Friday, June 03, 2011

Uke-centric nagenokata

A couple of weeks ago I started introducing nagenokata to my 10-yo, 8-yo, and 6-yo sons.  We did the first technique - ukiotoshi - and they were really catching on well, so I thought I'd write down how I presented it to them because I think it's sort of unique.
I started out by telling them that a kata is a special way of demonstrating your skills in front of people - like when parents watch a rank demo.  Parents really like it when their kids look like they know what they are doing.  On the other hand, it makes for a really sorry demo when the coach has to constantly tell them what to do and correct and goad and coax them to get them to demonstrate their skills.  The time for coaching and correction is during practice - not during a demo.  So, a kata is just a demonstration of skills that had been rehearsed a certain way so that you look like you know what you're doing - like a dance recital.
I also emphasized that this is a demonstration of the uke's falling skills.  We often get hung up on tori's role of throwing uke down, and the uke (if they are any good) just fades into the background.  But I wanted them to think about their roles a little differently.
See, tori is the spotter - not the thrower.  His job is not to throw, but to place uke into a position from which it is easy to demonstrate the proper fall.  Tori sets up the position, uke demonstrates the falling skill, and tori helps him to land correctly.
Incidently, this mode of kata demonstration is an excellent demo of tori's skills too.  If tori is able to position uke into a correct falling position and support him into the right landing position, then he is showing good skill at the kuzushi and tsukuri and zanshin phases of the throw.  Also, if tori is able to position uke into the easy-fall position, then tori is also able to position uke into the easy-to-smash place - because they are the same place.
Check out the photos above of Mifune.  Typically we would read these sequences from tori's POV - tori catches uke overcommitted forward, tori kneels down, and tori pulls uke into a forward fall.  But couldn't you just as easily read those photos as tori sets uke up into a favorable position to demonstrate a fall, tori gets out of uke's way, uke demonstrates his fall with tori helping him to land right.
Patrick Parker
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...