Monday, August 19, 2013

The Walk - 5 - soto mawashi

The Walk as is familiar to us doesn't begin on this video until around 1:30.  Before that are some interesting ashi sabaki exercises that are either not part of The Walk or are extrapolated from The Walk.  Links to previous articles on The Walk - nanameashiwakiashi,  tenkanashi., and shomen tegatana.

The next movement that we work on in The Walk is soto mawashi - the outward sweeping motion, also known to us as "over the top".  This is a large arm sweep upward to the side until the hand comes into center above the head, then it drops down the centerline to face level.  
  • The up-down-up rhythm of the sweep of the arm should be synchronized with the down-up rhythm of the center of mass during the drop step. This means that the arm should start moving first, and must be overhead and ready to drop before the step begins. 
  • The obvious interpretation of this motion is a strike - a shomenuchi or backwards yokomen sort of chop, but this motion also shows up in numerous grappling situations. 
  • This action actually makes your arm longer because of the way it articulates your shoulder - I know, it sounds crazy, but try it ;-) 
  • When tori's palm is facing away or down, tori is pushing with his hand. This is the orientation for the strongest push. The pushing surface will change for later palm orientations. 
  • On the 90 degree turns, we like to start the sweep with the arm to the side, out of center, and as the hand starts down to face-level, the hand and the centerline converge facing to the side. The hand is moving into the center and the center is moving to the hand.
In some older forms of The Walk, soto mawashi is paired with shomen tegatana as a combination. You will see folks do shomen tegatana, then retreat a bit and then drop in the strike from the top (or sometimes you see it in the opposite order - soto mawashi then shomen tegatana). This feels like a distinct tie-in to sword work. With a sword, this would be a tsuki-gyaku-yokomen combo.

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Patrick Parker

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