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Old 08-19-2007, 08:06 AM   #1
kokyu
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History of Shomenuchi

Many years ago, when I first started Aikido in the UK, I was taught that shomenuchi started from gyaku hanmi. Then, when I shifted to Singapore, the people also started shomenuchi from gyaku hanmi.

However, when I moved to Japan for a while, I found that people started shomenuchi from ai hanmi. I was told by a Swiss the reason people did not start shomenuchi from gyaku hanmi was that uke was opening himself for a kick as he stepped forward.

Then I shifted to Malaysia and everyone did shomenuchi from gyaku hanmi... so I just followed the norm...

After that, I went to Japan for a short visit with some fellow students. The Japanese Sensei called one of my seniors to attack shomenuchi. After demonstrating the technique, he explained to his own students that attacking shomenuchi from gyaku hanmi was a 'furui' (old) way of attacking... I think he wanted to point out that people from my dojo attacked differently...

Is it possible when Aikido first went overseas, the Sensei at that time taught shomenuchi from gyaku hanmi, while things changed in Japan, and shomenuchi moved to starting from ai hanmi? So, the overseas students preserved the 'older' way of attacking?
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Old 08-19-2007, 02:34 PM   #2
Don_Modesto
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Interesting question. I have no input on this (we always began from GYAKU, fwiw), but I hope folks who do comment.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-19-2007, 02:47 PM   #3
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

O.k. For us, right foot is behind, it goes forward along with right hand...or if the left, the opposite is the case.

Looking at my list of requirments, I see that we do shomenuchi Ai Hanmi...not sure why or if we even do both (took a quick look through.)

Anyway...didnt help much, but there you go.

Peace

dAlen

Last edited by dalen7 : 08-19-2007 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 08-19-2007, 07:07 PM   #4
Just Jamey
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

This is sort of a fun question.

I'm not sure one is older than the other. If you watch or practice Saito Sensei's Aiki-Ken the ken suburi, and, if I'm not mistaken, the kumitachi practices include shomenuchi strikes from both an "ai-hanmi" and "gyaku-hanmi" positions.

We've, over the past couple of years, been practicing both entries when executing shomenuchi. If I have our history correct this arose out of the incorporation of what some of the shihan from Japan were teaching in recent years. Maybe it's not so much one is older than the other, rather they've been taking turns being more predominant?

Either way, ain't it fun practicing the variety?
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Old 08-19-2007, 07:24 PM   #5
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Hi Soon-Kian,

I don't know about the historical significance (if any) of the kind of differences that you've seen, but I'll just say that at least here in the United States, I've been exposed to pretty much all combinations of hanmi relationship (ie ending up in aihanmi or gyakuhanmi) and which hand to strike with (ie striking with the "back" hand by stepping through, striking with the "front" hand with just a shuffle-step).

At least personally, I ask beginners to end up in gyakuhanmi when striking with shomenuchi so as to have the same ending hanmi relationship as in katatedori and yokomenuchi. In regular practice, though, I personally don't pay much attention as to how my partner or I am standing when receiving a shomenuchi. Maybe that's why I feel so wobbly at times...

-- Jun

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Old 08-20-2007, 08:25 AM   #6
kokyu
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Ok... but the statement about setting yourself up for a kick in the groin if you start from gyaku hanmi and step forward to strike seems logical though...

Having trained in the States as well (AAA and USAF-WR), I've observed that people tend to start from gyaku hanmi for shomenuchi... and these organizations were started by Shihan who moved to the US some time back... that's why I asked the question about the 'older' way of attacking

If you look at Doshu's books, uke starts from ai hanmi when performing shomenuchi... I believe you can see the same thing in Total Aikido by Shioda Kancho

Of course, in a real situation, it doesn't really matter... you can't ask your attacker to 'take 2' and change his hanmi
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:22 AM   #7
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

we do both.

The common way for kendo people to stand is ai hanmi, both with right foot forward (chudan vs chudan). And when in shinai kendo, from this after the shomen you'd still be in ai hanmi due to fumi-komi.
However in kata there are times when you're in gyaku hanmi (hidari vs migi jodan for instance) and you step through to make the cut ending in ai hanmi.

In terms of history, IMHO, it has to come from sword work.

No doubt someone will slate me for making such a blanket statement.

peace and love

Jo
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:36 AM   #8
tarik
 
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote: View Post
Ok... but the statement about setting yourself up for a kick in the groin if you start from gyaku hanmi and step forward to strike seems logical though...
Anytime you break distance (maai), you set yourself up for a being [counter] attacked. If your partner is skilled, breaking distance first makes you dead. So then...

