Monday, March 12, 2007

Precision, Precision, Precision

Have a l0ok at Otake-sensei.

He has long been one of the best examples of beautiful, precise swordsmanship as done in Katori Shinto Ryu, one of the oldest styles still in practice today.
Pay extra careful attention to the following:

1) his posture - ramrod-straight back
2) his decisveness - from inaction to full speed in an instant
3) his concentration - you can "feel" the technique start and end by his presence alone

It is also worth mentioning that you never see him "trying to be strong". He lets the technique do his job, and his power comes from his overall body motion, not from the swing of his arms.
Since modern aikido derives a large portion from the movements of the sword, there is much to gain from looking at these masters.

If my aikido could be that precise, it would be invincible.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Grabbing uke`s elbow in shiho nage?

Hmmm...very interesting. Aikikai people seem to have a habit of grabbing uke`s elbow in shiho-nage to keep the angle and help the throw. Not something we do in Yoshinkan, but valid nonetheless?

Personally, I usually envision making a big circle in front of my chest so that my arms are extended in a roughly circular shape, which gives tension to the shiho nage shape. However, it is true that the arm that is underneath uke`s outstreched elbow (just prior to the shiho nage compression) could conceivably grab uke`s elbow and help out, similar to what aikikai people do.

A very subtle point indeed, but was clear on the aikido3d software, and very different from what we do.

Worth a try next time...

Hippy Hippy Shake

So much of what happens in an aikido technique is about hips.

When we discuss how uke`s balance gets broken, it is often in the context that we connect uke to our hips, our center of power, and from there our motion takes uke`s balance naturally.

Low hips = low center of gravity

A vital part of how smaller people use these techniques very successfully against larger people. The fact is, the breaking of uke`s balance is even more dramatic the lower shite`s hip line is in comparison. Of course, shite cannot allow any lean forward or loss of kamae. Rather, proper use of the knees allows us to make that center of gravity lower. It is especially evident in how powerful the kneeling techniques are against standing opponents.

The more we train, the more I am aware that body momentum (from moving) is less the focal point that the hip line and center of gravity. Now I believe that the objective is to use the arms/hands to connect uke to our hipline, and mobility to direct that hip line low to the point that most quickly and efficiently breaks uke`s balance.

Back to the lab as soon as I can to test this one out.


The Pause that Refreshes

Reviewing aikido3d ( software again and again reminded me of some very important points, one of them namely being the way uke depends on shite for balance throughout the technique. Many times during practice we find ourselves stepping through the motion without regard for the spatial relationship of ourselves to uke, and not at all considering how uke`s balance is broken, and kept broken, until the end. The "Pause" I refer to above is the pause while uke`s balance breaks, and we allow them to "fall" into the next part of the motion, inevitably ending up in a projection or down to the mate for a pin. The grace of aikido is really that the result is always inevitable, and from the first moment of dynamic contact, uke is led irreversibly to the conclusion. This is wrongly achieved through strength or speed; it is correctly achieved by proper form and timing, which result in the breaking of uke`s balance at each point.

So next time, try not to go so fast, but rather to feel the break point and pause while it happens, allow uke to be lost in that moment of unbalance, and the next step should easily present itself.