Figuring out what a technique is, and how you are supposed to perform it, can seem confusing and challenging; especially when it is being called out to you in Japanese during test time! We are going attempt to explain the terminology and clarify the sequence of events for a given technique! We will use for our example; Shomenuchi Ikkyo Omote. We will proceed to break it down into three simple and digestible parts.

Iinitially there is the attack portion of a technique; this is usually the first word. For the purposes of this article we will not be focusing on the grabs, single or double hands; which precede the type of strike. Keep in mind that the name and structure of the technique is spelled out for you in sequence and benefits both Uke and Nage in that both know what is coming and what to do.

Following is the type of strike; of which there are three main ones we will deal with here: Shomenuchi, Yokemenuchi, and Munetsuki. For our example we are using Shomenunchi; which is a strike (uchi) to the Shomen or head. It is a straight cut to the head of Uke from top down.

Yokomenchi starts out much like Shomenuchi but at the last minute “yokes” or pitches off center to a strike to the side of the head or neck area.

Munetsuki, a more direct or inline thrust (tsuki) to the mid section, followed by the name of the technique, Ikkyo in this example. Simple eh? Sure; that’s why they only call it the twenty year technique, and it’s only the first one!

Lastly we come to how we enter Irimi/Omote or go around Tenkan/Ura. That is it for strike and thrust based attacks! So now you have it; a good foundation on how to decipher techniques as they are written or called out.

There are Geri or kicks in Aikido and general Atemi or strikes to numerous to categorize here. Our next edition will cover positions of attack and defense, other common attacks; thrusts (Tsuki) and strikes (Uchi) and more grabs (Tori) such as Katatetori, Katatori.