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Old 11-14-2005, 11:49 PM   #1
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Irimi vs Tenkan

For some time, a good few years, I have concentrated much more on irimi than tenkan. I am of the opinion that the standard Aikikai training paradigm of - two irimi and two tenkan techniques - does not help us learn Aikido, and does not prepare us to apply it on an uncooperative partner. It is good for beginning kyu grades to get an understanding of the differences but beyond that, I think it is a big mistake to practise with such a training method. I think that once the distinctions are understood, training should focus on irimi -- the active - how to enter, and that tenkan -- the passive - is what happens, or what we allow to happen when irimi is thwarted. But even so, a massive tenkan is not sensible -- fun, but not sensible; instead, a short tenkan movement suffices to allow another attempt at irimi.

Comments?

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 11-14-2005 at 11:53 PM.

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Old 11-15-2005, 01:05 AM   #2
crbateman
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Goodness, Rupert, you have asked one of those $64K questions here. There are so many opinions on each side. As for mine, I'd like to stay carefully on the fence.

Many would say that irimi is the proactive route; the aggressive route; the quick and most martially effective route, while tenkan is the accepting method; the least confrontational route.

I think a lot has to do with the timing and "feel" of the technique. If spacing is such as to allow (or require) an early engagement, then irimi is usually the better choice, as uke has not had the opportunity to gather momentum, and may be overcome more easily through the direct approach. However, if spacing means contact with a more fully extended uke, I have found that tenkan offers me a better opportunity to blend and absorb, and also to prolong or even re-start uke's momentum, if it is my wish to use it to my advantage. I'm sure that many may see that differently, but that's what works for me, (very) generally speaking.

I view irimi and tenkan as two sides of the same coin, and I think it makes sense to train extensively in both, even if I might lean heavily on one or the other in an altercation. Learning and practicing as many versions of a technique as I can helps me better understand the technique, I think, "from all angles", even though I'm sure I'll tend to gravitate toward those variations that seem the most comfortable. I think that's just human nature. But I still want the chance to train in those many varieties, and make the choices on my own.

Please note important caveat here ======> OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE LARGER THAN THEY APPEAR... Wait a minute, what I meant to say was YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY
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Old 11-15-2005, 01:34 AM   #3
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Tenkan is training in absolute harmony. The first time I attended a black belt seminar, I was grateful for all the years I spent practicing tenkan ho. In fact, I credit tenkan with the only thing that saved me from injury upon encountering some explosive yudansha. I have also instinctly used tenkan to redirect and stop a fellow coworker from stumbling into some dangerous machinery at work.

In Gassho
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:33 PM   #4
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Me too, I mainly use only irimi.

Tenkan in aikido is used by beginners to reinforce strength of hips, and for coordination of all part of body when turning hips. Can be used in exercises and not in techniques. Very limited usage as we can see.

Real aikido techniques use only irimi and sometimes irimi + hips turn, max. 180 degree (tenkai, sp?). Tori simply has not enough time to use tenkan.

Nagababa

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Old 11-16-2005, 06:10 AM   #5
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

For me there is tenkan-irimi and irimi.

But tenkan goes way beyond the turn and step that many call tenkan.

It may be a physical movement, an in breath or even the thought process as you evaluate a situation prior to launching your attack (irimi).

Like the nagababa above - we practice to always finish with irimi. This is the 'kill'.

But we also look to blend. If uke and tori both attack there is a clash. yang against yang or positive against positive. Whatever description floats your boat.

To me it is more 'aikido' to use tenkan to absorb ukes attack then turn it back on them when the power has gone. ....giving tenkan / irimi.

There is no tenkan v irimi argument, both exist together. If there is no attack from uke there is nothing to avoid so irimi is possible. Where an attack exists...avoid then counter...tenkan, Irimi!

There is never irimi tenkan. Logically this is to launch an attack...and then turn and retreat. This makes no sense to me aikidowise. Once its on it has to be finished.

Cheers

D
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Old 11-16-2005, 06:12 AM   #6
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
Comments?
Would it be too lame to add a simple "yup"?
That seems to me to make perfect sense.

