is allowed to rise nage should control with a shoulder block to allow the front hand to be free.

The next photo shows a more dynamic encounter, a ‘variation.’  Notice the scissors – this is not a ‘nice’ technique.  Notice the positon of the shyuto (edge facing carotid) and lower hand ready to provide an opposite impelling force.


This is Chiba sensei’s entry – except Chiba sensei used a double atemi – but so did his teacher…



So for those of you who have been able to attend a class (or two) I hope that the thoughts on irimi nage are making more sense.  These musings are really not much more than crib notes and are meant to help guide thoughts – to act as pointers.

Some general reminders:

1)  these notes are Portland Aikikai Kadensho – (ka=family, densho=transmission), meaning I am happy to share with you all but please remember that it’s our stuff and really won’t make sense without the context of in class experience

2)  while I have no illusions that what I am trying to do here is ‘secret,’ I am trying to synthesize a presentation that is primarily mine and I am stealing ideas broadly from other times and other arts

3)  I have a deep respect for my instructors and therefore the “kihon waza” should be construed as the primary goals in training – without knowing the basic format NOTHING I am trying to do will be of any lasting value – my ‘in class’ presentations always start from the kihon assumption and I then build on the concept

4)  The progression from basic to ‘universal concept’ is tying flow patterns, making logic chains – I am trying to show connections so that techniques are not seen as discrete elements – one damn thing after another

5)  But remember – for students to learn effectively each technique must be taught and practiced individually and repeatedly to get it into the body – so as a rule the typical class should focus on training – not teaching per se

6)  And that leads back to what I am doing.  I am being selfish.  Period.  I am trying to focus on teaching the trainers – because this audience has the skill, intelligence, and experience to understand what I am trying to do.  But let us be clear – I ain’t setting up classes for raw training anymore.  I did that for well over a decade.  Training is the meat & potatoes of the art and that needs remain the focus of the dojo

Therefore – what I am doing is NOT what I would ever recommend as a classroom structure.  I am purposefully trying to give the long and broad views simultaneously which is confusing I am sure.  I am trying to show the longitudinal development (ikkyo as Yoko sensei first did it, as Chris sensei presented it, as Chiba sensei did it over the years) and then tie that to the physiology (why hit here, how hit there) in order to show the breadth and depth of the art – and not just the “how to” which I leave to you all.

REMNDERS ON BASIC IRIMI NAGE When leading class please make sure to focus on a direct and deep entry – Students should be at uke’s spine.  The neck hand is imperative.  The neck hand should be all that is necessary to effect a throw.  Think on that.  The neck hand must cause uke’s spine out of alignment from their hips.  In other words stop pushing/pulling straight down. It’s a spiral energy.  An abbreviated form of an internal dissolve (if you remember my class on dissolves and snakes).  Weren’t there?  Then these notes won’t always be clear.  That’s kuden for you…. The neck hand.  Don’t break the plane of the wrist.  The hand is a crescent wrench and your whole arm engenders the spiral along with your body movement: that is, integrated movement (easy to write harder to do, so keep repeating until you get it). That neck hand should firmly, resolutely attach uke’s head to your lead shoulder.  Then the rotation of your lead hand should further take uke’s spine by controlling the chin and driving the head down toward the floor (adamantly not away from your core).   And emphatically do NOT throw cross body – meaning if your ‘throwing’ hand winds up on the opposite side of your body (e.g. you throw using your right hand but at the terminal movement it is close to your left hip you done did it wrong!  Be honest with yourself did you check? Other tricks for consideration.  Remember the prayer entry.  Yup come to class if it don’t resonate in your memory.  First hand to make contact stays and the ‘free’ hand continues in.  This is the ‘split entry’ that shows that ikkyo and irimi are the same entry just opposite lines (inside vs outside).  Thus far we have covered kihon presentation in class (and always omote) then moved to the direct forms.  Shyuto over (palm down) chudan, shyuto over (palm up) gedan and jodan forms (done either palm up or down) then thumb over (Yamada sensei direct).  Then the Chiba sensei variant (double atemi). Then the ‘football’ under arm entry (i.e. front choke) and finally, “my” style (panatuken double tap).  Those should provide a wide array of irimi nage direct entries for future exploration (not for teaching). I am trying to show the logical linkages among all the ‘variants’ off the outside line (remember the Shibata/Yasuno sensei entries [elbow strike, elbow control respectively]).  It’s all logic chains built off the prayer/split entry presentation.  I will soon be moving to “ura” forms.  But let me be very clear here.   In my opinion there is no “ura.”  We may have been taught that way and it is an important pedagogical tool but ura ain’t a technique per se.  Ura is the continuation of contact as uke avoids nage’s original technique (or more universally stated, nage’s original line of return).

You may think, “No Ura….interesting and I have to say there are times when I have noticed what you’ve said about how uke moves in a way where “ura” just makes more sense.  But what about multiple opponent scenarios?  Ura now becomes a strategy for Nage to deal with the situation.  Agree or disagree?”

I know where you are going – and I disagree as a technique, but I agree in terms of your strategic thinking.  In other words – an exterior blend on a rotating axis makes sense to bypass one opponent in favor of attacking the next (i.e. moving toward the farther opponent to gain time and distance) but in fact you haven’t “dealt” with the first opponent so much as avoided them.  If you “do” and ura technique and uke wasn’t going that direction on their own accord, then I submit, your technique will not work….  you may slip past uke successfully but they aren’t down.  As Ed Parker pointed out – if you don’t take out an opponent with the first move and they get up, then you are not fighting 1 opponent but rather 2 – if on the second attack they don’t go down, then you are fighting 3….

As a test of this distinction I am trying to make – try to throw a larger stronger opponent ikkyo ura when he thinks he is “supposed” to do omote’s ukeme – can you really pull his mass (and you will be pulling) on a rotating plane when his body wants to continue forward?  In terms of tempo and sequence – uke has to make the first adjustment – not nage.   So, what I am suggesting is that ura is not a technique but rather a means of teaching how to adjust to uke as uke (not nage) changes the dynamic.

In short – you are thinking combat strategy – means of gaining positional advantage among/against multiple opponents – but I would suggest that is different from technique, meaning a means of controlling an opponent.  But more on that after the next few classes.


One thought on “IKKYO to IRIMI (NAGE)

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