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Old 03-28-2007, 09:48 AM   #1
GBiddy
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Is this Yokomenuchi?

In my last class we were practicing a yokomenuchi-kotegaishi technique when sensei comes over and tells me my yokomen is incorrect.

In Japan I was taught to start yokomen as if it were shomen: straight over your head, then swing slightly to one side and strike the side of tori's neck or head. The idea is not to reveal to your enemy (partner in the dojo) how you are going to strike before you strike. If they see a yokomen coming, it is their advantage as they can better guard against it etc...

But my current sensei explains that proper yokomen 'in this dojo' starts with your hand by your ear, and cuts down across partner's chest (not neck or head).

I know there are more ways than one to practice most Aikido techniques, yet the Yokomen I practiced in Japan seem obviously superior to the one being taught at my current dojo.

I'm getting tired of being told how 'incorrect' Aikido in Japan is taught. Aikikai is Aikikai, I thought. But I suppose this is another case of shutting up and doing what is taught out of respect for sensei, even if it seems inferior.

Or the other possibility: am I totally misunderstanding something?

GB
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Old 03-28-2007, 09:55 AM   #2
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

I've seen lots of people do that sort of yokomen uchi, and I don't get it. The only purpose I can see for doing that attack is to make it easier for tori to throw uke. I see this as cheating tori of experience.

When I see an arm go back like that, I tend to follow with a direct shomen ate.

Michael Hacker
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Old 03-28-2007, 09:59 AM   #3
raul rodrigo
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

That is a yokomen without any martial intent. Michael is right, its a blow by someone who plans on getting thrown and cant be bothered to attack for real. And it doesnt do tori any favors, just makes him delusional about his waza.
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Old 03-28-2007, 10:00 AM   #4
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

While I agree with your assesment of the yokomen (because it matches my own training here in the states), I also think you might ask the instructor *why* they do it they way they do. He might actually have reasons other than "to make it easier" for nage. It is always better to understand the reasons for doing something a certain way, rather than just accepting it from "Sensei said".

On the other hand, from your other posts, its sounds more and more like you might wish to find another place to train...

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-28-2007, 10:04 AM   #5
Mark Freeman
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Hi Gordon,

I do yokomenuchi the way you did it Japan, is it the only right way ? I don't know. If I were ever to be shown a different way, I would practice it the way shown until I felt that I had some level of 'knowing' that new way. I would then have another strategy to add to the variety of responses available to my aikido.

By the tone of your posting though, I think that opening your own dojo would be the easiest route to solving your dilema.

regards,

Mark

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Old 03-28-2007, 10:07 AM   #6
ChrisMoses
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Yokomen = side of head
kesagiri = diagonal cut through the torso

A good yokomen uchi should be as you describe. What you do with that information is going to be up to you. I know a few people who trained for a time in Japan and came back to the Americas only to be really frustrated with what they found. This was particularly true if you didn't earn shodan while in Japan. Something about the skirt gives weight to your experiences in Japan that you won't get as a kyu student. Have you thought of checking out Yoshinkan? I believe there's a pretty good Yoshinkan instructor up that a way...

Chris Moses
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Old 03-28-2007, 10:10 AM   #7
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Just to mirror what Chris said, from my response to another post of yours...

By the way, is this dojo in your neighborhood?

http://www.aikido-yoshinkai.org/burnaby/

I am aquainted with the instructor there, he spent many years training and teaching in Japan, and while not aikikai, I think he might have a lot to offer you.

Best,
Ron

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Old 03-28-2007, 10:23 AM   #8
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

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Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I know a few people who trained for a time in Japan and came back to the Americas only to be really frustrated with what they found.
I'm exactly the opposite. I became frustrated with Aikidō in Japan, and nearly quit the art altogether. Fortunately, I met my current teacher when I did. I'm probably one of the few people I know who has left Japan in order to train in the US. I've gotten used to being the odd man out.

