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Aigamaeate by the numbers



Lately in class we have returned to an emphasis on kihon - that is (IMO) making sure that you get all the steps in and making them as distinct as possible.

Aigamaeate is the second of the kihon that we practice in aikido - and for novices it goes something like this (similar to the first variation  shown in the video above).
  • kuzushi - tori uses uke's arm to tilt him between his toes perpendicular to the line of uke's feet, as if tori were attempting oshitaoshi or ikkyo.  This is the beginning of the kuzushi action.
  • tsukuri - As uke recovers backward from the initial offbalance, tori steps into a position outside uke's feet close enough that he can lift uke's chin.   This is the completion of the kuzushi action started earlier, and it is the tsukuri action. 
  • kake - Tori strides by uke, pushing his face for the kake phase.
Note this has a forward/down then back/up feel similar to shomenate.  The lifting of uke's chin coincides with the peak of the back/up motion.  In fact, this is largely identical to shomenate except tori strides through the outside of uke's feet instead of directly between them.
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Also note that shomenate and aigamaeate (the first two techniques) effectively demonstrate the two primary directions you can get an offbalance on an advancing uke - that is, parallel to his feet and perpendicular to his feet.


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Patrick Parker
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A shadowy chicken and egg thing

A doctrine that is often attributed to Kano and his successors is that a technique is composed of three (some say 4) parts - kuzushi, tsukuri, kake (and some people add zanshin).

  • kuzushi refers to getting your opponent off-balance or off-guard.
  • tsukuri refers to getting yourself in the right place to effect the technique.
  • kake refers to the actual execution or doing of the thing.
  • zanshin refers to remaining alert and aware before, during, and after a technique.

But kuzushi-tsukuri-kake is not an ordered thing - particularly with regard to kuzushi and tsukuri.
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Some people point out that you must destroy or control the opponent's balance (kuzushi) before you can safely step inside their sphere of influence (tsukuri) in order to do the thing (kake) - and they are correct.
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Some people point out that you must get off the line of attack and get within ma-ai (tsukuri) in order to be able to affect their balance (kuzushi) - and they are correct.
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Some people emphasize the importance of using the movement of your center of mass - dropping your weight onto uke - to get kuzushi (tsukuri and kuzushi happen almost the same time and tsukuri causes kuzushi) - and they are correct. 
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And in some sense, if you are able to move into shikaku (the dead angle behind uke) then uke is automatically in a state of kuzushi because he must make at least one adjustment/recovery before he can continue to attack. (tsukuri=kuzushi) - and this is also correct
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At least all these are correct sometimes. 
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But when we are talking about a set of kihon (fundamental techniques) sort of like a primer for noobs, I do not think it does much good pedagogically to tell the beginner that each technique can be done all these different ways - that sometimes you do kuzushi then tsukuri and sometimes you do tsukuri and then kuzushi and sometimes it works out to tsukuri then kake because tsukuri is really equivalent to kuzushi.  That seems like a recipe for confusion.
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Rather, I like to specify a form for the novice to copy until they are performing adequately and then we might point out (or they might discover through randori) that sometimes it works differently.  
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Sometimes this is called henka (variation) and sometimes it is called ura (profound).
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Sometimes - and I really like the evocative sound of this - it is called kage (the shadow) referring to the shady grey areas between and beneath fundamental techniques or the consequences or implications of understanding the fundamentals.


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Patrick Parker
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Big techniques can teach you BIG spirit

It's amazing how every old dead wise guy seems to say such amazing-sounding stuff.  For instance, I've been told that one old dead wise guy once said, "If you do small techniques you will have a small spirit, but if you do BIG technique then you can have a BIG spirit!"


This particular old dead wise guy was talking in particular about Tsukizue, but I think if you watch the following video (starting at about 1:15) but let your eyes defocus and look through the video at the distant mountains, you'll see a cool demonstration of BIG spirit aikido (even when Nariyama is making small motions).



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____________________
Patrick Parker
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Shomenate by the numbers

Per my last post, we've started working Junana in more of a kihon mode.  That is, static uke and explicit emphasis on making each phase of the technique (kuzushi, tsukuri, and kake) as distinct as possible.  This past week we worked shomenate and we've already seen some interesting aspects crop up in our practice.
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We defined the three phases as follows -

  • step 1 - tori steps inside and forward, placing his feet on the line between uke's feet and cutting downward onto uke's outstretched arm.  This is tsukuri and the beginning of kuzushi.
  • step 2 - switch hands on uke's arm, and as he recovers from step-1, lift his chin.  This is the end of the kuzushi.
  • step-3 - stride through uke's feet - kake

The first thing that we noticed was that although we have inherited Karl's distaste for the chop-the-arm entry to shomenate, there are some really interesting things that live there.  For one thing, this entry makes it easy and obvious to see that we are dropping our weight onto uke to start the offbalance. It also makes for an interesting synchronization between uke and tori during the kuzushi.

  • down - tori drops into uke and uke tilts forward and down.
  • up - as uke rights himself up and back, tori's second foot comes up, tori's body rises, and tori lifts uke's chin.
  • down - tori drops into and through uke and uke falls.

There is this very explicit down-up-down feel when the technique is entered with this downward chopping motion.
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Another thing that we saw was that we have a tendency to slur the phases of the throw a bit.  Perhaps we're so intent on busting uke that we want to shave a few moments off of the tsukuri so we can get to the kake a bit sooner.  Problem with this is, in order to do step-2 (lift the chin) at the right time, you have to be standing close enough to uke to touch his face.  If you shave some time off of step-1 (tsukuri) then this tends to leave you a bit far away for Step-2, which you have to try to make up for by doing the chin lift during the start of your kake phase.  What that means is that your kake step is shortened (less powerful) because part of it is used to lift uke's chin.
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Each step has to be as distinct as you can make it, and (except in special cases) each step must be completed before you can start the next step.  No slurring - no short-cuts.  The chop-the-arm entry is interesting because it has a distinct Tokio Hirano feel to it!  It also has a koryu jo feel to it.



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Patrick Parker
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Kuzushi, tsukuri, and kake in kihon no kata


Every teacher and organization and group and subgroup has its own distinctive practices.  Things they do because of the way they interact or the particular way that they happen to think about the art we are doing. It is easy to look at other artists doing this thing that you thought that you had the exclusive truth about and think, "That guy sucks."  If you're looking for videos of people sucking at aikido - they are super easy to find!  Heck, I guarantee I could show you a video of Tomiki Sensei and your response would be, That dude is a white belt!
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The problem is not that they are sucking, but rather they are approaching the problem from a different angle than you, or they are trying to transmit a different idea than you are set to receive.


Here is a video of  couple of artists that I don't know.  They are doing a demonstration of Junana hon kata in a mode of practice called kihon (or fundamentals).  I bet the first response from a bunch of folks from my particular lineage would be to criticize the static uke and the overt, indelicate kuzushi.
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But listen up...
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That is kihon.
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This is a really good demo of Tomiki's seventeen kihon.  Note especially it is easy to distinguish kuzushi, tsukuri, and kake.  What this is is a primer, a Rosetta Stone so that once the practitioner is familiar with it, the instructor has a common framework to say things like, "look at the kuzushi phase of #6 and #7.  Let's work on that piece of the puzzle."
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I think I want to spend some time in kihon mode paying especial attention to distinguishing between kuzushi, tsukuri, and kake...



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____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com