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Old 02-12-2009, 10:03 AM   #1
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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The point of Yonkyo

While I was teaching yonkyo it occurred to me that I am not sure what the basic take home message of that technique is. I do not mean how it is meant to be done correctly, I am ok teaching that in accordance with my current level of skill, but what is the important aikido principle that yonkyo illustrates, be it martial, spiritual, pedagogic, whatever?

Of course I can come up with lots of general things that can be learned or practiced while doing yonkyo, but for most other techniques I have a much clearer idea what their distinct, specific value for the general study of aikido is. Not so with yonkyo, I realised.

What are your ideas?

Thanks for suggestions!

N
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:18 AM   #2
sorokod
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Re: The point of yonkyo

In the Iwama system, Yonkyo clearly demonstrates the similarity between sword work and taijitsu. The uke's hand is manipulate exactly like a bokken.

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Old 02-12-2009, 10:54 AM   #3
Alex Megann
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Re: The point of yonkyo

At the moment I am very much enjoying exploring yonkyo. Right now I understand this technique as a kind of practice of ikkyo but with both hands on the parner's wrist, rather than with one of the elbow. It then requires a much more precise use of leverage and alignment of uke's skeleton, so it's much more challenging than ikkyo. Your partner's reaction will also be much more sensitive to how much you use your whole body in a relaxed way, rather than just arm and grip strength.

It is also rather similar to sitting nigiri-ho ("gripping exercise"), where you hold both your partner's wrists and control their balance.

In yonkyo the nerve pin is incidental - against a strong partner it may not work at all if you rely on pain. However, if everything else is working correctly uke sometimes reacts as if to an electric shock.

Alex
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:00 AM   #4
dave9nine
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Re: The point of yonkyo

i agree with both comments above.
practicing iwama-ryu myself, the connection between the yonkyo grip and the bokken is unmistakable, and both seem to reinforce the other.
i also think that the 'principle' to take from yonkyo is that of being able to control uke by the extension through the elbow, and thus the shoulder and ultimately partner's center.
i personally think yonkyo is the most effective out of the ikkyo-through-yonkyo series. and yes, important to note that the nerve point is not the main thing--it's the control.
my dos pesos
-dave
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Old 02-12-2009, 11:24 AM   #5
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The point of yonkyo

The point? How to lock the shoulder through a bent joint.

Pressure point is incidental. But nice...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 02-12-2009, 02:12 PM   #6
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Thanks everybody, all valid points to consider - Especially the notion of "ikkyo without direct elbow control" makes a lot of sense for me, then thinking of Sankyo as an intermediate stage in the series.

I am also unhappy about too much reliance on the pressure point, that was the background to my question, it's certainly not about that.

Alex, btw, I started aikido under your dad in the Iffley Road sports complex almost exactly fifteen years ago. Still very grateful.

Thanks again

Nick

Last edited by Nicholas Eschenbruch : 02-12-2009 at 02:13 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 02-12-2009, 03:48 PM   #7
Jonathan
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Re: The point of yonkyo

While yonkyo can be applied successfully without emphasis on the pressure point, I am reluctant to ignore it altogether. Yes, there are those who have a naturally high pain tolerance, but their existence shouldn't be used as a reason to diminish or dismiss completely developing the capacity to project energy strongly (and painfully) into the yonkyo pressure point. My shihan has explained that yonkyo practice is, in part, an opportunity to learn to gather the body's energy and apply it in a highly concentrated way through the forearm/wrist point. If all one attempts to do is manipulate the elbow when practicing yonkyo, I think the value in practicing yonkyo is lessened.

Jon.

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Old 02-12-2009, 03:55 PM   #8
Ron Tisdale
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Re: The point of yonkyo

?? I don't ignore the pressure point, I just don't think it is the central point of the waza. Hence the term incidental.

I can't seem to find anyone saying anything about manipulating the elbow. What people have stated is more along the lines of "locking the shoulder (and there by controlling the body) through a joint that is bent, or not locked.

Anyhoo...

Best,
R

Ron Tisdale
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Old 02-12-2009, 05:18 PM   #9
Sy Labthavikul
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Re: The point of yonkyo

From my own experience I've learned that I can't rely on pain compliance as the cornerstone of a technique; it can temporarily aid in mental kuzushi, but without physics and biomechanics working for me (read as: gravity and commutative locking of joints), I can never get a noncooperative uke to drop.

