Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Double dose of Aikido

Today I did an Aikido lesson AND stayed for the Aikido class, bringing my total lessons to 6.

We began the lesson by practicing releases 1 - 4. Pat clarified for me that if I evade at ma-ai, and uke never gets a hold of my wrist, that’s still a valid technique.
He then introduced chain #1. The KiHara chains are kind of halfway between kata and randori. Pat described them as “kata-fied randori” or “randori-fied kata”. Chain 1 begins as release 1 and the object is to get in synch with uke. Then look for opportunities in uke’s steps to brush off and escape or effect a technique. Chain 1 includes release 1, and Nijusan 6, 7, 8, and 9.
Things for me to remember:
1) the techniques in the chain don’t have to, and won’t always follow that order. It’s an exercise in responding to the feedback you get from uke.
2) when trying to synch up, it’s easier to take small steps when making your corrections to uke than large steps.
3) tori is not guiding or leading uke, just coming along for the ride…”fitting”.
4) if you want uke to turn, turn in/around behind him, still “fitting”.
5) When turning, put your butt around behind uke, turning around his center, don’t pull/lead his arm out for a turn.

Pat demonstrated how our shoulder gets in different relationships based on the positions of our arms. When pushing or effecting with our palm, our strongest position is fingers-up. When our forearm is the effector, fingers-down is the strongest position. When our upper arm is the effector, fingers-to-the-inside (as in “Pet the Dragon” from the walking kata) is the strongest position.

For the Aikido class, we began with tegatana no kata. Pat focused on the turns, reminding us to get the leading foot on the same side of the line as the other foot. Then he took Tegatana #8, and had us practice it as an evasion with a partner. We did the same thing with Tegatana #9 and Tegatana #11, and added knives for the evasions. He then taught a couple of arm entanglements from sankata.

One of the most interesting things from this class was how Pat explained the essences of the releases. That is, what makes a release #1 a release #1 is the relationship between tori and uke’s centers…the movement of the bodies is what makes it a #1, not necessarily the position uke ends up in after the release. It was most clear when brushing off a knife attack to the gut with the knife in uke’s right hand, and the brush-off happening with tori’s left forearm. The relationship of the centers made that motion, technically, a release #4.

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