NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

This Week In Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #16

July 16, 2014

In This Issue:

  1. Clarifying Terms:  Japanese Vocabulary Confusion   
  2. Omote vs Ura.  An analysis of the Omote Movement in Defense (originally referenced incorrectly as “Irimi Movement” in This Week In Nihon Goshin Aikido #15)
  3. An International Nihon Goshin Aikido Study Group begins in August in the Olympic City of Serajavo, Bosnia-Herzogovina
  4. Aikido Topic Of The Week:  Are the the Classical Techniques Martial?  (We seek your input)
  5. Organizational Developments:  The South Carolina Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudansha-kai changes their name to “Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudansha-kai,” and adds a former Independent Nihon Goshin Aikido dojo in Greenville, SC to their list of affiliated dojos.
  6. Growing Our Subscriber Base ~ Please Forward to your Friends
  7. Seminars, Promotions, Expansions, and Other Announcements
  8. New Items in the Nihon Goshin Aikido Store!

Greetings Nihon Goshin Aikido Aficionado!

I hope all is well with you at your end of the great blue aikido mat on this outstanding Wednesday.  I tell you, it has been an adventuresome couple of days in “famously hot” Columbia, SC.  I was driving home Monday night at 9:30 pm, and noted that the temp on the car thermometer still read:  “92 degrees” ~ at 9:30 pm!  And it was not a “dry heat” ~~~~

Cap off the heat of the weekend with the stir my last edition of the newsletter apparently caused (which was a tad controversial due to the the inherent confusion of translating the meaning of a few Japanese terms) and let’s just say, “I’m anxious to get up to the plate for my next at bat.”  

So without further delay, consider this “early edition” of This Week in Nihon Goshin Aikido to be a “Bonus Edition.”  

Heck, I didn’t think anyone read this newsletter anyway ~

Clarifying Terms:  Japanese Vocabulary Confusion

There’s a reason we use english terms to describe what is going on as we train in Nihon Goshin Aikido.  

One of the reasons using english terminology instead of Japanese  terminology makes so much sense to use as our conversational medium is (as I heard Gary Boaz once say in a youtube video), “The second you try and translate a Japanese word to english, you lose half its meaning.”  

Compounding matters further is that even the Japanese themselves are often at odds as to what their own words mean.  For example, in A. Westbrook and O. Ratti’s “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere” ~ what they describe as the Spin Around technique *Kokyu Nage* is known as *Irimi Nage* in many traditional aikido venues.

With the understanding that a word is only useful when everyone can agree on the word’s actual meaning, here are some Japanese words and their definitions (standardized here only for the purpose of this edition of the newsletter to clarify a point I tried to make in the previous edition of the Newsletter).

Irimi: An Entering Motion

Tenkan:  A Circular Motion (Could also be a 180 Degree Pivot)

Omote: Front

Ura:  Rear

Omote Versus Ura Movements in Defense:

Now in the previous edition of the newsletter (click here and read the portion on Cross Training), I might have caused a bit of a dust up when I made mention of the fact that I believed Shodo Morita preferred not to “Irimi” (“enter”) ~ based on my understanding of the definition of the word Irimi, and my observations on the dynamics of testing requirements for senior belts, in our style, etc.  To this list of proofs, I also could have easily added the nature of the body of work represented by our 50 Classical Techniques ~ most of which have a rearward moving nature to them.  

That said, my use of the word “irimi” instead of “omote” raised some eyebrows ~ as it should have ~ because I used the wrong adjective to describe the defensive motion to which I was referring.  Irimi and omote movements are different.

What I should have said, was that “I believe that Shodo Morita preferred not to apply technique in an “Omote” Style movement ~ generally preferring “Ura” based movements instead.”

The use of the word “Ura” in our art is further complicated by the idea that “Ura’” means a “counter or reversal of an applied technique” to us.  To be fair, “Ura” may in fact mean “counter or reversal,” but as it relates to describing how techniques are employed in traditional aikido, “Ura” also means “rear.”  

The easiest way to see the difference between the Omote (front) & Ura (rear) versions of a technique is to consider the video to the left.  The Omote at 4 seconds is the movement that I am referencing as uncommon in our system.  The more familiar Ura movement (also demonstrated in the video) is generally, but not always, a near perfect application of the Classical Techniques in our system without modification.  

Please take 16 seconds to watch the video  (that’s its full length), and compare the Omote version (the technique you do not see in our style much) to the Ura version (the one you typically see) of the same technique.

After seeing the Omote Version and comparing it to the Ura Version of the technique (Nota Bena:  the question as to whether the technique demonstrated is an “Arm Bar with Spinning Arm Bar Movement” or a Spinning Arm Bar with an Arm Bar lock, is a whole other interesting question for discussion at a later date) ask yourself, “do I know (and practice) an Ura and an Omote version for most Classical Technique we have in our system?”  If our answer is “yes” ~ then Awesome!  If our answer is otherwise, then I submit that we may have untapped resources to explore in our training; as if there were not enough to keep us busy!!!