Quote:
If you look at Doshu's books, uke starts from ai hanmi when performing shomenuchi... I believe you can see the same thing in Total Aikido by Shioda Kancho
Kata.

Quote:
Of course, in a real situation, it doesn't really matter... you can't ask your attacker to 'take 2' and change his hanmi
Randori.

In the end, it's not what stance you start in that's important. It's an understanding of your openings and your opponents openings. My favorite thing to do to 'programmed' yudansha is to either change my stance when they try to look down at my feet for guidance about how to attack me, or to drop into a neutral stance.

Anyway, I wish I were better at recognizing openings then I am.. I see my openings, but often far too late to do anything about them.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:47 AM   #9
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Anyway, I wish I were better at recognizing openings then I am.. I see my openings, but often far too late to do anything about them.
It's a stage... be patient. Keep seeing the openings, do what seems appropriate at the time, and give up wishing that you're better than you are at this instant. Easy to say and very difficult to do, until it isn't...

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:54 AM   #10
Budd
 
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Nicely put, Clark Sensei, seems to fall right in step with "Don't quit and don't die!" . . . .

Best/Budd
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:04 AM   #11
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Hiya,

Interesting question. We do both ai hanmi and gyaku hanmi shomenuchi. A similar question I'd like to ask would be whether the shomenuchi moves upwards first before coming down. I seem to keep seeing only a downward stroke in lots of places, but again we do both and I have no way of determining if one is older than the other or not (hence the question obviously).

Regards

Mike

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-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:54 PM   #12
Don_Modesto
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Actually, I was scolded by a very serious Federation beginner once (who was visiting an ASU dojo) to attack with the "proper foot." She was quite put out that I wasn't paying attention. It wasn't until a few months later when I was training in a Fed. dojo that I realized MY ORGANIZATION basically doesn't pay much attention to this.

The ASU teacher in the first dojo actively discourages this practice, but I see a value in attacking from GYAKU HANMI for beginners as it makes things easier. The danger, of course, is that folks will become reliant on this as a crutch.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:20 PM   #13
tarik
 
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote: View Post
It's a stage... be patient. Keep seeing the openings, do what seems appropriate at the time, and give up wishing that you're better than you are at this instant. Easy to say and very difficult to do, until it isn't...
Ha! The paradox of our training, perhaps, that what we're learning to do is very simple, but not very easy.

What's weird is having my body in the middle of executing something while my mind is screaming.. no no no, not that! Or more accurately.. how do I fix/compensate for that what I just f'ed up?

Interestingly, the more I relax, the less that happens. Everything works so much better when the mind stops trying to anticipate and make decisions. Learn and forget, so to speak, but not REALLY, no, not really. Programming.

I've been reading one of your recommended books lately about developing situational awareness (SA) and the process of creating automatic autonomic responses to input that are beneficial (expertise) instead of a [panicked] reaction to overwhelming information stimuli.

Makes for interesting reading and puts tandoku undo and musubi renshu into new (old) perspective. Solo practice and basic paired has more meaning and importance than ever.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:22 PM   #14
tarik
 
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote: View Post
The ASU teacher in the first dojo actively discourages this practice, but I see a value in attacking from GYAKU HANMI for beginners as it makes things easier. The danger, of course, is that folks will become reliant on this as a crutch.
To my mind, the value in being specific is to learn both patterns of movement so that you can be spontaneous in a non-kata situation.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-21-2007, 01:35 PM   #15
odudog
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

In the end once you really get to know what is going on, the feet doesn't matter. How the feet are once you start to learn the art is just a teaching method so that everyone is on the same page. Eventually you will be doing shomenuchi using both methods because you aren't going to be able to dictate how you're feet are or the aggressor's feet if you need to use this for real.
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Old 08-21-2007, 08:30 PM   #16
Mark Uttech
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Saotome said once that shomenuchi was just "shaking hands". I think that view is from gyaku hanmi.

In gassho,

Mark

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Old 08-22-2007, 03:11 AM   #17
Tim Griffiths
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

I'm surprised the Japanese sensei in the opening post said that starting in Gyaku is the old way - it seems to me that older books show it from ai-hamni (front hand), and its practiced that way in Iwama, Yoshinkan and Aikikai. I've only practiced it from back hand/gyaku in Ki Soc. or Seidokan dojos (where I started, also in the UK). I'm tempted to say the gyaku version became more standard from Tohei, as its a longer, more flowing attack than from ai-hanmi.

I'm comfortable with both, but I think I prefer it from ai-hanmi - its a faster, short-range attack and the footwork can be a little less natural - so its good to get the practice.

Tim

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Old 08-22-2007, 03:29 AM   #18
grondahl
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

In Iwama-style aikido I think the most common version of shomenuchi where uke initiates the waza is the one where Uke takes a step and strikes/cuts with the back hand (Shomenuchikomi).

