The word nagashi is used in martial arts when a strategy of deflection is needed. Iaido kata “Uke-nagashi” is an example where deflection and power of the opponent’s cut is used to counterattack. Other Japanese martial arts are using the same strategy with different names. In Wado-ryu Karate, nagashi is frequently used to explain the art of deflecting and redirecting the power while keeping contact with the opponent. We find the word “nagashi” also in the names of some traditional Japanese Festivals.
Hina Nagashi 雛流し March 3
The Hina Festival is a traditional Japanese event for girls in which people imbue dolls called “hina” with their wishes for the healthy growth of their children. Each year, a stately ceremony called “Hina Nagashi” is held on March 3. People write their wishes on the hina dolls, place the dolls on boats, and allow them to drift out into the spring ocean. The dolls, which are dressed in scarlet and yellow kimono, sway beautifully on the open sea that glitters in the sunlight.
Actually our interest goes to the idea behind the word. Nagasu verb, meaning “to spread”or “to flow”…… Basically the concept of nagashi in martial arts is absorbing the incoming attack and give back. This in fact is another definition for “Ju no ri” or the principle of gentleness formulated by Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo. Kenji Tomiki used this concept to describe the idea of using the power of the opponent. The aim is to absorb the energy of the attack and not to damage ourselves. There are several basic ways to make this move, but everything lies in the union of two actions, the first action is to synchronize our movement with the opponent attack keeping the rikakutaisei distance, the second action is to move your body weight in the proper angle to absorb opponent’s power. Nagashi s a type of protection that allows a movement of continuity, deflecting or accompanying the attack of the opponent.
In an article “On jujutsu and its modernisation” Kenji Tomiki used “nagashi” in the chapter “Training course for aiki-randori”:
Method of flowing (nagashi-kata): the five hand sword movements
Nagashi-kata movements are the basics for tegatana-dosa, also called tandoku undo. The 5 handblade movements are combined with unsoku or foot-movements. There are many versions of tegatana-dosa since the birth of Tomiki’s Aikido, and each has a different purpose. The names of handblade movements can be different depending on the use of the handblade. Find here 2 important versions of tegatana-dosa tandoku-undo.
|Around 1958 ||Around 1975|
The version developed in the 50-ties of the 20th century, are expressing the concept of nagashi more clearly than the 70-ties version. The movements of the 1958 version have a flowing character, while the 1975 movements have borrowed concepts from Kendo (modern swordsmanship).
The 5 handblade movements can be used as an offensive movement. Yokomen-uchi and gyaku-yokomen-uchi are atemi waza to the side of opponent’s head. Uchi -mawashi and soto-mawashi are used in this case as atemi-waza in combination with the proper “ma and hyoshi“.
Exercises can have a rather simple choreography, but the content can be very complex.
There is omote and there is ura. We can consider nagashi-kata atemi-waza as an omote version. The ura version is a defensive application of nagashi-kata. See picture.
An interesting concept in the defensive movements when grasped at the wrist, is the concept of “meguri”. Literally meaning flexibility and rotation of the forearms. This concept was intensively taught by the late Hirokazu Kobayashi from Osaka.
The rotation of Tori’s wrist can be seen in this movement-clip.
Kobayashi had a cordial relationship with Kenji Tomiki. On 10 October 1969, Kobayashi invited Tomiki to Osaka, where the latter gave a short course to introduce competitive aikido to students from six local universities.