Monday, November 20, 2006

Suigetsu

Suigetsu (#2 Seiteikata in Jodo) is a funny thing. The basis of the technique is supposed to be "seeking the weakness" i.e. a chink in the bad guy's armor. This technique is usually interpreted as stabbing the guy in the solar plexus with the stick.
When I was at the Starkville Fall clinic with Henry Copeland a few weeks back I was working on Suigetsu with P3. I was doing my standard form. I typically conceive of this as allowing uke to commit to his downward stroke, slipping aside, and lunging into the solarplexus - almost like setting a spear for a charge. Henry chimed in and showed a Suigetsu with a wholly different feel. The best I can describe it is, slipping to the side and reaching out with the stick as a feeler or separator. There is no impact - just a touch. It's not even in uke's solar plexus - just somewhere on uke's chest. Then Henry screws the stick (painfully) into uke's ribs with a turn of the wrist which causes the separation for the next part of the technique.
In my typical ignorance I could have easily dismissed this as a simple variation or option. A preference that Henry has for how to do the thing. But then Henry explained, "See, the guy is swinging a sword at me and I can't afford to put that much force into him." Henry just wants to get a little bit of control long enough to get clear from the sword without being cut.
Now that's a wholly different attitude about the technique than I had. I see the sword guy coming down on me and a primitive part of me thinks, "Aha, I can stab this stick through his chest!" Which seems pretty effective when everything goes kata-wise, but there is no margin for error there. I stand a chance of not killing the guy and at the same time giving him enough of my energy to regain some balance and flail at me with the sword. Henry's option takes uke's balance for a moment and then backs off to a safe place without making the assumption that tori can kill uke with that one lunge to the solar plexus.

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