I love having new white belt students! They make me revisit and rethink how I present the basic fundamentals. I have a theory that you can find the best Aikido teacher in the world by finding the one person who has brought the most students through the white belt material. And I think I'm definitely in the running for that position! :-)
So, last night we were working on shomenate. I've done this helpful handful before, but here are the things that I was emphasizing last night...
1. Kuzushi-tsukuri-kake - these elements might show up in different orders or they might develop all at once, but you have to have all three.
2. Get uke's chin lifted fully, so they are looking at the sky instead of you. When they can't see you its harder for them to continue attacking. Plus, lifting the chin locks the spine, which then becomes a great lever for you to use to move their center of mass away from you.
3. Step both of your feet all the way between and beyond uke's feet.
4. Don't add the little extra oomph with your shoulder at the end. If dropping your entire mass onto their locked spine is not enough to blast them, then a little extra shove from the shoulder won't be either - plus you can wreck your own posture and maybe hurt your partner's neck.
5. Uke - take the fall. Take a step or two back to absorb some of the force, then sit down. This gets you lots of practice falling from one of the most severe back falls you'll ever have to take, and it allows Tori to learn to apply his mass over a full range of motion.