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Old 08-02-2022, 11:55 PM   #1
IvLabush
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Lightbulb Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Hi folks,
For me, it's good to have dumb questions always so I start with the most basic one.

One of the most common concepts, when someone wants to systematize Aikido techniques, are omote (表) and ura (裏) techniques with widespread explanations like 'omote when we move in front of uke and ura is about to move to rear the uke'.
The first discrepancy that comes to mind regarding this classification is kaiten nage omote. First demo appeared in YT search completely not about moving in front of uke and even uchi kaiten nage from Tissier doesn't look like moving in front. At that point, classification seems broken however it would be nice to hear explanations about kaiten nage.

And still, the question appears to that classification. Other Japanese arts contain the same concepts however this different meaning is more about tactic rather than body position.

So the question is how it comes that omote appears moving in front and ura is about moving rear in Aikido?

Any thoughts about that will be appreciated.

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Old 08-06-2022, 04:15 PM   #2
Setok
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

As I understand it, omote quite literally means front in Japanese, and ura behind or rear. I'm not sure if it's worth reading anything more into it than that. The way we do omote and ura kaitennage are different. While the omote is not as clearly ‘in front' as, say, ikkyo, it lacks the step behind and 180 turn that the ura version has at the throwing step. So omote is throwing to the forwards direction that uke is pointing to and omote is switching to throwing to the rear direction.

The soto vs uchi is a different thing. So there are basically 4 ways a kaitennage can play out.
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Old 08-07-2022, 12:47 AM   #3
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

2Setok,
You're completely right about the translation of omote and ura however why does it relate to body position against uke, not the technique itself?

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Old 08-07-2022, 08:17 AM   #4
Setok
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Quote:
Ivan Labushevskiy wrote: View Post
2Setok,
You're completely right about the translation of omote and ura however why does it relate to body position against uke, not the technique itself?
I'm not sure I understand the question. I would describe it as two variants of the technique: one that goes to front or forwards of uke, and the other that goes to the rear. Often timing and position of uke related to which one makes more sense. So they are different techniques, or at least alternative implementations, but related to position.

This may or may not be the same as other arts like kenjutsu, but broadly that's how it is in aikido and also, from my experience, older Takuma Hisa's type of Daito Ryu (and probably Ueshiba's). Other lineages may have a different logic, I don't know.
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Old 08-07-2022, 10:01 PM   #5
Walter Martindale
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

My understanding was that omote techniques moved uke towards nage's front, while ura techniques moved uke around behind where nage was. Uke moves forward to the ground versus uke gets moved around behind to the ground.
I could be forgetting - hip problem means no aikido for the last several years
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Old 08-07-2022, 10:16 PM   #6
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

The question was about why omote and ura in Aikido relate to body position against uke 'cause such an approach is not traced in other Japanese schools in which Aikido is rooted. Where are the roots of this for me artificial division?

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Old 08-08-2022, 05:13 AM   #7
Setok
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Quote:
Ivan Labushevskiy wrote: View Post
The question was about why omote and ura in Aikido relate to body position against uke 'cause such an approach is not traced in other Japanese schools in which Aikido is rooted. Where are the roots of this for me artificial division?
Why would you describe it as artificial? I would think it's quite logical to call two frequently made variants of techniques with those names, where one is going forwards, the other behind. What other wording would one use for those variants? You say it is not traced to arts in which aikido is rooted, but as mentioned I've seen very similar terminology and meaning for at least some techniques being applied in Daito Ryu (like the equivalent of ikkyo/ikkajo).

