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Old 04-01-2005, 02:11 PM   #26
Alfonso
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
I have never heard O-sensei's douka before
I believe prof. Goldsbury is refering to Doka #3. Here's a link to a set of translations. No idea if they're good or not, but they're consistent with other versions I've seen.


http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/osensei/post/03.html

The index:
http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/osensei/doka.html

Alfonso Adriasola
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Old 04-01-2005, 11:19 PM   #27
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Alfonso Adriasola wrote:
I believe prof. Goldsbury is refering to Doka #3. Here's a link to a set of translations. No idea if they're good or not, but they're consistent with other versions I've seen.


http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/osensei/post/03.html

The index:
http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/osensei/doka.html
Hello,

I was not thinking of this particular douka, but thank you for drawing attention to it and to the translation. I personally believe that when looking at O Sensei's douka, to have the Japanese text is essential and a glance at a few translations will show what I mean.

For those who can read Japanese, the original of Douka #3 referred to by Mr Adriasola is the following:

教えには
打ち"ヒく"庶q
さとく聞け
極意のけいこ
表なりけり
Oshie ni wa
uchitsuku hyoushi
satoku kike
gokui no keiko
omote narikeri.

The translation of this douka given on the seb site referred to by Mr Adriasola is the following:

In these teachings listen most
To the rhythm of the strike and thrust
To train in the basics (omote)
Is to practise the very secrets of the art.

A strikingly different translation is given by John Stevens on p.67 of The Essence of Aikido:

Learn to sense the
rhythm of attacking
thrusts and cuts:
The secrets of training
lie right on the surface.

Yet another translation is given by Larry and Seiko Bieri in "Budo Renshu". There the douka is given as No. 38:

When you instruct
Emphasize the strike and the thrust
For all the secret teachings
Are to be found in simple basics.

In this douka O Sensei uses the word 'omote', but the meaning is not immediately obvious as omote waza and two of the tranaslations give the meaning as basics or simple basics. The Bieris give an explanation that is in line with my previous posts. "Omote here refers to the first level or Kihon of training, i.e., the basics. In many classical traditions the term is used as the name of the first set of kata. Modern aikido uses it to indicate movements which are performed in "front" of the aite, as contrasted with "ura" techniques where one stands generally "behind" him."

However Mr Stevens does not mention techniques at all, but still gives a very accurate translation of "omote" as it is used in normal Japanese. All three translations come from books in which the endorsement of Kisshomaru Ueshiba is quite prominent. Nor is it possible to argue that this douka is "postwar", for "Budo Renshu", in which it appears, was published in 1933.

The douka I had in mind is No 73 in Stevens' edition and No 8 in "Budo Renshu". I cannot find it in the web site referred to by Mr Adriasola. The Japanese text is also to be found in "Aiki Shinzui", p.184.

向上は
"骼--も稽古も
あらばこそ
極意のぞむな
前そ見えたり
Koujou wa
hiji mo keiko mo
araba koso
gokui nozomuna
mae zo mietari

The Bieris produce the following:

Progress only comes with constant practice
Built up and kept to oneself.
(Gloss: both practice and the resulting inner experiences)
Do not hope for 'secret teachings'.
They will lead you nowhere.

John Stevens has a similar version:

Progress comes to
those who train in the
inner and outer factors.
Do not chase after "secret techniques",
For everything is right before your very eyes.

The question here is the meaning of "hiji". In normal Japanese these are secrets or private matters; hidden aspects of one's life, such as skeletons in the closet. In neither translations do they appear to refer to 'ura' or secret techniques, since this would contradict the last statement.

So these douka indicate to me that O Sensei viewed aikido training differently from traditional koryu training.

Best regards,

PS. 'ushitsuku hyoushi' and 'hiji' have not appeared in their proper characters. I am using the very lastest version of Windows XP in Japanese and can do nothing about this, unfortunately. Those who want to read the Japanese will need to go to "Aiki Shinzui" or "The Essence of Aikido".

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 04-01-2005 at 11:26 PM.

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Old 04-06-2005, 09:41 AM   #28
kokyu
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote:
They're not my insights; just the sum of all these sessions with various Japanese teachers. They've shown us many versions. Let me just list the ones I have personally been shown. (Whether I can do them to a shihan's satisfaction is a different story.)
Quote:
Rob wrote:
Okay, well please understand that this is all my opinoin of what works best for teaching people my (current) ikkyo:
Raul and Rob, thanks a lot for taking the time to describe your understanding of ikkyo.
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Old 04-06-2005, 06:39 PM   #29
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
... my opinoin of what works best for teaching people my (current) ikkyo:

Shomenuchi Ikkyo Omote:
I'm told that O-sensei said every technique begins with tsuki....

