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Old 07-16-2004, 07:51 AM   #23
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
Re: To block or not to block

David Valadez wrote:


Of course, letting the strike go by in a yang/yang application is not a crash of arms. Such a tactic can deal with realistic Shomenuchi - that is to say, uke can throw a realistic Shomenuchi and not have it injure nage's arm, or disturb his/her balance because of stressing nage's base of support, etc.
I don't really classify things yin/ I won't engage them specifically, although I do have a general understanding of what you mean. I would like to stress though that what I'm attempting to describe is not just an 'ideal'...I have done it to some extent myself, and I see my instructors do it on a regular basis against the types of attacks you describe.

While the timing of the block/parry with the moment before the uke's front foot plants is the timing I prefer, we all know that seeking such timing is as much as an 'ideal' as anything else. The trained strikers I have dealt with specialize in not giving such an opening, always having a strong base to strike from. I believe that one of the reasons that the yoshinkan stresses the basic technique under discussion is that there is an 'aiki' way to turn this situation about, and as Mr. S. has stated, it has to do with controlling the uke's power. Or in better words:

Do not merely hit each other in a straight line, but at the moment that you make contact with your partner turn your hand over as in (2), so that you have the feeling of pushing forward with your wrist and elbow. By doing this you can neutralize the power of the strike without losing the flow of power. Open your fingers strongly.
The picture (2) refered to here shows shite's hand rotating upward in what I believe Daito ryu would refer to as a 'rising aiki' application. This movement is used extensively to take uke's balance upward, removing the ability for uke to use the front foot to continue the attack. This instruction is from page 51 of 'Total Aikido; the Master Course', in the section that specifically deals with SHOMEN-UCHI NO UKEKATA (blocking the front strike).

Page 126 deals with the technique in question, and pictures 3 and 4 show the control of the shomenuchi strike.

Koichi Inoue's 'Yoshinkan Aikido; Introduction to Basic Techniques, Vol. 2' also deals with this technique on pages 12 and 13:

When uke strikes shite's face from the front with his right tegatana, shite **parries** uke's tegatana by extending his right tegatana in a circular movement, and holds uke's right elbow lightly with his left hand...

Shite **leads** uke's tegatana downward in a sprial...
Here, we see the use of the word parry as opposed to block, and the mention of **leading** uke, not pulling or pushing uke. Now admitedly, the better the attack the more difficult to do this. But again, I don't believe it to be an impossible task, since I've had it done to me, I've done it to some others, and my instructors do it regularly.

I should at least speak to the fact that we are coming at this from two slightly different perspectives; you are speaking of your direct experiences, without making reference to any 'models' or teachers. I, on the other hand, am not only citing my personal experience, but am also using an 'appeal to authority' arguement. While I recognize a certain weakness in using Ueshiba, Shioda or my personal instructors or their words as examples of what I am describing, I do so for a specific reason...aikido uses models.

The role of the teacher is an important one. Again, the idea of **leading**. What I can discover on my own is important, and testing what I learn is important as well. I specifically remember 3 of Saotome Sensei's students that I could not make this 'rising aiki' work with for beans! But my teacher had no problem that I could see...and he was sick that day! So...what do I do with that information? I can discount what my 'model' was able to do, and say that I simply can't achieve that level, and must find a different way...or I can train and read, and explore and take the ukemi and figure out how the heck he does this so consistantly. I guess my choice is obvious...

This is not to say that either choice is better (but in a formal debate, an appeal to authority could certainly be considered questionable).

Wow, what a ride!
I agree...when everything clicks, its the best roller coaster in the world! And mostly free!


Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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