Sean
x
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Old 11-16-2005, 07:43 AM   #7
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

IMHO, enter and turn. Yep, that's Aikido.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:29 AM   #8
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
There is never irimi tenkan. Logically this is to launch an attack...and then turn and retreat. This makes no sense to me aikidowise. Once its on it has to be finished.

Cheers

D
For me, Irimi and tenkan are two paths that allow me to use uke's motion to apply kuzushi. In an ideal world, I would anticipate uke and be ahead of his movement at all times, but I aint that good. Ultimately irimi or tenkan depends on the timing of my interaction, the direction I take is not predetermined, it is governed by the relationship of our movement, speed and direction. Thus it is feasible that I start to do irimi but find I'm late and have to tenkan.

I would never fix a paradigm in aikido, I think it is important to train in all aspects so that eventually, my interaction is always the right one, not the predetermined one.

With regards to making small tenkan movements over large ones, that only comes with practice. I think it' s much better to start with as big a motion as you can, over time you will naturally make it smaller as your ability develops. But if you start small it's not always easy to make it bigger, and that could be a problem if I didn't get it right.


rgds

Bryan

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Old 11-16-2005, 08:36 AM   #9
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Tastes great.

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:37 AM   #10
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Less filling.

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:43 AM   #11
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Okay - my opinion:

Irimi and Tenkan are more than just two sides of the same coin. They are more accurately understood in yin and yang terms - as in the symbol - where there is always some yin in yang and some yang in yin. The trick then is to discover or realize where there is tenkan in irimi and where there is irimi in tenkan. When we do come to realize this, the various associations we have up until then with one side or the other become sort of meaningless - or at least they won't be too functional as delineations. For example, one is going to see that there is a lot of circularity to irimi and a lot of linearity to tenkan, a lot of evasiveness to irimi and a lot of directness to tenkan, etc. This is why, in my opinion, these things must always be studied in pairs. We use one not to discover its place along side the other, and definitely not to choose one over the other, but rather to see tenkan in irimi and irimi in tenkan.

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Old 11-16-2005, 09:06 AM   #12
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

We call it Irimikan
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Old 11-16-2005, 09:30 AM   #13
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
Ultimately irimi or tenkan depends on the timing of my interaction, the direction I take is not predetermined, it is governed by the relationship of our movement, speed and direction. Thus it is feasible that I start to do irimi but find I'm late and have to tenkan.
Hi Bryan

Hear what both you and David are saying.

There are principles...and there is reality. Murphy law applies and if something can go wrong it will!

My question ...is what happens after you do tenkan? You've realised uke is attacking and avoided it.

But then what?

Do you just walk away? Does uke just walk away?

Or having absorbed, negated, avoided ukes attack (choose any way of describing it) do you not finish with irimi to either counter attack or to control uke.

I agree that there is some yin in yang and some yang in yin...while the right hand makes irimi atemi the left hand turns away in tenkan to create a protective shape for example.

But predominantly the final emphasis is on irimi?

Cheers

D
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Old 11-16-2005, 10:59 AM   #14
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

David's already pointed this out, but irrimi and tenkan are very inter-related. In fact, O'Sensei used to call "tenkan" "irrimi tenkan." In other words, everything was entering to establish control, the question was "what type of entry will work best?" The initial movement is to enter to a position to control the interaction and protect your body from harm. Sometimes this is best done through direct entry (chokusen no irrim), sometimes it is best done through turning (irriimi tenkan). My partner will decide for me which manner of entry will be best, I have to learn to look for that decision.

What happens then? If you perform your entering movement correctly, then you have taken control of the interaction and also put yourself out of harm's way. My partner will again decide for me the best action to terminate the conflict.

On a side note, O'Sensei sometimes referred to irrimi as "omote." I believe in this sense he was demonstrating that the front, or obvious, entry was irrmi. Tenkan would then become the back, or hidden, response if irrimi was not possible. Food for thought...
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Old 11-16-2005, 11:02 AM   #15
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote:
On a side note, O'Sensei sometimes referred to irrimi as "omote." I believe in this sense he was demonstrating that the front, or obvious, entry was irrmi. Tenkan would then become the back, or hidden, response if irrimi was not possible. Food for thought...
Hmm... Do you have a source for this?

