On Friday we worked on tai and ashi sabaki. This time around, Uke follows up with a 2nd or third attack after the initial contact (katate, shomen etc). Generally we are training irimi the entire time.
The big point here is how Irimi is done. We are trying to show that Irimi is not about moving forward. It can be an inch, or more or even less but Irimi is entering. The entering is done using the whole body. Today we were looking at Gyaku irimi to the outside and Aihanmi irimi to the inside. In both, nage's closest feet will have his big toe as the focus point and directed towards Uke's chushin. The movement inside and outside as mentioned before is minute, maybe 2-3 inches to begin with and we gradually whittle it down to as little as possible.
For the hands we remind ourselves not to stop the power but to receive it. The hands are actually doing atemi so is the mind. Its hard to grasp this idea of receiving power from Uke like its a gift to us and also thinking about atemi as a strike. So don't think atemi as a strike, instead think atemi as our gift to uke as well. But give it to his mind. Its almost like an imposition but not to that extent. Work on his eyes as a door to the mind but not to fixed our intent there. Much like a punch has to go through an object to achieve power, otherwise if we keep our mind at the target, the punch's power will dissipate there.
The second thing we trained on is vibration and amplitude. In the ikkyo position we have nage forcefully push uke down and then we compare it by bouncing him. Using his rebound at the peak to bounce him into a bigger amplitude until he caves quite naturally. This is a very crude way to train but its a start.
We try to apply this feeling now as uke comes to grab us again and again. Then we tried a simple experiment of 0 power. Uke grabs nage's wrist. Nage tries to wrench it away. Now nage puts 0 power into that hand and using his other hand slaps his hand away from uke. Applying ateru if possible, if not possible using the feeling of bounce. It should be very easy to release the hand this way. We remind ourselves that the Kobjutsu school emphasises movement without tension. While we have never been trained that way, we must try to move without tension. A simple lesson that sensei has taught is in the aihanmi katatetori. We move our center to the hand and not the hand itself because we don't want uke to feel the tension. However for beginners, this application is not martial. Just training of moving uke's center.
In order to help train the martial aspect we then have uke grab strongly. First we feel moving uke using force from the hands. Then we feel moving uke using our body weight dropping. Now we try to keep tension out of the hands, and extend a connection into uke. Now we try to drop out weight into Uke directly. Using the hands as a bridge. The with this exaggerated movement, we try to capture its feeling and put it into Uke each time he grabs aihanmi. As he grabs, we pour forth that feeling and then we irimi as our center closes in to our hands (like sensei's movement). By doing that action at the grab, we enhance the martial value of our training. This is because we have enacted kuzushi on uke before bringing our center close. Otherwise, we'll be moving into uke's strike.
On Saturday we practiced irimi again. Using ryotedori as our primary exercise. We didn't do a technique just a simple stretch. The emphasis is again we do not extend our hands to be grabbed. In ryotedori we want to feel that our hand atemi's uke but we allow this to be grabbed. As uke grabs, we irimi outside and bring our hands down. Here hands are not pulling. Its more like a natural drop without tension. Done right uke will lose balance. Done wrong he will feel a pull and resist. There is an element of timing here as well. In the initial contact our atemi has intruded his mind thus when he grabbed the hand it is at his disadvantage. When bring out hands down we are also doing it together with our irimi movement. Thus whilst we don't have tension in our hand, we do have power because of the unity in our movement. Now as uke has lost balance we move again and offer our other hand. In reality this is an atemi. If uke doesn't grab the hand, he will get an elbow to the face. So uke grabs hard to prevent this from happening.
Here we remain static for awhile to practice a couple of things. First we do it with force. Next we bring our hands to the center just like the our aiki exercise at the start. Our hands are rounded and relaxed with ki extended. We then make a circle with our hands to that the tip of our fingers touches a foot away from our forehead. We don't carry uke's hands we just make the circle. Be careful about how uke's grips are affected. The focus is leading. Thus if we make it awkward for uke to hold on, we'll be pulling him instead. Uke must feel a natural grasp throughout.
Then we pivot one hand up and one down. We must keep connection with uke here. Any pushing and pulling will mean that uke will let go. Once we have him facing out and we are positioned behind him, we keep our fingers pointing towards him and extended. Then we step back and invite him down. Done right uke will have no choice but to fall down. This is hard to do. Its also a great exercise to with complete beginners. They don't have the conditioned mind of not letting go. Thus you can get an honest feedback when a complete beginner doesn't let go of his hands when you invite him to fall.
We redid our acceptance of strikes. This time we used a tanto. We show that if try to move the tanto with our hands, we get cut. If we stop the hand, we get punched or kick. Thus we learn to accept the knife as a gift and inspect it and return it to uke. This lesson is not about knife fighting. Its about learning to accept a weapon as a gift and not be scared doing that. We do not shy away from a handshake. Nor do we stand there waiting for the hand shake to happen. We move into the hand shake. Its a mutual greeting. Thus we want to cultivate this feeling of mutual gifting and acceptance in our minds.