Saturday, April 24, 2010

Truly, the last class at our Crush Dojo :P

Ok, somehow we managed to hold on to Crush till last Friday so there was one final class before we move to the Yoga centre next Wednesday. In the last class, we concentrated on Ikkyo.

1. Gyakuhanmi tenkan ikkyo
We've done this before from different ways. Basic level Aikikai style will have you cut uke's chushin obliquely from the forearm/elbow angle as you move off center. Examples of the dropping centre with hand awase was shown during the seminar.
This time, we're doing it from tenkan.

2. Morotedori ura/omote ikkyo 
Morotedori happens when uke grabs one of your arms with both of theirs. Several different scenarios exists that makes uke give up his two hands against one of yours. One possibility is that you have a weapon in that arm, reflex usually dictates extra danger to that hand thus they divert all their resources against that hand. Another is that they have multiple help thus, holding on to your hand prevents your escape whilst the others close in. In any case, grabbed by morotedori, you definitely do not want to compete strength to strength, 2-1 does not favour you. Thus you must learn to relax completely instead. Also because of scenario 2, you must be aware of your next positioning.

You can choose to irimi or tenkan depending on the positioning that will favour you and that gives you greatest surrounding awareness. Relax the hand completely but extend ki into uke. Raise your hands softly as if offering something to uke's face. Or you can drop centre slightly and tenkan whilst raising your hands to scratch your ear. After that, a few choices are open. You can opt to take the closest hand for ikkyo, or you can choose to turn uke around with a lead and take his other arm, or you can maintain uke in that position but cut down his hand and soto to the other side for ikkyo.

3. Ryotedori Ikkyo
Aiki age will be emphasised in our daily training regime since it forms a crucial skill element in understanding aiki. In basic aiki age, we bring our centre down and connect to uke's center before raising his centre with us. Another way to capture the feeling of relaxed movement is to raise your hands without shoulder or elbow strength and instead just do a 'whatever lah' gesture or touch his shoulders like a dance routine. In any case, there is a rotation of the forearm that brings uke's elbows up and raises his body to his toes via the shoulders. The indication is the shoulders. If uke's shoulders doesn't move, then you really haven't achieved control.

In any case from that position, drop centre but keep the ki extended. Keep one hand high, one low. Take ikkyo on the high hand.

4. Shomenuchi Ikkyo
In shomenuchi, we looked at method 1 and 2 of entering. We left method 3 alone for now. Method 1 is to cut uke whilst stepping offline. The irimi intention is important here to avoid doing avoidance. This has been mentioned before so we'll skip to method 2. Method 2 is ken no awase. Blending of the tegatana instead this time around. Do not move forward. Instead enter his mind and chushin, lower your centre as the attack comes and blend. Lead his ki upwards. It doesn't matter if the strike is coming down or coming from below. In each case you will bring the ki upwards.

As you achieve control take a look at your space using a mirror if you can. 50:50 spacing means the advantage lies with uke. He has the momentum. Or it'll come to a difference of height, strength and skill. The control stage usually offers you 70:30 in terms of space or positioning. Your posture is erect, whilst uke is reaching or compressed.

Dynamic Shomenuchi Ikkyo, multiple ukes
In our training, I emphasised more dynamic and zanshin. As we progress to striking waza, nage becomes more and more aware of multiple attackers. Thus in our session, uke's give nage a few seconds to complete a technique and then attack him. Nage thus must complete each technique within several seconds and move on to the 2nd uke. Most times we take too long to think how to complete the technique. Training this way makes you use 'feelings' more and train your mind not to become myopic.

5. Yokomenuchi Ikkyo
Attacking yokomenuchi, most uke's will skirt around to the sides and attack nage's neck whilst tilting their body or extending their strike too far. A good yokomenuchi looks very similar to a shomenuchi. You enter by moving forward starting with an empty step and move 1 line away from nage's centreline. You cut directly to the temple or neck and can use both hands in the attack. If you can attack by reaching out with only 1 hand then, you're giving yourself away. You also use yokomenuchi to attack from nage's ura side. Going into his omote side allows nage to enter into your opening easily.

From yokomenuchi, nage can choose to draw out the power or entering into uke's strike to meet him at a balance point. His strike follows and arc which achieves full power at its final target point. During the apex you can meet him as the power goes outwards to the tip of the arc. Irimi is done into uke's centre and not the hand. Nage does not move forward into the striking hand either. Instead, shift chushin and extend ki through your hands. Use kokyu for now. Touch uke's striking arm and connect immediately to his power source or centre and relax your hand against that. Drop your centre. From there compress him and use awase to raise his arm and cut for ikkyo. If there's a lot of potential forward movement from uke as you compress him, give him more space as you transfer towards ikkyo.

Hanmi Handachi Ikkyo
Same thing that we did in the last class. In Hanmi handachi, pulling or trying to press down uke by force will definitely not work. So extend into uke's center, once connected, drop your hands and let all the ki flow downwards. At its peak, softly raise the hands and cut for ikkyo. Use suikomi often to ensure you do not disturb uke and give any signal for him to react. Also if you try to raise your body you will still be at a disadvantage over a standing uke, thus keep your centre down and body relaxed. For this exercise don't move around, stay in seiza. Pushing uke's arm as you get ikkyo will also be a problem since you cannot move. Instead you must draw uke's ki and lead it besides you. Get rid of the habit of moving around a lot to compensate for poor control. By doing this in seiza and not moving you have to establish control from ki extension and awase alone.

As we finished the class, I tried to practice skin awase. I thought I understood it a bit. In order to make it easier, I pushed uke's bone using bone first. And then I tried capturing the feeling of skin to skin connection becoming one before moving uke using that captured feeling. It seemed to work and uke could feel the difference.

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