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Minegishi Sensei visited our dojo today and taught a seminar. There was a lot of focus on ukemi and it was interesting seeing the variations what she chose to emphasise. She was exacting in her demands on the ukes she picked. I'm noting some points here before I forget them which are the ones I'd particularly like to remember:
(a) as uke bringing ones feet closer together often creates more ways in which one can roll or breakfall out whereas having ones feet more widely spread apart tend to narrow the angles one can breakfall safely out of.
(b) keeping one's back straight and head out of the way of nage is standard stuff but something I know I can forget to do. She certainly didn't let any of her ukes forget. It also means that overall one keeps one's butt in line and maintains balance better on the whole.
She also taught a couple of interesting variations. One was on tianqi nage which was to draw uke first towards nage before throwing them. I thought at first it might be hard to do then realised well, if there was a committed attacker even if he was a lot bigger, then it would work fine since there would be forward momentum from uke. She was illustrating that particular variation and said because she said in her experience this worked better for a smaller person against a bigger person.
Overall though the best bit is always seeing a pint sized woman at age 67 well able to hold her own and bursting with life. She could easily be 40 with the sheer amount of physical energy and strength she displayed. I certainly think of her as a role model for me...and hope that come age 67 I'll have at least some of that energy.