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I taught a seminar at Asoryu Aikido Club in Huddersfield in the UK on 21 August 2010. This is an extra blog post about some of the things we covered.
Anyone who has any questions about the things we covered is welcome to write a comment below or to send me a message any time (whether you were at the seminar or not!).
It was a beautiful sunny day and from the dojo there was a great view over the rolling English countryside. Everyone was keen and sincere. I enjoyed it a lot.
The main theme of the seminar was CENTER. We covered basic points about centre:
- Always keep your own centre. So your posture should be solid and strong and straight and your hips should be low.
- Break the attacker's centre in every technique.
- Techniques should be done in front of your centre line.
- Throw down your centre line.
- For many techniques your centre should be as close as possible to uke's centre (for example irimi nage after you have entered behind the uke, or shiho nage before you turn)
- Shomenuchi cuts should be made down your centre line like a sword cut.
- Yokomenuchi cuts start from your centre and finish in your centre.
- When you are taking ukemi attack the tori with your centre.
I spelt C/ENTER like that because the second theme of the seminar was ENTER = IRIMI.
We did some irimi nage variations (omote and ura) from different attacks and with some different timings (early entry and late entry) and even some different finishes (omote and ura). Irimi nage can also finish with an immobilization on the ground or can finish with a standing choking technique.
As well as shomen uchi irimi nage we practised irimi from yokomen uchi. For the direct entry variation enter first towards the attacker's centre and only then move your block slightly outside into the striking arm. For the tai sabaki variation use your opposite hand to strike/cut down uke's face and centre.
A third theme of the seminar was SCISSORS! This was an extra point we noticed during the techniques.
- In irimi nage your arm in the throw coming down your centre is like scissors closing.
- The second scissors movement was a two-arm chest-high scissors cut also in front of your centre line.
- Then the third scissors movement was in tenchi nage when your hands are like scissors up and down your centre line.
Doing atemi is helpful in developing the most effective ma ai - the critical distancing between tori and uke.
Finish techniques with no weak points (suki). Your weight transfers to your front leg and the back leg is extended. Your centre controls uke.
There were some searching and interesting questions from the students.
We talked about breathing. In budo breathing in should usually be through the nose and should be short because that moment is when you are most vulnerable. Breathing out should be through the mouth and should be smooth and long. If possible you try to do one technique with one single breath.
One question was about breathing in as the uke attacks to draw or suck in the energy of the attack. This is called suikomi in Japanese. Related to that was that in aikido we don't usually set up uke for a throw quite so deliberately as they do in judo. Aikido is much freer but there is an element of suikomi in many techniques - one we practised was tenchi nage ura.
How to stop the uke twisting out of shiho nage
It's possible to do a very tight self-defence based technique to prevent this but this can be unpleasant and even painful so the best way is to make sure that you always take the uke's balance completely. From the beginning to the end of the technique there should be no possiblity of a counter.
Ushiro ryote dori
We did a basic ushiro ryote dori practice from a static attack to feel the real effectiveness of the technique - again using the centre line of the body.
We also practised ushiro ryote dori when uke grips your hands very strongly and close together behind your back. Swing your hips in one direction and then the other. A feint is often helpful here, either to manoeuvre uke's hands in front of you or to take them from behind for kote gaeshi.
We talked about walking keeping contact with the tatami. This is called suri ashi. Keep a paper-thin gap between your feet and the tatami so you can move freely. Toes should be up when you move to keep fluid movements but at the finish of techniques toes grip the ground.
Hanmi handachi katatedori shiho nage
Finally we also discussed breaking the uke's balance totally in hanmi handachi katatedori shiho nage.
Thanks to Billy McAuley and Susan and their family for their warm welcome and to everyone who attended. Special thanks to Chris and Dave and Adam. Chris is the uke in the photo and you can read his always thoughtful blog on aikiweb too: http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/chris-wrights-blog-2960/