But on the other hand, most waza that are called "Shomenuchi XXX" are initiated byt tori who starts the waza by striking uke with a shomenuchi from aihanmi.
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Old 08-22-2007, 05:59 AM   #19
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

We practice by stepping forward with the strike, for ostensibly the same reasons expressed by Jun; it coincides with learning form in other techniques.

Having practiced Kyokushinkai for a reasonable period of time, I view shomen and yokomen as being highly stylised attacks, used more for the shape and form than as an effective attack.

The idea of someone kicking to the groin whilst moving forward to strike is not an enormous concern to me; if I was trying to strike shuto my stance would be such that I can fend a kick to the groin with my knee and elbow.

I have found traversing the difference in shuto and shomen to be the most difficult aspect of my training in Aikido, but am hopefully starting to get a basic understanding of the whys and wherefores of particular attacks, especially in how they relate to other Aikido technique.

To your question, I wonder whether it is not so much the old vs new as it is the individual instructors views and experiences and the influence this has on their teaching.
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:01 AM   #20
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

I learned the shomenuchi strike from ai-hanmi while in Japan. All of the US dojo's I've visited practice shomenuchi from gyaku-hanmi.
I guess I have a preference for the ai-hanmi version because like Tim, I see it as a quicker strike.
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:13 AM   #21
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote: View Post
Hiya,

Interesting question. We do both ai hanmi and gyaku hanmi shomenuchi. A similar question I'd like to ask would be whether the shomenuchi moves upwards first before coming down. I seem to keep seeing only a downward stroke in lots of places, but again we do both and I have no way of determining if one is older than the other or not (hence the question obviously).
As I see it, "shomenuchi" refers to a strike to the top of the head while "shomenate" refers to the more linear strike to the front of the head/face.
Shomenuchi is pretty much a useless way to attack someone empty handed but we can learn some things from training with it as an attack.
Shomenate, OTH, can be a very quick and effective attack. Sometimes we like to bring it from down low as a palm strike to the chin. Is that still shomenate or is that drifting into the relm of tsuki?
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:19 AM   #22
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

We normally practice shomenuchi starting from ai-hanmi, attacking with the "front hand".
Our stepping thougn is two steps, step off with the "rear" foot", another step through, and strike, eg. in migi (right) ai-hanmi, we step first with the left foot, another step with the right foot, and then strike with the right hand.
This is also the way we perform "mae giri" in ken suburi.

Inocencio Maramba, MD, MSc
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Old 08-24-2007, 05:39 AM   #23
kokyu
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Tim Griffiths wrote:
I've only practiced it from back hand/gyaku in Ki Soc. or Seidokan dojos (where I started, also in the UK). I'm tempted to say the gyaku version became more standard from Tohei, as its a longer, more flowing attack than from ai-hanmi.
That might be the key to this issue... Tohei Sensei was once the Head Instructor at Hombu Dojo (before the split into Ki no Kenkyukai, Aikikai, Tomiki and Yoshinkan)... so the people who were sent overseas during that period passed on the gyaku hanmi way of shomenuchi... I believe that many of the dojos these people started have grown into large organizations...
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Old 08-24-2007, 06:04 AM   #24
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
Hi Soon-Kian,

I don't know about the historical significance (if any) of the kind of differences that you've seen, but I'll just say that at least here in the United States, I've been exposed to pretty much all combinations of hanmi relationship (ie ending up in aihanmi or gyakuhanmi) and which hand to strike with (ie striking with the "back" hand by stepping through, striking with the "front" hand with just a shuffle-step).

-- Jun
This has been my experience also. Perhaps we would need to study the Noma Dojo photo archive to see more clearly what was done before the war.

I have just come back from a very interesting trip to Malaysia and Brunei, where they appear to start from the back foot. I suspect this was a convention established for the purposes of teaching maai etc, since no swordwork has been officially taught in the dojos I visited. I myself have been brought up on the kumi-tachi model (as seen in the early Saito volumes), where everything starts from ai-hanmi.

However, technicians like Seigo Yamaguchi were in shizentai and could happily move from either foot...

Best regards to all,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 08-24-2007, 07:29 AM   #25
Ron Tisdale
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Re: History of Shomenuchi

Quote:
Sometimes we like to bring it from down low as a palm strike to the chin. Is that still shomenate or is that drifting into the relm of tsuki?
Yoshinkan parlance for this would be shomen tsuki, as in katate mochi, shomen tsuki (one hand grasp, face thrust). Shite does the face thrust for the throw, the balance is first broken by entering to the side of uke.

Best,
Ron

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