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More on releases vs. throws

Tonight's aiki class included Patrick M., Kristof, and myself. We did some rolling, emphasizing the concept of the point of no return and looking at what happens around that point. Until uke reaches that point of no return, he still has options. Uke's not dead until he's dead.
We repped tegatana, looking at the 'pulling forward' step that the aiki buddies have been tossing around in our email discussions lately. Works nicely. Certainly interesting feel. It's cool how a kata that youve done many times per week for nearly fifteen years goes completely apart when you add a new concept. Yes, Andy, that still happens to me, so get used to it.
Moved into hanasu for a rep or two of kata mode followed by an emphasis on #8. It is important to turn the hips completely inward during the two turns in this thing. We also looked at this technique as a true release. It's easy to get partway through the release motion and get in your mind that you have to get into a strong position to do a thing to uke, but this spoils the release. If you think that release #8 is basically shihonage then this screws the whole thing. It changes from a release to a throw. We finished up hanasu by looking at chain#8, which includes tenkai kote gaeshi, ushiroate, and all the release #3 motions, such as kaitennage and wakigatame.Cool set of techniques to practice and this chain has the extra advantage of being short and sweet. The chains really give me the feel that all techniques are releases instead of throws.
We ended class focussing on shomenate from two situations - one the more flowing, following shomen found in nijusan and the other the more angular, direct shomenate found in junana or when uke settles down to be strong.

Heroes

One thing that you may not know is that martial arts training is preparing you to be a hero. Not a super-hero, but a REAL hero. Research suggests that nobody is immune to the bystander apathy effect, but individuals who have any sort of training in handling unexpected emergencies tend to be less affected by this crippling hesitation. And that is nearly a perfect textbook definition for martial arts – unexpected emergency training. Of course, you probably won’t learn to resuscitate a drowning victim or put out a house fire in aikido class, but it does get you used to acting in response to a type of unexpected emergency.
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As a kid in 1982 I remember watching the newscasts following the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 into the frozen Potomac River. I still get shivery occasionally thinking about that crash and the people involved. Of the 80-something people on board, six got out into the icy water and clung to the tail of the plane. A helicopter arrived and lowered a line and Arland Dean Williams Junior repeatedly passed he line to others. Every time the line came back he passed it to someone else – people he didn’t know. Williams eventually succumbed to the cold, sank and drowned helping strangers.
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One of the survivors, a young woman, couldn’t hold onto the tail of the plane and began floating away in the icy water. Lenny Skutnik, a passing motorist, got out of his car, and jumped in repeatedly until he was able to save her. Then he refused an ambulance ride to the hospital because he was afraid they would charge him a fee he couldn’t afford.
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Two wholly different kinds of heroes in the same situation. Williams thoughtfully, deliberately passed the line to others. Skutnik jumped in without thought or hesitation because he saw a woman in danger. What did these two men have in common? I don’t know what kind of training, if any, either had but neither succumbed to the apathy that keeps one person from helping another. The kind of apathy that paralyzed 38 people who were within hearing range of the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese in the 1960’s. The kind of apathy that paralyzed a bridge full of people who watched Delitha Word jump to her death to get away from an irate motorist who attacked her in Detroit in 1995. The kind of apathy that kept countless people from doing something to save 2-year old Jamie Bulger from being dragged 2 miles through crowded streets by his kidnappers who later murdered him.
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I pray that our training will prepare us to do something if we ever are forced to – not because I especially want to be a hero – but because that kind of apathy we don’t need in the world and that kind of hero, we do need.

Kids judo class

"Judo is a kind of wrestling that was invented in Japan a long time ago by a guy named Jigoro Kano. Kano was a very good wrestler. The kind of wrestling that we do is the same kind that Kano did long ago."
That is the history that we reviewed tonight as the kids warmed up with skipping, galloping, and laterals and then moved on to logrolls, lowcrawl, inchworm, spiderwalk, crabwalk, and hipheist. These five year olds were doing hipheist great! Amazing what they pick up! We had a good, long session of kneeling knockdown (newaza randori) which led us into practicing a head-and-arm takedown (suwari kubinage) into a scarf hold (kesagatame). From here we moved into standing toestomp (tachi randori) which gave us an opporunity to work on snapdown as a response to someone fighting bent-over where you can't get to their feet. Everyone did great with snapdown and at the end of class they each took ten falls from deashibarai (front footsweep) with me sailing them and then letting them down into a proper back/side fall.
Of all that cool material they said that the backfalls from deashi were their favorite!

