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Old 10-02-2004, 12:05 AM   #1
tedehara
 
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Taking Up Slack

This is a continuation of the technique thread Kotegashi Weakness. I'm starting a separate thread because I don't want to hijack the original thread. I don't see taking up slack as a "simple" concept that everyone understands.

Personally I know I'm not consistently taking up slack while doing techniques. Even though I can intellectualize about slack, to actualize it during the execution of a technique is a challenge. And taking up slack is important. It is probably the most common reason aikido techniques "don't work".

If you hold someone and you can feel their bones, you're holding too hard. When you take up slack, you just feel their skin. If you hold someone's wrist, the weight of your relaxed arm should automatically take up slack. So you can not only take up slack on a person, but you can also take up slack holding a sword. Also you can take up slack when someone is testing you to see if you're doing rowing exercise correctly. Taking up slack applies not only to empty-handed techniques, but to weapons and exercise testing.

The concept of taking up slack permeates aikido, yet I've never read a discussion about it. I have heard people occasionally mention it, but no one I've heard has really focused on it.

One interesting implication is this:
  • When you hold tightly there is a tendency for your weight to come upper side.
  • When you hold tightly you can't take up slack, therefore your strongest grip is to hold softly.
  • In the Ki Society ukes are trained to hold softly since it is the strongest attack.
  • In most Aikikai dojos ukes are trained to hold hard (tightly) since this was the advice the founder gave all his ukes at Hombu dojo.
Two different organizations. Two fundamentally different ways of practice.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 10-02-2004, 12:22 AM   #2
akiy
 
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Re: Taking Up Slack

Hi Ted,

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
Two different organizations. Two fundamentally different ways of practice.
Just last weekend, Saotome sensei was talking about making contact with one's tegatana and using it to affect your partner. He specifically talked about nage making his/her skin "taut" against uke's attacking shomenuchi and just using that to affect uke. (George, if you understood this differently or could give more depth to what I understood, please do so...) I've been thrown by him in this manner.

I have trained with non-Ki Society people (hi Chuck!) who connect with the barest of skin-to-skin contact. For instance, one person stands with his/her hands palm up, and the their partner places his/her hands on it, palms down. The person with their palms up then tries to affect his/her partner's balance by moving. If "uke" feels anything, they're free to just move their hands. I've been thrown this way in the past. I've shown this exercise (or, at least, my interpretation thereof) where I currently train.

I never got to feel him, but from those who have, I heard that Yamaguchi sensei used to have hands that felt "sticky." Without him gripping, he was able to affect people through this sort of soft yet compelling hands. I have felt students on his (who are now shihan) who do this sort of thing.

Of course, this doesn't mean that this it the only way that we practice. As you mentioned before, Aikikai is an organization, not a style. There are those out there who do use a rather strong, "crushing" grip. We do it at times, too.

But, to say that no one outside of Ki Society or any one group doesn't practice in the manner that you outline is, I think, painting with a rather broad brush...

Just my thoughts.

-- Jun

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Old 10-02-2004, 05:08 AM   #3
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Taking Up Slack

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
Hi Ted,



Just last weekend, Saotome sensei was talking about making contact with one's tegatana and using it to affect your partner. He specifically talked about nage making his/her skin "taut" against uke's attacking shomenuchi and just using that to affect uke. (George, if you understood this differently or could give more depth to what I understood, please do so...) I've been thrown by him in this manner.

I have trained with non-Ki Society people (hi Chuck!) who connect with the barest of skin-to-skin contact. For instance, one person stands with his/her hands palm up, and the their partner places his/her hands on it, palms down. The person with their palms up then tries to affect his/her partner's balance by moving. If "uke" feels anything, they're free to just move their hands. I've been thrown this way in the past. I've shown this exercise (or, at least, my interpretation thereof) where I currently train.

I never got to feel him, but from those who have, I heard that Yamaguchi sensei used to have hands that felt "sticky." Without him gripping, he was able to affect people through this sort of soft yet compelling hands. I have felt students on his (who are now shihan) who do this sort of thing.

