Rupert, maybe you and I are defining tenkan differently - if by tenkan you mean a circular dance I agree with you. But I am a firm proponent of the belief that every tenkan is essentially an irimi.
The example I use is when I see a parking spot open up across the street and I make a fast uturn to grab it before anybody else can. It is a tenkan but it is 100% direct irimi.
So to me, on the mat, my tenkan is a movement FROM irimi in order to deal with something like a tactical need to get my attacker moving in a particular direction due to the presence of obstacles or other attackers.
Hi Janet, I am thinking of sword attack, which is what Aikido is supposed to be based on (not parking my car). If the irimi
is good, the tenkan
will kill you. That's the way I see it. I know we all usually start Aikido from avoidance, take balance, make technique, etc. etc. but as you hone your skill you need less and less avoidance until you can just walk straight through your uke
With that in mind, I personally think the two irimi
and two tenkan
practice method of most dojos to be a huge mistake. Or perhaps, it only makes sense once you realise it to be a mistake.