Michael Hacker
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Old 03-28-2007, 10:51 AM   #9
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Quote:
Michael Hacker wrote: View Post
I'm exactly the opposite. I became frustrated with Aikidō in Japan, and nearly quit the art altogether. Fortunately, I met my current teacher when I did. I'm probably one of the few people I know who has left Japan in order to train in the US. I've gotten used to being the odd man out.
That certainly happens too. At this point in my training, I wouldn't fit in at just about any Aikido dojo in Japan. I'm not implying that they do everything right, and we do everything wrong. Sorry if I came across that way.

Chris Moses
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:08 AM   #10
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

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Christian Moses wrote: View Post
That certainly happens too. At this point in my training, I wouldn't fit in at just about any Aikido dojo in Japan. I'm not implying that they do everything right, and we do everything wrong. Sorry if I came across that way.
No implication presumed, no apology necessary. In fact, I may have been the one who miscommunicated. My point was actually that my experience with Aikidō in Japan was less... shall we say... "impressive" than others have reported. I felt the need to leave Japan to find what I consider to be good stuff.

Not only would I not fit in over there any more, I doubt whether I ever did in the first place. :-)

IMO, some of the Aikidō here in the US is actually much better than most of what I saw in Japan. I'd love to go back to Japan for the people, language, music, culture, shopping, and food... but not for the Aikidō.

Michael Hacker
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:27 AM   #11
odudog
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Mr. Biddy, the way you learned yokomen in Japan is the truely martial way of applying the attack. However, the way that your current dojo teaches it is purely for learning purposes. I too do it that way and am also Aikikai. I would hope that as you move up in the black belt ranking that the yokomen would then be performed in the martial way.
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:33 AM   #12
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

We were/are taught to do Yokomenuchi the way you were taught in Japan not the way your current dojo appears to think is correct.

From your other posts I think you you should seriously start looking at other dojos around your area.
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:50 AM   #13
Robert Rumpf
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Quote:
Gordon Biddy wrote: View Post
In my last class we were practicing a yokomenuchi-kotegaishi technique when sensei comes over and tells me my yokomen is incorrect.

In Japan I was taught to start yokomen as if it were shomen: straight over your head, then swing slightly to one side and strike the side of tori's neck or head. The idea is not to reveal to your enemy (partner in the dojo) how you are going to strike before you strike. If they see a yokomen coming, it is their advantage as they can better guard against it etc...

But my current sensei explains that proper yokomen 'in this dojo' starts with your hand by your ear, and cuts down across partner's chest (not neck or head).

I know there are more ways than one to practice most Aikido techniques, yet the Yokomen I practiced in Japan seem obviously superior to the one being taught at my current dojo.

I'm getting tired of being told how 'incorrect' Aikido in Japan is taught. Aikikai is Aikikai, I thought. But I suppose this is another case of shutting up and doing what is taught out of respect for sensei, even if it seems inferior.

Or the other possibility: am I totally misunderstanding something?

GB
You should ask him how that reconciles with bokken practice, especially if you think of your partner as wearing armor.

Unless the difficulties of going elsewhere are severe (commute, etc.), I'd switch dojos. If you stay at this dojo, and wish to stay sane, you'll need to find something that they do that you can learn from. Otherwise, it sounds like endless frustration, and sooner or later frustration demands an outlet.

If there wasn't any other local Aikido place, I'd consider studying a different martial art.

Rob
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Old 03-28-2007, 12:09 PM   #14
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote: View Post
Mr. Biddy, the way you learned yokomen in Japan is the truely martial way of applying the attack. However, the way that your current dojo teaches it is purely for learning purposes. I too do it that way and am also Aikikai. I would hope that as you move up in the black belt ranking that the yokomen would then be performed in the martial way.
Martial? Hmm...

Really, would you attack anybody with a yokomenuchi - done in either style? How many times have you seen either style of yokomenuchi done in an actual confrontation?

Both of them are learning tools, with their pluses and minuses, but I wouldn't classify either one as "martial".

