Mike Sigman wrote:
Stand in a balanced and relaxed right-foot-forward stance, facing forward. Have someone push with a few pounds of force against the right side of the ribcage, toward the direction the left foot is in, pushing slightly downard, but almost horizontal.
It's funny you guys should be discussing this today.. this is exactly what we did last night in class (it was my turn to lead the class, that might have had something to do with it, lol). I was really pleased with the results.
Basically , we started class with just what Mike is describing above, pushing each other lightly from the front and back (and side, which is much more difficult, but I'm planning to keep doing this so we'll see where we get in a few months time.)
BTW, pushing my shoulder blades together and compressing my spine a la some of the exercises Akuzawa showed made a BIG difference. But I hate compressing my spine.
Then, on a whim, I asked people to do a basic shomenuchi, while their partner kept pushing lightly from the back. IOW, raise your arm, take a step forward and cut down. We probably could have just taken a step forward without the arm swinging because people essentially forgot about the arm, taking the step was challenging enough, so the resulting shomenuchi were really wimpy, but never mind.
Anyway, it was very interesting because at first there was a clear moment in the step where people would loose connection with the ground (about where they started to shift from one leg to the other) and be easily pushed over, but with a little practice, everybody got much more stable, and could keep a connection to their partners hand that was pushing on their back all through the movement.
We were 75 min. into the class before even attempting a technique.
We did try gyakuhanmi shihonage and aihanmi ikkyo, trying to keep the same feeling of moving in balance and keeping a connection to the ground all through the movement, as uke as well as as tori.
The nice thing is, if uke does this as well, you don't get into the typical arguments of "uke is being mean and opposing the technique" because uke doesn't need to oppose anything. If tori looses the connection either to uke or to the ground, tori effectively opposes him/herself, all uke needs to do is to take care of their own balance. Opportunities to reverse become glaringly obvious. This is actually how we always practice in our dojo, in theory
, I just tried to provide an opportunity for people to do it even more consciously and slowly. It was funny how, because people were really paying attention to how they were moving, everybody was moving at maybe 1/4 of the speed we normally practice.
I was really pleased with the way everybody's technique and especially ukemi looked towards the end of the evening.
BTW, one of the higher kyu grades and I trained a bit after class, he's bigger and stronger than me, and pretty well balanced. If i just ask him to push me, I fly.
The only way I can deal with him is to make contact already before he grabs me, but when i manage to do that, it works like a charm, BUT only if at the same time I still manage to keep connecting to myself and to the ground and all that stuff, otherwise I still get squashed. I think that might be in the direction George Ledyard has been writing about lately... anyway, I don't think all this more static work working on how to move my body is in anyway contradictory to the other aspects of doing aikido like timing and taking the initiative etc. (dunno all the nice Japanese for those things).
Whew, long time since i went on like this here, glad if someone's still reading. .)