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Old 08-03-2007, 12:39 PM   #26
Nick Pagnucco
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Argh. I asked the question, and now I'm over my head

George Ledyard, as always a great post. Loved Ron's as well. Rob's posts are handy in that they remind me about the fact this stuff is supposed to actually involve staying connected to both one's own body and uke.

That said, I'm just floating as I read the posts.... I guess I'll use my own movement, as a anchor for translation. I realize its mildly bad form to insist 'ownership' of the thread, and I'm not doing that per se, just giving an acocunt of how I move so there is something to target other than various people's ideal movements, as described in their own terminology.

Before I tenkan, the stance is the basic one I see in a lot of aikikai USAF, students of Kanai and Chiba excluded: Front foot faces forward, back foot at (roughly) 45 degree angle. Weight is slightly more on the forward foot. If there was a mark on the ground where my weight distribution was centered, it'd maybe 2 inches behind my front heel, and a little on the inside.

When I tenkan, I almost think of it as two overlapping motions overlapping. My description artificially separates out the two, but it makes for easier description.

First, there is a pivot. My front foot is on the ball of the foot. The front leg rotates inward, and I begin to turn my trunk to face the side. Arms & head (ideally) move with trunk and forward leg with this turn. As I continue to turn, the front foot ceases the turn when it reaches a rough 45 degree angle. At some mid-point, the back foot becomes the front foot, and it rotates with the leg around to face the 'new' forward direction. If anything my back foot turns on its heel as it becomes the new front foot.

If I just pivoted in place, with no other movement, the axis of rotation for this pivot would basically be my spine. I can feel the center line of weight distribution move (ideally in a straight line) toward the original back foot / new front foot, settling once again just under 2 inches behind the new front heel.

The second movement is the new front foot steps back. If I did them sequentially, I would pivot then step back, thereby creating a very mechanical looking tenkan. While the pivot begins a moment before, they mostly overlap.

I use to very consciously push off with the back leg as I tenkan. Now, its more I think about a) rotating around my vertical axis, while b) that axis moves in a more or less straight line from 2 inches behind and to the inside of my front heel in the original position, to 2 inches behind and to the inside of my front heel in the new position. If I do this badly, I end up having a lot of weight on my back foot for a moment, during which I'm "stuck".

As for the point of getting off the line, assuming I make no other movements, my tenkan as it current stands gets me off the line, but not by a whole lot. The fist in regular tsuki attacks barely misses, but it misses.

ok, so... be brutal but constructive: whats wrong with this. How does this differ from how tenkans are supposed to work in your understanding of aikido?
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Old 08-03-2007, 12:51 PM   #27
Keith Larman
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Whenever I read discussions like this I'm reminded of something Rod Kobayashi was rather famous for doing. When asked about footwork in bokken work he would sometimes leap up into the air and do the movement airborne. Then he'd have everyone practice it that way. His point was that movement was from the center, the hara, the koshi, the one-point, whatever. Footwork can change, but the essence is still moving from the center.

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Old 08-03-2007, 01:18 PM   #28
Nick Pagnucco
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Keith, I apologize, but you rant into one of my rant buttons.

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Whenever I read discussions like this I'm reminded of something Rod Kobayashi was rather famous for doing. When asked about footwork in bokken work he would sometimes leap up into the air and do the movement airborne. Then he'd have everyone practice it that way. His point was that movement was from the center, the hara, the koshi, the one-point, whatever. Footwork can change, but the essence is still moving from the center.
While what you described sounds like an impressive demonstration, I hope he gave more detail on that, including what one's legs & feet are doing. I would bet a lot of aikidoka who heard/saw that would put it in that terribly dangerous category of aikido rhetoric: just relax and it'll work out. What you just described would only improve one's aikido if he or she already had a center they could move from. Otherwise, you'd just get a lot of odd hopping. People don't learn like that, unless they are both physically gifted and have the right learning style, not to mention lucky. Those who are missing one of those two components (or both, if you're me) will not get much out of the hopping.
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Old 08-03-2007, 02:22 PM   #29
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

If forward tenkan/tenkan while moving forward = pivot on balls of feet
If backward tenkan/tenkan while moving backward* = pivot on heels of feet

*(I am referring here to the 180 degree pivot one performs in some forms of kokyunage where you first must step backwards before pivoting)

Uh, happy...tenkan-ing.

