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Old 09-10-2003, 09:17 PM   #1
Bronson
 
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Shomenuchi styles

I was watching some video clips I snagged off the net recently and had a question for those folks that do a more "traditional" style than I do.

I noticed that in a lot of the clips shomenuchi was delivered by uke putting their hand up in front of their head and moving in toward nage with the hand raised the whole time. Please don't think I'm saying this is wrong, it's just different than how we do it. I'm wondering what the reason for delivering the strike like that is. Does it come from the idea of having a sword in jodan as you close on nage?

One clip in particular showed a randori where the uke only attacked with shomenuchi, all in this manner. The (apparent) result was the 4 or 5 uke running around with their hands out in front of their heads.

I'm not afraid to admit that I'm probably missing something important...I was just wondering what it was.

Thanks,

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-10-2003, 09:39 PM   #2
Abasan
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So how does your shomen look like?

Perhaps theirs is more of a forward projection rather then a downward force.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 09-10-2003, 09:46 PM   #3
Bronson
 
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Actually Ahmad you hit the difference right on the head. Ours is definietly a downward strike.

Thanks,

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-10-2003, 10:22 PM   #4
opherdonchin
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In Seidokan, I was told to strike shomen much like I use a hammer. The idea was that when you use a hammer you don't ever think "up." You just think "down." Also, the more relaxed your arm and body are, the more effective the hammer. Similarly with shomen: it's all in a relaxed and comfortable down.

On the other hand, in ASU we seem to do shomen more like our arm was actually a sword. One central idea is that you want to have control of the center line for as much of the movement as possible. Thus, we pay a little more attention to how the 'up' is accomplished and the 'down' has some idea of forward to it, in the same way that a shomen accomplished with a sword involves both a downward cut and a forward slice.

I've never trained at one of those traditional schools that keep their hands at their forehead as they come forward. My thought is that it is probably a somewhat stylized movement, but there may also be some martial wisdom to it. I just don't know enough.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 09-10-2003, 10:49 PM   #5
Bronson
 
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
...there may also be some martial wisdom to it. I just don't know enough.
That's exactly why I'm asking.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-10-2003, 11:57 PM   #6
sanosuke
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Quote:
noticed that in a lot of the clips shomenuchi was delivered by uke putting their hand up in front of their head and moving in toward nage with the hand raised the whole time.
a strange shomen it is....
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Old 09-11-2003, 12:39 AM   #7
Adrian Smith
 
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Quote:
Reza Kauzar (sanosuke) wrote:
a strange shomen it is....
That's how shomenuchi is done at Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Or at least that's how it was done in the classes I attended last week. It felt rather odd since in my home dojo we commit and strike downwards rather than walking in with our arm raised.

-drin
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Old 09-11-2003, 08:40 AM   #8
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"On the other hand, in ASU we seem to do shomen more like our arm was actually a sword. "

I had about 15 years with ASU and I must say I never saw an "ASU" style shomenuchi. They ranged from the "hand as extension of Nose" to the "Running with arm as spear" to the "Hand as hatchet"......I could go on and on. That was one of the things I liked about ASU.....several different flavors for the same dish.
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Old 09-11-2003, 08:44 AM   #9
aiki_what
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Bronson,

90% (Based on my careful observation and a SWAG) of the time most people are just mimicking what they have seen others do.....little thought has been given to the dynamics of the strike (which, BTW, will change based on timing and distance) but you already knew that
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Old 09-11-2003, 09:20 AM   #10
opherdonchin
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Quote:
I had about 15 years with ASU and I must say I never saw an "ASU" style shomenuchi. They ranged from the "hand as extension of Nose" to the "Running with arm as spear" to the "Hand as hatchet"......I could go on and on.
Definitely know what you mean. Point taken, although I stand by my claim.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 09-11-2003, 09:42 AM   #11
aiki_what
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Opher,

Just went back and read your previous post. I strongly agree with you that the "forward and down" motion of the shomenuchi is the "Key" ingredient.
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Old 09-11-2003, 09:42 AM   #12
akiy
 
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As one instructor I know interprets it, "uchi" to him is a strike/hit where as "kiri" to him would be a cut. So, the forward extending shomenuchi (rather than a downward "cutting" shomenuchi) is that it's aimed to mimic more a sword strike of, say, knocking off someone's helmut/kabuto. Hence, "shomenuchi" for him is closer to a ganmen uchi (a strike to the forehead) with the tegatana (hand-blade) whereas the downward cutting "shomenuchi" to him would be called "shomen kiri" or "kiri sage."

However, I will add that many people's interepretations of shomenuchi are, indeed, more like "running with one's hand stuck out in front of their nose"...

