On a subtler level, as Sugawara (TS) performed some techniques, I noticed that his mid-section appeared more mobile than customarily seen among Aikido practitioners. In Aikido, upper body movements generally are driven by the twisting of hips and, to a lesser extent, wasit and the folding or unfolding of the hip joints, which is matched by an overall closing or opening along the spine.
In some of TS' movements, however, a more pronounced use of the waist was evident. For example, in a kokyu nage throw directed to the rear, a subtle vertical rolling of the midsection led the sweeping movements of the arms.
In seated kokyu tanden ho, TS' midsection rolled to the side and forward . . . .he showed how their pourpose was to direct his power in particular directions. He said that Aikidoists need much more tanden training. . . . "Lots of times," he said, "we use too much arm, not enough tanden."
. . . .he said Aikido movements could be more circular. In many Aikido students' technique, he explained, only the stepping is circular."
. . . .Modern martial arts are too stiff, TS feels, and, unfortunately, Aikido is not an exception. As an example, many Aikido teachers focus on the use of the hand as a blade (tegatana), but TS feesl this is too limitiing. "We should use all our surface in training, not only this edge," he said. "If the hand is hard, the palm is tight, you cannot feel anything."
. . . . Aikidoists tend to use a very strong, hard grip to grab their partner. This kind of grip deadens one's sensitivity and makes it difficult to detect partner's changes and vary one's movements accordingly.