Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kihon and suburi - keiko and renshu

The basic practice in Aiki-jo is called suburi (swinging), while the SMR jo guys do a bunch of kihon (fundamentals).  These practices are largely similar, large motion fairly atomic-level foundational practices, and it is fairly easy to treat the two practices as the same.  
It may be a false distinction that I am making, but I think the two practices are distinct and each is valuable.  To me, the difference between kihon and suburi is very similar to the difference between keiko and renshu practice modes.
To me, kihon is almost like miniature kata that are often-repeated and used as building blocks for other, more complex kata...
  • there are prescribed right and wrong ideals of how to do each kihon
  • the kihon are often practiced in a series of steps, or postures practiced in a 1...2...3... manner
  • Kihon are frequently done fairly slowly to give time to get the mind working the body right.

While suburi has the same foundational feel as kihon ...
  • Suburi is about repetition...repetition...repetition
  • Suburi folks often talk about muscle memory, and they like to talk about doing so many repetitions that they exhaust the practitioner into figuring out how to swing efficiently.
  • There is not so much a right and wrong way - just better or worse.  If you are not as "right" as whatever ideal you have, don't analyze it too much - just swing the stick another thousand times and you will either be closer to the ideal or you will have a better idea of what the ideal is.
  • Suburi are often done faster and more fluidly than kihon - so that you can get more reps in 
  • Suburi are often done with longer, heaver practice weapons (suburito) to build strength and endurance.

[photo courtesy of Daniel Imfield]

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Patrick Parker

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