Regardless, I believe that the goal of our study is to arrive at the ultimate point of flexibility in martial movements.  This could be reflected in one’s ability to employ any number of techniques with either an omote or ura, irimi or tenkan movement from any attack ~ without need to necessarily read the attack it advance.  The goal might be to arrive at a proverbial point in our mental and martial preparation where we can say, “The decision for me is, ‘Do I go right or left?,’ and this decision is not based on the uke’s choice of attack.  It is based on my preference for movement when he attacks.  Where will I be safer?  That’s the question I ask, and it does not matter if I use Omote or Ura type movement, nor does it depend on what attack the uke is throwing at me when I arrive there; I will have a technique to deal with him.”  (Quotation from Sensei Lamar Sanders, 5th Dan, Aikikai)

Finally and importantly, I did converse with a confidant who is a dan graded practitioner in Nihon Goshin Aikido and a dan graded practitioner in traditional Aikido.  As it relates to the matter of omote and ura movements, he concurred with my assessment or hypothesis that Master Morita’s preference for movement was the ura movement.  One further point my confidant added ~ It’s really hard to do an Omote Movement correctly.”   So maybe this inherent difficulty in proper execution of the movement provides even more support for the reasoning as to why Master Morita chose not to stress Omote movements in his style of aikido (assuming you agree with my premise).

Nihon Goshin Aikido Study Group Opening in Bosnia-Hertzogovina in August!

As far as I know this expansion marks Nihon Goshin Aikido’s first move into international waters since 1962 when Mr. Bowe crossed the Pacific and returned to the East Coast.  I may be wrong on that front, so please let me know if I am misinformed.  That said, there are no international Nihon Goshin Aikido dojos listed on any of the organizations’ websites.

Ragib Karamehmedovic is beginning the formal training of a portion of his existing students in August at his current dojo in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.  

In his initial contact with me, he stated, that it was Mr. MacEwen’s videos that inspired him to reach out to us.  “I never knew aikido could be that explosive.”  He has sent me many videos and maintained solid lines of communication and contact with me since that time.  In his latest correspondence (after a thorough review of Mr. Weber’s DVD documentary of the 50 Classical Techniques, and Mr. MacEwen’s Dynamic Aikido Video Series which focuses on applications), he really summed up our art nicely:  

"Now I am being able to realize the concept behind NGA.

Be so kind to correct me if I am wrong.  Basic(ly the) 50 techniques are parts of a puzzle.

Instead of giving recipes for defense, which is usually impossible, NGA gives parts of a puzzle. Using (these) parts - the 50 basic techniques - we are able to produce any combination (of defense) in (any) given circumstance.

This approach is excellent, because any technique, or any combination can go either this or that way, so we must be able to recognize the situation  at the moment and reply. We are able to reply accordingly,  if we do not have (a) cookbook approach, but are able to use any of the puzzle parts to solve the situation.

This is very interesting approach.

Much closer to judo or MMA. You learn techniques and through situational, or randori training, you learn to apply them and combine them.  In that way you go to mastery.

(Traditional) aikido (schools) give (do not do this.  They provide) complete solution(s) of the selected situation, where students usually block (lock up or freeze) when something goes wrong, or when somebody counter(s) their technique."

I think his summary of our style of aikido absolutely “nails” it ~ do you agree?  

So to Ragib and your students who will be undertaking the mastery and study of our art, Welcome to the world of Nihon Goshin Aikido.  May its vast universe of opportunity and flexibility spark your imagination, and the imaginations of your students, for a lifetime!  

Finally, if anyone is ever in Bosnia and you find a little opportunity to train in Nihon Goshin Aikido, here is Ragib’s website address:  Feel free to contact him and welcome him into the fold.  

Aikido Topic Of The Week

Are the Classical Techniques Martial?

Yes.  I believe that most of the Classical Techniques could certainly be incorporated into a martial situation(s) without any, or only slight, modification, or adjustment.  A short list of techniques falling into this category might be, Jacket Grab, First Wrist Technique, Mugger’s Throw, Hand Shake, Shoulder Throw, Unbendable Arm Against the Kick, Twist the Ankle Against the Knee, etc.  There are obviously many others which are also recognized as immediately marital.   Just add a more little energy from uke, and you have a “real world situation” that could be dealt with by the proverbial  “Classical Technique’ book.”

