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Aikido Glossary for Dummies

…and I’m the Dummy.

I’m a black belt in karate, and I recently started studying Aikido.

Two words: culture shock.

When we teach karate, it goes something like: “The attacker tries to punch you in the nose. First, you respond with a head block. Next, you grab his wrist, pull him toward you, and punch to the solar plexus. Third, you…”

Aikido lessons go something like:

  • Attacker grabs sensei’s wrist
  • Sensei throws attacker across the room
  • Sensei says “ikkyo” and indicates we should try.

I, as an Aikido beginner, am left wondering what the heck just happened and what kind of sinus problem “ikkyo” indicates.

My senseis have pointed out that I still need to “learn to see”, so I can understand what’s happening when they demonstrate a technique, and have encouraged me to focus first on watching footwork. That’s beneficial, but hasn’t helped me understand the explanatory terms that are thrown around casually in class that are foreign to even my karate background.

Most Aikido dictionaries I’ve found online are either incomplete, or TOO complete, making it difficult for a newbie to navigate. So, in the interest of simplicity, here’s what I’ve gleaned from 3 months of Aikido:


  • uke (oo-kay) - attacker
  • nage (nah-gay) - defender


  • ikkyo (ee-kyoh) - “first teaching”. A technique that focuses on manipulating the elbow
  • nikkyo (nee-kyoh) - “second teaching”. A technique that focuses on manipulating the wrist
  • (There seems to be a great deal of overlap between the techniques, so I’m still not 100% clear on what distinguishes them.)


  • omote (oh-moh-tay) - forward or front
  • ura (oo-rah) - reverse or rear


  • hamni (hom-nee) - matched/mirrored stance
  • ai hamni (aye hom-nee) - opposite stance


  • ukemi (oo-kehm-ee) - rolls or falls
  • irimi (ee-ree-mee) - forward slide
  • tenkon (ten-kon) - twist and backward slide


  • kata tori (kah-tah toe-ree) - shoulder grap
  • katate tori (kah-tah-tay toe-ree) - same-side wrist grab (right to left, left to right)
  • gyaku te tori (gya-koo tay too-ree) - cross-hand wrist grab, i.e. reaching across the body to grasp opponents same wrist (right to right, left to left)
  • morote tori (moe-roe-tay toe-ree) - two hands on one wrist
  • ryote tori (ryoh-tay toe-ree) - one hand on each of opponent’s wrists

I hope this can help someone else.

Mass Shooting in Canada

Canada’s parliament has returned to work, a day after a gunman rampaged through its corridors before being shot dead by the sergeant-at-arms.

One soldier, Cpl Nathan Cirillo, died of his injuries. Three other people were treated in hospital and released by evening.

Minutes after the attack at the memorial, dozens of shots were fired inside the parliament building.

The gunman was shot dead by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, 58.

MPs applauded Mr Vickers for several minutes on Thursday, banging on their desks in support and appreciation of his service and actions a day prior. (Emphasis mine)


Canada outlawed the death penalty in 1976. It’s amazing to me how suddenly we’re all in favor of the death penalty when it’s our lives on the line. The gunman’s death was widely recognized as a good thing. I’ll say it again: Sometimes destroying a destroyer is the only way to protect the innocent.

Another case of self defense working

From BBC:

“Mr Nolen then began assaulting his second victim, Traci Johnson, 43, with the same knife.

“It appears they were just in his way when he came in,” said Mr Lewis.

Mr Nolen’s attack was stopped when the CEO of the plant, Mark Vaughn, who is a also a police reserve deputy, shot and injured him.

“The off-duty deputy definitely saved Traci’s life,” said Mr Lewis.” (emphasis mine)

Active Shooter Study

The FBI recently released a report of Active Shooter incidents.

There are some interesting facts in this article:

“Two-thirds of incidents ended before police arrived, though only one ended when an armed citizen not working as a security guard responded with gunfire.”

Even more interesting:

  • “In 21 incidents (13.1%), unarmed civilians successfully stopped the gunman, including 11 by school employees or students
  • Five incidents (3.8%) ended when armed individuals who were not police exchanged gunfire with the gunman - four security guards and a single armed bar patron”

These facts tell me two things: First, the police cannot protect us in the instant of an altercation, and relying on them could be fatal. Second, self-defense DOES work. Almost 20% of the cases were ended by people defending themselves.

“A large majority of these scenarios, 70%, occurred in businesses or educational environments.”

In other words, the majority of these scenarios occur where firearms are typically prohibited. Unfortunately, the report gives no indication of how many incidents included individuals attempting to defend themselves. Of those 17.9% of incidents stopped by individuals, we have no idea if that represents 100% of the times people attempted to defend themselves or significantly less. While we know self-defense does work, this report gives us little idea of how effectively it works. The fact that this ratio was overlooked suggests to me that law enforcement assume citizens “should” play the victim.

Nonetheless, the fact that 5 incidents were stopped by armed individuals lends credence to the NRA’s stance that “the Only Way To Stop A Bad Guy With A Gun Is With A Good Guy With A Gun.”

