The first set of techniques in the first advanced kata of the Tomikiryu curriculum is a set of five suwariwaza (kneeling techniques). These techniques illustrate a handful of interesting points...
- When kneeling you are just about as far down as you can get without lying down. This means 1) you have very little potential energy, and 2) you cannot execute techniques against uke by dropping into him (otoshi). You can pretty much only execute by rising with uke, amplifying his rise to unhook him from the earth.
- Any time you press hard against uke, your knees stick to the ground. You cannot push and move at the same time. This phenomenon occurs when standing too, but we hardly ever notice it. When kneeling it becomes obvious. In the first technique, for example, if you find yourself falling on your face unable to keep up with uke as he falls away from you, then you are pressing on uke and sticking your knees.
- These techniques illustrate different timings. In the first technique, tori is acting before uke. In the next technique, uke is earlier, and manages to act slightly ahead of tori (forcing tori to turn out of the way). In the third technique, uke is dramatically ahead of tori and tori catches uke coming down onto him. When tori is this late, he will be completely pinned in place if he does not redirect and yield to uke's strike.
- The fourth and fifth illustrate an interesting practice mode that we don't play too much - jutai (continuous) timing. Starting so late that uke has already come down on tori and pinned him in place, tori shrugs uke off to one side, then using uke's attempt to rise, throws him decisively to the other side.
[Photo courtesy of Joshua Smith]