We contribute to our own failure

The other day I was writing about the odd way perception works in connection to martial arts rank. This is just one tiny facet of a huge phenomenon. For some really interesting reading about perception in general and why we see (or don't see) things for what they are, check out this book written by a CIA brainiac.
This material has a lot to say about how you construct your martial arts system. For one thing, we have to recognize that we often contribute to our own failure. We often don't like to see things that way. We'd rather see a conflict as, "A bad man attacks poor, innocent me and I do ____________(fill in the blank) to stop him." But things really aren't that way.
Almost nobody ever sees themselves as the bad, evil, villain. The attacker is often acting in a rational, reasonable manner based on whatever is going on in his head at the time. Now, that doesn't mean that criminals and violent people are poor, misbegotten creatures who have the right to do what they are doing. People being attacked have rights and most often, attackers work from a twisted, evil motivation even if they can't see it. But it's just not as simple as "bad man attacks good man."
Often the energy that we put into the system is non-productive, counter-productive, or even down-right destructive. We think that we must do and strike and throw and break when often a better solution can be found with avoidance, evasion, redirection, and compassion. Check out this classic aiki story for an example. Of course, sometimes a well-timed palm to the chin can defibrilate someone out of an insane path of action more efficiently than avoidance.
Your martial arts system (how you organize your skills and strategies) has to take these phenomena into account and attempt to answer this problem of us contributing to our own failure. Aikido contains as part of the system many checks and balances which keep this phenomenon from impacting (pun intended) on tori's chance of success in an encounter.

New aiki cub


Friday. Finally. The new aiki cub arrived. Ellen Elise Parker was born 2/23/2007 at 10:22PM at McComb. She weighed 8 pounds, 4 oz and was 20 inches long. Everyone has told me how she will rule the roost by tying daddy around her little finger. We'll see. Fortunately the boys have a headstart on her in judo so maybe they can defend themselves.

Magical aikido

Strange paradox of the day: It seems that the people that stay in aikido for a long period of time are the ones with the most intense desire to be able to do magical aikido like they see the highest ranked people do. However, as you progress, your ability to do magic seems to be inversely related to your desire to do magic. Put another way, in order to be able to do magic aiki you have to lose the desire to do it.
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I can remember times when I’ve seen aikido masters doing aiki that is indistinguishable from magic. I’ve seen many other very, very good aikido masters, but so far as I can remember I’ve only ever seen magical aiki from about two of them. There have been many times that I’ve seen their magical aiki and said to myself, “Wow, I want to be able to do THAT.” Funny thing is, trying to do those magical effects is not aiki. Those guys are able to do the magic because they live the aiki. They have so internalized the aiki principles that those magical effects occur around them more often than around others.
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What does it mean to internalize aiki? Look at what the word aiki means. Ai has something to do with harmony and ki has something to do with energy. Often aiki is translated as something like “coordinated energy” but lately I have preferred to translate aikido as "the art of making peace with the energy in the world." People who are able to do the magical aiki effects are able to make peace with the things going on in the world. They have reduced their desire to impose their will on a situation so they are able to move around with uke and live with the results. They are at peace with the energy around them.
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And that’s real, magical aiki – being able to move so that you can live with uke’s actions.

Pocket uke

Ok, those that know me know that I'm always looking for ways that I can practice some technical aspect of aikido without a human uke. I do jodo with the stick as uke. I am always practicing pushing and bouncing off of walls and poles and turning stepping around doorframes and pushing through doors without interrupting the flow of my step. Well, now I am about to reveal to you the incredible Pocket Uke.
Go find a gumball machine and buy a 25 cent superball. carry it with you in a pocket. Voila! Pocket uke. Here's a game you can play with your new uke. hold the ball directly in front of your belly button (center of mass) and drop it (don't throw it). Practice evasion steps left, right, front, back, diagonals, turning, etc... with the condition that your feet have to land when the ball hits the ground. There are tons of lessons here worth learning.