Early Universe Parallels Genesis

From “Hints of elusive early stars found” (BBC):

“In the first several hundred million years after the Big Bang, the Universe was composed only of hydrogen and helium. It had no structure, no stars, nor any black holes.

It was a very featureless, boring Universe…”

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface…” (Gen 1:2)

“…Then the first stars formed and fundamentally transformed it,” said Dr Volker Bromm from the University of Texas, Austin.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Gen 1:3)

Missouri Gun Murder Rate Rise

Missouri gun murders ‘rose after law repeal’

This article presents a rather strong case for deregulation of handguns correlating with a rise in the murder rate in Missouri. Some might think this is egg on the face of pro-gun advocates. In reality, it’s an opportunity for pro-gun advocates to clarify their views.

You see, pro-gun advocates are not against firearm regulation.

Speaking for myself, I believe guns should be licensed in the same way another lethal instrument is licensed: the car. That is, citizens without a criminal record should be educated, required to take a written gun safety test and a gun usage proficiency test, and if they pass be issued with a license to own a gun (without any of this “why do you need it?” nonsense that’s so open to interpretation.) They should also have to recertify on a regular basis.

With that in mind, I think Missouri made a fatal mistake: “The study links the abandonment of the background check to an additional 60 or so murders occurring per year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012.” (emphasis mine)

My goal is to empower law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, and guns are often the most effective way to do so. At the same time, I want to keep guns OUT of the hands of criminals. A criminal background check is a means to that end.

So this is not an excuse for “tighter gun regulation” or another attempt to ban handguns. Rather, it is another opportunity to let common sense rule.

A Gun For Women

From BBC: “India has launched a new handgun for women, named after a student who was gang-raped in Delhi in December 2012 and later died of her injuries.

 Most refreshing about this article, is it seems we finally have a police officer (notably, a woman) who gets it: “The gun’s launch has led Indians to debate whether carrying a gun makes a woman safer. Ram Krishna Chaturvedi, the chief of police for Kanpur and several nearby districts, thinks it does.

“It is definitely a good idea. If you have a licensed weapon, it increases your self-confidence and creates fear in the minds of criminals,” she says.”

Housewives, too, see the value: “Pratibha Gupta, a housewife and student in Kanpur. [says]… ‘If the person in front of me knows that I have a gun, he will hesitate to touch me…’”

Sadly, the group causing the most problems for Indian women protecting themselves is the government. “Most public places in India do not allow guns - and many offices, malls, cinemas, theatres and markets are equipped with metal detectors to enforce this.

Even if the Delhi rape victim had owned a gun, he says, it would not have been much help, considering she was returning home after watching a film in a theatre in a mall where she wouldn’t have been allowed to carry her weapon.

And if she had been armed, and she had shot any of her attackers the chances are she would have spent the rest of her life in jail on charges of murder, he says.”

Ironically, it is the opponents to gun ownership who offer the biggest reason it’s necessary: “Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of the Women Gun Survivors Network [says]… ‘The authorities saying, ‘Hey woman, come there’s a new gun for you which will make you safer,’ is an admission of failure on their part.’”

Also, “But many frightened women had little faith in a largely corrupt and inefficient police force.”

Consider the U.S., where the police force isn’t largely “corrupt and inefficient”, you still can’t rely on the police for protection. “Even though the Department of Justice determined that the average police response time to a 911 call is 4 minutes, the average interaction time between a criminal and his victim is 90 seconds.

Indian women are realizing, due to tragic necessity, what writers of the U.S. Constitution already knew: “Large numbers [of women] enrolled in self-defence classes and began stocking up on pepper spray cans. Some reports suggested there was a rise in the number of women seeking gun licences.”

From the Women’s Self Defense Institute: “The truth is that the police are not your body guards… The reality is that you are on your own for at least 4 minutes or more. Anyone who has been in any type of altercation knows that it only takes seconds to inflict serious injury.

It’s up to you to defend yourself. The police cannot be everywhere. (emphasis mine)”

Oily Business

From the BBC:

“The trade gap dropped by 12.9% to $34.3bn (£20.9bn) in November, the smallest monthly deficit since October 2009, the US Commerce Department said.

Imports fell 1.4% from October as a fall in demand for foreign oil…

Exports rose 0.9%, boosted by a 5.6% rise in petroleum exports”

Um… we’re importing foreign oil and exporting our own? Does this make any sense at all? Maybe, like we often see in the press, we could “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” if we’d KEEP OUR OWN @#$%! OIL IN THE COUNTRY!

Incompetent at Judging Incompetence

A recent report says incompetent people are especially bad at judging their own incompetence.

Are we surprised?

We could all use a bigger dose of humility, me included.

Another Difference

Yet another study confirms what we already know: men and women are different.

Yet even this article attempts to undermine the obvious conclusion: men (as a group) tend to excel at certain tasks, while women (as a group) tend to excel at different tasks.

Instead of continuing to fight for an androgynous society, why don’t we accept these differences and capitalize on them?