Riai means “blending of truths.”  In Aikido, that means that our techniques are the same, whether we are armed or not.  It does not matter if our enemy is armed or not, and it does not matter if we face one attacker or several.  This is because Aikido is a complete Budo, designed to allow for all of these circumstances at once.  Inagaki Sensei shows this wonderfully at the 47th All Japan Budokan.  In his presentation, he faces three partners: one unarmed, one armed with ken, and one armed with jo.  He faces each one in turn, in that order, and uses a matched technique each time to demonstrate Riai.  I will describe each technique that he executes.

Round One: Throwing with Tenkan Ashi as the principle.  He enters and turns to the side of the attacker, facing the same direction of his attacker.

Taijutsu: He faces his partner who attacks with Gyaku Hanmi Katatedori.  Inagaki uses tenkan ashi, the classic urawaza footwork, and grabs uke’s hand in a manner that allows him to lock uke’s right elbow over his left shoulder.  This is an example of kansetsuwaza, or joint locking, and in this case is used as both atemi and kuzushi.  Uke is then thrown forward with a kokyunage.

Tachidori: He faces his partner in migi hanmi.  As uchiken slides forward with an overhead cut, Inagaki moves forward and tenkans while matching the ken strike by cutting down with tegatana over uchiken’s hand.  He then grabs the tsuka to throw and disarm uchiken with kokyunage.  This is a kihon tachidori.

Jodori: He faces his partner in hidari hanmi.  As uchijo thrusts, Inagaki enters to his partner’s side and gives an atemi with his left hand to uchijo’s flank.  He then turns to his partner’s side and grabs the jo in a manner that locks uchijo’s left elbow, and throws uchijo forward with a hijiate kokyunage.  This is a kihon jodori.

Round Two: Throwing with Irimi as the principle.  He enters directly omote, to the front of the attacker, and throws the attacker back in the direction that they came from.

Taijutsu: Uke attacks with shomenuchi, and Inagaki matches uke’s movements.  Inagaki continues his irimi movement to grabs uke’s right hand with his left, and strike uke’s face with his left hand for a throw.  In Aikido, this is called ago ate kokyunage.

Tachidori: Inagaki faces his partner in ai hanmi, and enters directly to uchiken’s front as he strikes with the ken.  Inagaki holds the tsuki with his left hand and strikes uchiken’s face with his right hand to throw him.  This technique is also done by stepping on uchiken’s right foot.

Jodori: Same as the tachidori technique, Inagaki enters to the front, grabs the jo, and strikes uchijo’s face to throw him.

And so on.  On the third round, Inagaki uses Sokumen Iriminage.  On the fourth round, Inagaki uses Kotegaeshi.  On the fifth and last round, Inagaki uses Rokyo.  All of this serves to showcase that Aikido is indeed an art based on all inclusive principles, not individual techniques.  Understanding any technique on the principle level is required for true understanding in any martial art.  Whether your partner is armed or unarmed is a manner of training method to practice principles which are then illustrated by technique.  A breakdown of that may look like this:

Principle: Kotegaeshi. Training method: Jodori. Technique: Choku tsuki kotegaeshi.



  1. DanCosgrove says:

    Nice demo vid. I keep meaning to check out Aikido, but all of the clubs seem too far right now.

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