Thursday, November 02, 2006

Balancing a broom

Yesterday we had a great aikido class with Patrick M., Kristof, and myself. We were spinning through tegatana when I realized a variance in my goal for the forward turns. It seems I've been concentrating on getting the feet turned properly and in a proper place and then balancing the body on top of them. Well, another way of thinking about that turn is to turn the center of balance through space while keeping the feet balanced directly under the center (like balanncing a broom on the palm of your hand). This latter way is more consistent with some of our other ideas of balance, so we worked on that turn for a while with the new idea and I felt a subtle difference in my balance. I asked the others and they said they didn't feel it. Maybe I was the only one that was making that particular mistake or maybe they just couldn't feel what I was talking about.
We worked on hanasu a lot last night, first in kata mode, then in lab mode. We emphasized making hanasu #1 wide down the line to really get the feeling of releasing. Then on #2 we worked on getting directly behind both of uke's heels. We played some with #3, contrasting its feeling with #1 until everyone was getting that feeling of release. Then we jumped to #6 and played with extension and turning right at the end of the line instead of dragging uke down the line. Finally we worked on each of these four releases with touch attacks instead of grab attacks to make sure we were flowing with uke during the release.
For nijusan we started off exploring the two types of motion found in nijusan (inside and outside paths). Then we picked one of Kristof's techniques (aigamae) and one of P4's techniques (oshitaoshi) and worked them. Aigamae works well for my crew as a tenkan motion with later timing, but the Starkville crowd seems more familiar with the short&sharp timing, so we played with that one, to some pretty good effect.
Kirby had worked with us some this weekend on udeosae gatame, the pin that comes after oshitaoshi. He'd have uke go ahead and bend over as a "gimme" so that tori could practice building a wall on top of uke's arm and moving to ratchet uke into the ground. So for this class, we practiced the tension-compression motion with the idea of getting a good offbalance so that uke will actually "gimme" the arm in a position that we can use. Worked pretty well.
P4 has a really cool tekubiosae (yonkyo) that he uses in place of oshitaoshi (ikkyo) because of his unequal arms. I am learning a lot about aiki from him by being forced to practice my aiki one-handed. In exchange, his short arm is becoming more flexible and stronger. I want to start P4 practicing hanasu on both sides more often to see what he can get that arm to doing.

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