Thread: Ichi no ken ?
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:20 AM   #70
Dojo: NY Aikikai
Location: Brooklyn
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 31
Re: Ichi no ken ?

Hi Michael, glad we are talking about the same thing! Again, my knowledge is limited, but this is such an exciting part of my practice right now that it's great to discuss it with someone.

Michael Wilson wrote: View Post
Yes, he says it is a block but "blocking is practice only". See how at times he is extending the sword forward on an angle (not at 90 deg to the side), at times he just holds it there (near 90 deg. to side), but this is where he takes one hand off, holds the others sword, raises and lowers it, checks mai, etc and other training helps and hints. Then he cuts back.

My issue is this is seen as block by some ie. they do it quickly, no chance to check accuracy and other things and then come straigt back with a cut, which - under these circumstances is very hard to keep out of distance. If that was the case I'd be in, cutting and out of there and bugger checking accuracy and technique.

Even so, I notice Sensai Sugano's partner in this demo also seems to have trouble getting back out of range after Sensai cuts back, there is a distinct 'double-shuffle' there. That was annoying me as it seemed the only solution I could come up with.
Yes, to me this is an interesting paradox about what Sugano Sensei was doing. On one hand, everything's about speed, and not about form. There are only two strikes. Each strike is to be completed quickly. I took a small handful of Sugano's weapons classes before he stopped teaching due to illness, and I could never come close to keep up with his expectations re: speed, and assumed that this was the only goal. But this system is really more about (to my eye anyway) developing a sense of connection with your partner. Stopping as "teacher" to check your "student's" accuracy is an interesting doorway to understanding a lot of things about reaction and timing. So on one hand, you have this system based on two cuts and this notion that a sword is a smashing tool, not so much a delicate slicing tool. And on the other you wind up with these very intense moments of connection--the sensations of drawing and forcing, or understanding that if your hanmi is rigid you give your partner too much information--that are much harder to get in an empty hand practice. For me, anyway. It's much easier for me to learn how to keep my sword "empty" than it is for me to keep my arm "empty."

Regarding footwork and getting where you need to be in time, the emphasis I am being taught is on sliding and shuffling, and staying in right hanmi and keeping your feet close together. If you're in a relatively tight hanmi, you can spring back or forth, but if you plant yourself, you're done.

The thing I've been finding most interesting these days is where to focus my eyes. In that video Sugano says that thing about not looking at the weapon, not looking at the opponent, and talks about how hard that is. No kidding!! I find that if I kind of try to focus on the wall behind my partner, my reaction times are better. But that if I am looking at my partner directly, I get really jumpy and anticipatory. Interesting.

I also loved what he said about making an opening to recieve a specific attack and then countering that attack - as a technique - instead of just fighting. I also encounter this with empty hand; I was training with a karate-ka, he is showing me some of his style and I am showing him some Shorin-ryu, we are practicing defense from head attacks, his turn, he is all guarded up, my turn is making him so discombobulated he has to stop, as I am not standing there with my arms and hands up protecting my head "Why dont you do that, I am told to start this way by my instructor." my response was "because I WANT you to attack my head, then I know what might be coming, The way you stand its too hard for me to attack your head, so I'd come in with a faint to the head and kick you in the gonzales while all your defense is up there." (unless he's good with leg blocks )
Right, again, I'm new at this, and I know nothing about karate. But I think I get what you are saying. I don't do a whole lot of fighting elsewhere in my life. So this weapons practice, because it's so focused on reaction and timing, has given me my first clear sense of what it means to be "open" or to have a strategy or understand what your attacker thinks or any of these other concepts. I feel like I am approaching my empty hand practice with more basic martial common sense, and taking better/more active ukemi because I am understanding that part of my role is to find and exploit openings.

Yes! This is the part that I was 'sucked in' to; this forcing the 'teacher' to move back then drawing away and offering the arm seemed to have some 'gravity' attached to it, the 'student' forcing back and then retreating a bit, a bit like a wave braking on the shore and running back ... sorta
When it works, it's amazing. And thinking about how it works is really thrilling. I can't say I understand it but today is weapons class and I am really looking forward to spending some time with this.

My understanding is that No 2 is the same as No 1 but there is no 'block', teacher steps back and meets the cut. I like that one, student can really get into the attack ... and now the cut back at the student, at this point (IMO) makes a lot more sense.
Yes, that's my understanding as well. Blocking is stupid, it ruins your sword. It's for training purposes only. But it's hard to return that first strike with any accuracy at all without some practice just getting your boken up there, IMO.
I'd love your take on 3. My understanding is teacher goes under the students blade and parries and then steps forward with a cut to the knee (ie no back and forward ski but one ski followed by knee attack)
Yes, this is #3, and this is as far as I've gone. It's a knuckle scraper! I can't talk about it, I've only done it a handful of times.
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