Sunday, June 20, 2010

Aiki Taiso, Tai Sabaki, Ukemi... the Basic Building Blocks

The last few classes we've been really concentrating on working our Aiki Taiso, Tai Sabaki and Ukemi down pat. I've introduced a couple of new or variant ukemi's.

We've been comfortable so far with front and back ukemi. Even to the point where I've done combinations in class with front to back, back to front, front and change legs. We also did back-mae ukemi and back yoko ukemi.

This time we've introduced ushiro yoko otoshi (which sensei showed last time he was here), the worm ukemi and reintroduced how to do an easier yoko ukemi. For Ushiro yoko otoshi ukemi, we're not doing the spectacular somersault back drop into the ukemi. Instead using paired practice, partners walk towards uke's outstretch arm in a pseudo irimi fashion and do a limbo. From the limbo, he stretches one arm down and keeping one arm as light support on uke's hands. Dropping on the outstretch arm (yoko style), he rolls around his shoulders to the other arm, releasing one of his bent knees at the same time. This ukemi is nice to do when irimi comes into the chin. Instead of hanging there with the neck chopped off, go into limbo and flow with the energy, then roll out.

The worm is when you are compressed by nage then he lets you bounce up and enter's with irimi. Let your feet fly up, spin your body horizontally face down and land with the hands curving your body, so that the torso comes next, then the legs using your toes to touch the floor first not your knees. Arching your body back as you come down helps too... but carefully. Not stiffly.

The yoko ukemi, we begin by doing a roll. Sort of like a baby. Rolling side to side and making circles on the floor with our hands stretched out. Right hand paired with right leg and move together. Then standing up, imagine you're a big fat drunk, swaying side to side and as you tip too far out to one side, you just roll over your hand shoulder and to other other hand. Typically because this roll does not stop the force at all (unlike some forward rolls), you'll find yourself immediately standing up from the roll. That's fine. If you do end up with legs splayed (like the initial rolling on the floor exercise), just swing your body around to get up. You'll tend to use less energy this way to get up and makes for good ukemi during strenuous seminars.

Today, we did a lot of tai sabaki movement. Exploring our kamae using the triangle supported by the circle and line. We started with tenkan, then we did awase from kamae four directions, then we did the drop center from kosadori, then morotedori irimi and tenkan using the outside triangle. After we did this using physical tactics, we tried using the float and drop elbow method. After that, we did ikkyo from there and let uke fight it out, and repeat until complete. Lastly, we had uke start with yonkyo on our hands and then drop shoulder, elbow and center and perform ikkyo on them as a counter.

Awase and Musubi not withstanding, Aiki taiso and tai sabaki exercises requires our extension and chushin to be properly utilised. This is our building blocks to a better aikido.

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