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Hand pressure and foot direction in randori

In toshu randori, at least the way we most often practice it, you must act fully consciously and voluntarily.  You must move all of your decision-making to the foreground of your conscious mind so that you are not making any involuntary motions that you can avoid.  The reason for this is we are trying to use our conscious mind to re-program your unconscious mind to operate more strategically.
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But because your conscious mind processes things much more slowly than your subconscious mind, you have to slow down to a crawl or else unconscious motions start leaking through.  We have all experienced times when we have grabbed or blocked or struck or stiff-armed before we even realized it.  Those are examples of your unconscious mind driving actions and then informing your conscious mind later. We would rather slow down so that our conscious mind can guide us through enough reps that our subconscious mind will learn a new strategy.
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This problem of speeding up and unleashing your unconscious (which is what you already know, not what you are trying to learn) is the basis of Nick's next two randori pointers...
2. Don't put pressure in your hands unintentionally
3. Once you do have to step, try to keep at least one foot pointed at your target at all times
These also go back to my recent articles on gripping, and how, if you get the hands and feet working properly, the rest of the body tends to start working properly.  If you are allowing your unconscious mind to operate your hands and your feet, then the rest of your body has no choice but to organize itself based on those two unconscious activities.
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This is also the basis of kuzushi - doing something to force the other guy back into unconscious operation of their feet so that they take spurious steps that do you no harm and which you can take advantage of.
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So, the solution is to slow down to a snail's pace - an absolute crawl - a speed that would make taiji masters look like speed demons - so that you are able to consciously monitor and control the pressure in your hands and the direction of your feet.  Eventually, after sufficient reps, your subconscious mind will learn the new patterns and when someone surprises you, it will protect you very rapidly based on the newer strategies.

[photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes]

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Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com