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Two hints for practicing throws

A student of mine asked me a question about practicing deashibarai, and I thought that it would make a pretty good hint for anyone in their practice of any throw - aikido or judo. His question...
...when I would do the technique, [uke] would start to fall but then hop to catch his balance. Is my timing off ? or is he just naturally countering ... he is about 120 lbs which is quite different than you or I...
A couple of points regarding the practice of deashi at the beginner's stage - and these carry over to most other throws as well...
  • If you are practicing with a much smaller, faster, more agile partner then you have less room for error. While it might be possible (and tempting) to just pick their butts up and smash them, this is unproductive. When you work with such an uke, you have to be even lighter, more relaxed, and pay more attention to timing the thing correctly. This often means you have to practice more slowly. If you are putting too much tension in your arms, this can stabilize your partner - and this is even more apparent with a lighter, smaller partner. Soften up, slow down, and make sure that you are not holding them up with excess arm tension.
  • Secondly, consider that this is your partner's chance to learn how to fall for this thing. If he refuses to fall at this early stage then he is refusing to learn how the fall for this thing works. At this early stage, you might hit a magical, perfect throw one time out of a hundred, but as you progress, your timing and judo magic will improve so that you hit that surprising, magical sweet spot more often. If uke has never practiced the fall for this thing, then when tori does happen to hit that sweet spot, it will be a sad, painful lesson learned too late! So, uke should go ahead and practice the fall for this thing - especially while tori is going slowly and gently.
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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