Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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.
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.
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.
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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