Iru: Entering


To enter. To step into. To penetrate. Iru is an obvious pictograph for the calligrapher. A short horizontal line represents the ground; pushing into it is a bifurcated root made with to slanted vertical strokes of the brush. Iru is a fundamental principle for the bugeisha, one he will continue to perfect for a lifetime.

The bugeisha begins to learn technique typically as a solo exercise. When he has familiarized himself with various movements, he commences exercising them against a partner. At this point, he may be frustrated to find that the techniques he thought he had learnt well by himself are, when performed against  another, weak and ineffective, even when his partner is cooperating.

Often the problem is that his methods the bugeisha has learned and directed against specific targets, with no attention given to controlling the opponent’s center, his core of stability. To affect another person, the bugeisha learns eventually, he must enter that individual’s space. A principle of all throwing arts is that one must enter the space of the opponent’s stable point, make it one’s own, then gain leverage from that advantage. A weapon or an attacking limb is not just parried; it’s power nullified in such a way that the attacker’s entire body is upset, drawn or knocked off balance. The principles of battlefield strategy for samurai where no different. Always to be considered is the matter of entering, iru.

Iru, for the bugeisha, becomes, too, a way of interacting with others in daily life. He does not keep people at a distance in dealing with them. He makes every effort to see from the perspective of others to put himself in their shoes by implementing iru. Through iru, the bugeisha learns empathy.

Considerable courage is requested to activate iru, no less in social relationships with others then in conflicts requiring the bugeisha to enter resolutely into the space of an enemy to defeat him. For just as a shallow root is likely to fail the plant, the bugeisha too timid to penetrate fully into his objective is unlikely to succeed at worthy enterprise.


Uit: Sword and Brush, Dave Lowry,

Shambala, 1995

isbn: 1-57062-112-8