O Sensei Teaches Ikkyo

While browsing thru a book said to be O Sensei’s first published book on Aikido technique, Aikido Rensho (1934) I came across a drawing illustrating Shomenuchi Ikkyo.

While reading the description it became clear that O Sensei was instructing nage (called “shi” by the translator) to initiate the strike.

Translation – Shomen (Front or Face on)
36. Shi: Strikes out with his right Tegatana (hand blade) and with his left hand thrusts to the enemy’s right arm pit.
Receives this attack with his right hand
Shi: Advancing on his right leg and stepping in with his left foot, grabs the enemy’s right elbow with his left hand. (You must put your strength into your finger tips.)

Yes, nage strikes first. This historical example of teaching techniques can be used to discuss the concept of “defensive” versus “offensive” Aikido. Clearly the uke is being “attacked” by the thrust of the nage.

Tohei Akira Shihan, when asked about the timing of defensive techniques and what differentiated an aggressive act from a defensive one, would often ask the question in return. “When did the attack begin?”

Did the attack begin after the fist had already contacted your nose? Did it begin when the fist was 6 inches from your nose? Or did it begin when the attacker formed the intention to attack you?

To paraphrase O Sensei, that intention thereby disrupted the fabric of the universe sufficiently for you to have detected it in an example of katsu hayabi.

It is interesting to remember that these are all techniques meant to teach the principles of Aikido, and the best technique in any situation is the one that teaches the underlying Aikido principle most effectively.