Re: Kamae vs Shizentai (hips underneath)
Since we are on the standing(stance) thread; I thought of posting my rant here... Work is on the slow side today. So 'scuse me.
Background - I had the privilege to study under two good aikido teachers (in my opinion they are great, so it is a matter of personal opinion) of very different background.
My first aikido sensei is an Aikikai man and I remember our stance is as though we are holding a katana/bokken and the mindset is as though we are weapon fighting. The emphasis is on timing of entering and distance to effect a technique. I would say it was a softer style because the idea behind his aikido is perfect timing and proper placed atemi will effect a favourable technique.
[Sense an opening ---> enter ---> using perfect timing ---> atemi
---> follow with technique ---> osae/nage]
My second aikido sensei is a Yoshinkan man and he is advocating his students (esp yudansha) to remain at neutral stance (shizentai)during randori/jiyu waza. I feel that he is more of a pugilist or jujutsu than a weapon man. His argument is that in kamae, we tend to lose the microseconds time initiative should the opponent comes from the other side and hence by having shizentai we are able to react accordingly by yielding or blending with the attack. It also confuses our opponent because he/she will not know how our reaction will be (i,e. not telegraphing out intention).
[Wait for an initiative ---> apply principle of kuzushi ---> atemi (optional) ---> technique]
Sometimes these two stance confuses me, on one hand I am tempted and have attempted with the weight forward kamae stance where I can lunge in like the ken-do shomen strike and take first blood (figuratively). But then in my dojo shizentai stance is advocated which in my opinion is more reactive than proactive. This shizentai stance is a real bummer when your uke is the waiting type. On a final note, IMO the kamae stance is a very "yang" stance, a more aggressive and initiative seeking stance whereas the shizentai is a more "yin" stance, a initiative waiting stance.
OK, end of rant... going back to work now.