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-28-2007, 12:17 PM   #15
ChrisMoses
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

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Robert Rumpf wrote: View Post
You should ask him how that reconciles with bokken practice, especially if you think of your partner as wearing armor.
I'm confused here. The type of line that the sensei in question is describing is more in line with most sword ryuha. Kesagiri is a much more common cut in the JSA than yokomengiri, and starting with the tegatana to the side of the head would be analogous to beginning ones cut from hasso no kamae. Cuts to the head aren't as common as cuts to the neck or body in kenjutsu because kabuto are very hard and shaped to deflect cuts.

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Old 03-28-2007, 12:19 PM   #16
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Martial? Hmm...

Really, would you attack anybody with a yokomenuchi - done in either style? How many times have you seen either style of yokomenuchi done in an actual confrontation?
Almost everytime I see someone swing a bottle or most any object used as a weapon.
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Old 03-28-2007, 12:20 PM   #17
Robert Rumpf
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I'm confused here. The type of line that the sensei in question is describing is more in line with most sword ryuha. Kesagiri is a much more common cut in the JSA than yokomengiri, and starting with the tegatana to the side of the head would be analogous to beginning ones cut from hasso no kamae. Cuts to the head aren't as common as cuts to the neck or body in kenjutsu because kabuto are very hard and shaped to deflect cuts.
Perhaps my visualization of what he is describing is different than yours.
Perhaps you've found the reasons to explain the instructor's technique.

Last edited by Robert Rumpf : 03-28-2007 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 03-28-2007, 12:37 PM   #18
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

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Paul Nowicki wrote: View Post
Almost everytime I see someone swing a bottle or most any object used as a weapon.
The usual answer, of course, but I don't buy it. If you're practicing for a weapon than why empty hand? Especially given that there are times when that kind of attack is specifically practiced with a weapon in Aikido. And no, I've never seen a school of Aikido where an empty hand yokomen is really used as a safer intermediate bridge to working against a weapon. Every Aikido school that I've ever seen (including in Japan) practices against yokomen as an empty hand attack in it's own right.

If I were making quick pokes at your face with a katana would you buy the explanation that we were practicing that way because it's "like" a jab?

Best,

Chrsi

Last edited by Chris Li : 03-28-2007 at 12:50 PM.

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Old 03-28-2007, 12:42 PM   #19
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Martial? Hmm...

Really, would you attack anybody with a yokomenuchi - done in either style? How many times have you seen either style of yokomenuchi done in an actual confrontation?

Both of them are learning tools, with their pluses and minuses, but I wouldn't classify either one as "martial".

Best,

Chris
Agreed. Yokomenuchi and Shomenuchi are training tools and are no more "martial" than grabbing a wrist is.

Our method of Yoko & Shomenuchi is a bit different and looks more like a punch though some of our senior instructors prefer the Hombu style.

William Hazen
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Old 03-28-2007, 02:18 PM   #20
Marc Abrams
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

We have a tendency to become so "locked up" in a particular "attack" and technique in response to the attack. The wrist grab is a wonderful way for a person to physically experience a connection as they learn to still feel that connection when there is distance between you and an attacker. It is a wonderful way to begin to learn the basic mechanics involved in a technique. Anybody who tells you that the grab is in preparation for being attacked in their society, should be selling land there! I would love to live in a world where somebody would "attack" me by grabbing my wrist.

Shomenuchi and Yokomenuchi strikes are a little further down the line, in regards to developing an effective application of Aikido.

Chris, you do not buy that a yokomenuchi is like a bottle swing? Many years ago, I was supporting a friend at a large night club. He was head of security. He had a new bunch of people working for him. He asked me to hang out at the club and guard his "six" until he was satisfied with their training and experience level (me and my 5'5", 130lbs.- at that time- ha, ha). He was breaking up a "dance" between two knuckleheads when a person took a beer bottle and was going to implant some glass in the back of my friend's skull. I put myself in his pathway so he took a swing at my head. A PERFECT YOKOMEN PATH! A zenpo nage, men-uchi later, this knucklehead elevated over the bar counter into the wall behind the bar. When we closed the bar (4am.- WAY past my bedtime now) we all sat at the bar laughing our asses off. I was flabbergasted that the technique worked as well as it did. It was like a scene from the movies.