Last edited by jducusin : 08-03-2007 at 02:23 PM. Reason: typo correction

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Old 08-03-2007, 02:42 PM   #30
Keith Larman
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Nicholas Pagnucco wrote: View Post
Keith, I apologize, but you rant into one of my rant buttons.

While what you described sounds like an impressive demonstration, I hope he gave more detail on that, including what one's legs & feet are doing. I would bet a lot of aikidoka who heard/saw that would put it in that terribly dangerous category of aikido rhetoric: just relax and it'll work out. What you just described would only improve one's aikido if he or she already had a center they could move from. Otherwise, you'd just get a lot of odd hopping. People don't learn like that, unless they are both physically gifted and have the right learning style, not to mention lucky. Those who are missing one of those two components (or both, if you're me) will not get much out of the hopping.
Oh, he made it perfectly clear what he meant. And if you don't have a center to move from to begin with how much difference will fixing your footwork make? I wasn't talking about a beginning aikido class...

It was just an anecdote FWIW. Heck, I've got beginning students today who spend so much bloody time asking highly detailed questions that they hardly have time to actually move and practice. It drives me nuts. And while you may not like the answer that some things just need time to work themselves out often that *is* the answer. Footwork is always important, but after a while you begin to realize that *everything* is important and without being able to move from the center in a balanced controlled fashion the rest simply doesn't matter. Hence sensei jumping up in the air and doing the same damned thing without utilizing any footwork. The point was usually quite clear -- he didn't care a whole lot about the footwork if you weren't doing much of anything else right in the first place. To me it was like how many early iai kata are done from seiza. Drawing and cutting from seiza prevents you from "cheating" with your feet and legs. You must do it from your hara. Once you can do that doing iai kata standing or from tatehiza becomes vastly easier.

Some are so focused on minutae that they miss the bigger picture of moving, blending, and controlling the attacker. Sure, we often work on correcting bad footwork. But at some point it gets into the domain of overthinking things. One thing I have long had burned into my brain by my sensei -- practice more, talk less. Learn to move. Learn to feel. Learn to blend. Learn to keep solid and balanced.

And personally I think Ledyard-sensei already gave a very good answer which considered in its entirety could easily be summed up as "it depends".

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Old 08-03-2007, 05:47 PM   #31
DH
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Robert John wrote: View Post
I was just mucking around with the mechanics in my living room, George made a good point.
If you simply pivot on the heels, then you cant move off the line of attack. But you can keep the connection to the heels/weight falling to the heels while you pivot on the balls of the feet. As far as I can tell, the pivot simply happens as a result of you trying to keep connection. But at the same time my entire foot is engaged in making the turn, not simply one part or another...
m2c
Hmm....
I just pivoted on my heel to off-line myself and enter-in. I did it both sides by pivoting on my heel and lifting the opposite foot, then stepping back in. Just for fun I did it on carpet, hardwood floor and the lawn in pair of hiking boots. Then for laughs I did an Aikido Tenkan (which I abhor) to an Irimi, then did an O goshi and seoi-nage.
I don't see the dilemma. I let my body dictates what it does from training; sometimes ball sometimes heel. I think the underlying skill should be how the body moves and not heel or ball.

Maybe another idea away from general pivoting, is that you don't need to be moving your whole body to avoid things all the time either. In grappling there are other ways to pivot to enter in exceedingly fast and take their center for a throw. Tenkan is not something I am fond of. The central pivot is more powerful, more immediate and offers a hell of an entering/strike without nary a commitment. Now there is another aspect of heel-to-ball and weight transfering and what that can do as well. But that isn't pivoting eiither. Anyway....

Last edited by DH : 08-03-2007 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 08-03-2007, 05:49 PM   #32
Keith Larman
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

On the whole notion of explaining things or coming up with "definitive" answer to how things should be done.

This is something told to me early on in my training in Japanese sword restoration and mounting. Paraphrased, of course, but it was directed to me at the time.