Rob
I liked your description of ikkyo - it matches one of my variants. Also - consider this:

If you step forwards to meet with the right foot (right handed attack / ai-hanmi meeting), irimi is a far more natural outcome. If you approach with the left foot (gyaku-hanmi meeting), tenkan is much more natural. The point being, a lot of ordinary practice we do in Aikikai is un-natural. Think about it. It is possible to do the opposite by choice, but why choose?

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Old 04-07-2005, 08:07 AM   #30
kokyu
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
I liked your description of ikkyo - it matches one of my variants. Also - consider this:

If you step forwards to meet with the right foot (right handed attack / ai-hanmi meeting), irimi is a far more natural outcome. If you approach with the left foot (gyaku-hanmi meeting), tenkan is much more natural. The point being, a lot of ordinary practice we do in Aikikai is un-natural. Think about it. It is possible to do the opposite by choice, but why choose?
Rupert, I completely agree with you about the importance of being natural in movement. Moving off the right foot for a right handed attack clearly makes it omotewaza. And, moving off the left foot suggests urawaza.

However, I just looked up [The Aikido Master Course: Best Aikido 2] by the Aikikai Doshu and interestingly enough, for Hanmi Handachi Shomenuchi Ikkyo, against a right handed attack, Doshu meets his uke with his left knee/left hand for the omote version. Doshu also uses his left knee/left hand for the ura version. I'm just guessing that it's easier to get to the important right elbow if one moves off the left knee in omote. So, maybe the "right" move suggests itself in the safest option?
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Old 07-09-2005, 09:36 PM   #31
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

I thought of starting another thread, but this question ties in with doing techniques in omote and ura.

1) I remember "trying to do" shomenuchi ikkyo omote on a heavily-built uke who was rushing at me with his tegatana raised for shomenuchi. When we made contact, I was struggling to cut him in front, so I gave up and did the ura version instead.

2) In another situation, I was "trying to do" ryotedori shihonage omote on another uke who was rushing to grab my hands. Rather than attempting to do shihonage straight away, I did a side step similar to that used for yokomenuchi shihonage omote, and cut his wrists. This swung uke around and helped to dissipate his energy, making it easier to do the technique.

A) I wonder if it's possible to generalize and say that omote techniques are easier when uke doesn't have so much energy in the attack? Conversely, if uke has a lot of energy in the attack, one should go for the ura version?

B) In case (2), I found a way of dissipating some of uke's energy before performing the technique... but in case (1)? I would be grateful for some advice.
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Old 07-09-2005, 11:45 PM   #32
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
A) I wonder if it's possible to generalize and say that omote techniques are easier when uke doesn't have so much energy in the attack? Conversely, if uke has a lot of energy in the attack, one should go for the ura version?
just a remark- not an insight:
in my dojo, we are frequently taught the omote/ura versions like that. of course, the later i am in reacting to the attack the more energy there is in the attack (imagine that!).
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Old 07-10-2005, 03:01 AM   #33
raul rodrigo
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
I thought of starting another thread, but this question ties in with doing techniques in omote and ura.


A) I wonder if it's possible to generalize and say that omote techniques are easier when uke doesn't have so much energy in the attack? Conversely, if uke has a lot of energy in the attack, one should go for the ura version?
Often its not a matter of how much energy uke has in the attack, its a matter of how early or late you're responding. If you're early or right on time, then omote is easy. If you're a bit late in reading the intent, then ura becomes more natural.

Its also a matter of relative sizes. My sensei was practicing once with a South African who was literally more than a foot taller. Omote was nearly impossible; ura became the necessary response.
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Old 07-10-2005, 06:24 AM   #34
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote:
Often its not a matter of how much energy uke has in the attack, its a matter of how early or late you're responding. If you're early or right on time, then omote is easy. If you're a bit late in reading the intent, then ura becomes more natural.

Its also a matter of relative sizes. My sensei was practicing once with a South African who was literally more than a foot taller. Omote was nearly impossible; ura became the necessary response.
I guess it might be more difficult to do it right on time when uke is rushing at you... perhaps one has to contact with uke at the exact moment that he stops and commits to the attack... any earlier and one would be colliding with him?

