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Aikido Technique Nomenclature

The full names of applied Aikido techniques, as you can see on your Promotional Test Requirements,a re composed of two parts. The first part of the name will generally indicate the attack, for example Shomenuchi, frontal strike. The second half of the name will be the actual technique of defense used against this attack, for example Kotegaeshi. The full name of the applied technique would thus be Shomenuchi Kotegaeshi-Frontal strike wrist turning technique. Certain techniques will also have added to their name certain specifications, such as Omote and Ura, or indications of the context of their application, such as Suwari Waza. beginners will find this Japanese terminology confusing at first, it generally takes little time to become accustomed to it.

Aikido nomenclature is an attempt to apply terminology to something that cannot always be compartmentalized and labeled. Various teachers may have their own versions of nomenclature. It must be stressed that a thorough familiarity with technique and its principle is our goal as well as simply a convenient and not always precise way of describing what we do.


The words Omote, Ura, Irmi, and Tenkan are used to designate the variations of Aikido techniques you will need to know. Omote means "front" and Ura means "back"; thus, these two terms are primarily special designations. Irimi means "to enter" and Tenkan means "spinning change" or "to turn"; thus, these terms designate body movement. These two terms are nearly interchangeable. Most techniques have pinning and throwing variations and the uses the term Nage (throw) after naming the attack and technique to designate the throwing variation.

The following are major Aikido techniques you will learn, with approximate English translations:

Ikkyo - First teaching
Nikyo - Second teaching
Sankyo - Third teaching
Yonkyo - Fourth teaching
Gokyo - Fifth teaching
Irimnage - Entering throw
Shihonage - Four direction throw
Kokyunage - Timing throw
Kotegaeshi - Wrist turning
Koshinage - Hip throw
Kaiten nage - Rotary throw
Jiujinage - Crossed elbows throw
Kubinage - Neck throw
Udegarami - Entwining arm
Sudori - Disappearing
Sumi otoshi - Corner drop
Aiki otoshi - Aiki drop
Ganseki otoshi - Boulder throw

Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo, Gokyo, Kotegaeshi, Shihonage and others aim have specific pinning techniques associated with them. Most techniques have pinning or throwing variations. The categories of Aikido techniques are divided as follows:

Katame-waza (Controlling techniques)
Nage-waza (Throwing techniques)
Atemi-waza (Striking techniques)
Kansetsu-waza (Joint immobilization techniques)
Ne-waza (Grappling techniques)

Divided into:

Osae-waza (Immobilization techniques)
Shime-waza (Strangulation techniques)

THE TRAINING - Quality Practice is the Way

The "Way" of Aikido is nothing more than consistent, dedicated, quality practice. Do not think that anything else will give you a knowledge of Aikido. Train intelligently, consistently, and patiently and you will see a natural progression.


It has been said that O'Sensei exhorted his students to "train joyfully". This is excellent advice. At all time you should extend a very positive, bright attitude in training. At the same time, however, you must maintain a core of deadly seriousness. Aikido is Budo-martial way. As such it deals with extremes of violence and with the forging of better human beings. Aikido is not a way to magically avoid conflict through some mysterious process of "harmony". The spirit of Aikido is to face conflict squarely. Only then can we hope to transcend it.

When you train, remember always the potential for injury that lies within your movements. Be conscious of your openings and gaps in your awareness, and those of your partner. Walk and move with purpose, ready at any time to respond to whatever arises in your daily life and on the mats. Understand deeply that in this life we may die at any moment, and train with this awareness.

In Japanese there is an expression: Shinken shobu. Shinken shobu literally means a fight with live steel swords. It implies a true, serious situation. Your attitude in training must be "Shinken shobu". When your partner attacks you with a wooden knife in practice, you must believe it is a real knife. When you attack your partner in practice, attack truly. In this manner, you will both receive real benefit from the training.

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