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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Feb 11, 2010

"When an opponent comes forward,
move in and greet him (or her);
if he wants to pull back, send him on his way

Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei

It is interesting that O Sensei suggests to ‘greet’ the opponent; very non-aggressive and non-judgmental. As you reflect on this, among the many implications on moving in to greet the opponent, think about the following three things:

1) Visualize yourself practising perfect timing. See yourself breathing calmly and peacefully, only moving and responding just as the opponent commits to an attack; stepping/sliding away from the line-of-fire. Any earlier, and your response will be noticed. Any later, and you will be struck, or locked up and pinned. During classes, don’t think about speed until you have perfected shifting away from the danger spot and are able to perform one of the following movements confidently.

2) Tenkan (pron. Teng-kah-n’g’) – standing in “hanmi”, shift slightly to the side with the leading foot and turn away, pivoting on your leading foot a full 180°. A good reference point is finding yourself closely beside your opponent, belt to belt / hip to hip, after the turn. Tenkan is mostly performed to your opponent’s blind side. If you perform a Tenkan into your opponent’s live side, remember to deliver an “atemi” (pron. Ah-tay-mee: a distraction or strike) to his/her face.

3) Irimi (pron. Ee-ree-mee) – is like stepping into a doorway and then turning to face the direction you came from. Standing in “hanmi”, take a step forward with your back foot into either the live side, or the blind side, of your opponent. If it is the blind side, ensure that you are behind your opponent: looking at the back of your opponent’s head and back. If you perform an Irimi into the live side of the opponent, remember to deliver an “atemi” into his/her face to distract. In an actual situation, this may be an actual strike, depending on the gravity of the situation.

There are other body movements, footwork, or turns that can be employed after the initial “greeting”. Tenkan and Irimi are basic and widely used in many techniques. Both involve entering into the personal space of the opponent and taking over, when necessary. Keep practising. Repetition generates retention.

See you in the Dojo.

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright February 2010: Rafael Oei)

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