A Journey Through O’Sensei’s Budo – 2: Irimi

Irimi is Ichi-no-Tachi,  swords passing each other.  Leap forward as the opponent inhales;  apply technique with your exhalation…”  – – – O’Sensei

Irimi  lets innumerable techniques emerge depending on its appliance in each situation and it is also here that we find the meaning of Takemusu Aikido  –  a budo that creates.”  – – –  Shoji Nishio  Shihan

On Sunday,  March 1st,  Kimbal Anderson Sensei taught a workshop on Irimi – using paragraph 2 of the 1938 manual Budo as a starting point. Starting with an hour and a half of relaxation work – we explored the aiki-inyo aspects of irimi-nage,  starting with yamabiko-no-michi,  initial entry and unbalancingand ki-musubi by “looking through their eyes.”

Morihiro Saito Shihan wrote:  “Irimi technique…was considered to be a secret technique to escape from multiple attackers. The other name for this is ‘Yama-biko-no-michi’, [the way of the mountain echo]…. As you extend your Ki, the Ki of your opponent will return to you like an echo. However you do not receive your opponent’s Ki because you have instantly moved past him to his rear.”

The quality of movement that this is about is like a drop of water hanging on a leaf in the forest – it reflects everything around it perfectly – it’s not static:  it’s actually circulating – you can see the whole forest in the drop – the tiniest breeze and the droplet falls naturally like an arrow let loose from a bow. Your uke:  their thought, even their ki movement can be just enough – so that their movement, their impulse even, makes the droplet begin its motion: and it drops naturally – it isn’t forceful – and it’s consistent: it just always happens – it’s happening everyday in a rainstorm.

And so as a practitioner: you fill  your body with ki, like the droplet you fill it right up to the brim. It’s not under duress, it’s balanced perfectly, like the raindrop – – – anything that happens, whether it be six people moving around you, or a single uke, and you begin your motion. It appears to the outsider as if you moved first, because you’re moving off their ki:  before their physical bodies even get in motion, they’ve set their ki in motion, created the shape of how they’re coming. They’ve also created all the exits, and all the shikaku, and to see that in a glimpse and move only where it’s open… naturally like that droplet you’ll pass through them.

And that’s the thing of being able to be in the state of consciousness where your body naturally moves. You don’t think consciously “there’s the opening”… you’re  in the correct state of being, like the water droplet, that falls naturally and sinks into the ground through the points of  no resistance. It doesn’t fight its way down to the ground.

So you’re in that state,  they move – on an energy level – in other words the first person thinks to go –  and that  creates the dynamic. Because that person creates where all the others can go:  they have to go around that person’s path… and like the water droplet, you just pass through.  With enough training, in that moment, it’s just crystal clear where the hole is.

And you can not hesitate.

And if you watch pictures of O’Sensei doing that thing, with a group of people, you can see this twisting spiral motion where he’s entering right through that hole. But if you watch their movement, he triggers it by their ki.

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