The Jacket Grab is a Classical Technique which falls directly into this category.  A few years ago while serving as uke for David Johnson (a ni-dan in our organization), he mentioned that someone had speculated to him once that the Jacket Grab Classical Technique was not really a “martial technique” because nage was using 2 hands to control 1 of uke’s hands.  The idea being that uke could strike nage with his free hand, and nage would not be able to block it.  I didn’t quite get his meaning so he offered his gi for me to grip, and said, “Let’s play a game!” to prove his point.  Once I had a grip he simply said, “As soon as I start moving, try to hit me.”  He moved and I attempted to swing.  Needless to say, it was a convincing game to play, as I was unable to deliver any marital response ~ as my balance was immediately taken, and before I could recover to strike, my trapped wrist was painfully contorted.  Lesson learned.  The Classical Technique of the Jacket Grab is absolutely Martial.

That said, it might also be said that there are a few Classical Techniques (I submit ~ not that many) that probably would not fall into this immediately martial category or have an pure “martial fit”.  In other words, it might be safe to say that a few Classical Techniques are “martially influenced,” but might need to be modified to a degree from their Classical Technique anchor to develop an application that would work within the context of a true martial situation.  Two Classical Techniques that immediately come to mind which would fall into this latter category are the Lift Up, and the 2 Hand Lift Up.  I had an internal debate regarding the inclusion of a few other techniques, but for now, let’s just consider these two techniques.  Of course, I’m not saying that these two techniques or others that might fall into this category, are poor techniques.  All I’m saying is that you might be knocked unconscious by uke if you attempted to apply a Lift Up (Classical Technique) in a truly martial situation.  I may be wrong about this, maybe I should play a game and find out first hand.”  How say you?  No one doubts the Lift Up is an awesome Martial Application.  The question is, “Is the Lift Up Classical Technique a stand alone Martial Application.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the notion.

 Please use the Comment Box at the bottom of the page.  You do not need an account to leave a comment.

Nihon Goshin Aikido Organizational Developments:

The South Carolina Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudansha-kai recently changed their name to “Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudansha-kai,” and added a former Independent Nihon Goshin Aikido dojo in Greenville, SC to their list of affiliated dojos.  Mr. Joe Beckham (interviewed in a recent article here), has decided to align his dojo in Greenville, SC with the other dojos in the Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudansha-kai.  As of today, the Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudansha-kai has 4 member dojos devoted to the study of our art.  They are all located in South Carolina as follows:

Spartanburg, SC

Lexington, SC

Irmo, SC

Greenville, SC

The word on the street is that they may be expanding again soon ~ so look for more expansion news from this fast growing outfit.

Newsletter Subscribers:

More subscribers is the goal ~ so can you help us grow our Newsletter Subscription Base by passing the website along to your training buddies and asking them to subscribe?  

Our hope is to be an inter-dojo clearing house for all things NGA, but we need more subscribers to do that.  Best of all, it’s free, and who doesn’t like the word free!”  Click Here to Subscribe!

Do You Have News On Seminars, Dojo Expansions, Relocations, Grand Openings, Promotions, and/or Other Information You Want To Share?  Send us the information on it and we’ll post it here for you.

Let's meet on the mat together soon!


Jonathan Wilson

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

NGA Organizations

Dojos and Study Groups


Start an NGA Study Group



T-Shirts & Other Clothing

Gi’s and Hakamas

Training Weapons

2014 - 2021

Steven Seagal Likes The Lift Up Application!

Click Here to Read Our Analysis of Steven Seagal’s Aikido

Parallel Aikido History

Your Dojo Pictures Here

Ukemi Central

The Soft Ukemi Revolution

Real Fight Breakdowns

“You Wanna Be The Man ~ You’ve Gotta Beat The Man!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!!!”  ~~~

Rick Flair’s reasoning does not apply to self promotions in Nihon Goshin Aikido.  No one should ever outrank Mr. Bowe, or claim to be his equal in our art.

No Self Promoted Shihans

“The second you try and translate a Japanese word to english, you lose half its meaning.”  ~ Gary Boaz

The Omote Version of this Technique (@ 4 seconds) is the Movement I do not see much in our style of Aikido.  I called it “Irimi” last week, but the proper name is “Omote.”  My attempted point last week, was that if you added the Omote Movements to all of the Classically Ura techniques we have via cross training (or whatever), it would open up tons of new possibilities for the senior student.

I wonder if Takeda had a newsletter? ~~~ lol

The Oscar Ratti Inspired Nihon Goshin Aikido Yudansha-kai Shoulder Patch

Aikido Applications ~ on DVD

Mr. Robert MacEwen’s “Dynamic Aikido” is an applications focused, 8-disk DVD series.  Topics include:  Speed Enhancements, Knife Defenses,  Reversals, Defenses Against Chokes and Holds from the Rear, Unbalancing, Technique Transitions, & Ki Training Exercises.

The DVD Series that got everything started in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hertzogovina

A video documenting Ken Marvin’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease and his efforts in Nihon Goshin Aikido.

 Rip that Ai patch off your gi if you can’t take 6 minutes to watch this video ~~~~

comments powered by Disqus