Shiho Nage in Aikido - "Four Corner Throw"
Shiho Nage, which may be translated as the “Four Corner Throw," is a basic technique of immobilization also clearly derived from the fencing practices of Japan’s legendary past. Moreover, it is a technique wherein two of the essential features of aikido (the characteristic turning of the hips and the dynamic reversal of the motion of Uke back to its source are so clear and practically demonstrated that this technique, together with Kyoku Nage, has assumed a position of primary importance in almost all aikido dojo where it is taught as the introductory technique or form to prepare the student for the series of immobilizations and projections which will subsequently be learned.
Shiho Nage can be performed upon one or both of the wrists of Uke but at first you will only grasp one of his wrists. You will extend that wrist (and arm) in one direction, then you will lead it circularly from above in the opposite direction and down. Regardless of the type of attack being launched against you, once you have succeeded in securing his wrist with both your hands as shown in the illustrations, you may apply Shiho Nage, extending Uke out and then – pivoting on your hips – reversing the motion and bringing his twisted wrist circled back to his shoulder.
His wrist should not be brought too far back and past his shoulder, or extended out too far to the side, since this could result in a break or dislocation. Admittedly, such a break or dislocation is the desired result in other methods of self-defence, but is considered crude, primitive, and unnecessary in Aikido.
The entire body of Uke at the apex of the hold will be brought into a characteristic condition of unbalance (tilted to his rear side, in diagonal) due to the twisting action you will be exercising upon his captured wrist.
Your own position on the other side must be observed in specific relation to your hands, arms, the angle of your body, as well as the location and functionality of your hips, legs, and feet.
After your initial motion of evasion, extension, and centralization, both your hands when you begin to apply Shiho Nage will be grasping his wrist (the right one in the illustrated example). Your right hand leads his extension to your right side, over your head and back to his shoulder as you turn with knees well bent. Your left hand follows through and closes over your right one on his wrist; it will reinforce the hold as illustrated, its role being subsidiary in an immobilization of this type applied against his right wrist.
Both your arms will be kept in front of you and well extended. They will move when the rest of your body moves, not before, and they will always be directed from the Centre. In Shiho Nage the functional relevance of your hips and your Centre cannot be overemphasized. This immobilization is actually motivated by the feeling of stabilized centralization which only a well-developed Centre can provide.
This technique is performed with a single smooth, circular motion in which no single element – technical or dynamic – will play the determinant role. Its efficiency depends entirely upon the "wholeness" of your motion (pivot/spin-reversal) stabilized at your centre. Your hips will pivot, your upper trunk will turn, your arms will be extended in front of you-but all moving as a unit.
At the completion of the pivot, when the arm of Uke has been brought back to his shoulder and his extension reversed, your arms will be extended in front of you and your whole body will face his, in diagonal – arms, central body, legs, feet, even your toes – as illustrated. This cautionary note is particularly important in view of the fact that there is often an incorrect tendency to complete the pivot in a position too close to Uke so that your arms will bend, or to be too far behind him so that your hands will be behind you.
Your hands and arms will have the important task of extending Uke out, as you set your body in the correct position for the execution of this immobilization. In the illustrations we have included a dynamic series of displacements and actions cutting across the line of motion of Uke in the Irimi variation, as well as outside and around that line of motion in the Tenkan variations.
Bringing Uke down flat on his back is an operation which also requires a few words of caution. Normally such a task will be performed by bringing his hand over your head close to his shoulder, as you lead his body around and then down to your feet in a single smooth movement. It will be centered, as we have said, upon your pivoting hips. But there is room for a great variety of styles ranging from a very low immobilization no. 6 performed almost kneeling, to the circular fall of Uke as he is brought around almost to your left side. Provided there is no danger of a break or dislocation and the whole movement is performed smoothly, they are all generally acceptable since they still fall within the limits of orthodoxy accepted by aikido.