Of course, this doesn't mean that this it the only way that we practice. As you mentioned before, Aikikai is an organization, not a style. There are those out there who do use a rather strong, "crushing" grip. We do it at times, too.

But, to say that no one outside of Ki Society or any one group doesn't practice in the manner that you outline is, I think, painting with a rather broad brush...

Just my thoughts.

-- Jun
That's the way I understood it, Jun. I would add that when Ted talks about relaxed extension automatically taking up the slack, it very much fits with what Yamaguchi Sensei said about no technique should take more effort than the weight of the arms resting on the partner.

Saotome Sensei seldom grips you, unless it is a technique like yonkyo... his touch is light and he gives direction to the movement with his hips and legs, not the arms. At any instant he is capable of throwing an atemi, which is true of Ikeda Sensei as well. Anothe one who put emphasis on this principle was the elder Osawa Sensei. There is quite a bit of his movement that one can see in Saotome Sensei.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 10-02-2004, 08:09 AM   #4
Charles Hill
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Re: Taking Up Slack

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
[*]In the Ki Society ukes are trained to hold softly since it is the strongest attack.[*]In most Aikikai dojos ukes are trained to hold hard (tightly) since this was the advice the founder gave all his ukes at Hombu dojo.
When I was training at the Aikikai Honbu a few years back, I got a chance to take part in a koushukai at the Kinokenkyukai Honbu in Shinjuku with Tohei Sensei. I was a bit surprised when the various young yudansha I trained with grabbed me quite hard. I rarely was grabbed that way "back home."

Charles Hill
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Old 10-02-2004, 08:19 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Taking Up Slack

Phong Sensei of Tenshinkai (Aikikai) Aikido is always reminding us to take up the slack and keep the momentum taunt.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
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Old 10-02-2004, 09:48 PM   #6
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Taking Up Slack

Not wanting to get in between the Ki Society/Aikikai tango here (God knows we're already the Aiki-heathen ) but returning to something that Craig said in the "kotegaeshi weakness" post - doesn't the application and maintenance of effective kuzushi automatically take up any slack that exists on the attacking limb while one applies technique?

In our training the ability to eliminate holes for Uke to recover (especially in the form of things like slack) is very important in making technique effective. However, we don't exaclty focus on this "taking up of slack" concept as it's contained in the practice of creating and maintaining kuzushi.

Just a thought I had.

LC

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Old 10-03-2004, 12:31 AM   #7
kironin
 
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Re: Taking Up Slack

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
doesn't the application and maintenance of effective kuzushi automatically take up any slack that exists on the attacking limb while one applies technique?
sort of like focusing on different parts of the elephant.

taking up and not allowing slack allows (is necessary?) application and maintenance of kuzushi

and application and maintenance of kuzushi involves taking up and not allowing slack.


now you can also talk about the rest of the elephant.

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Old 10-03-2004, 10:02 AM   #8
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Taking Up Slack

6 of one, half a dozen of the other Craig.

Iow, as I gathered from your post on the kotegaeshi thread, if one has the kuzushi correct then there should not be a problem of taking up slack... on the reverse side, if one focuses on taking up the slack, then the resultant kuzushi should be effective and correct. Makes sense to me.

Imo kuzushi should be applied instinctively like the rest of any effective technique (preferably during the avoidance phase), so I guess the practice of effective kuzushi drills can deal with someone's inability to take up slack in his/her basic technique.

Just some thoughts.

LC

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Old 10-03-2004, 02:23 PM   #9
kironin
 
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Re: Taking Up Slack

Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
Imo kuzushi should be applied instinctively like the rest of any effective technique (preferably during the avoidance phase), so I guess the practice of effective kuzushi drills can deal with someone's inability to take up slack in his/her basic technique.
of course "effective" being the operative word through all of this.
While I would never say there is only one way to teach something, most of
the disagreements lie in what are the most effective ways to teach this.

in my personal opinion the best teachers are really heretics at their core when it comes down to an individual student.

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