Pain and jointlocks

Fitness gurus of yesteryear told us, "no pain, no gain." Nietzsche supposedly wrote (though I haven't read it), "that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." One of the Marines' mottoes says, "pain is weakness leaving the body." Even Osensei was quoted as saying that pain was impurity leaving the body through the joints (my paraphrase). What in the world were these otherwise smart guys thinking? Pain is an exceptionally poor ally to have for several reasons:
  • Different people experience pain differently. Some people can bend nearly double before they feel anything while others hurt as soon as you touch them. This means that tori cannot predict or control the amount of pain delivered to uke.
  • Different people react to pain differently. Some people give up, some get madder, some ignore it. Most people can put off the effects of moderate to severe pain and physical damage if they are motivated to achieve a goal.
  • Pain only occurs after damage has begun to take place. Therefore it is not a safe or reliable marker for the end of a technique. That is why uke must tap before it hurts.
  • Most of us are doing aikido and judo as a hobby. We have other lives and people that depend on us. Many of us make our livings with our hands, elbows, and knees.
  • It damages a person psychologically and spiritually to delight in causing pain.
For these reasons and others we do not teach pain compliance techniques. Sure, some things in aikido can hurt. We teach techniques that give us extreme mechanical advantage against anatomical weaknesses and joint locks can cause pain and destroy joints.
That is why we place the responsibility on both uke and tori to move slowly, tap before it hurts, and let go as soon as uke taps.
Although jointlocks can hurt and destroy, this is not their intended purpose. The purpose of jointlocks is to reduce range of motion of a joint so that you can take control of uke's center of balance. Control of uke's motion and balance is an extremely good ally to have.
To those that say, "no pain, no gain," I say, "no pain. No pain."

Kid's class

WOW! Those little kids are doing GREAT in judo. I don't think I've ever had so much fun in Judo as when I'm working with those 4-6 year olds.
Today we warmed up with laterals and ROM and stretching then did logrolls, lowcrawl, inchworm, and shrimping. We worked on backfalls with spotters holding hands and cueing them to "put your booty down first." Then we had adult spotters do teguruma to the kids so that they could practice being turned over and slapping (cue: "slap the ground harder than it slaps you.").
For randori we did kneeling knockdown and standing toestomp randori. The techniques of the day were kneeling kubinage into kesagatame and standing deashi. The cues were "put your booty down first" for uke and "hold both hands till he's on the ground" for tori. The standing deashi was the most remarkable because with consistent cueing they got it PERFECT! Deashi harai done safely and consistently correct by 5 year olds!
They must have an awesome teacher or something ;-)

Sometimes it's hard to see

Perception is funny.
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There is a neat trick that bicycle racers play on themselves to improve their performance. When starting up a hill they focus their eyes a few inches in front of their front wheel. This way they can't see that they are on a hill so they feel at least a little better about struggling on.
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If you look at the hood of an old hoopty car, it takes on different characteristics at different distances. From a distance it looks smooth but as you get closer it looks bumpy. Focus closer still and the bumps smoothe out. Look thru a microscope and it looks bumpy again.
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Standing at the bottom of a valley you can only see a few yards but as you walk up the hill you can see progressively more and more until you can see for miles. At a height without obstructions you can even see the curve of the earth.
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Often it is hard to judge our own progress in the martial arts. John recently wrote that he didn't feel worthy of his yellow, green, or brown belt promotions at the time that he got them. Andy recently expressed frustration with his sporadic attendance and progress as well as "6 out of 10" satisfaction with his progress. Guess what guys, that cognitive dissonance doesn't really get better. Uchideshi wrote a while back about his panic when he was told he was ready for shodan test, which he subsequently excelled at.
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A few weeks ago the head of our organization called me up and informed me that I was under-ranked. Just when I was getting used to being one rank, it's time for the next. Do I feel like I deserve it? I don't know. Do I think I'm as good as most folks that rank? Probably not. Do I get to tell the head man that he's wrong in his evaluation of my rank? Nope.
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Anyway, my point is, individuals tend to become so absorbed in the daily logistics of practicing their lives (and their arts) that they not only don't have perspective but they don't realize that they don't have perspective.
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Martial arts rank is a funny thing because on average it takes progressively longer to get each successive rank. So, when you get shodan all of a sudden you start comparing yourself to all shodans, many of whom have been shodan for a while. When you get godan you are forced to compare yourself with other godans, many of whom have been godan for YEARS. This is made worse by the colored belt scheme. When you get shodan you get a new black belt and all of a sudden you have to compare yourself to everyone who wears a black belt. In some systems that is everyone up through 5th dan and in other systems that's all yudansha!
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So it is bogus to compare yourself to the "average" person of your new rank (or belt color). That's a recipe for failure and depression. What you have to do is compare yourself to some objective minimal standard that has been set by someone or some group that has enough distance and height to have perspective.
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For some more interesting reading and perspective on the subject, check out:

