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In some variations, such as kata tori and gyaku hamni katatedori, ikkyo and nikkyo techniques are very similary, pretty much equal, but for the ending pin.

What is then, the real difference between, say, kata tori ikkyo omote and kata tori nikkyo, at a more profound level ?

(note: I'm not asking for esoteric stuff, it's a technical question)

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+1 for the esoteric stuff :-))) Yes, many aikidokas look like that :-) –  Tomas Feb 17 '12 at 15:28
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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Personally when I am performing ikkyo from something like kata dori (tori) I am just gingerly holding the wrist, with the emphasis on the other hand articulating the elbow. When I am performing nikyo from the same attack I am gripping the wrist in such a was to actually be applying nikyo. Some people may not make this distinction, and it could be they perform both ways identically until they get down to the pin.

To me, the differences are more pronounced when you move away from static grabs and make it more dynamic. When you are performing the technique ki no nagare style (flowing, or with energy (ie not static)) and you do ikkyo you should no longer be grabbing, but scooping up the wrist and proceding with the technique just as you would from something like shomen uchi. To perform nikyo in the same way, you will need to grab the wrist.

Of course different instructors are going to have different styles, and there is no right answer to say definitively which way is the most correct way. The most correct way is the way that works best for you.

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+1 for Of course different instructors are going to have different styles, and there is no right answer to say definitively which way is the most correct way. The most correct way is the way that works best for you. –  BenCole Jan 31 '12 at 21:59
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our sensei and other instructors also told us that ikkyo and nikkyo are different directions. I never understood this. They started with ikkyo omote and told us that there are 4 directions to continue to: ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo (towards the opponent), and to 4th was jonkyo ?? Don't remember. I never really understood this - and so for me personally it temporarily fell to the category of "esoteric crap"... as @tacone mentioned :) –  Tomas Feb 18 '12 at 9:59
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I have always approached (and been taught) ikkyo as a martial exercise, rather than technique.

Rather than being a strong technique, static ikkyo practice teaches:

  • Moving in and off the line of attack,
  • Footwork and movement,
  • Posture and breathing,
  • And other very basic concepts (hara, centeredness, maai, etc)

Nikyo (as well as Sankyo, Yonkyo, etc) then build on this foundation by adding effective pins and hand movements (holds, lock applications, etc).


Personally my Aikido differs slightly (only slightly) from that of JackBNimble in that in regular, static, practice, the Aikidoka should be focusing on the mechanics of the movement, making sure they are correctly applied. In ki no nagare practice, however, an Aikidoka should have the basic foundation already and should focus more on the opponent at hand, and less on the technique, developing such skills as zanshin, mushin, and maai.

And now I'm going to cheat and steal part of JackBNimble's answer, because I liked it so much I had to include it a second time:

Of course different instructors are going to have different styles, and there is no right answer to say definitively which way is the most correct way. The most correct way is the way that works best for you.

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Not enough rep. to comment on other answers, so I have to make another.

I agree with the answers of @JackBNimble and @Tomas when they make this distinction. One can add that the numbering of the techniques was invented by the studens of O'sensei, AFAIK he himself never used this naming system. Having said that, I teach that nikyo omote should still feel like a nikyo (what many people think of only as nikyo ura). It can look "empty", i.e., like an ikkyo, but there should be a nikyo contact there! The principle, as mentioned in another answer, is control through the wrist, not the elbow (as usual in ikkyo).

In the scenario that I had only one arm and was to go (from my perspective) forwards and to the left to end up in front of uke, if I only had my left arm, I would attempt control through nikyo. If I only had my right arm, I would attempt control through ikkyo. An excercise in visualization =)

And with respect to @tacone's comment above, the answer applies to all forms of nikyo.

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There is a great difference - nikyo works on the wrist, while ikkyo works on the elbow!

But I guess why you are probably asking: because nikyo is often demonstrated as if it was ikkyo, i.e. the main work is done on the elbow and the wrist work is just an unecessary "demonstration crap" at the end of the technique, like at the start of this video. But proper, "clean" nikyo is the work on the wrist - look how clean nikyo works.

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Hello Tomas, thank you for your answer. But my question is more specific: kata tori ikkyo/nikyo omote. Not other forms (shomenuchi, ura waza etc) –  tacone Feb 17 '12 at 22:20
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