Shomenate is the first "real technique" that we teach beginner aikidoka because it is foundational to the rest of aikido practice but also because it is just about the best fall-back self-defense technique there is. Here are a couple of hints to make the most of your shomenate.
- Extend uke's neck fully - Remember, you don't want to press horizontally backward on uke's face. Instead you want to use your palm under his chin to tilt his bead backward so that his spine is locked into an upward-looking position. This makes it harder for uke to attack you (he can't see you), it is disorienting, and it gives you tremendous leverage on uke's center through his locked spine. From this position you press horizontally backward through uke.
- Tori, extend your step through uke - You want to take a larger-than normal step through uke's feet with both of your feet. If you leave one foot back then you sap power out of the throw. Try to get both of your feet past the line of uke's heels. Try to get your second foot (recovery step) in there as fast as possible. This sort of feels like a hop, but not upward - your direction of travel is downward and forward between uke's feet.
- Uke, yield and fall - take a step back and sit down. Oftentimes if tori is nice to you, it would be possible to step back and not fall, but this can spoil your learning effect. You want to take this time to learn how to handle this fall so that it is not as severe, so ... take the fall!
[photo courtesy of Ashley Rose]