Monday, July 02, 2007

Jointlocks as shikaku and kuzushi

Kotegaeshi is a jointlock. There are many joint locking or holding techniques in aikido, including manipulations of wrist, elbow, shoulder, spine, and others. Different people interpret this class of techniques differently, but essentially there are about three ideas on joint techniques:
  • Use massive force against an anatomical weakness to break a joint
  • Use controlled force to create pain sufficient to control the opponent
  • Use a lock to limit uke’s motion and damp out his potential for harm
You can probably tell from my previous post on pain control that I subscribe to this third idea. Joint locks, like kotegaeshi, when used to restrict an attacker’s range of motion, control his balance, and limit his potential to hurt you, can be very effective. Potentially much more effective than joint breaking techniques or pain control techniques.
In aikido we talk a lot about shikaku, the dead angle. This is a place where tori is relatively safe because it is difficult for uke to bring weapons (natural or otherwise) to bear. Typically we say shikaku is behind the arm to the outside of the body. Jointlocks can be used to expand the space that you can call shikaku. For instance, with kotegaeshi held (but not cranked), shikaku often extends well in front of the arm.
A while back I wrote about there being several ideas about how kuzushi (offbalance) works. Some folks say that uke is always offbalance and tori has to learn how to use that offbalance. It’s not hard to imagine uke, in his natural motion, oscillating up and down, left and right, forward and back, in sort of chaotic spirals. Now, take an arm and hold it at the end of its range of motion in kotegaeshi. How do uke’s oscillations change? Well, for one thing they are damped out on one side. If something is oscillating and is damped on one side then it is, by definition, asymmetric, or offbalance. Thus, tori can use jointlocks to maintain offbalances rather than to try to bust uke with them.
Play especially with the second kotegaeshi exercise (taking up the slack) that I posted the other day and let me know what you think of it.

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