Friday, October 9, 2009

The various hand positions in kamae

I've wondered about these various hand positions and today after watching videos of Yamaguchi sensei doing tachiwaza but with a bokken in hand could this possibly be the answer.

We have many ways of offering our hands for katate dori. Besides the hanmi aspect and the height aspect of jodan, chudan and gedan, we also provide an alignment of the hands. 3 of which appear distinct.

1. Thumbs up fingers towards uke's throat/upper hara.
2. Thumbs down fingers towards uke's center/dantien.
3. Palms down/palms up.

I wonder if 1 is when we are imagining holding a ken or jo and if 2 is when we are drawing our weapon from the saya.

Some senseis have disdain on the palms up and down version and some have equal disdain for version 1. Each provide their own reasoning. One thing I've noticed however is that when we trained with weapons last night, it was easier for the beginners to find the chushin connection with uke. Even though we constantly remind ourselves to feel that when doing tachiwaza, it appears as if they totally lose the integrity of that thought without a weapon in hand.

Certainly when imagining the weapon in hand, the hand alignment is important with regards to what technique we are doing. It appears entirely inappropriate to cut up if our hands holding the imaginary weapon doesn't really allow for a realistic cut in that direction. Equally important is our ability to transfer our 'weapon' between hands to accomplish certain techniques. Visualising that really identifies each hand's unique role during the application of the technique. If say for example a sayo undo with a 'jo', we are using the alignment of the jo and our chushin to affect uke's center and not for example to sweep his head aside then the technique appears effortless. But a slight change in how we grasp the 'weapon' we could have our lower hands stab uke's center with a wakazashi and now the dynamic changes the sayo undo, it feels different but retains its effortless effectiveness.

Just a random thought of the day...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Friday and Sunday Training Digest

We are repeating our previous methodology. To train the basics before attempting further development in the Aikido syllabus.

In both classes, we now have skipped the weapons training. Instead we are focusing on the Aiki Taiso. This time we are training our body to accept load on the hips and transfer the power of uke into the ground. We are creating a path through our legs, our hara and into our hips that are in contact with Uke's power.

We are mindful not to brace our leg or push against uke's power. In the mind, we are receiving the power and giving it the earth. We are also accepting the earth and giving uke its power.

Subsequent levels of training are we have uke push on the shoulder and from the front. We then offer a hand in hanmi and have uke push and pull the hand. Now as we begin to get comfortable with this load and channelling the power into earth, we start training to extend the power from the earth into Uke, specifically into his center.

Offering the hand we start by receiving uke's power and channelling it to earth, then taking earth and giving it to Uke, entering him. He is now uprooted, then we continue this connection and enter into tenkan. We then extend or lead uke forward. We are careful not to lose connection when entering tenkan, and not to pull when leading. We then drop our center and uke's hand downwards (not pull or push) and circle upwards . Our hands are still held on by uke, we have it in alignment and not crossed. From there our other hand holds onto Uke's hands and the other hand slides into Uke's elbow. We now drop our weight onto uke's hand and bounce him down.

We practice a few of this and then compare it to a typical version of ikkyo. Here we shift stance as uke grabs. Our hand does not move only our feet which brings us offline. Our center faces uke, but uke faces an empty space. We cut with our other hand as if cutting uke's center but sliding into his profile. The cut does not cross uke's arm but slides by it. We drop center and get kuzushi. Uke's kneed should buckle slightly. Now we enter behind uke and rotate his arm. This time, our main hand rotates his elbow and torque his shoulder downwards.  Our center is behind this rotation and spears into the ground. The feedback is, this method is forceful compared to the previous.

We now look at how we enter or offer our hands into uke. We revisit irimi movement, and we look at atemi in not a purely striking version. But typical of how we offer our hands to uke. With irimi movement and the earth power added in. We compare this to a normal strike and see its power but not the violence of a strike. We also understand as we move into uke, and he takes the impact and grabs the hand, we connect with him into the prescribed 'kata' movement.

We also tried to experiment with shomen and tsuki strikes. To use downpower as generated by our body weight or earth.