I was looking at "Total Aikido" by Shioda Sensei and in Shomen-uchi Ikkajo Osae Ichi (pp 84), it states that sh'te attacks with shomenuchi - i.e. it is nage who initiates the attack, thus giving nage the benefit of an even earlier response... maybe there's an answer there?

As for height differences, I was thinking about hanmi handatchi shomenuchi ikkyo... could it be different when one is moving via shikko rather than sliding forward when standing up?

This is getting interesting
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Old 07-10-2005, 06:56 AM   #35
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
As for height differences, I was thinking about hanmi handatchi shomenuchi ikkyo... could it be different when one is moving via shikko rather than sliding forward when standing up?
My sensei said it wasnt just the height difference; it was the relative length of the arms. In hanmi handachi against an uke who's your size, you can do omote more or less naturally. But my sensei said that in tachiwaza, the South African's arm was so long that even if my sensei read the intent right and blended properly with the attack, there was always a split second where uke with his long arm could reach down and grab his hair. So the correct maai changes depending on uke's length and so your timing and choice of omote or ura also changes.

I had a similar experience against a 6'2" Frenchman, ie, a man 9 inches taller. I did ikkyo omote the way I do against someone under 6 ft and he had just enough length in his arm to inadvertently poke me in the left eye with his middle finger. For someone as big as him, I was late, I should have entered earlier--or else gone into ura and gotten the hell out of the way.
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Old 07-10-2005, 08:57 AM   #36
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Even in hanmi handachi shomenuchi ikkyo between two people of the same size, the easiest thing to do is not omote, but to pivot out of the way on the knee opposite your leading hand and cut uke's hand down just as it cuts down, i.e., an abbreviated version of ura.
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Old 07-10-2005, 09:24 AM   #37
kokyu
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

I was under the impression that one should **try** to attain enough skill, so that whatever the attack, one would be equally comfortable doing the technique in either omote or ura... Looks like I may have to revise my thinking
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Old 07-10-2005, 09:43 AM   #38
Mike.Ordway
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

My sensei describes omote as direct. as in a direct motion towards the Uke. he describes Ura as more circular and more movement as in moving the Uke around nage.
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Old 07-10-2005, 09:59 AM   #39
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

my sensei taught us to match the syllables. O-mo-te = In-front-of , U-ra = be-hind

this helps me remember which way to go.

paige
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Old 07-10-2005, 06:58 PM   #40
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Mark Johnston wrote:
A Greek training partner confided in me yesterday that ura means 'piss' in Greece.
Now that's funny............
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Old 07-10-2005, 11:00 PM   #41
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
1) I remember "trying to do" shomenuchi ikkyo omote on a heavily-built uke who was rushing at me with his tegatana raised for shomenuchi. When we made contact, I was struggling to cut him in front, so I gave up and did the ura version instead.
Fair enough, but if you persevere and figure out a way to do irimi against such a strong attack, your uke will really fly to the floor. Not easy of course ...

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Old 09-05-2005, 11:52 AM   #42
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

As a relative newcomer to Aikido (2 years now and counting), I still get confused when the instructors says, "omote" or "ura". I heard that a quick and dirty way to keep them in mind is the following:

Omote - 3 syllables as in irimi

Ura - 2 syllables as in tenkan

I don't sweat it, however. I also get confused when someone says, "the other left".

Cheers.
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Old 09-05-2005, 12:17 PM   #43
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Dante Artadi wrote:
I heard that a quick and dirty way to keep them in mind is the following:

Omote - 3 syllables as in irimi

Ura - 2 syllables as in tenkan
Don't forget, though, that omote does not necessarily imply irimi, irimi does not necessarily imply omote, ura does not necesarily imply tenkan, nor does tenkan necessarily imply ura...

-- Jun

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Old 09-15-2005, 09:11 PM   #44
Mark Uttech
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

This could be a little off the track of the thread, but I took my study of omote and ura deeply into my everyday surroundings. I would watch the flight patterns of sparrows and try to see if the pattern was omote and ura. And on the more mundane side: when you mount a roll of toliet paper, do you place the roll so that the paper is coming over the top, which would be omote, or does the paper come from behind, which is ura? And, which position would defeat the intentions of a kitten to unroll the whole thing? In gassho
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Old 09-16-2005, 02:04 AM   #45
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote:
This could be a little off the track of the thread, but I took my study of omote and ura deeply into my everyday surroundings. I would watch the flight patterns of sparrows and try to see if the pattern was omote and ura. And on the more mundane side: when you mount a roll of toliet paper, do you place the roll so that the paper is coming over the top, which would be omote, or does the paper come from behind, which is ura? And, which position would defeat the intentions of a kitten to unroll the whole thing? In gassho
1. I prefer what you call omote
2. None. Maybe ura is somewhat better as just twisting the roll (typically front down), would not give an automatic start point. But the second they start to tear at the free end, the game is over

Dirk
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Old 09-17-2005, 03:38 AM   #46
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Aha! Thanks Dirk! So then the trick in Aikido depends on who leaves their free end open to attack?
In gassho.
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Old 09-17-2005, 11:36 AM   #47
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Just as a fwiw on the words...

