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Helpful handful: Ichikata as an intro to power

Photo courtesy of BekiPeti
Power can be defined as the ability to make something move or get something done. One of the fundamental theories of aikido and judo is that people's power is always ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning as we move. The techniques that we do are timed based on the ebb and flow of the opponent's power.
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Suwariwaza (kneeling technique) is one way to see this phenomenon in action. For instance, in Ichikata, the first five techniques are suwari, and they vary in their timing condition with respect to uke's build-up and application of power.
  • Suwari oshitaoshi (provocative timing) – tori catches uke sitting back, all the way down, before uke has started building power. Tori attacks uke's face, provoking a response that tori uses to throw uke. As such, tori is well ahead of uke in the timing of this technique. Basically, tori overwhelms uke before uke can build up a resistance.
  • Suwari tenkai oshitaoshi – uke attacks tori's face and tori rises with a rising block but uke is not so far ahead in timing that tori is overwhelmed. Still, because tori is behind he cannot run over uke as before so he turns out of the way and throws uke. Tori has successfully played catch-up.
  • Suwari tekubiosae – uke attacks tori's face and tori is ever farther behind. Finding himself in the hole, tori knows he'd better not try to apply power, so he fades around and moves with uke's arm until uke's power peters out and tori's power is relatively high. Then tori pins uke.
  • Suwari ryotedori sukuinage – here tori is absolutely caught flat and dead (energy-wise) and uke grasps both of tori's wrists. Tori retracts his wrists, slipping uke into off-balance and activating uke's back muscles, which tori can then follow into a pin.
  • Suwari ryotedori sukuinage (juntai timing) – this is an odd exercise in timing. Tori is actually pulling uke up from the previous pin and getting in synch with him as he rights himself so that the throw on the opposite side happens immediately as uke regains his knees.
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