Little House In Ise

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.


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