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The two senseis at my dojo, Chuck Weber and Charlie Page, are not the kind who burden you down with an excess of direction. So, when Chuck tells me something I really try to listen. Sometimes it's not that easy to understand, though. I think that for a long time he has been trying to get me to work on integrating the movements of my upper and lower half. When I move, my feet lose connection to the ground and then my upper body loses connection to my feet. This shows up a lot in shomenuchi irimi nage, when the lack of connection leaves my upper body hanging back and square to the incoming blow instead of turning and slipping past like it's supposed to.
Anyway, yesterday morning, Chuck gave me an image to work with the might be really helpful with this. He had been trying to show the class something about it by having uke simply push on nage's shoulder with a bokken and telling us to allow our body to turn effortlessly into iriminage. Then he had us try the same thing when uke just walked towards us with the bokken raised, allowing our body to be turned effortlessly in response. After class, he pulled me over to work with me on it for another couple of minutes. Then he told me to imagine that my head is being hung by a string (I learned something about this recently: it helps the image to connect the string to your ears and not just the top of your head), and bend my knees a little so that my bottom part sinks down. This will cause my hips to float, with a feeling of being slightly disconnected from both the top of my head and my knees, but still pulled between them. With this floating hip feeling, it is easier to move and turn without losing connection. At least, I hope it is.
One thing I liked about this image is that it may help me find lightness in my hips which is something I really need for dancing.