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Old 02-06-2008, 08:37 AM   #14
Chris Parkerson
Dojo: Academy of the Martial Arts
Location: ohio
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 740
Re: Freeform Bokken Drills to Develop Aiki Flow

Take a 6foot staff, or longer (hard wood, with some flex, make sure its sturdy, no chinese wax wood).
Person A holds one end while Person B holds the other end.
Now both persons attempt to effect kuzushi on the other through the stick. (One person tries to throw down the other) You're free to pretty much use any means at all.
But basically if you screw up and start using disjointed means of manipulating the staff, you'll get thrown by the guy that's heavier or more powerful than yourself.
I practice this method regularly. Renshi John Clodig (Yanagi Hara Ryu) taught it to me. It is great for building lower body momentum and sending it through an opponent using "small circle" kuzushi. When done properly, you do not perceive effort. You begin to trust that less is really more.

Funny how the pucker factor causes emotion to take over. When emotion takes over, the conscious mind hyper-engages. Then, your center rises. Once the center rises, a technique degrades. Your upper body compensates with physical effort that comes from the upper back and arms. Thus disunity builds like a snowball rolling downhill.

I enjoy creating drills. Most are fusions of multiple arts in an effort to challenge Yudansha who are used to one format in training. I am lucky in that I have plenty of Yudansha that hook up with me regularly to see what I will come up with next.

Some drills prove valuable, some do not. One thing I try to do is state the learning/training objectives first and then find ways to put some form of stress and chaos in the drill so that the practicioner cannot predetermine his action. Then I try to form the drill with minimal negative training. All drills have a negative training element. Traditional Randori, most of all. Most of the negative training elements in this drill were stated by our kenjutsu buddy who posted above. I would add that timidity was the biggest negative factor in the initial training. It is so easy to just cut off or break a man's thumb or try to run pasthim and bonk him on the head like you would in kendo competition. Some of the large attacks we provided were to give our partner an opening to enter for the grapple and "aiki flow" practice, so that the objectives could be trained. Some of the big cuts we presented were aborted because the uke had angle advantage and the tendency to just proactively cut off the thumb or the forearm was on both of our minds. we even traded thumb cuts at one point, laughing at how simple it could be... Much like the surprise backfist in sparring.

Any ideas on how to maintain the specific learning objectives while minimizing negative training issues would be quite welcome. Go out and try the drill as I provided it if it interests you. I would love to see what you come up with to improve it.
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