Example: I was messing around with a friendly, relatively experienced (brown belt) BJJ player a year ago, who had no real experience in aikido other than what wikipedia told him. At one point during a clinch, I managed to somehow get into a good yonkyo grip on this forearm and was well situated in his blind spot, so he was pretty much at my mercy. I cut down sharply like I was taught, cutting like a bokken, and expecting to send an electric shock through his system and propelling him down onto the mat...

... and he just screamed bloody murder, hopped a bit to regain his balance which had been thrown forward, and yanked his arm out of my grip. There was a bruise slowly forming on the inside of his wrist, and he said his entire arm was tingly. I apologized profusely, and he said he wasn't angry, just that the pain was surprising, considering that he had always heard that aikido was a "gentle" art. (that made me snicker inwardly)

I explained to him what yonkyo was. Interestingly enough, he said that when he felt the pain, his first instinct wasn't to go down in order to alleviate the pressure: his first instinct was to yank his arm away, and that propelled him forward enough to be able to receive the momentum I was imparting into him through his arm, and so he kept his balance. He said that, if anything, the pain was a signal to him that I was doing something and his body went into automatic defense mode.

That made a lot of sense to me: most people don't think that falling on the floor is the best way to defend themselves against anything. Their first instinct is to remove whatever is in pain away from the source of pain, like yanking a singed finger away from a hot bowl.

This piqued my curiousity, and his as well, so we experimented with yonkyo some more, him remaining completely noncompliant and moving in ways that are completely not the way aikido uke's move. He did all sorts of things: he yanked his arm out of my grip again, and when he couldn't do that anymore he did some funky sutemi technique involving some bizarre flip and arm-barred me. He told me that he wasn't intentionally countering my technique simply because he knew it was coming; he could FEEL it coming whenever that tingly pain started running up his arm, and he acted accordingly.

Then I realized that even though I was trying to cut his arm down like a bokken, I wasn't: in order to get all that pressure bearing down on his pressure point, I was holding his arm in classic yonkyo grip:

http://www.aikido-hessen.de/yonkyo.jpg

It was perfect for applying lots of pressure into his radial nerve, but thats not how I was taught to hold a bokken: my hands were too close together. There was no control, and no leverage. All the power I was imparting was going into bruising up his skin and shocking his nervous system as opposed to affecting his center of gravity.

As soon as I moved my grip to more resemble a grip on a bokken, with my lower hand on his wrist and my upper hand on about the middle of his forearm, there was nothing he could do to prevent me from cutting him straight into the mat. He also said he felt less pain on his forearm, though he still felt some. He said he felt as if his body were being whipped around more this way than the previous way, which makes perfect sense considering I had increased my leverage and really managed to cut like with a bokken this time. He also mentioned that he had no warning that it was going to happen: without the pain as a signal, he couldn't prepare himself to regain his balance in time or counter the technique.

As a reward for being such a great partner, I returned the favor: he worked on getting past my guard for the rest of the session (I was more flexible than his training partners, and also didn't move like a BJJer, so I presented a different challenge, or so he told me).

Anyway, it was a great insight into the technique, and also a great lesson that not all people react to the same stimulus in the same way.

Last edited by Sy Labthavikul : 02-12-2009 at 05:23 PM.


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Old 02-12-2009, 06:55 PM   #10
ChrisHein
 
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Re: The point of yonkyo

I think it's an application principle. Meaning, that the way you apply Yonkyo is the lesson, not what you apply it to.

For example, nikyo, is a device oriented technique. There are lots of different ways to apply nikyo: on the shoulder, with the hand, on a weapon, wrapping around etc.

But the important part of yonkyo, is the application of the first joint of the index finger to the body. If you simply grab someone, katate, and apply yonkyo, you can bring an unsuspecting person to their knees in seconds.

This would be a useful application for dealing with a kid with a weapon. Simply grab the kid, apply yonkyo, and he'll give up. This solves a dangerous situation quickly with out doing any real damage to anyone, very "Aiki" like.

There are several stories of Takeda and Ueshiba both simply grabbing someone and the person collapsin. My guess would be that they were grabbing using yonkyo.

