Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
Doing an irimi (as Dazzler pointed out) and then tenkan (or tenkai) would put me to his side, and in a natural position to redirect his attack without having to rush so deeply behind him...
It seems that each style has its own preferred techniques for dealing with gyaku-yokomen and similarly suhei-uchi (excuse spelling) - this is a reverse side strike eg uke has struck with shomen which has been evaded and he follows up with a 2nd strike from the completion position of the first.
To clarify, my use of the word tenkan was not necessarily to describe the turn and step back used commonly throughout aikido but simply to turn back.
Assuming uke has right foot forwards and strikes with the right hand, tori (from ai hanmi posture ) would step forward with the left foot and turn. By opening the hips instead of stepping back room is created for ukes attack to pass its target and dissipate in the space previously occupied by uke.
Some further thoughts.....
My background is primarily aikikai influenced so my training has been more along the lines of studying why this works rather than just doing something that works. For me certain factors are under consideration here.
Most importantly, the depth of entry. Effectively this controls the maai - distance between tori and uke. In the teaching I've received this essential base of aikido will dictate the appropriate techniques and we are taught not to try to impose a technique in a situation which would be illogical.
Tori takes a small step, not quite making up the ground to uke, and this would be ideal position for kotegaeshi for instance. The presence or absence of a weapon could influence the style of the kotegaeshi, eg blade up from a slash can be dealt with in standard fashion (or what seems standard to me across various styles), blade down in stabbing fashion might require a certain adaptation to turn the blade back on uke.
Take a larger step, effectively positioning tori next to ukes side, and as others have said, ikkyo variants or perhaps gokyo against a blade, hijikimeosae (waki gatame?) or even Erics soto kaiten nage can be achieved.
Finally take a full step and irimi nage, the ushiro nage (we would call this ushiro kiri otoshi) are more suitable techniques.
One thing I'll add is that early control of the elbow is essential here, (rather than the wrist since this could expose Tori to a strike with ukes free elbow.
Again, depending on depth of entry it may be preferable to control with the left hand on a shorter entry and the right hand on a deeper entry. Either way it needs to be controlled as Uke positions himself for his countering technique.
This need not be a block since having passed its target the attack will be losing force, but it must be a control to prevent uke rediverting their attack.
Really all of these 'techniques' follow 2 patterns, either a.enter and turn, absorbing ukes attack then redirect it to them, or b. enter and turn, and keep turning absorbing ukes attack in a downward spiral.
Obviously there will be many people who can make the techniques work at any range with the right uke. Fair play to them - I'm not saying you are wrong. All I'm throwing into the pot is the concept of right technique at the right place.