A bit randomly I discovered Dan Djurdjevic' s blog and it provides with a fun way to study the consequences of Tai no henka. I do not know for sure who Dan is but his approach seems both interesting and sincere.
There is a lot that can be learned here: Dan has made a real effort to get the information about aikido, he tried it and he draws conclusions which should interest aikidokas. I'm impressed someone searches out of his discipline, in a very opened and honest way.
Unfortunately, what he is been taught is a good sample of what modern aikido stands for and the very fact the whole problem is centered around tai no henka is in itself a relevant symptom.
Once again let's repeat O sensei started all his keikos with TNH: it is the very heart of aikido, nothing less.
I think one should read Dan's article to understand his point precisely. But I don't want to repeat it here so let's jump straight to the main conclusions. (My previous post was way too long, sorry guys).
His starting point.
There are a great many “projections” or throws in the traditional martial arts (particularly in aikido) that focus on
“leading” the momentum of the opponent – that is to say, continuing and redirecting the momentum of your opponent rather than opposing it.
I have a great admiration for this concept both philosophically and technically. But just how “practical” is it? In other words, what are your chances of “leading” the momentum of an opponent in a real civilian defence scenario?
Here is maybe the first debatable point as aikido is defined as a defensive strategy. As a matter of fact a great deal of aikido is impossible without tori taking the initiative, not waiting. It does mean pre emptive strike, attacking, it only means not waiting. Modern Aikido has been built up as a new age non violent self defense art... but it may be slight;y more complex than that.
Actually, it is not about using uke's strength to lead / intercept it, it is all about canceling it, without waiting.
Dan then explains the mainstrean most common TNH which should be familiar to aikidokas:
Inevitably, this leads him in technical dead ends and especially for irimi nage - under its now archetypal form.
Cela le conduit assez logiquement dans des impasses techniques et notamment à propos d'irimi nage dans sa version désormais canonique.
And it becomes fascinating.
Because of course it just does not work in sparring. Sometimes he manages to perform tenkan but irimi seems immpossible and Dan's is very clear about his experiments.
Irimi nage, on the basis of that TNH, simply does not work and one can feel his disappointment. (Very honestly he clearly states in a comment that he may not be competent enough to perform it fully).
According to him it is possible to by pass the first phase and go straight to the second one. As in this video:
He performs here what is sometimes bizarrely called irimi nage omote (as opposed maybe to an ura form which only exists on the basis of a wrong TNH).
Doing it, remarkably, he rediscovers the efficient technique described by Saito sensei (Takemusu Aikido vol 2, page 146 French edition ) by eliminating the errors linked to the wrong TNH... .
Unbelievable and I must say very clever from Dan's part for he is a skilled enough martial artist to find the true move...
So he asks himself:
Is this better - or just different? It is noteworthy that in all my hard and fast sparring, I have only ever applied our "shortened" variant of irimi nage: I have never managed to apply the first phase of the classical aikido version, namely leading the opponent's forward momentum with a tenkan movement. But then again, one might validly point out that we are talking about sparring - not real fighting. Is there a role for the tenkan in leading the initial forward momentum in a civilian defence scenario? My answer to that is definitely yes - but with some important qualifications
Dan then tries to save the theory by limiting its range to very specific circonstances. Like this form he rightly calls tenkan nage:
In his experience, Dan says he never managed to perform anything else but the second phase - witch quite logically becomes for him the true definition of irimi nage.
What is fascinating is that Dan's sincere experiments are consistent with traditional aikido principles and explanations.
(I know that everything is traditional nowadays... I'm just quoting Saito sensei's 1973 book series, yes: 1973...)
The very root of his "failures" is a wrong understanding of tai no henka. Dan uses a wrong TNH but rediscovers the true technique by adapting the theory. Magical.
One is tempted to tell Dan that his conclusions are right but the theory he is been taught is wrong.
Not his fault really.
A few throws form Saito sensei (sorry for the music): that should ring a bell...
• Sei = truth. sincerity. in good faith. (= Makoto).
• Jitsu = substance. sincerity.
truth. reality. true. real. real. good results.
a seed. a bay. fruit. nut.
content. substance. an ingredient. (= Mi)