Today, was really a randori day. We started out with a nice, long hand randori session with various partners. It was much better than yesterday. Smooth, flowing, controlled randori. Then we worked on two things that help with randori - rolling the ball as a way out of strength situations, and kokyunage, the aiki brushoff. We worked on several forms of kokyunage, including shomenate, chudan aigamae, sankata ushiroate, gokata kokyunage, and owaza kataotoshi. We also played with hanasu #1-4 in a brushoff mode where tori releases, breaks uke's grip, and brushes off.
From here, we moved into multiple person randori to test our aiki brushoff and rolling the ball. The partners were given instructions to attack one at a time but in rapid succession and tori's goal was to evade and disengage repeatedly, completely refusing to engage with any uke. Additionally, ukes were told that they could attack simultaneously if they caught tori engaging with any one uke or trying for a technique. It was great, lots of fun, and educational. Everybody knows that you don't go to the ground with multiple opponents, but in this form of randori you can really see that it's the act of tori engaging uke (even if it stays standing) that is super-dangerous for tori. Hopefully we'll have some video of this randori that we can upload soon.
As another form of randori, we played knife randori with uke told to cut twice no matter what tori does. The first attack had to be a ballistic attack from outside ma-ai but the second attack could be stab, slash, high, low, anything. Turns out that the first attack is easy to evade, but if you engage with uke instead of brushing off then the second attack almost always cuts. Shomenate and aigamaeate are still the most viable techniques I found (other than the brush-off). If you can get tori moving backward away from you (e.g. shomenate) then his second knife attack has less potential.
This was a great, high-energy, sweaty aiki practice. Take away points:
- Aikido is about avoiding force, disengaging safely, refusing to engage - the aiki brushoff
- Rolling the ball is a great way to disengage from a strength-vs-strength grappling situation. Roll uke about 1/4 turn then brushoff.
- Aiki brushoff is the crucial skill in multiple opponents randori, followed by short, low-commitment atemi, like shomenate and aigamaeate.
- Two-stab knife randori is a great form of knife evasion that really emphasizes the importance of aiki brushoff and atemiwaza.