Owaza Jupon

Here is a video of some of my students repping the first three techniques of Owaza Jupon with a crashpad.
This is my favorite kata in aikido. Of all the techniques in all the kata, the ones in Owaza seem the most 'aiki' to me. These techniques represent some of the cleanest, purest demonstrations of the guruma and otoshi throwing concepts found in aikido. These techniques are also extremely functional as defense. Imagine any of the throws you see here in a room full of tables and chairs and bottles...

Crikey my foot!

We had a mini aiki gathering this weekend with John from Orlando and a couple of the Hattiesburgers in attendance. We worked out for several hours Friday, mostly emphasizing osotogari (tenchinage) and oshitaoshi (ikkyo). We used these two techniques as examples of the ki-bump and they worked great. I think that the ki bump in oshitaoshi has to be the most miraculous thing that have I learned in the last several years.

On Saturday AM we spent several hours working on attacks and on chain #1. Then we pulled out a crashpad and worked on the first half of Owaza jupon. I have some video clips of that practice that I'll be putting together to post. The class ended with John filming me and Andy doing Nijusan and chains 1-10 as a reference for him and Bryce in Orlando. It went pretty well. I only blatantly screwed up a couple, but one of the screwups was a doozy. As I threw Andy on one of them (I don't even know which), I stepped to keep my balance and he came down with his knee on the instep of my foot. Crikey that hurt! John's advice to me on that one was, "You ought not put your foot under him like that."

Space invaders

I had an interesting talk with my instructor on the phone today. Interesting on many levels. He talked about how the art has always been forced to conform to the conditions at hand. For instance, when he was in Japan practicing, physical space was at a premium so they practiced anywhere they could. One Japanese instructor he knew found a 12x60 foot space between two buildings and had it roofed and that's where they practiced - thirty to sixty aikidoka in a 12X60 space. My instructor cites this type of condition as an influence in Tomikiryu developing the linear look and feel that seems apparent in beginners.
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If you look at the photos in Ueshiba's book (I don't remember if it's in Essence or in Budo) the dojo space in which some of the shots are taken is extremely small. So small, in fact, that it appears that they would only be able to do suwari and maybe hammi handachi practice in it. In such a situation, the art has to conform to the space. There are also photos in that book of them practicing outside.
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In America we are used to having larger spaces around us. When I was at University I was used to roaming around on a mat space that was larger than 40x60. When I moved to McComb, all I could afford was two 4x8 folding mats. We laid them out in a line to practice rolling breakfalls and we laid them out in a square to practice Judo nagekomi (starting in the corner and throwing into the center of the mat). Eventually I saved up for an 18x36 space. This is the mat space we practice on now. We had it laid out in a room that was about 22x50 until we renovated and moved to the new Mokuren dojo. Now we have the same mat space but it is in a 20x40 room with lower ceilings. So even though the mat space is the same, it feels smaller. Even so, we had plenty of room for the 15 some odd aiki buddies at the gathering in October, and several of the buddies expressed the opinion that that was one of the best clinics/seminars/gatherings they'd ever been to with some of the best aiki...
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If I understand rightly, Bryce and John in Florida are practicing in a roughly 6x8 space surrounded by couches. At University we had a similar mode of practice when we were away from the large dojo. We called it 'room randori,' and it was a blast! So, really all you need is a space large enough for uke and tori to stand and not be in each others' ma-ai. That's sufficient for room randori.
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Anyway, it's interesting to me that because of space constraints we may be practicing in a manner more similar to the old masters in Japan. It's also interesting to consider the limited space conditions typical of traditional aiki practice as an answer to those folks that say that aiki is not such a good martial art for 'real world' situations because the aikidoka has to have large spaces to move about in?

