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I attended my first aikido class following my dojo's second seminar with Mike Sigman. I did not attend the seminar, so I was anxious to hear what my fellow students and our instructor thought. Evidently, Mike Sigman was impressed with the amount of work the people at my dojo have done in the past year and all parties felt the seminar was very productive. Having just joined the dojo last December, I'm really just getting my feet wet with the internal skills, but I'm encouraged to hear that the people I'm learning from are doing it well.
So during the first class after the seminar, our instructor emphasized some of the things that Mike highlighted. I was astounded! So much of what our instructor said is stuff that I'd been hearing numerous times during training for nine years at my previous dojo: create kuzushi by moving the the third point of the triangle (with the other two points being uke's feet); move from the center; unify the body don't break it; relax! The difference is not in the concept, but the execution.
Here I will focus on what I do, not necessarily how I was taught because I'm more than willing to take responsibility for my own training mistakes. :-) My previous dojo had ki-society roots through Toyoda Shihan's association as a student of Koichi Tohei. We learned Tohei's "Four Basic Principles to Unify Mind and Body":
1. Keep One Point: this is the natural place of physical, mental and spiritual balance. By concentrating on our one point and keeping
Over the past several weeks, I've been focusing more and more on the process of generating power by sinking my center. Combined with that concept is the concept of keeping three points of contact with uke during waza -- a concept borrowed from judo by Don Dreager, and passed to Ellis Amdur from Terry Dobson (if I recall what Ellis said correctly).
A lot of what I had been doing did not result in good kuzushi, despite my best efforts. I had some idea of moving from my center, but did not really understand which way to move. A lot of my focus was on catching my opponent's timing. I don't think any of these things are bad or wrong, but there's something to be said for being able to make your own opportunities for catching timing by creating kuzushi with powerful movement and good strikes. Dropping one's center plays a part in both powerful movement and powerful strikes.
Where timing does come in is the irimi part of our movements. Ellis makes the point at his seminars that O'Sensei always talked about irimi and irimi-tenkan. So, there's no tenkan without irimi. We worked on Saturday with tsuki kotegaeshi. My initial reaction was to get off-line while entering. However, one of the senior students pointed out that doing so leaves uke in a good position for a follow-up attack. The better response in that situation is to strike straight down with an atemi to the punching arm while it is coming in -- to enter first (there's the timing element), and take up the space that the a