The nature of the set strikes should be designed to help us develop our connection with the attacker before the attack occurs. That should enable us to connect with the vector of the attack, shape our response to it, so that a technique "reveals itself." The other component of that is that a person needs to attack sincerely. How many times have we just stood there and the strike magically stops in front of us, or veers off. We need to teach effective strikes, but realizing that it is for teaching purposes, and not indicative of how the "real world" attacker works. A more advanced level of training is a freestyle attack. When we can be relaxed, connected, and allow techniques to reveal themselvs, it is as sweet as it gets! This thread brings to mind the adage of losing the forest amongst the trees. I think that we need to be honest about the nature of the training. The training is not unrealistic, but is designed to bring us to a place where we can function effectively in a realistic attack environment.

Just my 2 cents (not worth much more than that!)

marc abrams
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Old 03-28-2007, 03:05 PM   #21
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Chris, you do not buy that a yokomenuchi is like a bottle swing?
Oh, I don't dispute that the path of the swings are the same, but attacks with weapons is not the primary reason why yokomen is practiced in Aikido dojo.

If you want to practice with something that is "like" a bottle swing then why not just practice against a bottle swing? Do boxers train against something that is "like" a punch, or do they practice against actual punches?

Now, you might argue that yokomen is practiced as a safer bridge to weapons attacks, but If that were true then you would see a gradual transition to attacks with weapons as levels progress, but as you know that never really happens.

Yes, there are some weapons attacks practiced in Aikido dojo, but those are mostly prefunctory and not studied seriously (you see them come out a lot before testing). Basically, yokomen in Aikido is practiced as an attack in its own right.

Now, there are a number of things that you can learn from yokomen, but saying that one style of yokomen is more "martial" than another makes little sense to me, when the whole attack is not really "martial" to begin with.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-28-2007, 04:06 PM   #22
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
We have a tendency to become so "locked up" in a particular "attack" and technique in response to the attack. The wrist grab is a wonderful way for a person to physically experience a connection as they learn to still feel that connection when there is distance between you and an attacker. It is a wonderful way to begin to learn the basic mechanics involved in a technique. Anybody who tells you that the grab is in preparation for being attacked in their society, should be selling land there! I would love to live in a world where somebody would "attack" me by grabbing my wrist.
Women and children might experience an attack in the form of a wrist grab more commonly than adult males.
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Old 03-28-2007, 04:14 PM   #23
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

The only difference between the so called more "martial" yokomen and the not so "martial" yokomen is that the former is disguised as a shoman at the start, the later is not, giving the Nage heads up on whats coming. The more "martial" one is one that can surprise the nage as he moves to do a shomen technique and gets bonked by a yokomen.

Overall I agree that "martial" is not really the word to use to differientiate the two. Either one can be done in a martial manner, ie. if the nage doesnt move he gets bonked in the head.
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Old 03-28-2007, 04:17 PM   #24
Marc Abrams
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

Chris:

I am certainly not implying that one style of yokomenuchi is more martial than another. I have even had punches attempt to make contact with my head that came in the form of a yokomenuchi (and a lot of other trajectories as well...). I view this strike like a lot of other attacks that we practice, and that is as a stylized means of developing the capacity to apply Aikido regardless of the form of the attack.

Ricky:

You are absolutely correct. I hope that my students understand why I emphasize the importance of shaping the attack as the grab is taking place. That goes to a more important aspect, which is situational awareness. Becoming aware as contact is being made is not a good starting place. Certainly the static grab practice is an important starting point. Women and children are more likely to be grabbed on the wrist. This is typically a prelude to something a lot worse. If the grab is being shaped as it is happening, the likelihood of successfully escaping from that situation (or generously applying a good dose of hurt) increases.

marc abrams
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Old 03-28-2007, 04:21 PM   #25
Talon
 
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Re: Is this Yokomenuchi?

if you look at this video of a fool fighting a MMA guy, you will see that grabbing the hand, arm is a pretty effective attack, when followed by punching .. check out the time of 2:48.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I

Hand / arm grabs are not all that innefective or uncommon I think....
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