-- Jun

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Old 09-11-2003, 11:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Mark Mueller (aiki_what) wrote:
They ranged from the "hand as extension of Nose" to the "Running with arm as spear" to the "Hand as hatchet".....
Beautiful.
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Old 09-11-2003, 09:51 PM   #14
sanosuke
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Hi Adrian,
Quote:
That's how shomenuchi is done at Aikikai Hombu Dojo
really? it's true that shomen uchi should start with putting up the hand in front of the head, but what i understand from the post is that the uke seems like 'offering' the shomen uchi rather than 'striking' using shomen uchi, and i found that strange, isn't it look more like choreographed attack if you do shomen like that?
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Old 09-11-2003, 10:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Reza Kauzar (sanosuke) wrote:
Hi Adrian,



really? it's true that shomen uchi should start with putting up the hand in front of the head, but what i understand from the post is that the uke seems like 'offering' the shomen uchi rather than 'striking' using shomen uchi, and i found that strange, isn't it look more like choreographed attack if you do shomen like that?
Yup. We found it confusing too - we expected to actually commit to strikes, but we were told in no uncertain terms to stand with our hand outstretched (there were two of us up for the day) and wait to be grabbed.

The same was true for yokomenuchi and skee - stand with your hand out and wait for the waza to begin.

-drin
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Old 09-12-2003, 12:19 AM   #16
Bronson
 
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I see I'm not the only one confused by this A common theme I'm reading is that people are doing it that way because they are told to...that's fair. What I'm waiting for is someone in the know to explain why it's that way. Jun offered one explanation (thanks Jun), any others?

Thanks,

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-12-2003, 06:27 PM   #17
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In the Seidokan dojo I trained at, we were taught to extend both forward and down. More emphasis on the down, and the forward was subtle, mind you. It was to avoid a 'chopping wood with an axe' motion because a sword cut like that would get stuck in someone's skull (try cutting tameshigiri[sp?] with this motion and see what happens). Ikkyo/gokyo done in a wood-chopping fashion (empty-handed) has never been effective on me.

However, now I definitely extend forward a bit, after working with a toyama-ryu group and seeing what makes a cut work, as well as keeping weight very-much-underside.

Jun, could you explain a little more about the kabuto removal?

*Phil

Last edited by PhilJ : 09-12-2003 at 06:30 PM.

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Old 09-13-2003, 04:15 AM   #18
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hands on head

umm...I would say that my style is pretty traditional, and at least we are definately Aikikai. We do attack shomenuchi by having the lead arm in front of the head. Although I just started at this dojo, I get the impression that there are a number of reasons it is done this way. It does imitate a sword in many ways. The sword/hand covers the head while raising (no commitment yet, since we are just entering the jodan guard) to jodan. Then we initiate the cut as we start to step forward, which does stretch outward at the top, otherwise you are cutting with a different part of the blade/hand then the tip/meat of hand. However, we always stay very low and stable throughout the attack, using our hara and not our arms to do the cut, so it has a lot of downward force behind it.

I have seen randori done at my school (although I admit, I am not allowed to practice it yet, since I am not advanced enough. Very understandable, as the ukes definately dont walk to the nage! ), I have never seen anyone with their hand infront of their head as they run in to attack. Personally I dont like the idea. I like to keep my hands infront of my center, so I can keep my options open. Running around with my hand on my head like a headless chicken says that unless I drop my hand, I am limited to attacking shomen or yokomen. Most attacks I have seen tend to be towards the torso/head (unless grappling, which is kinda what you should be avoiding as aikidoka, since it is a loss of mobility, and certain death with multiple attackers), leaving your hands in your center allows you to attack anywhere from the stomach to the face. Not to mention protect yourself from the nage, if he decides turn the tables and attack you instead. So basically, although you must go to the jodan position to execute the attack, and at that point I can back away if I dont like things before I strike, I wouldnt stay there for more than a second. Even when doing sword practice, I always felt better in the gadan or haso (spelling?)guards compared to the others. Any thoughts, ideas, comments and expecially criticism is always welcome.

-Jeff
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Old 09-13-2003, 06:53 AM   #19
Kensho Furuya
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I have been doing Aikido for over 40 years and have been teaching Aikido for the last 30 or so years so my practice is a very, very traditional style of Aikikai Hombu Aikido - almost outdated, I imagine. Most students I see, in general, do not make contact with the tori (nage) but stop the blow quite a distance from the target area. Many attacks often fall too short of the tori's head, not closing in on the ma-ai of the tori as the tori is simultaneously creating the proper spacing between himself and the attacker. In these cases, I think, in my humble opinion, that it makes no difference if it is "up" or "down" or sideways - there is really no attack here in the first place. In my Dojo, as an example, the students are taught to make contact, or try to make contact with the target area - actually the rule is "maximum contact, minimum impact" as a safety measure for training but to make as realistic as an attack as possible, - contact must be made and it is up to the tori to execute the technique properly to neutralize the blow, or move out of range or blend with the attacker's actions effectively.

Because we often do not emphasize the proper way to attack in Aikido, we see many "incorrect" or seemingly "unrealistic" methods used - especially by beginning students.

