As usual, a great podcast. I work nights for the USPS (and yes, that really is my last name), so I have a lot of time battle the demons of boredom by listening to music and podcasts, and having the Aikido podcast around is fantastic.
I do have a few questions for Ledyard Sensei, but rather than send a private message, I'd like to post them here for everyone's benefit in case they had the same questions. I hope no one minds.
Mister Ledyard :
1. Mental Irimi - Did you mean to mentally "imagine" (or project, because "imagine" sounds silly) yourself moving into a technique before doing it, or to sort of "start" a technique before the uke grabs or attacks by shifting your balance and sort of "leading" uke into it, or am I just completely missing the point? :P
It has to do with placing your "attention" on the partner / attacker. The "attention" is made up of your normal sensory inputs:
At a distance for most folks Sight
is the dominant sense, hearing,
, but also that "6th Sense" which I will call the "Intuition"
Once the distance closes, Touch
becomes dominant for most people. The other senses go way to the background for most folks. However, for someone very advanced, the "Intuition" still plays an important role.
One does not think about technique in advance. One simply enters, which is the physical manifestation of what the "attention" is doing already. When you and the attacker come together, how that takes place will determine what the technique becomes. Thinking about doing a particular technique in advance means that you are not in the present instant but rather in the future i.e. anticipating. Action can only take place in the present instant, not the future or the past.
That doesn't mean that you don't use the action of the present instant to set up "probabilities" for the future. But you can't get attached to them or you get stuck trying to force something that's not there i.e. your mind is in the past.
2. The Ball - I've never heard of this before. Can you briefly explain this, and if you have time, provide a few examples?
Most teachers I have encountered will talk about the "ball" or something similar when teaching the Kihon Waza. The "ball is basically spherical and is proportional to your body size. The bottom of the ball is around your "hara" and the top of the ball is about even with your eye brows. Most Kihon Waza go around the ball, one way or another. Ikkyo goes over the top and down the other side. Shihonage goes around the bottom, up the far side and then down again. It's a useful visualization for most folks because it is a familiar shape for them and most beginner / intermediate problems in technique can be looked at from the standpoint that someone tried to push too hard on the ball, or tried to put a flat side on the ball rather than going around the sphere with his movement. Later on in your training, there are better visualizations...
3. The bokken exercise - How does the kamae of the bokken change for the nage? Does it go from gedan, to gedan-hasso, to jodan-hasso, to jodan, then segan? Or is it in the opposite order? Also, when the uke attacks, does the nage block in any specific way, or do they just try to deflect the uke's thrust in any way they can? Is this also something that one can figure out with just a partner, or would it be better if an instructor taught and supervised it?
There is a natural flow from one kamae to another. One doesn't usually go from gedan hasso directly to seigan, for instance. One either goes over the top, passing through jodan and then lowering into seigan, or one switches hanmi first, which puts one into front gedan and the raises to seigan.
The response on the part of the person making the kamae shifts is meant to be very simple, and most importantly, safe. Even with shinai, the tip is very dangerous if one gets a thrust in the eye or throat. So the way we do this with the lower ranked folks is to have them simply try to deflect the attacker's thrust but not to move in at all. in this instance you are simply trying to beat the sword, not get to the center which would be the real response.
We have helmets we use that were originally designed for full contact stick fighting. We add gloves of some sort and then use fufuro shinai. This way we can make it a bit more real. When the attacker initiates, I can really enter and even preclude the attack. Or I can respond with other techniques than the simple deflection we originally used... like a cut or an entry into a cut or takeaway.
But it is important not to let the exercise degenerate into sparring. It is designed to teach how to maintain unbroken projection of the attention and to develop the intuition. You want to keep the "noise" factor down.
Hope this helps...