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These techniques done on the knees require a greater level of precision, a more forceful maneuvering through every step. Sitting kneecap-to-kneecap, there is less mai-ai--distance--between you and your partner. The cheats of using arms strength and vertical leverage do not apply, and balance becomes harder to take as your partner sits stable, closer to the ground.
Sensei explained that suwari waza techniques stemmed from the ancient samurai ways, where a warrior could not rise without permission from his lord. As a result, the samurai devised ways to attack while still seated in respectful seiza. Sensei also said it would help us learn how to move if, from a seated position, we were suddenly attacked--the rules of blocking, blending, and moving out of the way still applied, the most important lesson being, don't freeze.
I used to be good at shikko, the knee-walking that my former Sensei was so keen on using as a warm-up exercise. Now, either my knees have softened after having been out of practice, or my age comes upon me in the form of stiffer joints. My kneecaps throb and my legs burn from cut-off blood flow. I close the distance between my partner and myself, moving in tight to his body, trying to make every joint lock precise and controlled. One advantage of suwari waza is that, seated, I do not feel so much that my petite 5-foot frame is being towered over by a world of giants. Down now to my level, I slide, pivot, and pin, learning how to walk and move in an entirely new way.