Friday, April 27, 2007

100 terrific things to try in Tegatana

The first exercise that we do in aikido is called Tegatana (A.K.A The Walk). It is composed of two older exercises called Unsoku and Tandoku undo. It teaches the footwork, arm motions, and whole-body coordination used throughout aikido. Funny thing about this exercise - it only takes a short while - perhaps to yellow or green belt - to feel like you've got this thing whipped, but if you ask the most advanced folks in the system what they are working on to improve their skills, they'll probably tell you tegatana.
Just in case you think you have this thing whipped, here is a list of 100 Terrific Things to Try in Tegatana. The list is certainly not everything that you can learn from the exercise - if you work on it i'm sure you could come up with 100 more (and when you do, please send me a copy!) Some of these are repeats, phrased a little differently because different people understand parts of this thing differenty. If some of the hints don't make sense, drop me a line and I'll try to give you a better explanation - or at least a more verbose one.
Probably the best way to work through these hints is repeat the entire kata over and over, trying to incorporate one hint during each repetition. Getting through the whole list just once ought to keep you occupied for a month or two...

1. relaxed but not flaccid
2. work slower. remember: “fast is slow, slow is fast”
3. balls of feet, heels slightly brushing
4. balls of first two toes only
5. make sure ankles don’t flex outward
6. knees slightly bent
7. heel-toe stance, feet under your hips
8. feet slightly closer than heel-toe and shoulder width
9. head over shoulders over hips over toes
10. rotate on top of hips, not around them
11. raised shoulders = excess tension
12. shoulders down and back, head up
13. small, conservative steps
14. minimize side-to-side rocking
15. minimize fwd-back rocking
16. minimize center rise-fall
17. even when you minimize rocking it is still there
18. there is a ballistic, irreversible part of each step
19. use relaxed arm swing as momentum check
20. natural motion of arms
21. visualize an attack as you sidestep
22. falling – not lunging or pushing
23. pull your weight forward with the front foot
24. tighten inner thighs to bring back foot forward
25. don’t try to raise your center with both legs
26. put your center over one leg then raise it up
27. notice: it is not possible to fall straight forward
28. settle and pause between each step
29. imagine each step as your last
30. lead with the nearest foot (usually)
31. complete recovery step
32. put feet under butt instead of butt over feet
33. step the width of your stance
34. step no more than hip width
35. try to standardize the length of your steps
36. look for heel strikes during too-long steps
37. look for bobble associated with heel strike
38. look for heel lift on large back steps
39. count weight shifts
40. stepping forward/back takes 2 weight shifts
41. turning 90 degrees takes 2 weight shifts
42. turning 180 degrees takes 3 weight shifts
43. hip switch takes 1 weight shift
44. hip switch does not take place evenly balanced
45. the rear leg loads slightly on the hip switch
46. look for extra weight shifts
47. look out for extra shifts when the pattern changes
48. notice how raising the arm to the side loads the opposite foot
49. you can only hip switch about 135 degrees without crossing legs
50. hip switch 180° puts you in classic aiki stance
51. turn hips completely to set up turns
52. use hips to store energy for turns
53. fall off the line during turns
54. stuck-hand-stuck-foot during first turns
55. feeling the inside of the sphere
56. rise onto the balls of feet as a momentum check after the turns
57. wedging the body between the leg and arm
58. hands stay in peripheral vision (“wiggle test”)
59. fingers together to protect them & your partner
60. pull the wrist back before you lift the arm
61. hands centered
62. hands within the box of shoulders and hips
63. off hand stays centered too
64. dead off-hand creates imbalance
65. off hand may mimic power hand
66. arms slightly bent but unbendable
67. same hand same foot
68. only push/pull along the length of a centered, unbendable arm
69. never push/pull sideways
70. eyes, shoulders, hips, feet center on lead hand
71. arms rise and fall with the center
72. don’t raise arms & drop center at same time
73. let your momentum help pick your arms up
74. different contact points for different pushes
75. palms toward face on pulls
76. palms forward on pushes
77. push with palms with fingers pointing up
78. push with forearm with palm facing up
79. push with shoulder with fingers pointing in
80. push near your own face or shoulder level
81. try brushing the feet vs. picking them up
82. try with inhale on body rise and exhale on body drop
83. try with grippy shoes on
84. try with your eyes closed
85. try in a tight crowd of people
86. try large motions vs. small motions
87. try with everyone facing different directions
88. try with someone gently disturbing your moves
89. try to an external count or to your own count
90. try counting “otoshi – guruma” instead of “1-2-3-4…”
91. try grouping the moves into flowing groups of 2-3
92. try as fast and as slow as possible
93. notice how the ground feels under your feet.
94. visualize a thumbtack taped under your heels and little toes
95. visualize everything as a push or pull
96. visualize someone attached to you
97. visualize an iron rod straightening your spine
98. visualize your hips as a fountain that is buoying up under your head
99. visualize your head as a balloon that your body is floating under
100. You can divide any technique or motion using the rule of 3

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