Since I've spent the last bunch of years now working professionally full-time in the sword world, I thought I'd just add another perspective.

Omote and Ura also refer to the "sides" of a sword. If you're looking at a katana on a rack with tsuka to the left and edge up, the side you see is described as the "omote". It is the side with the kurikata and is the side seen when worn in the obi on the left side of the body, edge up. In mounting a sword it is also the side where the oyatsubu (main "emporer" node of the rayskin) is ideally visible near the kashira of the sword. The saya might even be slightly more elaborate on that side with the makers concern of a "balance in appearance" being favored to that side (assuming some symmetry reason makes for a difference). Even the tsuba has a "front and back" or omote and ura. The side near the tsuka that is visible to others when worn is the omote. In later tsuba with more intricate designs and inlays that side will often be more "involved" and intricate. Or in the case of some tsuba there might even be a story implied with omote to be seen first. Warriors on one side, demons on the other kinda deal. Other tsuba are more difficult if not impossible to say omote vs. ura. Symmetrical tosho tsuba without hitsu-ana, for example, don't really have an omote or ura. But honestly I can't count how many times I've seen people disassemble their sword and put the tsuba on backwards. The "cues" as to what is omote vs. ura on the tsuba can sometimes be really subtle. And if you aren't equipped to see the difference, sometimes there doesn't appear to be one even though it's there. And of course, as I said, sometimes there's not a difference at all. Unless I'm missing it too, of course...

So connotations of front and back. Also connotations of visible vs. hidden. Also outside vs. inside. And probably more depending on context. It just depends.

The point I'm trying to make is that omote and ura are somewhat general words. And how they're applied in various contexts is a highly flexible thing. The danger is to assume there is a single, correct, and unchanging definition. The reality is that it is a somewhat flexible term and it can be difficult to always come up with an all encompassing definition in all uses. In talking with a friend of mine she used the example of the English words "inside and outside". The inside of a door on your house is the side mounted to the inside. Switch the hinges around and the "inside" is now the "outside". The inside of an empty bag is the space inside, fairly well defined. Outside also. But what's "inside" a solid? It does have an inside, but where does it start and where does it end? Really it just comes down to being a general term, context driven, culturally driven, and situational. Trying to "nail down the terms" thinking you're going to clarify things often just causes more trouble than it is worth.

Omote is the "outside", "visible" or "front", ura is the "inside", "hidden", or "back". When it's one vs. the other sometimes depends on who's talking and what they're talking about.

Sometime ya just gotta accept that language is often imprecise. Or just practice more until you get it intuitively. It feels ura vs. omote. Or vice versa. That seems to work better for me in the long run.

There's a great book out right now called "Blink". About how we make decsions often in the "blink of an eye". Good reading. Good implications about a lot of stuff including things like Aikido. Ever stumped sensei asking a really detailed question like "how did you know that was going to happen?" Then he or she tells you "damatte keikoshiro" and you get on with it. Sometimes that's the only answer...

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Old 09-17-2005, 12:23 PM   #48
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

I learned in my chemistry class that no scientific notion is 'certain'. There is always the addition of an 'uncertain' digit.
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Old 09-27-2005, 11:34 AM   #49
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

For those who don't speak Japanese, you can remember the difference between omote and ura by the following:
Omote : you should be able to look at uke's entire face "O"
Ura : you should be able to virtually view uke's "U"ranus {I just came up with this}
normally at my dojo we are taught that you should be able to look inside uke's ear
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Old 09-27-2005, 11:57 AM   #50
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Re: The meaning of omote and ura

Some of the stuff I've read suggests omote and ura are determined by perspective. In general, viewing a coin represents the relationship of omote and ura; the side that is visible is omote and the side that is non-visible is ura. If you turned the coin, the perspective would change, but omote would still represent the visible side and ura would still represent the non-visible side.

Also, there are a handout of Japanese martial arts that have public (omote) techniques and private (ura) techniques.
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