The way I use the terms, omote does not equal irimi, and ura does not equal tenkan. Omote/ura for me are locative descriptors, while irimi/tenkan are movement (footwork) descriptors. I can do irimi to uke's omote and ura; likewise, I can use tenkan into uke's omote and ura.

-- Jun

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Old 11-16-2005, 02:06 PM   #16
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

I think that is definitely related -- the yin and yang of the lateral parts of the body (e.g. right hand, left hand) as they are related to the front and back parts of the body (e.g. front hip, rear hip). However, I am also referring to more than mere integration.

In some Aikido -- do not want to speak for everyone -- the various topsy-turvy effects generated in the body of the opponent are the result of "x" body part (of uke) going one way while "y" body part (of uke) goes another way. "X" and "y" are interrelated to each other via a circle or a spiral -- such that "x" and "y" can even be going in opposite directions (as an extreme) but still be part of the same geometric pattern (i.e. part of the same larger orientation).

Whether we are using a circle or a spiral, "x" and "y" has to relate to each other in an orbital fashion -- otherwise there can be no topsy-turvy effect. Nage must be the center of this larger orbit. Since Nage has to act as the center of "gravity" for the orbital relation of "x" and "y," Nage, no matter if he/she is entering or turning, must allow either "x" or "y" to go through on its intended path as the corresponding alternate of "y" or "x" is redirected tactically. In short, this means you cannot just enter -- worrying only about penetrating. You must also allow either "x" or "y" to travel around you. To do this, understanding Irimi geometrically as a triangle, you must find a way of getting that triangle to spin so that it can actually function in exactly the same way that a circle can. For Tenkan, and using a circle to geometrically represent that movement, you must find a way of getting that circle to position itself so that it can present a linearity -- so that it can function in exactly the same way that a triangle can.

In my experience, when you try and use Aikido waza outside of controlled training environments, if you cannot spin a triangle or present a circle's linearity one's Irimi ashi is reduced to clashing and one's tenkan is reduced to retreating.


Here's me trying to spin a spin a triangle and trying to get a circle to act like a line:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/v...roteikkyo.html

David M. Valadez
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Old 11-16-2005, 03:05 PM   #17
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

"The way I use the terms, omote does not equal irimi, and ura does not equal tenkan. Omote/ura for me are locative descriptors, while irimi/tenkan are movement (footwork) descriptors. I can do irimi to uke's omote and ura; likewise, I can use tenkan into uke's omote and ura."

I agree Jun, Omote and Ura are locations or places-how you get there may be via irimi or tenkan. I view irimi and tenkan as ways to move. That is the same with uchi and soto-locations to me. One can move to the front, back, inside or outside using irimi and tenkan. THe other movement patterns to me are tenkai and hanten.
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Old 11-16-2005, 06:05 PM   #18
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Jun's explanation of irimi (enter) and tenkan (turn), and omote (front) and ura (rear) are on the mark. However, the way I like to think of it is:

Irimi reverses uke's attack/energy/ki back towards him.
Tenkan carries uke's attack/energy/ki away from him.
In this sense, it does not matter if you are 'located' in omote or ura or 'moving' in irimi or 'tenkan'. As David points out, there is irimi in tenkan and tenkan in irimi.

Both irimi and tenkan can result in throws, of course, but most people I see finish with an irimi movement even when doing tenkan (by my definition above).

Davids yin/yang comparison is right on the mark, but does not get at my original post that gestures that we need more training in irimi than tenkan. For me, as I stated, what we need is a method to train. Irimi is what we want, and sometimes we need a bit of tenkan to get us there. Tenkan is what happens when irimi fails so to train exclusively in tenkan (like, we usually separate them and do two irimi and two tenkan techniques when training - in Aikikai) is not sensible. What we need is a method that brings the two together, forcing them to interplay in such a way that students can better understand and therefore, learn faster. The aim is to do irimi, and tenkan is a tool to help us get there.

