Iriminage: Having the Heart to Enter

spring fern fronds 2Do you remember being offered a job you had absolutely no clue what it entailed but you thought that it would be exciting and would look good on your resume?  Did you jump into it? I did.  In fact, I did it about  three or four times and I never regretted any actions resulting from  taking them on cluelessly.

Maybe it was the foolhardy courageous part of me that made me do it.  Two of the jobs I jumped into was before I studied Aikido.  But I would like to think that even then, I could have been practicing Irimi.


Iriminage, The Entering Throw

Iriminage is one of the techniques we learn in Aikido.  Describing the movement and technical part of it would take up a chapter or a book, as there are many different variations and executions of it,  and all of them would be correct and effective.  You can look up all the variations and executions in popular video and Aikido websites. You can also follow discussions about iriminage in many Aikido forums.  Its principle is simple.  Basically, in iriminage, we enter into the other person’s sphere of influence, become one with his center, so that we can throw him out of  balance and, or  away from us.   It has been likened to a hurricane, to  the earth’s  rotation on its axis, with its quiet center and a spinning perimeter. It sounds simple enough, but its implications are massive.

"Iru" means to pierce, to penetrate, to enter.

“Iru” means to pierce, to penetrate, to enter.

To enter into the other person’s area of influence, to become one with his center  takes a lot of courage.  It means letting yourself feel what he is feeling, see what he is seeing and understand where he is coming from.  What if you didn’t like it? What if you don’t agree with his position? All the what if’s must be swept aside for us to just  enter.

The principle of Iriminage requires you to shore up your courage, hitch up your pants, roll up your sleeves and go!  

This is a familiar feeling for most of us at one time or another.  Imbedded journalists in the field do iriminage, just as anthropologists and linguists  immerse themselves in their fields of study.  Travellers are doing iriminage all the time. When we enter into the other person’s space, we multiply our options.  We now see the other person’s options as well as ours. Doing the technique of iriminage on the mat conveys  this all too well.

We can keep him spinning  or we can let him go.  

DSC00846The possibilities to do with him and ourselves  as we will are limitless. Whoever said that iriminage is the 20 year technique must have been  a very kind and very optimistic man.  Twenty years is an understatement applicable only to geniuses and savants.  I am learning it all the time.  In fact, it would take up a whole lifetime trying to practice it and explore its possibilities.

The beauty of it is its simplicity and its universal applicability.   

We all have the capability to perform iriminage but not everyone has the heart to enter into a situation at the right time in the right frame of mind with the right intention. It takes courage and resolve (or just plain foolhardiness) to jump into the unknown, but there are times that the only way out of the storm is to run towards and into its heart.


(Please also see:”Aikido: Fall Down Seven, Stand Up Eight“)


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