Friday, August 09, 2013

Explicit & implied in Tomiki-jo

Any artform is necessarily limited in scope.  Martial arts are no different.  In our aikido and judo there art things that are explicit and things that are implied.  Different arts, and even different teachers within a single art, will make different things implicit or explicit in their practice.

But I think it is importantant to know what the implicit things are - what are you assuming and ignoring  for the sake of your practice?

In Tomiki's expression of aiki-jo ( as seen exclusively in Sankata and Rokukata) there are jo and sword take-aways (jodori), jo-retention throws (jonage), and sword vs sword (kumitachi).  So, what's that represent?  For the most part, this is the grappling part of the encounter - it leaves out or implies the free-motion phase where tori is moving and jiving and maintaining space and poking and cracking with the stick.  I think Tomiki (or Ohba) assumed you know to move around and crack the bad guy with the stick until the bad guy manages to grab you or the stick. And that might not be a bad assumption in a society where schoolkids are universally exposed to kendo, but in the west in the 21st century, there are loads of folks that dont know anything about swinging a stick except what they see at the baseball games.

So, I think it would probably help our aiki-jo a great deal to make some of the free-movement phase of the encounter more explicit in our teachings.

If you look at the Saito or Nishio lines of aiki-jo, you see a much more explicit teaching of how to do moving and striking with a jo.  They also have the grappling components - much the same as Tomiki - but they do a better job (or at least make the attempt to explicitly teach) the striking part.

This makes sense.  Tomiki/Ohba was interested in the taijutsu and randori aspects of the art but he was making at least a nod to the older line of the school.  I want to make a bit more than a nod.  I think we should make the striking part of aiki-jo (as in 31-jo and 13-jo kata) more explicit.

Incidentally, Saito aiki-jo has solo practice elements - a useful mode that Tomiki-jo is also missing.  Also, a nice side effect - if we make the aiki-jo ukes/attackers more competent, they will in turn, make tori more competent at his thing.

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Patrick Parker
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