Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Doing the same thing differently...

I'm a bit screwed. I've no idea where I put that scrap of paper sensei wrote about training at various levels. The gist of it was that we will use more body technique & strength at the kihon level before increasing genri and aiki aspects as we improve to ki no nagare and aiki techniques. Even in Aiki waza there are various level from shoden to okuden and on. So at the beginning, fudo and kihon genri will be an important percentage but gradually reduced until its all aiki.

This will serve as an introduction because it will frame your mind on what we are trying to do here. Since everyone in our dojo will almost exclusively be training at the kihon level only for now, we should not try to emulate everything sensei or his senior students do at the beginning. It may sound contrary, but doing so will only slow down your progress. Instead of worrying how to use Aiki entering, pulling or etc, or awase or musubi, concentrate on developing techniques that are correct and are based on fudo genri.

My idea is to concentrate on an aspect of fudo genri for a set of techniques for a period of time. Once we have  a good understanding and some measure of ability there, I will introduce another aspect of fudo genri to be incorporated. Since there are only 5 principles and we are only looking at about 5 techniques this time around, hopefully by December everyone will be sufficiently prepared.

I've already started this in the several classes since coming back from Jakarta. Center and relaxed being is emphasised at the very beginning, but the concentration is on extending ki. The last couple of Sunday classes, we've looked at using extension of ki in kamae to deal with attacks. Last night we used extension of ki during ki testing of rei and standing and seating. This ki test is difficult to do properly and well. Because, typically we are now quite used to extending ki into our hands. Extending ki through the body takes a bit of adjustment but is necessary. The ki tests is as we have shown earlier, push from the front and also the side. The toughest is bowing with partner pushing against us. Using strength and leverage, we will undoubtedly be pushed back because a leaning partner has a solid structure that we will be fighting against. Ki extension must be done through the body even before partner makes contact with us. We have to the extend it forwards through his hands and through his body. Partner will feel a difference between extended ki, stiffness, pushing and a slack body. Bowing need not be rushed and can be done slowly as long as you have started out right. Uke will be compelled to collapse under your bow if you have extended through him.

Standing and sitting ki tests are the same. Capture the feeling that you have done right when bowing and use this feeling during standing and sitting.

Next, the 4 techniques practised last night and for several months more are katate dori shihonage, shomenuchi ikkyo, shomenuchi iriminage and katatedori ikkyo. These 4 are part of the 5th kyu grading syllabus.

Our approach of Ki-Shin-Tai prevails. Since we are stressing the Tai elements, within it are many points that have to be cultivated well. Last night, we must correct our form alone. Not to disregard all the other aspects, but we are not looking for perfection. So if you already understand the other elements, it should be incorporated naturally but do not stop the technique if it isn't there. Just study the form first.

Movement of the feet, body movement, hand positioning, sinking center, relative movement to uke, timing, maai... all these aspects are covered under form. In simpler terms, work on making the technique 'look' right. Do not worry that it doesn't 'feel' right just yet, much less worry about how it works or not.

Receiving shomenuchi strikes. Where previously I have stressed extending our spirit and cutting the opponents center, let us take a couple of steps down now. Instead, just kamae with extension of ki, and then raise your kamae with the same feeling of extension of ki that you felt when doing the standing and bowing test. Even with a good attack speed, your arms will not collapse like a block, nor will it clash like a strike. From this static extension you can connect with uke's power and listen to it. Lead it upwards and away into an ikkyo. Or lead it upwards and move into iriminage. Remember no pulling, pushing or losing extension of ki along the way.

As we all improve in our ability, we will slowly incorporate the other aspects of fudo genri and kihon genri. Mushin and Makoto are more intangible in nature and will involve in changing how we perceive attacks and how we deal with it, but because we ARE training kata, the attacks and conclusion are already predetermined. Thus these 2 aspects will not really be as obvious or easier to train like the other 3 principles. However, when we start on kihon genri, aspects of kokyu, chushin, enshin and shuchu will be very obvious and can be seen.

Ultimately this training method probably has a name which I don't know. But the idea is to repeat the forms many-many times but focusing on one aspect at a time and correcting it. Hopefully in this way, you will understand the waza well but mostly understand be able to use the principles correctly and thus for the other waza, its just a matter of learning the forms and filling the gaps with principles you have mastered.

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