Little House In Ise


Kotegaeshi Tech Note: A Point not a Plane
September 24, 2009, 13:16
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , ,

Ninomiya Sensei once again schooled me using the Jedi art of mysterious explanations. This time, however, his explanation sank in and I was able to grasp what he meant. The old theory vs practice problem is biting me so I have only partially been able to implement what he struggled to teach me, however, I can communicate the gist in words. Maybe.

Sensei repeatedly stopped me, sometimes with a nasty reversal, while I was trying to do kotegaeshi (小手返し: wrist return). He indicated that I should stop using a surface or plane when doing the technique but rather use a point. Um, what?!?! Over and over again he repeated, “Not a surface! A point! Use a point!” I tried digging my thumb into a point on the back of his hand and he laughed at me. Yes, it can hurt but its not the point he meant. I tried to imitate exactly the hand, thumb grip that he was using — no dice.

It took many demonstrations and repetitions before the dimmest glimmerings of a clue finally began to light my way. The concept that he was trying to teach was that after the kuzushi (崩し: unbalance) any movement of the hand through which the technique is being applied reduces the effectiveness of the technique, takes more time and requires more muscle. Imagine you have already unbalanced your uke. Your weight extends down through your arm and rests on that of your uke preventing them from moving too much with the kinder and gentler trap that is “extension”. According to Ninomiya Sensei, uke’s hand should remain at THAT POINT in space when the kotegaeshi is applied. Any movement (“drawing” a surface or plane in the air) may allow uke to regain their balance and escape. So, maintain uke’s hand at the final point of the kuzushi and, ever-so-gently, apply your palm to the back of their hand for the rotation. Kerplunk!

It sounds simple (doesn’t it always?) but it turns out that I have doggedly repeated a variation in which I take uke’s balance and then sweep their hand along an arc to drop uke into “third point”. That can work but as Sensei demonstrated to me it takes a lot more effort and more time thus giving uke more opportunity to regain balance.

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4 Comments so far
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Interesting. I think of the point of kuzushi as a moving point, that is as long as uke is still moving to recover balance, and that point moves in a spiral until uke meets the ground. I will have to experiment with the idea you describe.

I’m now picturing the late Kanai Sensei demonstrating aihamni katatetori kotegaeshi omote. He moved forward on an angle in front of uke breaking uke’s balance by extending his arm down and away from him while taking the kotegaeshi grip and breaking uke’s hold. At this point Kanai Sensei turned tenkan around uke’s hand to apply. I think that this method neatly demonstrates the method you describe.

Comment by Edwin Stearns

Thank you! Your description of Kanai Sensei’s technique does sound like what Ninomiya Sensei was showing me. His final tenkan was very subtle but sufficient to steal the ground away from me.

Comment by Eric Holcomb

My sensei sometimes uses the imagery of turning a very small wheel, like those on a steam pipe… it’s hard not to move in a plane at all while doing that, though!

Comment by Erik

Thank you. That is interesting imagery — I’ll have to think about that.

Comment by Eric Holcomb




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