Irimi: The art of entering

what is irimi?

Kuniaki Sakagami - AJ van Dijk - Irimi Meotode Nagashizuki

Irimi is the principle of controlling maai, while entering into the opponents space.

Irimi is the principle of changing position and closing distance, while controlling, striking or throwing the opponent. It goes hand in hand with many techniques and principles, but especially Nagasu. 

When doing Irimi, the opponent never enters into your space - you enter his. And that is why especially Nagasu goes hand in hand with Irimi.

What is Irimi?

Good question. Does it mean the same for every Japanese person. Or even Aikido VS Karate...?

Advantages of Irimi

There's more than one >> Learn two Ippon Kumite I use to explain the advantages of Irimi that will work like a checklist. There is one disadvantage though... I'll let you be the judge.

irimi seminar 2014

Irimi is to claim the available space.

The space that is near your opponent so that you are safe from attack. You should be able to attack the opponent easily at the same time. That said, usually Irimi is used when the opponent attacks first.

Hence, when the opponent attacks move in and claim the space. I'll show you exactly how in this video. 

the 3 conditions to make it irimi

Irimi is not just about controlling Maai. You can control Maai and the opponent in many different ways.

For example, you could step back to avoid and block an attack and counter-attack immediately. This is controlling Maai. This is controlling the opponent. But this is not Irimi.

Another example: You could move to the left or right, execute Taisabaki and block and counter-attack at the same time. This is controlling Maai. This is controlling the opponent. But this is not Irimi.

For a movement to be called Irimi in Wado - your movement needs to meet these three conditions:


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Karate irimi nage

Tsuki Uke to Irimi Nage


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osae uke with irimi from maegeri uke 4

Ukemi executes another chudan maegeri. Torimi enters at the instant he feels Ukemi’s intention and reads his body language.

Enter deeply, lower the body and stop the maegeri using osae uke. Simultaneously, execute chudanzuki.

All should occur before the kick generates power.

This kata introduces Irimi. This is not really a common word in Japan. It should be considered profession jargon. "Iri" means ‘enter’ and "Mi" means ‘person’ or ‘somebody’. Hence, the Kanji refer to entering towards somebody, in this case your body moving towards Ukemi.

Ukemi probably feels comfortable within Maai and has the feeling to be able to move freely. This feeling should be disturbed - and the possibility eliminated.

The purpose of Irimi is to enter and control Maai. In this case, jam his kick and strike at the same time.

irimi in maegeri uke 4

The image is a moment in time and emphasises the alignment of the strike. 

Osae Uke with Irimi