Release#1 and #3 occur with uke approaching through maai and tori evading to one side. Tori’s evasion is not perfect, though, and uke is able to catch a wrist grab – either aigamae (cross hand) or gyakugamae (mirror image). At this point, examine where uke and tori are in relation to each other. They are always closer than 2 arm lengths (maai) and they are almost always within one arm’s length. Tori cannot turn to face uke from this position without both uke’s arm and tori’s arm bending. There are at least three problems here:
- Upon principle, tori does not want to bend his arm
- Tori can’t tell if uke will bend his arm from this position
- Tori cannot force uke to bend his arm form this position
The solution is separation. This separation can happen by uke stepping away from tori or by tori stepping away from uke (or often both). Tori's motion is the only one of these factors that is under tori's control, So, tori must add in enough separation to account for his own arm length and then accommodate to uke’s arm length – either bent or straight. In any case, adding some distance between uke and tori during the second step of these releases helps to release the bind in these two exercises.
We still have the problem of not knowing whether or not uke is going to bend his arm but tori’s separation step provides some time to try to figure out if uke is bending or straightening his arm. We also have no idea whether uke will turn to continue to press the attack or continue his motion away from tori, so the separation step provides some safety margin in case uke is still viable.
These are some of the phenomena that I want to work on in the upcoming weeks as we get into chains #1 and #3. We’ll play with these issues with stiff vs. compliant vs. reactive ukes. Think about these issues at home and come to class raring to learn!