Monday, July 15, 2013

The rhythm of Doshu's embu

Notice that there is a rhythm to Doshu's performance.  It is not a monotonous, metronomic A and then B and then C and then D... He does several techniques with near-continuous timing, then there is a pause where he pins uke for a few seconds then gets a new uke.
I have often wondered to what degree these high-level embu are choreographed.  Does Doshu just go out there with a pile of ukes and tell them, "run at me and I'll do techniques to you for a while," or does he pre-arrange, "I'll do 5 techniques with this uke and 6 techniques with that uke..." or is every technique pre-planned for the entire demo?
In any case, there is a rhythm - near-continuous activity followed by a pin and a pause.
I've also often wondered (assuming the whole thing is not choreographed in every detail), what determines the frequency of those pauses?  Do ukes run at Doshu untill he is tired of dealing with them, after which he pins one and takes a break, or does he take breaks when the ukes start to get ragged out?
This is what we're going to be working on with regards to Koryu Dai Go in Oklahoma City later this week - controlling the rhythm of the encounter - and I thought Doshu's embu would make a good intro.

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Patrick Parker

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