A good yonkyo goes right to your core, and makes you feel sick inside, if you've never felt this before it can come as quite a shock.

Last edited by ChrisHein : 02-12-2009 at 06:58 PM.

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Old 02-12-2009, 10:18 PM   #11
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Quote:
Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote: View Post
but what is the important aikido principle that yonkyo illustrates, be it martial, spiritual, pedagogic, whatever?
Half seriously: yonkyo is about crushing your opponent arms like Takemikazuchi did to Takeminakata.
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Old 02-13-2009, 03:31 AM   #12
sorokod
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Quote:
Sy Labthavikul wrote: View Post
... I was holding his arm in classic yonkyo grip:
http://www.aikido-hessen.de/yonkyo.jpg
Well, it is a grip. See here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeSrySq9SPQ at about 3.19 how Saito sensei did this.

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Old 02-13-2009, 07:59 AM   #13
eyrie
 
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Re: The point of yonkyo

I think yonkyo is a leverage principle. An application of which is tekubi osae (wrist control). But it doesn't have to be the wrist, per se, it could be anything you can get your hand around - fingers, thumbs, (yubi tori), ankles, etc.

Ignatius
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:00 AM   #14
mickeygelum
 
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Greetings All,

Yonkyo is a kime to the radial nerves.

Quote:
A good yonkyo goes right to your core, and makes you feel sick inside, if you've never felt this before it can come as quite a shock
Mr. Hein is quite correct.

Nariyama Shihan once applied yonkyo on me, I felt
it in my feet...it was amazing.

The ability to apply kime well is a definite advantage.

Train well,

Mickey
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Old 02-15-2009, 06:08 AM   #15
Jorge Garcia
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Quote:
Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote: View Post
While I was teaching yonkyo it occurred to me that I am not sure what the basic take home message of that technique is. I do not mean how it is meant to be done correctly, I am ok teaching that in accordance with my current level of skill, but what is the important aikido principle that yonkyo illustrates, be it martial, spiritual, pedagogic, whatever?

Of course I can come up with lots of general things that can be learned or practiced while doing yonkyo, but for most other techniques I have a much clearer idea what their distinct, specific value for the general study of aikido is. Not so with yonkyo, I realised.

What are your ideas?

Thanks for suggestions!

N
My Shihan Hiroshi Kato says that the principles of the pins are as follows;
1) Ikkyo - Building up the body
2) Nikyo - Learning to do the techniques
3) Sankyo - Going with the flow
4) Yonkyo - Concentrating your energy
5) Gokyo - Taking away weapons

Best wishes,
Jorge

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:13 AM   #16
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote: View Post
My Shihan Hiroshi Kato says that the principles of the pins are as follows;
1) Ikkyo - Building up the body
2) Nikyo - Learning to do the techniques
3) Sankyo - Going with the flow
4) Yonkyo - Concentrating your energy
5) Gokyo - Taking away weapons

Best wishes,
Jorge
Thanks Jorge, that is exactly the kind of "principle" I was looking for!
N
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:08 AM   #17
JimCooper
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Quote:
Dave Lewin wrote: View Post
i personally think yonkyo is the most effective out of the ikkyo-through-yonkyo series.
Interesting. I've always found it the least effective, by some margin. By which I mean I've never had it applied all that well to me.
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:18 AM   #18
David Yap
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
In the Iwama system, Yonkyo clearly demonstrates the similarity between sword work and taijitsu. The uke's hand is manipulate exactly like a bokken.
The tanto you meant? The wrist as the handle of knife and the kissaki (the pointed tip) at the elbow.

David Y
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Old 02-23-2009, 02:36 PM   #19
sorokod
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Re: The point of yonkyo

Quote:
David Yap wrote: View Post
The tanto you meant? The wrist as the handle of knife and the kissaki (the pointed tip) at the elbow.

