Sunday, January 20, 2008

A helpful handful: 5 ways to improve your shomenate

Check out my collection of articles
on the
techniques in Junana Hon Kata
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Everybody who does Tomiki aikido or one of the Tomiki derivatives knows shomenate. It’s one of the first things taught, and it can rightfully be considered the foundational basis of virtually everything that comes after it. Shomenate is the essence of irimi. Here is a handful of helpful hints to get a little bit of extra mileage out of your shomenate.
  • Get your distance right. You want this thing to be a mental shock to his system. You don’t get a good surprise reaction if he sees it coming from a couple of feet away. You want to be at arm’s length from his face at the end of the first step.
  • Play with this technique with the idea of pushing yourself off of uke instead of pushing uke down backwards. Think of uke as a sprinter’s starting block to push off of. This will shorten the energy transfer between tori and uke and will help tori to get back outside ma-ai more quickly, even if it doesn’t knock uke down.
  • It helps for tori to cultivate the attitude, “He is going to go backwards no matter what. Hit me, cut me, whatever… he’ll do in moving away from me.”
  • It is more effective to bump uke’s lead arm with a straight arm as you evade just shorter than arms-length than to step aside and chop uke’s arm. Let uke feel the entire weight of your body through your unbendable arm and let that bump him into offbalance.
  • Tomiki reportedly said of his aikido, “None of this stuff works unless you do shomenate first,” so, try shomenate as an entry to other techniques. For instance, enter, grasp the arm, push off the face and keep your momentum going until you hit the end of his reach. Then turn into shihonage or snap him past you into ushiroate.

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