Beyond the method#12

THE TRUE MEANING OF THE WORD SHIHO NAGE (and its consequences for the practice)

Four corners throw

It is commonly assumed (and I taught it this way for years) that the underlying reason of the word shi-ho nage is the fact that, with this technique, one can throw an opponent in four different directions (forward, backward, left and right).

It is true that these four throws can be done within the frame of the method - as shown in the video - but two of them are solely pedagogical and would be suicidal in the real wold, in the context of a coordinated group attack. The word can not come from that explanation.

in fact, Shiho nage refers to the four pillars of the technique: four steps are necessary in order to build a proper movement. These four steps are shown in the video. That famous throw relies on these four steps like four pillars.

As it happens these four steps are indeed oriented in four directions, precisely in the four angles of a square shape.

In that respect, the English translation (four corners throw) is closer to the truth than the French translation.

Respecting that movement in the four angles of a virtual square is crucial to realise a perfect spiral which will fold uke’s arm on itself.

It is also crucial for tori’s safety who must leave his unsafe initial position by entering in the attackers’ circle and not stepping back towards the opponent coming in his back: on yokomen, tori must slightly open his front leg to allow the hip to enter, as O sensei, Saito sensei and Shioda Sensei used to teach it, not by stepping back as it is taught in AIkikai.

Shiho nage’s circular work is based on a square movement. That square basis is linked to the triangular structure of the initial hanmi stance (roppo) which opens all possible angles in the best way.

The reason why these four fundamental steps have been neglected lies in the fact the fourth step is not taught (within the frame of the method): after the rotation under uke’s arm, the fourth step is usually missing.

This lack presents with several consequences:

  1. – Tori interrupts his movement after he has done his rotation under uke’s arm and starts his cut in the opposite direction of the initial spiral, by reverting the hips: there is a weak point during that inversion and the final cut is done with the wrong hip.
  2. – the absence of that fourth step forces tori to cut in hanmi position: the initial spiral is not achieved to completion
  3. – this cut in hanmi position is unstable towards uke: that’s why tori has to catch back his balance at the end of the movement with a wide step of the back leg which follows uke in his fall with a half circle backward movement in order to stabilise his position.
  4. – That cut in hanmi prevents from using the rotation of the hips (reminder: hanmi is the beginning and the end postion of a technique but can’t be the position to use the hip rotation in irimi tenkan),
  5. – that cut done in hanmi position leaves uke with the freedom to fall in a non traumatic way (which is probably the reason behind that uncompleted way to realise shiho nage) .

Warning – The true movement is extremely powerful and offers uke with no possibility to escape with a fall. The throw can be dangerous if done without the supervision of a competent teacher. Whoever executes shiho nage in that true form must do so while keeping in mind the absolute respect of uke’s safety.

Philippe Voarino, september 2015.

What is Traditional Aikido?

Aikido is not a sport, it is a martial art which laws (takemusu) are in harmony with the laws of the universe. Studying them allows the practitioner to understand his place in the universe. Aikido was born in Iwama, O sensei achieved in that village the synthesis of tai jutsu, aiki ken and aiki jo.

Where to practice Traditional Aikido?

The International Takemusu Aikido Federation (ITAF) brings to the practitioner the structure he needs in order to work as close as possible to the reality O sensei MU defined. The official national representations are the guarantee of a teaching faithful to the Founder's.

The weapons of Aikido, aiki ken and aiki jo

In modern Aikido, weapons are hardly taught, if taught at all. In O sensei's Aikido, on the contrary, aiki ken, aiki jo and tai jutsu are unified and form together a riai, a family of harmonious techniques stemming from one unique principle. Each techniques helps understand all the others.

Aikido, a martial art or an art of peace?

Peace is a balance between a human being and the world around him. The true martial art's goal is not to become stronger than one's opponent but to find in that opponent a way to realize harmony. There is no enemy anymore as such, but an opportunity offered to reach unified ki.
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