As for David's last post - I think I'll have to read it again to make better sense of it

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 11-16-2005 at 06:11 PM.

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Old 11-16-2005, 07:45 PM   #19
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Hi Rupert,

Let me see if I can fill in some of the variables with actual examples. Maybe that might help things. Maybe not.

I stuck with the topsy-turvy effect because I think it is quite representative of both Aikido pins and throws. We are looking for the feet and head to exchange their positions -- either in part or in full. This is how we can understand both Kuzushi and the tactical completion of Kuzushi. There are only so many ways that human body can do this. Two very common ways, which are actually just one way being represented in forward and reverse motion, is what you see in the forward and backward roll (whether that be homo-lateral or cross-lateral). Now, in Aikido, we want to generate these physical geometries by some very specific means. First, we want to utilize the opponent's energy. Second, we want to be at the center of that geometry. Third, we want to neither clash with and/or be subject to the opponent's attacking energy. These things have us generating a topsy-turvy effect in one way and not in another.

When we enter, it is tempting to see Irimi like some sort of a piercing instrument. Under such an assumption, we often push our opponent ahead of us, or we are seeking to slice our way through his/her various offensive and/or defensive aspects. However, pushing instruments (when they are singular in nature) and piercing instruments do not generate true topsy-turvy effects. This is one reason, because of how common this understanding of Irimi is, that most topsy-turvy effects in Aikido practice are often only choreographed effects -- not genuine.

Moreover, topsy-turvy effects aside, pushing instruments are going to require that we have greater mass at impact and/or that we can generate more power at impact than our opponent if we are not going to clash with our opponent and/or be subject to his/her attacking energy. Piercing instruments are going to require that our attacker's openings be greater than the leading edge of our Irimi. These are not what we should base our tactical responses on. We should not require that we be bigger and/or stronger than our opponent or that he/she attack us with huge enough opening for our body to enter. So, what do you do?

You do Aikido. You effect only a small portion of the attacker's energy and use the remainder of his/her attacking energy (e.g. body mass) to actually assist you with affecting the part you are opting to determine. What is the best way of doing this? Establish a topsy-turvy geometry. How do you do this? Bring the two parts of the attacker's body (i.e. the smaller portion you are opting to determine directly, and the larger portion you are using to assist you with determining the smaller portion) into an orbital relationship. What does an orbital relationship require? That some things are going around something else. How does one fulfill this? By having one's body be the center around which both the smaller portion of the opponent's attacking energy (the one you are directly effecting) and the larger portion (the one you are using to assist you) travel. Again, we need to ask; can this be achieved with a (singular) pushing energy and/or with a piercing energy? Answer: no. Can this fulfill the three required means by which Aikido seeks to generate a topsy-turvy effect? There is no other way to do this, in fact. So what do you do? You have to find a way of entering that is not just pushing and/or piercing. You have to find a way of having your Irimi function so that it establishes an orbit. Thus, there has to be some sort of turning and/or circularity to your Irimi; hence, my suggestion, "find some way of spinning your triangle." We all know, when a triangle gets spinning fast enough it appears to be circular.

In the video, in the omote version, you can see me seeking to determine the smaller energy of uke's hand. Here, I do not seek to push it in the opposite direction from whence it came. Rather, I only seek to move it over enough to have it go around me -- still having it remain oriented along its initial trajectory. This creates the triangular opening for Irimi; it exists between the arm/shoulder and the hip. However, if I do not want to push against the remainder of Uke's attacking energy, which is the larger portion mind you, I have to find some way of generating an orbit, such that Uke's smaller and larger portions of energy start to work for me and against him/her. To do this, I cannot just enter and seek to push or pierce. There must be some rotational element or aspect to my Irimi. Hence, the triangle must spin; Irimi must include Tenkan. When I enter, you can see that I do so in a way that Uke's energy actually wraps itself around me, with one side effecting and being effected by the other. In turn, this allows me to pin inwardly (as opposed to pinning outwardly -- which never works under real conditions).

