Re: "Irimi" by Ellis Amdur
This is the reply I put on Aikido Journal.
Ellis as an aikidoka I have a lot of problems with this article.
1. The article is from a koryu perspective. But it's not at all realistic for aikido and taijutsu and tachidori. If I have a sword and you don't - and I'm determined to strike you - if you don't get off the line or run away you die. Simple. You can try it 100 times. You will be hit 100 times. I have no doubt about it. The only way an entry works on the line of a weapon strike - sword strike, spear thrust or bottle or brick swing - is if the uke is inexperienced. Or fake.
2. Irimi in aikido isn't getting out of the way and then doing something. It's a sen no sen entry simultaneously getting off the line. That's why we say sokumen irimi. It's a straight line entry to the flank. Try that 100 times against an opponent with a sword. You won't be hit 100 times. In some years you won't be hit at all. That's a pretty simple comparison. Enter straight - certain death. Enter to the flank - possible life - probable life - certain life. What budoka wouldn't choose that?
3. That kenjutsu sword strike is a go no sen strike within a kata. You have to wait for the attacker to strike and then rely on experience and timing. In aikido we don't wait for anything.
4. I wouldn't recommend your irimi with the body to a 50kg woman against a big guy like you. Aikido isn't just a budo for big guys. It's for anyone.
5. I don't agree about the place to occupy in irimi. You think that we should take the space the opponent is trying to occupy. Not in aikido we don't. We let the opponent take the space they want. What we do is give them no choice. So that they want to take the space that we want them to take. I think this is a fundamental difference in philosophy.
6. Aikido is training in principles. If we can enter against a sword we can enter against a punch or a spear or anything else. Your theory of entry might work if you have a sword yourself to use against your opponent's sword. Might. But it certainly won't if you don't. So your model doesn't seem to have any internal coherence.
7. Your article was interesting and it's helping people to think about irimi more deeply. So thanks for that. Although I don't agree with you about a lot of things I respect your work and I always read it with interest.