The first of the 'black belt techniques' in our syllabus, kubiguruma exemplifies a new type of motion not seen in the previous fundamentals kata. Following are five faithful pointers that have helped me.
- Anything named guruma in this system is done with a slightly later timing that things named otoshi. Otoshi happens right as uke steps down onto a foot but guruma happens an instant later as uke tries to rise from the preceding otoshi.
- Guruma is also a spinning action whereas otoshi is a straight action. Define an axis from the crown of the head through the center of mass to the lead foot and turn uke around this vertical axis.
- Try this as a followup to the second movement in yonkata – the inside gyakugamae release. Bump the wrist as uke steps down with the front foot then, holding the wrist and the neck, back around drawing uke down a line perpendicular to his stance line.
- If you can only get a partial guruma action around that vertical axis, but can’t get uke to fall, osotogari makes a great backup technique. Do the guruma then pull in and clip the leg. Osotogari is roughly equivalent to aikikai’s tenchinage, so tenchinage also pops up in this situation a lot.
- Guruma is a very versatile action. You can try this thing with uke leaping/punching at tori, with uke grabbing one wrist (gyakugamae posture) or from a two-wrist grab.