All of this happens inversely in Tenkan. In Tenkan, we use a circle. We move that circle so that at any given moment in time/space it can actually trace out a line (like in a push or a pierce). However, because it is a circle that is tracing out this line, and unlike a push or a pierce, Tenkan can generate the same kind of orbital relationship that is necessary to generate a topsy-turvy effect in an Aikido-like fashion (just like in Irimi). If you look at the slow motion of the Ura versions of Ikkyo, you will see a frame that ends up looking just like what you see in the Omote versions (i.e. Uke going topsy-turvy, traveling around Nage in an orbital manner.). The best place to see this circle acting like a line is in the front foot of Uke. Pay attention to how small a step Uke is able to take around Nage in the ukemi. As I am still doing Tenkan better with my left foot than with my right foot (damn it!), Uke actually isn't able to take any step around me when I offer my right hand (which is the what I'm going for with having this circle act like a line).

thanks,
david

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Old 11-16-2005, 11:19 PM   #20
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

As far as these concepts and their application, I have seen tenkan movements far more often than irimi movements in MMA events, namely Pride which on tv here in Japan fairly often. I think a true irimi movement is much more difficult.
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Old 11-17-2005, 12:49 AM   #21
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
My question ...is what happens after you do tenkan? You've realised uke is attacking and avoided it.

But then what?

Do you just walk away? Does uke just walk away?

Or having absorbed, negated, avoided ukes attack (choose any way of describing it) do you not finish with irimi to either counter attack or to control uke.
Hi Darren,

Once I'm on my way in tenkan, I don't just stop at that point, but again it depends on what uke's body is doing as to what I do. I may well do irimi, but equally may continue to tenkan.

My point was to suggest that there actually is a place for irimi tenkan. I was just thinking as I was writing this (glad I was sitting down, the rush of blood to my big toe....... ) that iriminage is a good example of this, as is kotegaeshi, for both techniques we often do irimi to the outside (ura, whatever), and then tenkan. both techniques can then be finished off with either a further irimi or a continued tenkan.


rgds

Bryan

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Old 11-17-2005, 02:35 AM   #22
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Hi Bryan

That in essence is what I was trying to say..

You can have irimi tenkan...but then further irimi is require to close the move.

So it becomes irimi tenkan irimi or tenkan irimi...always irimi to complete (for me anyway).

As for the other posts...got some reading to do! But some work to do first.

D

ps. I'm with Jun..omote / ura are different!
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:07 AM   #23
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
You can have irimi tenkan...but then further irimi is require to close the move.
HI Darren,

This is the bone of contention for me. I don't think that further irimi is always required. It is an option, but so is continued tenkan.

rgds

Bryan

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Old 11-17-2005, 04:29 AM   #24
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
HI Darren,

This is the bone of contention for me. I don't think that further irimi is always required. It is an option, but so is continued tenkan.

rgds

Bryan
ok.

My feeling is that our differences are in the semantics here.

I'd interpret most dojo immobilizations as a final irimi.

Thanks for replies anyway...still got some reading to do but congratulations to Rupert on a really good thread.

Cheers

D
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Old 11-17-2005, 10:50 AM   #25
jonreading
 
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Re: Irimi vs Tenkan

Jun - I'm sorry to say that I am flying solo on my interpretation of O'Sensei's comments. I will try to find some source material to recreate how I arrived at my conclusion. Off the top of my head, I want to say it was a senior student's comments to O'Sensei's teaching, rather than a book about O'Sensei. I do think that you are right, I do not believe in a semantic relationship between omote/ura and irrimi/tenkan; rather, I think that relationship is more situational which is why my wording was very non-committed.

However, Rupert touched on my main point when he commented that tenkan is the response when irrimi is not possible. I view irrimi as my preferred method of interaction with my partner. If irrimi is unvailable, then I will use tenkan. To me, that means simply that the obvious action is irrimi, while the response if irrimi is foiled becomes tenkan. In this sense, I am playing with some of the "loose" interpretations of omote/ura, rather than our front/back interpretation...
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