Little House In Ise

Body Types
March 22, 2010, 15:06
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: ,

Recently, I trained with a couple of burly men with heavily muscled upper-bodies — large shoulder and thick upper-arms. In both cases, I found that sankyo was very easy to apply and particularly effective when they resisted. Two is by no means a statistically valid sample but it got me thinking about body types (shapes and sizes) in relation to ease or difficulty of applying various techniques.

I have read about a US based Japanese shihan who, having watched a basketball team walk past, said something like “Shohonage easy, ikyo harder”. Since then I have experienced that myself. Shihonage is more easily applied to a tall person than someone of equal or shorter stature. Ikyo on a very tall uke can be more challenging.

Turning it around, I have long Gumby arms on which some people have had trouble trying to set sankyo. Others, of course, just plop me on my ass. This may be a variation of the tall uke problem with ikyo but it still seems to be body type related. Also, I have found that koshinage can become quite difficult depending on how much shorter uke is.

While mulling ideas about body type and technique, I was reminded of something that O Sensei was supposed to have said. I can’t remember the context, but I remember that O Sensei apparently gave instructions on how to hit a fat man. He said that a straight punch into the gut wouldn’t do much especially if his gut was muscled as that of a rikishi (力士: sumo wrestler). Instead, a downward strike to the TOP of a big gut was more effective. Not having punched anyone that way, I have no idea and I can’t even confirm the reference but it does seem that body shape and size is an issue that others have pondered as well.

So what? I’m curious, what body type issues have you encountered when doing Aikido? Do some shapes or sizes of bodies, respond well to particular techniques? How about the other way around? What has been _your_ experience?


Yokota Sensei
March 1, 2010, 17:47
Filed under: Aikido, Japan | Tags: ,

Recently, I have lucked into more opportunities to train with Yokota sensei than my normal schedule permits. Each time, I have found myself more and more in awe of his Aikido. When I first attended one of Sensei’s classes, I felt as though I had reverted to being a beginner again. Every move I made was awkward or, at best, a mis-interpretation of what he was doing.

At first, I attributed my inability to perform at what I *felt* was my skill level to both sensei’s waza and the way he presented them. Which is to say, the waza he demonstrates are subtly (and unsubtly) different to what I was familiar. Also, Sensei frequently will demonstrate two or three techniques, all based on the same fundamental entry or dynamic and then have the class try to do what he just had. I would then furiously try to replicate what I thought I saw — often only his final technique — but then perform it as I understood not as he demonstrated. In other words, I kept missing his point.

From the way Sensei groups his techniques in a demonstration, it is clear that the common movement linking them is major part of his point. Details of individual waza are important but his overwhelming, uke dominating movements are the basis of his teaching and, I think, must be understood before trying to actually copy his techniques. Fortunately, Sensei will patiently demonstrate his footwork and frequently throws students as he wanders about the mat.

This may seem obvious but, when in Yokota sensei’s class expect to move. Expect big movements (even suwariwaza seems bigger) and dominant positioning to be explored. I know that when I first stepped onto the mat with him my attempts at replicating what he was teaching were very tentative and so, again, missed the point.

Now, I’m looking forward to my next chance to train with him!

Aikido Gakko
March 1, 2010, 17:44
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , , , ,

Andrew Parker has a blog post about the Aikikai Honbu Dojo’s Aikido Gakko program. I’ve been very interested in hearing details about the class series and Andrew has filled in all the blanks. Take a look!

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