Quote:
"The question you're asking is both very easy to answer as well as remarkably subtle and involved. I can tell you where to do it but explaining why it goes there rather than somewhere else is a different thing altogether. The reality is that you don't know enough right now to even understand the answer should I give it to you. In other words, while I can answer your question the answer I give will not help you beyond this one sword this one day this one time. The questions you should be asking you don't know enough yet to ask. And once you learn enough to ask those questions the question you have today will seem trivial and obvious to you. So go back to thinning and sorting the hazuya and don't worry about it. It will work itself out."
And no, I didn't like the answer. But today the question I had was trivial and obvious. But explaining it to someone else who hasn't studied nihonto and various methodologies of togi? I wouldn't know where to begin...

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Old 08-03-2007, 05:55 PM   #33
Keith Larman
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
...Maybe another idea away from general pivoting, is that you don't need to be moving your whole body to avoid things all the time either. In grappling there are other ways to pivot to enter in exceedingly fast and take their center for a throw. Tenkan is not something I am fond of. The central pivot is more powerful, more immediate and offers a hell of an entering/strike without nary a commitment.
Hey, Dan.

Interestingly in Seidokan in many ways our "tenkan" is much more compact than other styles I've trained in. In most cases (not all) it really is much more of a central pivot. We don't have the big movements at all. From katatedori, for instance, we don't move in as part of the tenkan. In general the movement is done more as a slight movement off the line then a pivot pretty much at the wrist moving them into our circle. Obviously it requires a strong, grounded nage that is moving as one coherent piece, but that's how we approach it.

Nothing against other methods, just making conversation...

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Old 08-03-2007, 06:06 PM   #34
DH
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Hey, Dan.

Interestingly in Seidokan in many ways our "tenkan" is much more compact than other styles I've trained in. In most cases (not all) it really is much more of a central pivot. We don't have the big movements at all. From katatedori, for instance, we don't move in as part of the tenkan. In general the movement is done more as a slight movement off the line then a pivot pretty much at the wrist moving them into our circle. Obviously it requires a strong, grounded nage that is moving as one coherent piece, but that's how we approach it.

Nothing against other methods, just making conversation...
Hi Keith
Been a long time eh?
The central pivot I am talking about has nothing to do with moving the feet (though it can). Its within you, at the spine. It sounds simple, it isn't. The "simplicity" of it your sword polishing example- is a great example. It seems so easy... on the surface, but the connections to power it are worked daily. Rob posted something I wrote about it last year on some thread. I just don't know where it is.

Last edited by DH : 08-03-2007 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 08-03-2007, 06:18 PM   #35
Keith Larman
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Well, obviously I've not trained with you so I can't know exactly what you're doing, but our tenkan has little to do with the feet as well. Obviously they do move throughout the movement but the movement really starts from the center. As one of my sensei likes to say power comes from the center, everything else just helps you direct it. Your feet move because you're already pivoting... Or with your pivot... Or whatever... You just pivot as a whole...

But I'm not trying to hijack the thread into one of those discussions... Ultimately the point is that whenever a students asks me about my feet I have to look down and see for myself what I'm doing. It is usually about the last thing I'm thinking about...

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Old 08-03-2007, 06:31 PM   #36
eyrie
 
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
George Ledyard wrote:
I'm not sure why, but I think this discussion is missing what I think is the crucial point...

We rotate or pivot in aikido to a) get us out of the way of an attack or b) to change the relationship with the partner / attacker.
I think there were certain assumptions made in the initial part of the discussion, and the reason I suggested that it should be limited to training/development purposes rather than usage. What you have directly pointed to here are reasons of utility - i.e. WHY it is done in a specific way. My question is, does that in anyway invalidate one method over another in terms of training? i.e. if you move how you train, then training in one way or another influences how you move under pressure.

The initial assumption was that an initial step forward (irimi) is taken. If that wasn't the case, and one was pivoting on the line, then I would agree - a pivot on the ball of the foot results in a horizontal phase shift of at least 2/3 the length of the foot, which is sufficient in most cases to shift the body off the line.

But then, if one has sufficiently mastered their space, and has an understanding of controlling the line, it doesn't matter how you shift off the line and change the angle and relationship to the attacker. And so the rest of the discussion becomes moot - basically, you can step or pivot on your heels/balls, or even shift your weight from one leg to another or simply turn your hips.

