Friday, March 22, 2013

Controlling rebounds and misses

So, you have practiced your staff forms religiously for 20 years or so and you have developed good precision and footwork and gotten pretty good at running through your routines without dropping your jo too often.
But then you actually have to use a stick to hit something hard for real and you learn a couple of new lessons - lessons you can't learn by waving your stick in the air for years without actually hitting something.
You learn that when you swing hard and actually connect with something solid there is that equal and opposite reaction thing from physics!  your stick rattles in your hands and hurts like hell and the end tends to bounce off into space instead of staying on the centerline where you would like it.
Or you exert hard in your swing and unknowingly shorten your arms a bit and swish past your target, sending the end of your stick off into space again!
So, how do you deal with the reverb and rebound off of a solid hit or with the uncontrolled momentum of a near-miss?  Besides just beating a pell a million times for real (and letting the reverb wreck your joints), are there any techniques that take rebound or misses into account?
I have found a couple of hints during my aikijo studies.  You can try...

  • shortening the circle - assuming you are swinging the stick with a 2-handed grip on the end, like honte or gyakute, when the end of the stick gets out of control, pull the center of mass of the stick back through your lead hand, damping the vibrations out and letting you get the front end of the stick back under control rapidly.  This trick helps to control rebound and misses.
  • switching ends - if the front end of your stick shoots out into space, throw the back end of the stick at the opponent.  This has a similar effect as pulling the COM of the stick through your hand - it damps the vibrations, but it often lets you start a second attack sooner.

I definitely recommend really hitting something solid sometimes so that you can get used to the feel, but doing enough pell work to learn these lessons can be punishing on the joints, so search for places in your forms where shortening the circle or switching ends to regain control shows up - they are hidden in there.

photo courtesy of privatenobby

A little bit extra on this topic...

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Patrick Parker
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