Sneaking three inches


Photo courtesy of Dral10

In some of the ancient sword manuals there was a cool idea referred to as “sneaking three inches.” The main idea was to stay far enough away from the other guy so as to not be cut but still being able to sneak in just barely close enough to put your blade three inches into him. The first man able to “sneak three inches” without being cut was the winner. The other man died.
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We use this idea of sneaking three inches in aikido – we call it ma-ai. We usually think of ma-ai as a safety margin for tori, but this is really both an uke and a tori thing. It helps to examine ma-ai from both perspectives and for both partners to keep ma-ai in the forefront of their minds.
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Look at this from tori’s perspective – the one we usually think of. Imagine a circle drawn in the sand around tori with a radius of about two arm lengths. So long as uke is outside tori’s circle, tori is relatively safe. Uke cannot attack without first moving forward to a position within the circle. Uke must be able to “sneak three inches,” so to speak. As long as tori begins moving as uke crosses the line there will be ample time for an evasion and response.
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Tori’s internal sense of ma-ai must be pretty precise. If tori draws the circle too big in his mind (ma-ai inflation) then tori will begin to evade too early and uke can steer to track him. On the other hand, if tori draws the circle too small then uke will be able to more easily sneak three inches.
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Ma-ai is just as important for uke’s success. If uke moves into tori’s circle without immediately attacking then he is at greater danger of counterattack. He has, in effect, allowed tori to “sneak three inches.” So uke must make sure to stay outside ma-ai until he is ready to attack, then attack through ma-ai in one motion. If uke’s sense of ma-ai is inflated then he doesn’t understand his own reach. His attack will die short of striking, leaving him within ma-ai and in range for a counterattack. If uke’s sense of ma-ai is too short then uke will tend to stand in range for tori’s attack before uke is prepared to step in and attack.
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So, the bottom line: Tori must have a precise sense of ma-ai and must start evasions right as uke passes ma-ai. Uke must also have a good internal understanding of ma-ai or he will not be able to attack effectively and he will leave himself open to attacks from tori.

Teguruma for 4-year olds

Lotsa fun tonight at kid's judo. We had about 6 participating. This was a slightly younger crowd - aged between about 3 and 5. It's really cool to be able to teach a grappling art to a 3 year old. Tonight we warmed up and everyone seemed to be catching onto the routine of how the class runs. We galloped around the mat for a while, practiced kneeling knockdown then toestomp randori. As cooldown we did a falling exercise. From my knees I'd turn them upside down with teguruma and hold them as they learned to slap hard with one arm. The performance cue for this game is, "slap the mat harder than it slaps you!"

new aiki-cub

Classes are going to have to be tentative for the next couple of weeks. Elise is 9 months pregnant and the MD told her today that the new aiki-cub is liable to come as early as next week. So I plan to put my judo kids' parents on notice at tonight's class and call them from day-to-day as the situation changes. I still expect to be available for classes on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th but the earlier classes next week might be interrupted. It's a worthy cause, though...

No class this Saturday

We'll have to miss class this Saturday, February the 10th. I have a church thing to help with. Hope to see y'all at class Friday the 10th and thereafter.

Good aiki class

The weather has been more temperate, more spring-like and we are able to have more vigorous classes without shattering the first time we hit the mat. We worked on tegatana emphasizing the balls of the feet and getting the turning steps right. We did hanasu concentrating on the change in intent when uke tries to maintain metsuke (proper eye-contact). Ran through nijusan some and then focussed in on oshitaoshi (ikkyo) and kotehineri (sankyo) working on controlling uke into the ground into a pin. Then we worked on a kotegaeshi similar to the one in owaza and the one in chain #1 - that is, with a backward grip and moving away from uke the whole time. For cooldown we briefly explored the four hammi handachi (tori kneeling and uke standing) techniques from sankata.
For my part, I especially liked working with Gary the Hattiesburger. He is much larger than me and it is unusual when I get to play with a guy who just vastly outclasses me in both mass and strength. It makes me put all the things I preach to my students into play (put my money where my mouth is) and it is very good for me. I very much enjoy having the opportunity to work out with both very large and very small - very strong and very fast people. People both trained and untrained. It makes me better and I, in turn, am better able to help them. Thank y'all!

Judo kids amok

Another great kids' judo class. Today we had 8 kids participating and 1-2 running amok. We warmed up, worked on 1-sided shrimping and crawling like an inchworm. Then we played kneeling knockdown, practiced snapdowns from kneeling, and played tug of war trying to pull a partner across a goal line. I also showed them how to make the other guy sit down when he pulls too hard. Then we cooled down by having them line up and I fotswept each of them twice with deashibarai. We got to reinforce the idea of landing with your butt first and keeping hands out from under you.