Ignatius
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Old 08-03-2007, 07:19 PM   #37
MM
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Hi Keith
Been a long time eh?
The central pivot I am talking about has nothing to do with moving the feet (though it can). Its within you, at the spine. It sounds simple, it isn't.
Yeah, I'll say. Hmmmph.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
The "simplicity" of it your sword polishing example- is a great example. It seems so easy... on the surface, but the connections to power it are worked daily. Rob posted something I wrote about it last year on some thread. I just don't know where it is.
Ha! If you'd have looked at the thing I sent you, it's probably in there.

Mark
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Old 08-03-2007, 07:52 PM   #38
DH
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

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Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Ha! If you'd have looked at the thing I sent you, it's probably in there.
Mark
Cough...
So wadda ya trying to say? Don't sugar coat it! Spell it out.
Send it in a P.M.
Runnin and duckin..........
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Old 08-04-2007, 01:15 AM   #39
Upyu
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
I think the underlying skill should be how the body moves and not heel or ball.
Ding ding ding, definitely in agreement

Though I think for training purposes its important to understand the relationship of how the power falls/connects from the heel up the legs directly into the kua then to the spine.

You know I nearly ended up confusing myself thinking about this "#$#"t on exactly "how" I do it, since typically I'm only interested in keeping the connections and not worrying about which part I'm specifically pivoting on
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Old 08-04-2007, 05:28 AM   #40
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Robert John wrote: View Post
I was just mucking around with the mechanics in my living room, George made a good point.
If you simply pivot on the heels, then you cant move off the line of attack. But you can keep the connection to the heels/weight falling to the heels while you pivot on the balls of the feet. As far as I can tell, the pivot simply happens as a result of you trying to keep connection. But at the same time my entire foot is engaged in making the turn, not simply one part or another...
m2c
I was playing around too :-) With the notion of the "paper between the heels and floor" that is so common in Asian MA, or at least commented on in Japanese and Chinese arts a lot. If the heel is up but one attempts to keep it notionally a paper-width above the ground, and vice versa, then a pretty nice dynamic between heel and toe ensues while remaining connected to the pelvic region.
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Old 08-04-2007, 07:52 AM   #41
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Getting more and more confusing... now I'm actually starting to wonder if everyone's even talking about the same step.

I may just be confused, but it seems like some people are talking about what I call tenkan (front foot stays more or less where it is while the core rotates one hundred and eighty degrees, and back leg has to lift off the ground and travel some distance to become the back leg again in the new direction -- so there is considerable displacement involved regardless of what part of the foot you use) and some are talking about what I call soto tenkan (which is just a rotation of the body while both feet stay more or less where they are and what used to be the back leg becomes the front leg).

(and BTW when I said your foot would have to be facing in the 'wrong' direction I didn't mean anything in particular by that, just didn't know how else to explain having your foot twisted around like that)
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:28 AM   #42
Upyu
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
Getting more and more confusing... now I'm actually starting to wonder if everyone's even talking about the same step.

I may just be confused, but it seems like some people are talking about what I call tenkan (front foot stays more or less where it is while the core rotates one hundred and eighty degrees, and back leg has to lift off the ground and travel some distance to become the back leg again in the new direction -- so there is considerable displacement involved regardless of what part of the foot you use) and some are talking about what I call soto tenkan (which is just a rotation of the body while both feet stay more or less where they are and what used to be the back leg becomes the front leg).

(and BTW when I said your foot would have to be facing in the 'wrong' direction I didn't mean anything in particular by that, just didn't know how else to explain having your foot twisted around like that)
Its not the step Basia, so much as the overall connection, that people are talking about.
The step itself is technique、which really is secondary, like secondary to all the vodka I imbibed in order to bribe the j-girls that infiltrated my... never mind

btw, I was actually serious about the technique pary  ぱrt part
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:51 AM   #43
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

I stumbled upon this (hey, I'm funny...)www.anthropik.com/2007/06/learning-to-walk/.