(Though it's worth remembering that any formal DR curriculum may have only appeared after Takeda, and that of his son already apparently differs quite a bit from what Ueshiba etc were doing)
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Old 08-08-2022, 05:21 AM   #8
Setok
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Quote:
Ivan Labushevskiy wrote: View Post
The first discrepancy that comes to mind regarding this classification is kaiten nage omote. First demo appeared in YT search completely not about moving in front of uke and even uchi kaiten nage from Tissier doesn't look like moving in front. At that point, classification seems broken however it would be nice to hear explanations about kaiten nage.
.
I finally had a chance to watch these videos and both are, indeed, kaitennage omote, although do have circular movement before the actual throw part. But after they go under the arm (uchi kaitennage) they then throw uke forwards (in the direction uke is facing). The ura version would be to, at that point, step behind uke, bringing their arm with them (possibly grabbing a collar behind the head) and to throw them at a 180° angle from where they were initially facing.

Perhaps the confusion comes from how kaitennage can have a fair bit of circular movement before that happens? So yes in both cases you end up somewhat to the rear of uke, but the actual throw is different in omote and ura, with a bigger step behind uke in ura.
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Old 08-08-2022, 06:01 AM   #9
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

2Setok,
both are ura by classification 'go in front' or 'go rear' if you ask me.
Regarding classification of other arts, it's not related to position against uke. That's why I wonder why it's exactly like that in Aikido however isn't inherited from roots.

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Old 08-09-2022, 09:54 AM   #10
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Quote:
Ivan Labushevskiy wrote: View Post
2Setok,
both are ura by classification 'go in front' or 'go rear' if you ask me.
Regarding classification of other arts, it's not related to position against uke. That's why I wonder why it's exactly like that in Aikido however isn't inherited from roots.
Look again. Specifically after nage goes under the arm of uke. Follow the direction of the throw: it is executed in the direction uke is looking towards (forwards). To use Tissier as an example, here is kaitennage ura: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UTulCYqKp0

Note how, after the moment where he goes under the arm, he ends up stepping to the rear of uke, and executes the throw 180° from the direction uke is looking at. He turns uke 180° by going behind uke before throwing, hence it being the ura version.

I have experienced the exact same logic in Daito Ryu (the 'behind' version and the 'to front' version), so I don't think aikido differs in that respect.
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Old 08-20-2022, 01:29 PM   #11
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

The way I understand this (Iwama background) it is not 'omote when we move in front of uke and ura is about to move to rear the uke'.
Omote is when the techniques is executed when the uke is facing you (more or less) and ura is when uke faces away from you (more or less).

Typically the uke gets this or that way, because you move them into that position.

Omote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4c67YE4mk0

Last edited by sorokod : 08-20-2022 at 01:42 PM.

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Old 08-23-2022, 10:42 PM   #12
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Ai symbol Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

In addition to physical, positional advantages, there are also non-physical aspects that can be explored by digging into 表 [omote - visible] and 裏 [ura - invisible].

Omote is what you allow uke to see; ura is what you hide from uke.

Michael Hacker
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Old 12-03-2022, 06:46 AM   #13
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Quote:
Michael Hacker wrote: View Post
In addition to physical, positional advantages, there are also non-physical aspects that can be explored by digging into 表 [omote - visible] and 裏 [ura - invisible].

Omote is what you allow uke to see; ura is what you hide from uke.
This is more in line with my understanding:
Omote is the obvious and ura what is behind it, the hidden.
The tradition of technical execution is the symbolic, physically visible, phenomenal representation of these concepts, i.e. omote in front of the partner's eyes and ura in the back, i.e. where his eyes are averted from, where only his through appropriate practice united vision and ratio may finally come to see and understand .


One should also not forget that in modern Aikido the roles of "tori" (nage) and uke are deliberately reversed in comparison to the ancient tradition, but that this role play should get completely lost in the advanced stage. It then should turn into a completely free togetherness, where is neither uke nor nage, omote nor ura, neither you nor me, ... only an entity of two or more.
We have to be truly strong to create and allow this to happen.

Best,
Bernd
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Old 07-18-2023, 12:40 AM   #14
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Talking Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

In addition to the discussion, I found an excellent example of ura technique from Kannagara no Budo of Takuma Hisa made by Ueshiba's molds.
According to my records, it corresponds with the 50th technique of the 5th volume of Soden.
AFAIK the first 5 Soden volumes are called 'Aikido' as Ueshiba teaching.
This sample shows that the ura technique does not require moving behind Uke's back.

