Friday, May 28, 2010

Extra Class on Wesak Day...

Today was nice. A public holiday that got filled with important things. A bit of work in the morning, a communal prayer in the afternoon, and an easy paced lesson in the evening. The dojo was of course very accommodating indeed, I'm sure that that played an important role in the feel good factor.

Nevertheless, we went over the basics again. Needless to say, the basics have been on our minds since Sensei's visit last month. No matter how we repeat the lessons, ironing out the wrinkles takes time especially if the wrinkles has been left along for several years. 

We started with kokyu and then proceeded to Aiki Taiso. In my mind, I wanted to gloss over these parts and get through 5th and 6th kyu curriculum. Somehow, the best laid plans tend to go south. As sensei always said, you teach what your students need to learn. 

So I've limited the Aiki Taiso exercises in the last few classes we did, so that we can study them in greater detail and see how it applies during kihon waza. This time, because Safia decided to join, we did spend some time on paired tenkan practice. We note again that nage extend ki through the wrist into uke's hand and feeling that connection before leading his ki through your fingers down and scooping it. Face the same direction and extend. Letting uke move on his own accord before offering the other hand. Pulling or moving before this connection is made will not work.

Sayo undo, again note how the body alignment is vertical. Pay close attention to chushin. Extend the hand from the center before letting it go to the side, both hands in harmony. Do not bend the knees, instead lower the center (and the knees follow). 

Ude furi undo. Now put one of your hands in front of you and the other one behind you. Starting with hidari hanmi, step through as in Kaiten movement, swinging the hands from the center. Direct ki first in one direction then the other. Hands are relaxed and extended but try to make sure its just loose for now. Shoulders do not move. Notice that whilst you are leaning slightly forward, and more weight is distributed on the toes, you do not plant the feet or over bend the knees. When moving forward, don't push from the back legs, instead the center propels the movement forward. Notice that ki direction is important, otherwise we will lose chushin and can easily lose our balance.

The techniques we explored today was katatedori sokumen nage. This time we did a half tenkan. Actually almost like an irimi movement. The problem when doing a full tenkan into this technique, most of us make the mistake of pulling up uke's hand and launching him back. With this movement, we stress the continuation of uke's energy forward. So we lead their hands as we move in, uke will follow and come closer to us, and he moves to regain balance, we lead him up and down into sokumen nage.

After that we looked at shihonage. Some mistakes we noticed in class is moving into uke's space, moving forward when sinking down, not moving out of line of attack when doing the 2nd method, locking shoulders, and etc. The partner holding a tanto with the free hand makes us more aware of these mistakes.

We then looked at shomenuchi ikkyo. Blocking seems to be a favourite. So work on extending into uke before connecting.

After that we looked munetsuki kotegaishe and iriminage with tanto. As uke attacks, half step to the side and extend atemi into uke's mind. At near contact, irimi movement with the other leg and cut through uke's body and graze his attacking hand. Stance is now ai hanmi. For kotegaishe, keep hands balanced turn into a tenkan position and take uke's balance with the other hand. For iriminage, slide through maintaining zero energy contact with the hand, sink and perform iriminage. 

Common problems here is not extending the atemi into uke, blocking the hand, pushing the hand when moving, running or avoiding the strike... When using the half step, chushin stays in the line of attack until last moment, when the other leg follows the first using irimi. This movement is light and keeps uke's attack in the line where you can easily avoid it. Moving the body together with the first half step is what helps uke track your movement. 

Since so many had problems with shomenuchi, we did sorewaza shomenuchi ikkyo. This time, running is no longer an option. Leaning and blocking into the strike becomes more obvious. So, leading the strike is the only way. You can either stay where you are, or you can move forward. Either way, uke will have dominance over you if you only meet his hand with yours. I explained this idea, later on my way home. Imagine uke's hand as it comes to strike you and we raise our hands to meet it. We will be fighting his hand and preparing to do battle with it. Our muscles tense up and our posture compensates for this intent. Instead, we focus on extending through uke's body. Our hands are light, it raises automatically and meets uke's hands, and continues rising up. It doesn't get bogged down by the hand. The important thing here is the extension through uke, not meeting his hands with yours. 

So there we have it... going over the basics in preparation for Jakarta. 

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