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 08-04-2007, 12:07 PM   #44
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Whenever I read discussions like this I'm reminded of something Rod Kobayashi was rather famous for doing. When asked about footwork in bokken work he would sometimes leap up into the air and do the movement airborne. Then he'd have everyone practice it that way. His point was that movement was from the center, the hara, the koshi, the one-point, whatever. Footwork can change, but the essence is still moving from the center.
Hi Keith,
What you said made a great positive impact on ths discussion, at least for me. And like I tell my kids, if you've got a question, ask it. Someone else almost always has the same question and is grateful you had the courage to say it out loud. While it wasn't specifically a question you asked that was inspiring, it was your statement.
I heard myself think: Take a load-off( your mind) and turn.

There are lots of people reading and listening out here. And we definitely don't fall under a category that could be summed up with any label that would then categorize your post as rhetoric. (maybe mine, but not yours...smiles). Your posts ring of integrity.

I regret never having taken the opportunity to train with Rod Koboyashi, his perspectives and training were a source of inspiration and intrigue for me. I'm cheered to know that his legacy lives on and that gives me hope that I may still be able to train in his 'DO".

Gambatte,
Jen

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 08-04-2007 at 12:18 PM.

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Old 08-04-2007, 12:47 PM   #45
Fred Little
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

There are very good reasons that the military emphasizes close order drill.

Maintaining crisp parade ground formation is the most obvious one of those reasons, but not the most important one.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:49 AM   #46
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

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Fred Little wrote: View Post
There are very good reasons that the military emphasizes close order drill.

Maintaining crisp parade ground formation is the most obvious one of those reasons, but not the most important one.
What does this mean?

onegaishimasu

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:47 AM   #47
Fred Little
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

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Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post
What does this mean?

onegaishimasu
Jennifer,

It's the sort of thing that answers itself in practice.

Best,

FL
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Old 08-07-2007, 06:14 AM   #48
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

I was always taught to turn on the toes in Aikido, but often saw those telling me to turn on my toes turning on their heels from time to time. Basically, whatever works to get out of the way / generate power.

One thing I liked to do in Judo was to move say, my right foot in for seio-nage, ball of the foot first, as usual, and, on being unable to move the foot in enough (due to uke not letting me), I would then rock back onto my heel, pivot the foot 150-160 or so (while kind of falling/dropping back in to the movement), and then continue the turn to make 180 on the ball of he foot, adding power to create a tai-otoshi and/or makikomi type throw. Don't know if you can figure that out but it makes sense to me

Oh, and don't forget to draw uke along for the ride as you draw/fall back while pivoting on the heel. It is wicked when it works. It has the power of a sacrifice throw - without falling over, though sometimes you might.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 08-07-2007 at 06:17 AM.

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Old 08-07-2007, 09:51 AM   #49
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
Jennifer,

It's the sort of thing that answers itself in practice.

Best,

FL
My bad,
To be more explicit, It's a language question.
what is a close order drill?
what is crisp parade ground formation? and how does that relate to the ball and foot discussion?
The language you are speaking is military jargon and my request is that you define your language so that I might be able to relate my practice to your words .

Last edited by jennifer paige smith : 08-07-2007 at 10:00 AM.

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Old 08-07-2007, 11:08 AM   #50
Keith Larman
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Re: heel vs. ball of foot during tenkan

Quote:
Jennifer Smith wrote: View Post

I regret never having taken the opportunity to train with Rod Koboyashi, his perspectives and training were a source of inspiration and intrigue for me. I'm cheered to know that his legacy lives on and that gives me hope that I may still be able to train in his 'DO".

Gambatte,
Jen
Thanks for the kind words. And yes, it lives on. Last weekend Kobayashi's wife and daughter (who is also an instructor at our headquarts) were over at my house with the two "co-chief" instructors and another senior instructor from our headquarters dojo. My 6-year-old daughter considers Mrs. K her "extra" grandma so she had a blast playing with Mrs. K. Anyway, it was fun as I had rolled and soaked about 50 tameshigiri targets and we all spent a couple hours working on our cutting form. It does adjust things considerably in how you do your bokken work with a reality check from cutting stuff with real swords. Anyway, we had a nice afternoon and evening with lots of reminiscing about Kobayashi sensei.

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