Monday, August 10, 2009

Attention Intention!!

Last week we were working on developing further our awase skills. I started out with aiki ken where Uke is in Jo-dan. Nage gets as close as he can to uke without alarming him. Uke's intent is to strike nage when he crosses a certain threshold. Nage however must feel that threshold and stop before it.

At that point, nage proceeds to draw his bokken and strike horizontally across uke'e eyes. In that instant, if done with proper extension and feeling, uke has to step back to avoid the strike. Being unable to strike first. The moving of nage requires whole body movement to achieve this.

Uke then strikes down, nage responds with awase and strike back.

Using this as a starting point we proceeded to tachi waza beginning with Nikkyo. Here nage offers the hand. But just offering the hand is not enough. The intention to offer the hand corresponds to nage's earlier cutting of uke's eyes. The hand being offered is an atemi of the mind. As uke grabs, nage awase upwards instead of waiting for the grab. Done right, uke's hands latches on but does not have any control over nage, instead nage now use chushin to control uke's center. Nikkyo is done one handed, by cutting uke's center with nage's center. There will be no pain, uke is unbalanced.

Partners are also asked to do common place variations like blocking and parrying and using two hand nikkyo in order to feel the difference. Most notably, they are asked to compare with just offering the hand as opposed to using the hand as an atemi.

The lesson here is our intention begins our connection to uke. Uke's intention to attack begins his connection to us. By making our intention valid in our minds, we no longer respond to uke's attack but we preempt it. We are joined with him when he begins his attack. But the difficulty is to maintain intent without inherent agressiveness or posturing. The intent stops at the connection level but does not go to the physical level as yet. As uke comes, awase comes naturally as a result of the intent being there. Without intent, nage as fast as he is, awase will feel awkward or clashy.

As a result of good awase, nage now finds himself with positional dominance and chushin can be applied appropriately. Now by focusing on that connection, cutting uke's center is easier. If we relied on the physical connection, cutting is an exercise of strength and mechanics.

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