New Schedule and Location for 2016


The Spirit of Yon Kata

Each of the Koryu kata seems to have a spirit or theme that makes it distinct and unique.  This is done as a challenge to growth - sort of a, “now that you know most all the aikido techniques that can be done, try working them this way,” sort of thing. I've written about this some here.

These Koryu kata also present us with a challenge to not only master their theme within the context of their subset of techniques, but also to take that theme into all of your aikido - each Koryu kata should transform all of the rest of your aikido.

So, what are the characteristics of the Spirit of Yon Kata?
  • Emphasis on kuzushi - kuzushi is anytime uke has to take an unintended step.  When held in a state of asymmetry, the body eventually crumbles.
  • Flowing instead of Throwing -  the epitome of flow cannot be achieved when tori is thinking about throwing and uke is thinking about figuring out how to survive being thrown.  Tori is not Nage ("The Thrower"), because that presupposes figuring out the time and place to stop moving and apply intent.  Tori is more like a spotter for a weightlifter or a gymnast.
  • Big motion
  • Feather-light - In the first part if the kata, uke wants to be so light and responsive that tori can throw with just a hint - just a breath of intent in a certain direction at the right time.  When doing the second part, the throws happen because uke refuses to take the hint so the second hint is not stronger, just perhaps more obvious a hint
  • Short/fast releases as compared to hanasu (which gives tori more time to stand around waiting)

How can it be big motion but short/fast at the same time?

  • One of those could be a false characterization, or
  • Part of each technique is short/fast (the kuzushi) and part is big motion and flowing-not-throwing (lot of following steps after the kuzushi until uke inevitably crumbles.)

Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

Patrick Parker

Kuzushi can be done right or wrong

One can think about kuzushi in a lot of different ways, including -
  • A pre-requisite or set-ups for doing a technique.  The first step in executing a technique.  (Classical judo thinking)
  • Slowing/weakening uke so that tori/nage has more than enough power to effect his will upon uke. (IIRC, The Book of Martial Power calls this "shortening uke’s line."  One of my favorite instructors of all time use to hammer us with the idea that the purpose of kuzushi is to make uke slower and weaker than yourself - that is, kuzushi forces uke to work at however slow a speed you want him to.)
  • Crumbling structure - if you become expert at kuzushi, you can do it so well that you do not need any of your own power to effect the kake part of the throw. Sort of like expert demolitions men that can disrupt the structure of a building so precisely that they can drop it wherever they want to, or an expert woodcutter that can fell a tree exactly where he wants to.
Watch the video above.  They're not putting external force on the tree (or at least not much - they appear to be adding wedges to keep the saw blade free.)  They just disrupt the tree's structure so precisely that it falls where they want it.  If this is analogous to an aikido or judo throw, then there is no kake phase.  They just do tsukuri and kuzushi and then wait in a safe place.

Watch the following two videos - one of kuzushi done right and one of kuzushi done dramatically wrong. 

People, like buildings, have a lot of potential energy, and causing them to fall to the ground recklessly can cause a lot of grief, so it behooves us to figure out how to do this kuzushi thing right.

Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

Patrick Parker