As I was taught in the very early days, the hand (tegatana) or fist starts at your hip and you move your foot, hip and hand forward in a single, direct, focused, and strongly centered attack to the tori's head, face or solar plexis area. As you move in "attack" mode, you are always covered as you attack - I think this is the proper meaning of ukemi. In Kendo, "shomenuchi" may refer to the "top" of the head as a target but the meaning in Aikido is slightly different, I think. "Shomen" literally means "frontal' area and can be the head, face, and/or chest areas. "Uchi," of course, means to "strike" or "hit." For lower frontal blows, it is the custom in Aikido to refer to these as "munetsuki" but even "mune" can mean "chest" and "abdominal" areas.

I think the general rule in Hombu Aikido attack is to move in a centered, strongly integrated movement just as if you are executing the technique as tori. What I would like to see in Aikido practice is a more focused attack which actually attempts to make contact with the tori causing the tori to move effectively and encouraging a more realistically effective technique. In Hombu Aikikai practice, both tori and uke move in a strongly focused manner in all areas of training. I think the idea of strong technique against a weak or "virtual" attack is a popular and very common misconception in practice. In the particular case of "shomenuchi" here, I find myself spending a great deal of time teaching the proper method of striking as I do teaching the techniques themselves. Just my own two cents here, thank you
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Old 09-15-2003, 02:15 AM   #20
Abasan
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jun and kensho,

Thanks. Although this is not my post... i found your insights to shomenuchi enlightening and I hope to put it into practice.

All this while I have found myself between trying to give nage something to work with with a shomen that comes down all the way to his navel if avoided, and one that ends pointed to the eyes that sorts of give me some measure of protection.

Now I will figure it for a strike to the head with the intention of taking off his helmet and also going for full contact with controlled power.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 09-15-2003, 03:39 AM   #21
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Quote:
Kensho Furuya wrote:
..<snipped>...

I think the general rule in Hombu Aikido attack is to move in a centered, strongly integrated movement just as if you are executing the technique as tori. What I would like to see in Aikido practice is a more focused attack which actually attempts to make contact with the tori causing the tori to move effectively and encouraging a more realistically effective technique. In Hombu Aikikai practice, both tori and uke move in a strongly focused manner in all areas of training. I think the idea of strong technique against a weak or "virtual" attack is a popular and very common misconception in practice. In the particular case of "shomenuchi" here, I find myself spending a great deal of time teaching the proper method of striking as I do teaching the techniques themselves. Just my own two cents here, thank you
Thank you, Furuya sensei for the full course meal on your two cents worth .

BTW, there is much more to enjoy and to learn in a class where both teacher and students are focused in the task of teaching and learning and energy is abound.

Peace.

David
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Old 09-26-2003, 08:54 AM   #22
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Do symbol shomenuchi

:I think everyone should remember if they are aware that in O'Senseis own words in his book BUDO are that all basic attacks are started by tori.ie in shomen uchi dai ikkyo,nikkyo,sankyo etc etc, tori should strike uke's face in a strong manner, which gives uke the choice of a broken nose or they raise to defend. If they raise to defend then tori then uses ukes defence to apply a technique. these are the the words of the founder. This is and will always be the way in Iwama and otherr henka attacks are shomen uchi komi ,this is were uke attacks in a downward strike to toris shomen ,This is a popular way in the hombu ,but was not O'senseis method but his sons who did change alot of his fathers attacks and techniques. remember that the attacks are as effective as the techniques the should be real grips and strikes. you used attack uke like raising ken in there face. this is BUDO, i dont believe that if some one comes and attacks fast and strong downwards to my head i can raise and make ikkyo without clashing.
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Old 09-29-2003, 12:39 AM   #23
Abasan
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"i dont believe that if some one comes and attacks fast and strong downwards to my head i can raise and make ikkyo without clashing."

yeah but you can tenkan and do ikkyo ura.

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Old 10-01-2003, 12:30 PM   #24
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I totaly agree with making ura from shomen uchi komi( downward strike) but how can you make omote. i see alot of aikidoka make omote by entering with leg closest to uke and stepping what looks like straight ahead> I am not saying its wrong I just dont understand.I dont mean to be a bad uke at these styles but i cant help but want to turn and walk away or do kaisha waza. I think this is how O'Senseis son taught ikkyo, Because O'Sensei said you should enter with the opposite leg and take there balance before moving through with the inside leg. There was quite alot of difference between father and son.Once again i dont mean this to be against any aikido,god no. ive got help from very good hombu style schools. but Ikkyo and Tai no henko as well as understanding good attacks and grips are the biggest difference between Aikido in Iwama and the hombu.
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Old 10-01-2003, 01:06 PM   #25
ian
 
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I've always been taught to keep the hand in front of you (as it is your guard), though you raise it and drop it (really you just cut like a sword, but more chopping than slashing). To make omote nage must raise at exactly the same time as uke raises to cut (and continue that raise) - a basic exercise in our dojo. This takes a lot of forward commitment and excellent timing but it is perfect for omote ikkyo since their arm is raising and their body is tensing to strike the blow (thus their whole body is thrown back very easily).

Ian

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