I've been working on extension and connection recently (but I guess who isn't?), and it really hit me that they appear, for me, to be inversely proportional. In other words, the more I try to extend, the worse I am at connecting, and the more I try to feel a connection, the more I collapse on myself.
Has anyone else experienced this bind?
How do you get out of it? I realize the answer is 'more practice', and probably 'more slow practice,' but does anyone have any more specific suggestions on how to work on it?
Here is just a little something to get you started with the feeling of extenuation and connection. Extend your arm as if shaking hands. Let your partner take hold of you wrist. Now push forward with you center just a little keeping your hand distance relative to your center. Extend just enough to take the slack out of the skin of your wrist. You should see a slight shift in your partners center when you make this connection. Taking out all the slack but not going to far. It may take some practice and it will be just like the little girl and the three bears to hot, to cold and just right. When you start to feel your center and your partners center connecting you can then make small shifts in you center and get bigger results in your partners center. It is much easer to work with someone who can do this but you can do it with your partner if your give each other room to learn.
Once you feel the connection get a little more dynamic in you interaction. Let your partner grab your wrist in katate dori. In this attack the little finger is placed at the heel of the hand, the ring finger in the joint of the wrist and the other fingers holding lightly but firmly like holding a sword. Your partner should be able to lock you wrist and elbow and shoulder and back knee when done correctly. After a few correct grabs extend your wrist just enough to place the back of your wrist into your partners palm as he reaches out to grab you and take out the slack as above. Because your partner is extending forward with a bit more speed and power and you become more stable in the center and you are the one making the connection your partner’s center will bounce. You will feel a much stronger connection. There is always a tendency to over compensate. All you want to do is take up the slack and no more for this exercise. Now you are practicing at an basic level here so lets get more basic. As you partner reaches out to grab and extend energy ask him to breath out and you extend out to meet the energy and take out the slack breath in. This elementary level of kokyu will enhance your connection. Again before someone makes to much out of this it is a basic level of training to help develop extenuation and requires some degree of cooperation between the participants at first.
I hope this helps a little