Friday, February 26, 2010

Experimenting and Spirit

Today we did something I've not done before let alone practised. It's something that I saw out of Sensei's video, one that one of the students brought back from Jakarta.

Ryotedori iriminage. Easy enough. Usually its done with a cut down for the kuzushi or a tenkan, at around uke's elbow, and then proceed as normal. But this time, using awase, we bring uke's hand straight up and lock it with each other. Done right, uke will be on his toes and his arms will be locked across each other at the elbows and straightened. One of your hands will be in contact with his elbow to maintain the lock and 'carry' him. Proceed to iriminage as normal.

I was watching the video and I thought we should practice this. Of course I was hesitant to try it out cold feet, but we can only do our best with what we have. I tried to understand the mechanics of the move. Although we always emphasise feelings and trying not to think about the technique, even Aiki elements are based on natural principles or laws. So we should at least try to ponder these laws.

Then I thought perhaps it is doable. The idea is to have uke 'overreach' on his grab, and slip under his axis and bring him up. To make him overreach, nage has to bring his center down without disturbing uke's hands. Thus we do it like shihonage. But shihonage allows us to move with the half step close towards uke's center and thus make it easy for us to dip under. With ryotedori, forward movement is all but impossible. So, dipping under uke's center will not be as easy.

In this instance, we have to rely more on intention or 'men'. Using the intention of going down, and at the same time projecting ki upwards, we get him to overreach himself and at the same time position our ki under his hands. We actually bring our center forwards without moving down or forwards.

Surprisingly, it worked well in class. Once you have uke's hands locked, release one hand by making it 'empty'. Proceed normally from there.

The other thing we did was work on spirit projection. We started out empty hands but I saw some of the students having trouble projecting their shomen attacks. So we worked on weapons. Cultivating the feeling of using a live blade, I had them working on drawing the bokken and shomen. By feeling like we hold a live blade, we will project diffidence. This diffidence will affect uke as well. If we feel we're holding a toy, then uke's belief in us becomes shallow.

We practised on of the movements for shomen irimi. We did ken no awase previously. This time we moved irimi to uke's right side and cut. In this movement, there are several key points to note. First, moving with stillness is necessary. Jumping out, running away, aggressive entering are all negative movements that affects uke. Move with calmness and harmony with uke's forward movement. Move like its a paired dancing event. Like the space opens up to you and invites you in whilst uke takes your place.

Secondly, you must project the spirit of the cut and not just move and cut at the side. If you just move out of the line and cut, uke will track you and cut as well. But if you cut into him in spirit and move at the same time, uke will be diminished and you will then have a superior positioning.

Sensei's movement is more advance, thus empty handed, sensei will have projected the cut straight into uke thus freezing him as he comes to shomen. For us, our practise must follow some form. We need to shomen up and cut down even as we move. This will cultivate our spirit before we do the shorten version.

Closing the practice we did some kyoku nage based on awase.

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