7 After the attack
After uke has over-extended
himself, it is natural to recover. In this instance, tori should
immediately harmonise with ukeís retreat and move in for an irimi
What is apparent then, is that the
distinction between when one should, and when one should not perform an irimi
or tenkan type technique can be based upon the time of meeting uke's
energy. It should also be pointed out that it is possible to mix irimi
and tenkan together. One can start with an irimi movement and
finish with tenkan, and vice-versa, but not recommended in gradings where
one is supposed to keep them separate to show that one does indeed know the
distinctions. Of course, those keen to learn Aikido should be aware that the
above distinctions are rarely, if ever, taught in any rational framework.
* Adding spice to life
The above seven 'times' are a
simple mechanical method. You 'interrupt' uke at different points
(especially in Nos 3-7) along a particular attack. The earlier you meet - the
faster you should be. But this means you are simply waiting for uke to
attack and then respond.
However, you can learn to play
with and control uke a little better if you initiate with #2 (either a
real attack or a feint), and then wait for the response and deal with it using
any time from #3 to #7. Or, you might offer uke an opening, a suki,
an opportunity. When uke takes it you are again ready to respond. In this
way, you are predicting or, rather, creating the future - a future where you are
ready to receive uke's attack at a point in time of your own choosing. If
you examine your bokken and jo katas, you may find more
interesting ideas that can be used in empty-hand work.
sword arts utilise three basic concepts for time. Note, sen means
'first/early/before' and in Japanese martial arts, some people like to translate sen as
go-no-sen : Literally, after the attack, or late initiative: Your partner
takes the initiative, you see the attack, the attack finishes, and you act in response to that. This does not necessarily
mean that your opponent has the initiative. Though it may mean that, a better
interpretation of this concept is to allow your opponent to make the first move
while at the same time, quietly waiting to take advantage of that fact. You may
decide to offer an opening, which you use to lure in your opponent: he attacks
first ... you lie in wait and respond
sen-no-sen : Literally, early initiative. Tori deals the attack as
it approaches but before it fully arrives. Of course, tori should use his
skill to lure uke into this 'time'.
sen-sen-no-sen : Literally, at the same time as the attack. You attack
just as uke is about to, or just as he initiates his attack, to fully
overwhelm him. The attack cannot develop - it is smothered. The attack is
pre-empted. The attacker's intention barely has the time to materialise into a
strong physical attack..
all this for Aikido:
EARLY sen-sen-no-sen : Tori moves in early as uke raises his
arm for shomen-uchi, pushing him straight back, for ikkyo.
MIDDLE sen-no-sen : Tori evades uke's shomen uchi by
stepping to the side, adds a little downward energy to it (the 'time' finishes
here), and then performs irimi-nage as uke rises.
LATE go-no-sen : Tori moves inside to evade a migi yokomen-uchi,
and as uke's attack finishes, tori then steps in with a left
handed shomen-ate strike as uke starts to recover.
* For an interesting read on all this in relation to O-Sensei and Aikido try:
(the ideas taken from his book,
Gorin-no-sho, match those of Kendo)
Musashi used the same basic concepts as in
modern Kendo but gave them different names.
The first method/time is to forestall the enemy by
attacking, which is called Ken No Sen (to set him up).
The second method/time is to forestall the enemy as he
attacks, which is called Tai No Sen (to wait for and to then take the
The third method/time is when both you and the enemy
attack together. This is called Tai Tai No Sen (to move at the same time)
Musashi states that, "There are no methods of taking the lead
other than these three." (Musashi, Gorin-no-sho, 1645).
Italian Fencing time
Italian schools of fencing combine
time with method to produce strategy. In fencing, one aggressive or one
defensive movement is labelled as being done in one time, irrespective of
the speed of the movement.
- double time: The simplest to
understand and practice, but easiest to defend against. Here, block/parry and
counter-strike make two completely separate movements.
- middle time: Counter the attack as it develops, sometimes with the feeling of
- in time, or stop hit: Avoid and counter-strike in harmony with the attack, in
the same time.
- one time: Intercept, deflect the attack, and counter all in the same time.
Ė counter time: A counter attack is provoked, and exploited.
Of swordplay, George Silver (Paradoxes of Defence,
explains his four true times: (1) time of the hand, (2) time of the hand
and body, (3) time of the hand, body, and foot, and (4) time of the hand, body,
and feet. His four false times are: (1) time of the foot, (2), time of
the foot and body, (3) time of the foot, body, and hand, and (4) time of the
feet, body, and hand. Here it is interesting to note that Aikido, a body art
whose motion originates in the centre, appears to be based on his false
Techniques without time are
nothing more than dead form. Training in the tempo of movement is a priceless
tool of strategy; one can anticipate and predict or lure to create the immediate
future. However, it must be remembered that European fencing is a hand art
whereas Aikido is primarily a body art. As such, Aikido offers a few more
variations such as taking the balance, adding energy to the attack, and looking
for openings in the midst of movement to a different range of target techniques.
One thing to be wary of is that a lot of basic Aikido techniques are based on
the simplest and most basic Italian concept, duo tempo. If one has the
knowledge of where one is in time, one can modify it to be different. A sensible
learning strategy is to isolate examples of various times within Aikido training
and to memorise and practise them.