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Old 02-01-2012, 07:00 AM   #1
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 820
Two Hundred and Ten

With both of us in natural stance, my partner grabs my lapels and holds tightly. His aim is to prevent me from turning my body either left or right via the application of force against my upper torso. I want to turn my body without having to rely on moving my feet from natural stance. My first inclination is to just bull my way through the turn; possible, but difficult even against a partner I can clearly overpower. Turning in that manner involves lots of shoulders and upper body muscle strength. Not much in the way of correct feeling there.

Next I might try to forego the shoulder push and sneak up on the turn by subtly withdrawing one shoulder and then forcefully coming forward with the other one as my partner uses strength to counter my retreat. With a partner who lets his awareness waver this method can be successful. It is, however, just the flip side of the power through maneuver, though it relies more on speed and surprise than raw strength. *Sigh*. Not correct feeling either.

No, confronting his power directly is not what I am looking for in order to perform the exercise with correct feeling. I will need to coordinate mind and body in order to take up slack and move into the turn with my whole body integrated and connected.

When I demonstrate the idea of taking up slack in this exercise I use a physical metaphor as follows: Let's say I decide to turn to my left. My right shoulder will approach my partner while my left shoulder will move away from him as a result of the turn. To demonstrate taking up slack before I move into the turn I extend my right shoulder very slightly to my right and extend my left shoulder very slightly to my left using small circular motions on the direction of my turn before beginning to turn into my partner. This has the effect of neutralizing his hold on my lapels. The result is that I am able to turn freely (provided I am able to move my body as a unit, more on that in a bit).

Of course if I were to try this for real my partner would make adjustments to his holds and stop me from moving. But it is only a metaphor for what's occurring inside. In actual practice I will use his handholds as points of connection and perform the taking up slack maneuver without moving. When I am on the grabbing side of the exercise and my partner does this correctly he seems to go away and I feel like I'm holding an empty jacket.

Having taken up the slack, I must now move my body as a connected unified structure in order to effect the turn. I notice that I don't lead the turn from my hips, waist or shoulders. Rather, they all move as a single unit. I also make note of the fact that my one of my legs will turn slightly outward, the other inward as my body turns.

As with all partnered Ki exercises, my partner will apply just enough resistance to take me just to the point of failure to give me the opportunity to move through it. If I am unable to he will back off slightly until I can perform the exercise correctly.


(Original blog post may be found here.)
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