Little House In Ise

Shihonage Osae Technote
June 26, 2009, 18:37
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , ,

The Destroyer picked me as a partner yesterday. I have a “no rejection” policy so if anyone asks me to train I say “Yes” but, in this case, I wasn’t really happy. Since our first encounter last year, I have improved to the point that I am no longer particularly stressed about working with him. However, My left elbow is still aching from being torqued a couple of weeks ago and the Destroyer is one of those fellows who will ignore an injury and keep cranking. All that said, practice with him went better than I expected.

The next day I found out that three of the old guys (all around 6th dan) had been keeping an eye on me the day before and offered their sympathy with regard to my partner and heaped scorn on him. I actually felt bad for the guy. It turns out that his bad attitude has really cut a swath of negativity through the dojo and he doesn’t seem to have many friends. Sad. At any rate, a very good humored member of the trio invited me to train and I had an another fascinating adventure in Aikido.

While most of the details he pointed out were things that I know, at least in theory (need to concentrate to get right or have yet to incorporate in my normal movements), there were a couple of new gems that he threw my way. The gems were vicious “twists” on the shihonage osae (四方投げ押さえ: four direction throw pin).

There are two basic ways, that I know of, to finish shihonage. In one case nage releases their partner, actually throwing them away. Nage can also maintain their grip on uke’s wrist and take (smash) them all the way to the ground. In the latter case, if the grip is maintained, uke can be pinned on their back with their elbow above their head and the back of their hand pressed to the ground. The argument against this pin is that though uke is on their back and held down at the shoulder, their legs are both free and the back and side of nage’s head is exposed to a kick. Not only that, the arm that nage would naturally use to ward off such a kick is the one that performed the throw and is being used in the pin — it is unavailable for defense. To get around this, I have seen some nage use their knee to hold uke’s elbow down freeing up nage’s hands for defense (or pounding as the “grounding” is complete). The argument against that is as follows: as vicious as the knee pin is, to perform it nage needs to release uke’s wrist potentially leaving nage’s groin exposed.

Enter nasty variation one: After the throw, uke is on their back and their wrist trapped near their ear — as in the basic form of the pin. The variation is simply to lever uke’s hand “outward” (away from their ear) using their fingers as the lever and their wrist as the fulcrum. This means that uke’s wrist must remain fixed in place as their hand is manipulated. It does not take much levering to make uke tap.

Nasty variation two starts in the same way. Nage throws uke to the ground maintaining the shihonage grip. With uke on the ground held in the standard pin, nage pushes the elbow into uke’s face holding their head and arm down. Nage then releases ukes wrist and steps on their fingers with the opposite side foot. With uke’s fingers trapped beneath nage’s foot, nage’s knee then holds uke’s elbow down. Nage now has both hands free to repel kicks (or to pound), their position now faces down uke’s body so the side of their head is not exposed and uke’s hand is no longer available for a strike to the groin.


Steam Bath Kokyu
June 23, 2009, 16:55
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , ,

Heat and humidity are nature’s way of saying “go slowly”. Sensei may tell you to slow down every time you step on the mat but a muggy summer day can be more persuasive than your teacher. We got back from our family visit to Seattle, where the weather was pleasantly cool, and found that someone had left the sauna door open and Tokyo was drenched in jungle-like miasma. Everyone in the dojo seems to have responded by moving slower.

Recently, I worked with one of the mean old men of Honbu morning class. He told me, “You’re quite strong”. I thanked him believing that I had received an unexpected compliment. Actually, he meant it as constructive criticism. He went on to say that I tend to use about 70% muscle and 30% kokyu (呼吸: breath) and if I were to reverse that ratio my Aikido would improve dramatically. He said all that right after he had dislocated my elbow (re-do of an old injury) with a wicked nikyo ura (二教浦: second teaching, rear). For the rest of the class I couldn’t move that arm much at all. He said the techniques that I did on the injured side were much better since I was no longer using muscle. The healthy, happy side was all about cranking him back for being a dick very aggressive sempai (先輩: senior) and so it didn’t improve.

So, with sempai’s hint in mind and the sloppy heat draining all else, I have slowed down enough to focus on relaxing and using less muscle. Perhaps the theme of my training this summer will be: less muscle more kokyu.

Dojo Friends
June 8, 2009, 18:11
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , ,

The Mad Danes were here for three weeks or so but have gone home leaving tussled ukes and amused smiles in their wake. The laughter and abuse from Selene, pounding and high falls from Johnny and Thomas made their visit wonderful fun. While Lene was recovering from a bout of “too much coffee”, Johnny and Thomas visited Cosmic center after a class and we did some fast randori. Another good friend, Patrice, commented after watching the randori training that they looked like vikings! 🙂 Thomas (a chiropractor/chief instructor) even fixed my neck and shoulder after I twisted it (short boring story –don’t ask). I look forward to seeing them next year!

Taking their place in my narrow little world is a friend from Ise who has come to live as an Uchi Deshi for a month or so. Ueda Shihan, my sensei, asked me to look after him while he is in Tokyo. The poor guy is from Ise (the sticks) and this is his first time in Tokyo. He is intimidated by the place, the people and Honbu itself. Considering the fact that he is training four times a day (starting from 6:30 with Doshu) and doing uchi-deshi style drudge work (on his first day he announced that he just finished cleaning the toilets and could train now), he is doing pretty darn well. I loaned him my bike which made him nearly ecstatic as it enormously extended the range of places he can eat. 🙂

I’ll be heading back to the US for a week or so and hope to catch up with Aikido buddies there too. I probably will only be forgiven one trip to a dojo so where and when to go are going to be issues. I’d like to drop by Dave’s place and pay a visit to the PSA but can’t be sure that my free time will match up with their class time. At any rate, I want to show of my new skirt!

Happy rolling!

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