Shiho Nage: Throw To The Four Corners

Shiho Nage (also spelt as shihonage) means throw to the four corners or four directions. Shihonage is an Aikido Nage Waza (Aikido throwing technique), that trains the Aikidoka to throw firstly in four directions, and secondly, throw in any direction.

Remember, Shiho Nage teaches you how to throw in all directions.

O Sensei said ‘If you can do Shiho Nage well, then you can do Aikido’.

I put a BIG image of Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei doing Shihonage above. This is THE correct form to do Shiho Nage. The Uke’s forearm or wrist is at front of Tori or Nage’s forehead. This point is super important. Make sure that you do this in all of your Shiho Nage.

Shomen Uchi Shiho Nage by Morihiro Saito Sensei

A lot of Aikido authors and bloggers have taken a lot of effort to explain Shiho Nage.

I was thinking of doing the same thing. So I thought about which Shihonage is the best one to describe. I decided that I will write about Katate Dori Shiho Nage Omote Waza and Katate Dori Shiho Nage Ura Waza. So I started writing it. I went through four books and about nine videos of Aikido Masters and top Aikido teachers and black belts, plus my own version of what I learned from my Saito Sensei, Marelli Sensei, and Hitohira Saito Sensei. The complexity of writing about a precise article on Katate Dori Shiho Nage Omote Waza and Katate Dori Shiho Nage Ura Waza was bigger than I initially thought.  So I decided to write another article on those techniques another time.

As far as this article is concerned, I’ll write about Shiho Nage without getting too specific on a particular Shiho Nage technique. After all, there are many.

In this article let me share with you some of my thoughts and some videos (online) on Shihonage.

Shiho Nage by Morihiro Saito Sensei (O Sensei’s Aikido)

No Sound. No explanations. Watch, observe, and learn.

0:01 Katate Dori Shiho Nage Ura Waza

0:05 Katate Dori Shiho Nage Omote Waza

0:20 Kata Dori Shiho Nage

0:25 Yokomen Shiho Nage

0:30 Hanmi Handachi Shiho Nage Omote Waza

The Omote Entry is a Perpendicular One in Relation to Uke

Shihonage, Shiho Nage, aikido, good aikido, goodaikido, japanese zen, meditation, Aikido dojo, dojo, japanese martial arts, martial art

For Omote, I moved my body to 90 degrees, take the wrist, lift straight up in front of my face again like a sword, step through, turn and cut. Offline, lift, step-through as if I’m holding a sword in my partner’s hand here.

You want to extend and cut with the tip of the sword, which we’re going to think about as my partner’s arm. So as you cut and extend out, it should bend your partner’s back and take her balance.

It should not be a throw where you just yank down and try and cut with the hand. Extend the elbow up, out, and down.

As this begins to progress and you make the cuts happen a little bit faster, you’ll see how this changes the style a little bit.

To the side, lift and cut. Shihonage, four directions throw.

Some Things to Remember When Doing Shihonage

  • Make it your personal mission to master Katate Dori Shiho Nage both Omote and Ura. This is the cornerstone of all Shihonage techniques.
  • Decide whether you are doing omote or ura.
  • Stretch Uke arm on entry and take his balance.
  • The safest ukemi for shihonage is for uke to just sit on your bum and do an Ushiro Ukemi. Yes a top ukemi can be done and it looks amazing, but for everyday Keiko, just do the simple back (Ushiro) ukemi.
  • As soon as your entry foot touches the ground, turn quickly on your axis. Do not take your time when turning, you will get caught, and a good Aikidoka can counter your technique. I get it, we have a maxim in Aikido, that to learn effectively, one must do the movements slowly and with focus. In Shihonage, Tori or Nage’s turn is almost an exception to this maxim. I am not saying turn super quickly. No no, that’s the opposite end of what not to do. You’ll lose your balance if you do that, especially if you are learning the basics. What I’m trying to say is do not linger and expose your back when turning on your axis. You are doing a martial art, if this turn is done too slowly or in a telegraphic way, it will open a rear choke on you or a forearm press on your face.
  • Make sure Uke’s elbow is pointing up replacing the axis of his head. If the Uke’s elbow is pointing a bit forward, then the technique becomes weaker.
  • For safety reasons, return Uke’s wrist to his shoulder.
  • Practice throwing Uke in all four directions. Literally look for East, South, West, and North and throw Uke towards those directions using Shihonage.
  • For the nage (throwing) part. Do a clean sword cut. Your lead foot needs to step forward. It could be a shomen cut or a yokomen cut (to change direction), as long as it is a decisive cut. Don’t go half-ass on this one.
  • Do not force a cut-down on the shoulder Uke’s legs can take that it and he or she will remain standing to counter. It’s a decisive cut-out.
  • When turning during a Shiho Nage, avoid a wide stance. Yes, it can be done with a wide stance, but the efficiency and subtlety of the turn can be compromised, and you (Nage or Tori) can be caught out.
  • Avoid using shihonage during jiuwaza or randori. I’ve only seen a handful of masters and experienced Aikidoka pull this in jiuwaza. Even though shihonage is known as one of the ‘Master’s techniques. It is too much commitment to execute on jiuwaza. Yes, it can be used as a technique to use Uke as a shield from other attackers, but the idea of Jiuwaza or randori on a multiple attackers situation is to achieve takemusu whilst putting yourself in a safe and secured position, NOT  a wresting situation.
  • The Shiho Nage katame waza is a spiral out pull. Be sensitive to uke’s tap for safety reasons.
  • If you are Uke and shihonage is being done to you, be sensitive to Tori’s technique. If possible set your ego aside and experience going with the technique. I’ve seen the biggest blokes rip or injure their shoulders because they resisted shihonage too much whilst Tori wrestled with the technique.

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