The art of being uke

Ukes of the world, take note: It is imperative that you learn to attack correctly! Otherwise, you could make me look bad -and we can't have that!

Aikinage and koshinage

Let me tell you about a cool thing that we played with the other day. That's the relationship between aikinage (iriminage or 'the clothesline' to some) and koshinage (hipthrows). In our syllabus there is no explicit teaching of koshinage. Most of us are judoka also, so we're sorta assumed to get some exposure to koshinage, but there is another reason for not spending a lot of time beating koshinage to death. The variation of aikinage (iriminage) that we most often learn and practice is identical to a common setup for koshinage. So tori gets two throws for the price of one and uke gets to decide whether he takes a backfall (iriminage) or whether he takes a forward roll over tori (koshinage).
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So, how do we do this miraculous, dual-purpose iriminage? the attack is evaded to uke's outside and the head and arm are captured and led in a spiral. When uke resists this circle, tori's circle reverses so that tori is backing into the front of uke's legs. This is very disorienting for uke and typically leads to uke falling back or sitting down out of it. However, occasionally, uke will turn in toward tori and tori's backstep into uke's legs becomes the setup for koshinage. Works great and makes teaching koshinage easy.
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Here is about the best example I have found online of the motion I'm talking about. In this video the tori is making the same motion pretty consistently, but the uke with the hakama is choosing to turn into koshinage and the uke without the hakama is taking the fall from iriminage.

Cold, cold, cold!

Today was perhaps the coldest the dojo has been this winter. I'd left the heater running for an hour and a half before class and it was still not noticably warmer inside than out. And it was 29 degrees outside! As Whit would say, "Look, dad! It's ice-o-lated!" I fared well because I had sweatpants, two teeshirts, and socks on under my gi. I don't think my students fared that well.
Today we iterated tegatana numerous times, working on how the motion of the arms changed the ability to step. This is most apparent if you take one particular motion and repeat it several times, paying attention to the rhythm of the feet hitting the ground. Then add in the arm posture or the arm motion and repeat, looking for rhythm changes.
We ran through hanasu once then worked on evasions with uke and tori approaching each other from a long distance. Tori wants to take the last step that would put him inside ma-ai and use it to evade offline. This exercise is not only an excellent one for working on evading as you pass ma-ai, but it teaches tori to watch for indicators or changes in uke's behavior that indicate that uke is preparing to attack.

What a blast!

At the judo class tonight we started a group of six kids ranging from 4 to 7 years of age. What a blast! We warmed up, did some basic ukemi, and practiced some kneeling knockdown (freeform suwari nagekomi - taking turns pushing the partner down however you can). This led to opportunities to work on throwing and falling principles while getting the kids into something like randori right off the bat. For standing work we had a rousing session of tow stomp randori. I plan to spend a lot of time for the forseeable future working on ground mobility, ukemi, kneeling randori, and standing combatives games (i.e. tug of war, judo sumo, toestomp randori, etc...).

Robust responses

Well, I’ve has a sabbatical from blogging for several days now, and it’s time to get back to it. I’m exhausted with work and school and etc… but last night’s class was excellent and really pumped me up. Cold mats, so we warmed up slowly and omitted all the mat pounding. Then we did a lot of kneeling forward and backward rolls looking in particular at the role of the abs in slowing the fall, reducing the impact, and throwing you back out of the ground.

We spun through hanasu and then worked on the two “lost wrist releases” and the “really lost” wrist release, finally moving into the chains for #9 and #10. From here I sorta spun off into a tangent of Owaza Jupon (my favorite kata) as responses to the #10 release situation and/or the two-handed grab (ryotedori).

We cooled down with suwariwaza, working the first three of sankata and the munetsuki haragatame from kimenokata. Really cool stuff –an I got a good lesson from Kristof. I had made a passing comment about these sankata responses being very general-purpose and very robust. They work in a lot of situations – even if uke attacks “all wrong” like with the other arm. After working on these robust responses for a few minutes, I almost smote Patrick M. mightily when he shifted his feet in seiza ;-). When we started the haragatame, Kristof came off his knees lunging at me with the wrong arm! Guess what – it worked great. In Sankata#3 we got to play with the kotegaeshi/wakigatame relationship and in kimenokata we got to play with the haragatame/wakigatame relationship because uke was attacking unpredictably with left or right arm.

Other blogs (not as good as mine, but they try awfully hard!) :-)