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Old 07-18-2023, 04:46 PM   #15
Craig Moore
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

I'd be interested to see which example of ura technique in Kannagara no Budo you're talking about. I'm looking at the pdf from Chris Li's Aikido Sangenkai blog. The lack of page numbers through the technique photo pages or technique numbers might make it difficult, but do you have a way of referencing which one it is?

Thanks.
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Old 07-19-2023, 04:55 AM   #16
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Actually, I tried to attach the link to this picture in my previous post as far as it's impossible to put images on the forum directly. It's on the 53rd page of pdf document if it helps.

Last edited by IvLabush : 07-19-2023 at 04:59 AM.

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Old 07-19-2023, 07:20 PM   #17
Craig Moore
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Page 53 - that's clear. Some of the kanji is hard to identify (blurry and possibly not modern), but it generally makes sense.

Cool technique for reversal of a kata or sode dori nikkyo attempt. But yes, it's not ura waza in any of the modern interpretations other than nage is looking at uke's back at the end (because they're folded forward). Otherwise it could be ura as in the techniques not generally shown (but put it in a book) or sort of secret, because it is a reversal.

Thanks for the highlight. I hadn't particularly noticed this technique when I've look through Kannagara no Budo before.
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Old 07-20-2023, 04:44 AM   #18
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

I figured out by observing other koryu and comparing it with Ueshiba/Hisa/Takeda stuff that ura is a backup variation if something goes wrong.

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Old 07-20-2023, 06:29 AM   #19
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Arrow Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

BTW one more urawasa from Ueshiba/Hisa/Takeda is here
Good luck to one who'd like to learn it without the teacher by the pictures.
It's impossible to find it anywhere on the video except for two demos however it's a part of Aikido (at least should be).

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Old 07-20-2023, 08:51 PM   #20
Craig Moore
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Ura as a backup variation is one I haven't heard before but also makes sense.

Yeah, there's a big gap between photo 1 and 2 of the last example you give. It's also obviously a reversal with the original uke becoming nage, but very much start and end with no depiction of the middle bits.

The problem with these terms is the various historical and cultural understandings that mean different people use them in different ways, even in the same art.

Can't remember which one, but I recall going through the various old books posted on the Aikido Sangenkai blog and suddenly realised that one book showed 左半身 left hanmi with a picture of standing left foot forward and in another a picture of right foot forward (front of the body to the left side). If old documents don't even consistently describe left and right, what hope have we got for omote, ura, kokyu, aiki, etc.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to understand the common versions and where they can be based on a different point of view, so I like your original question. The common blurring of irimi/tenkan with omote/ura also makes this unclear.
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Old 07-20-2023, 10:44 PM   #21
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Old manuals like Kannagara no Budo, different Aikido Densho, or Soden actually not manuals but are rather cheatsheets so I'm not expecting from them detailed explanations. One can refer to it to recollect something he or she knew already. All of those fancy words like omote, ura, kokyu, aiki, and so on should be transmitted by the teacher.

Regarding irimi for me it's quite hard to remember any irimi urawasa in my terminology set however I'm sure I can do something from this plane.

Tenkan in Aikido is quite artificial nowadays.

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Old 07-29-2023, 04:11 AM   #22
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

Quote:
Ivan Labushevskiy wrote: View Post
BTW one more urawasa from Ueshiba/Hisa/Takeda is here
Good luck to one who'd like to learn it without the teacher by the pictures.
It's impossible to find it anywhere on the video except for two demos however it's a part of Aikido (at least should be).
Looks more like kaeshi-waza, not like an ura-technique
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Old 07-30-2023, 03:28 AM   #23
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Re: Meaning of omote and ura in Aikido

I think in my book I outline about 7 different interpretations of what omote and ura mean. Search for it in the Website forum - Discovering Aikido.

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