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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 10:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 763,321

In General On Feeling Disadvantaged... Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #40 New 10-03-2003 10:12 PM
We started the evening off with Shomenuchi Yonkyo (Suwari Waza). I need to keep in mind that:
- the hand that applies Yonkyo is the one from the inside, and does so from the inside (heeheehee --- oops!)
- it's easier to take uke's centre if you cast upwards and towards him (so that his elbow is pointing up) prior to casting down

After this, we spent the rest of the night doing a variety of techniques from tanto attacks, such as: Nikyo from a thrust to the chest, Iriminage from a series of yokomenuchi-like slashes to the neck, and Sankyo from a thrust the chest. It was during this latter technique that I was (as usual) having difficulty maintaining my grip while trying to apply Sankyo with one hand (as I have very small hands) and wrenching the knife out with the other. At this point Sensei recommended that I do Sankyo two-handed, grab the knife more stably this way, drop the knife, then apply the full Sankyo into the throw while putting more pressure (not with the hand that was losing its grip around uke's palm) but with the other hand, around the part of uke's hand near his fingertips.

This of course gave me much better control, but it led me to think about the possibility of there being disadvantages to being smaller in Aikido...which I know is insane because, heck --- O Sensei was just barely smaller than I am (and I'm 5'1" ), not to mention the undoubtedly great number of small Japanese shihans out there! But then, those were and are exceptional people. And I...well, I am just a small Filipino girl with very little exceptional about me at all. In any case, I know that of course (as a martial art developed, in general, by smaller-than-average Asian folks such as myself) Aikido is said to be effective for all people regardless of their size, but would my Aikido be merely adequate compared to those who are larger and essentially have more options with techniques? Once again, a seemingly silly question when faced with the thought of O Sensei, but perhaps a viable one nonetheless...

Take for example, Sankyo, as I was describing earlier. A larger person would have the ability to either apply Sankyo with one hand (maintaining good control while doing so) and simultaneously be able to hold (and thus control) the knife with the other, or they could do the technique the way I have (no choice but) to do it, which can ultimately make their Sankyo even more powerful.

On the one hand (no pun intended), I could either be feeling a little insecure, being the only student who it seems must be given the most concessions or adaptations to technique because of my size. Or on the other hand, I am simply making the mistake of equivocating the quality of one's Aikido with the number of options available to them in a technique. Or perhaps it's a little bit of both. Perhaps I should instead simply view the "disadvantage" as a gift: a constant opportunity to learn for myself how to adapt to attackers of various sizes.

Views: 1478 | Comments: 5

RSS Feed 5 Responses to "On Feeling Disadvantaged..."
#5 10-07-2003 08:14 AM
jxa127 Says:
No problem, Jamie. I spent the first couple of years leaning aikido thinking that I was suffering from a major disadvantage due to my size. Then I found out how it could be an advantage. You'll most likely find the same thing. Take care! -Drew
#4 10-06-2003 09:26 PM
jducusin Says:
Thanks for the encouragement, Drew. We all definitely struggle in different ways, and it certainly is (at least for me and other folks at my dojo who are on the "extremes" of physiques --- being either smaller than average or larger than average) an ongoing learning experience in adaptation (or compensation, as you say). I like your perspective that we are each struggling to make the Aikido our own. I'm sure that after many years of training, I'll have gained better insight into how to make it all work for me. In the meantime, more patience and more practice! I know that getting frustrated now and then is just part of the process and can be quite a good catalyst for improvement, so long as I don't let it interfere with my focus and concentration on the mats. Thanks again!
#3 10-06-2003 07:49 AM
jxa127 Says:
Jamie, There is a distinct disadvantage to being smaller than your attacker. There are also distinct advantages. This is especially true when you're in the beginning stages of learning (you know, training for fewer than 20 years. *grin*). But, part of that learning process is making the aikido your own and learning ways to use your body to do the techniques. I'm at the other end of the spectrum as a big guy, bigger than most people I train with. I've had to struggle with learning aikido too, and I've often looked at the small, skinny people and thought how much easier they have it. The truth is that everyone struggles to learn aikido, regardless of their size, weight, ages, etc. It's just that different people struggle with different things. I saw two rather petite women test for nidan two weekends ago. Their tests were fantastic. I noticed that their small size has some advantages, especially during randori, and some disadvantages, like when doing hip throws. Overall, their size did not seem to matter one way or the other. I suspect that when people say size doesn't matter in aikido, they're really saying that size doesn't matter after you've been training for a number of years and you've learned to compensate. Regards, -Drew
#2 10-05-2003 01:48 AM
jducusin Says:
Thanks Kelly! I believe that my Sensei recommended that to me in the past as well, only (if I recall correctly) it was in the context of empty-handed attacks --- thankfully it does work well control-wise with one hand (though it still initially seems to require a "hand-exchange" for me, as my small hands don't always wrap around a larger uke's hand well either way). In the context of a tanto attack, however, it seems that the palm grab is initially unavoidable (since uke's hand is grasping the handle of the knife and your first, controlling, hand has no choice but to grab around the palm, as you can't get at the fingers until you pry the knife out with your second hand) --- hope that makes sense. How're things going for you these days?
#1 10-03-2003 11:50 PM
Kelly Allen Says:
I'm not sure if this will help Jamie, but it is my understanding that Sankyo is applied and controlled from the fingers. The palm grab is secondary. So maybe you should try and practice Sankyo with one hand controlling the fingers, and see what results you get. Kelly

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