At this morning's aikido class the weather was perfect. Sunny, breezy, and cool. We threw open both ends of the dojo and got a lovely breeze across the mat.
I've had a kink in my low back for a few days, so we had a prolonged warmup, stretching, and kihon day. We worked on tegatana and hanasu a good bit. Patrick M. was doing especially good on his releases from his off hand. I've also had a hankering to be able to work some of the more advanced stuff, so we took to the ground with several minutes of the kneeling tekubiosae from Gokata (that's suwari shomenuchi yonkyo to you aikikai folks;-). The kneeling and the motion on the ground seemed to really stretch out my low back and helped it a lot. From there we moved on to standing Yonkata - the first seven techniques, alternately called shichihon no kuzushi. And I discovered something really cool in a moment of enlightenment (Usher will probably tell me that he's been saying this to me for years.)
The timing and offbalance in these seven techniques is varying systematically - they are not just seven random techniques grouped together. In the first two, tori must hit the paralllel offbalance right at uke's first footfall. The feeling is similar to the initial part of shomenate. On the next two, tori hits the parallel offbalance on uke's second footfall and projects uke away. On the next two, tori slips uke's third footfall and drops uke right there. And on the last one, tori is way too late for an otoshi so he gets the motion started with a perpendicular offbalance (guruma) and then follows uke around in a very large hanasu#1 motion. So, the systematic order of the thing is in the amount of delay between grab and projection. The delay is getting progressively larger with each pair of techniques, until on #7 tori is so far behind that the timing switches to a guruma action.