David Y
A tanto if you are a Lilliputian and have to hold it with both hands. Yes on the elbow == kissaki

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Old 03-05-2009, 12:43 AM   #20
Peter Chenier
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Re: The point of Yonkyo

I am not sure I"m qualified to have an opinion on this topic, but I'll offer my limited view if thats alright. Please do correct me if I'm way off base as I've only been practicing aikido for two years now (karate for many years prior to that).
It does not seem logical to me to try and apply yonkyo in a combat situation by focusing on the radial nerve. I think in my limited opinion thats missing the point. When I get it sort of right uke is off balance first and foremost. My focus is on his elbow I drive up (raise boken) and point the tip (elbow to the ground). I break the ki at the wrist at the start of the motion. When I do it right it feels really sick and I worry for my uke.

cheers

Peter
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Old 03-05-2009, 11:50 AM   #21
C. David Henderson
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Re: The point of Yonkyo

Quote:
Peter Chenier wrote: View Post
*** It does not seem logical to me to try and apply yonkyo in a combat situation by focusing on the radial nerve. I think in my limited opinion thats missing the point. ****:

cheers

Peter
That's the danger, isn't it -- missing "the point?"

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Old 03-05-2009, 10:31 PM   #22
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The point of Yonkyo

I find it to be more about the prinicple of the movement and accessing the core or spine than I find it to be actually useful in reality. There is alot to be learned from yonkyo about connecting your center to anothers and being able to move them in a complex core to core manner. I think this is what is valuable about the technique, not the actualy application of it in reality.

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Old 03-06-2009, 05:21 AM   #23
Mark Freeman
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Re: The point of Yonkyo

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I find it to be more about the prinicple of the movement and accessing the core or spine than I find it to be actually useful in reality. There is alot to be learned from yonkyo about connecting your center to anothers and being able to move them in a complex core to core manner. I think this is what is valuable about the technique, not the actualy application of it in reality.
Hi Kevin

I agree, if there is any 'point' to yonkyo at all it is the study of a principle. The same is true of ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo ( 1st, 2nd, 3rd principle) Personally I see all of the aikido priciples I practice as leading to the same end - connection of my centre to anothers at a deep and profound level, not just the physical/mechanical level that some seem to focus on. For me the 'aiki' only happens when this deep connection is made.

To focus on the application in combat of any particular 'technique' seems to me to be missing the point of what aikido is about. I may be putting my head on the cyber chopping block by saying many aikido techniques are not that effective against a 'well co-ordinated' attacker, unless they are applied by an equally/superior well co-ordinated defender. When I say well co-ordinated I mean mind/body working in unison from the centre, when I say superior, I mean the defender leading the attackers ki/mind ahead of controlling their body.

Good to see you still posting here,

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 03-06-2009, 12:23 PM   #24
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: The point of Yonkyo

thanks Mark, Agree, all the things we do in aikido are about learning and understanding the prinicples, that and training your mind/body to move in different ways than maybe you should.

A great methodology for learning.

As a method and for techniques for fighting...not so much in my experiences. sure the things we do apply, but there is much, much more to it than typically is practiced.

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Old 03-06-2009, 12:42 PM   #25
Walter Martindale
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Re: The point of Yonkyo

One sensei I've practiced with in the past liked to emphasize the movement in and control in yonkyo rather than the radial nerve. Others seem to like both the movement and have the insurance of a "compliance" pressure point.
Another take on Ikkyo through to Koshi nage (primarily in response to shomenuchi), demonstrated to me by another sensei.
Ikkyo - your foot position is even with uke after you have made your initial cut down
Nikyo - you are slightly behind uke
Sankyo - you are slightly ahead of uke or you have turned away, essentially putting you ahead and at risk of being countered because uke is behind you.
Yonkyo - you are too far away from uke to properly do Ikkyo so you close the distance as you grip and enter for yonkyo
Gokyo - didn't really enter the discussion
Koshi-nage - you're too close to uke to do Ikkyo properly so it's "up and over"...
I've thought about it, tried it, bounced it off a few others where I practice now, and it seems to make sense - where you end up dictates which technique you do, rather than "I must do Ikkyo now" or "I must do yonkyo now," simply because that's what we're practicing at the moment...
If we're practicing relatively freely now I like to see if I can think fast enough to make the decision of what to do on the fly instead of a pre-planned movement.
But back to the original question - it seems that yonkyo is a movement control more than a pain compliance thing, but the pain compliance really helps get the person moving IF you can keep up with the person's "ouch let me out of here" reaction to do the yonkyo cut-down.

With apologies to Descartes - I think I think, therefore I think I am...
Walter

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 03-06-2009 at 12:45 PM. Reason: clarification
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