Little House In Ise

Yet More Shihonage Technotes
December 10, 2010, 17:46
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , ,

Here are a list of shihonage (四方投げ) concepts that have helped me a lot. Please note that I am not claiming that any are the One True Way. Rather, this is my understanding at this moment. My understanding is subject to regular, painful (to me), evolution. As such, when next I write about Shihonage I may hold the belief that it can only be performed under the influence of grass hula-skirts and coconut shells.

I remember being taught shihonage by a sempai who insisted that nage has to be shoulder-to-shoulder with uke when executing the technique. That’s fine and dandy but it is possible to gain significant mechanical advantage for nage if they enter deeply enough to place their shoulder slightly behind that of uke. This will allow nage to use their own shoulder as a fulcrum. Really, this is cool, try it.

There is a saying among jujutsuka: “Attack pain”. Cranking on uke’s elbow can work but it may also telegraph an intention thus providing uke with a focal point to resist and attack their pain. I believe that the goal of this technique should be for uke to not feel as though anything is wrong until it is catastrophically too late.

With that in mind, extending Uke’s arm is what I see as key to the core of shihonage. Cranking up uke’s elbow can work and there is some serious martial validity in doing something that makes uke feel as though their arm is about to break but they will know that something is going on that is bad for them. If nage forms their arms into a broad circle with uke’s arm resting on top nage’s they can then lower their center and smoothly rotate from their hips. At all times through this rotation, nage’s hands should be directly in front of their own body with feeling of forward extension.

At the ultimate point of rotation and extension, nage should end up facing uke’s back or at worst their ear. If you nage does not rotate that far and winds up trying to throw against the direction uke is facing then uke is in a much stronger position to escape or counter.

One ugly counter from this position is for uke to simply reach around with their free hand and grab the back of nage’s gi. If uke can maintain their grip, nage’s throw will take both down with momentum in uke’s favor.

Finally, to cut down or cut out? Both work and I think both should be practiced. Lately, I have preferred to cut down to my foot as that keeps me in position to hold uke by putting my weight on their elbow while holding it across their face.

When executed properly, even shihonage can leave uke with that irritating “Why am I on the ground?” feeling.

Other Epiphanies
December 2, 2010, 08:51
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: ,

The other day I partnered with one of the uchi-deshi and got half of a great practice. Unfortunately for me, he had to leave midway to help with the 7:00AM beginner class. When he left I went looking for a pair to join.

The first were two young women, both about a head shorter than me who looked as though they were having a lot of fun together. Cutting in seemed rude so I went on to the next pair — an odd couple. One was a very tall, French, fifth dan and the other a Nepalese mudansha about my height. They were having a serious exchange in which the big guy was pounding the crap out of the mudansha (in a loving and caring sort of way). My playful side called out and they offered to let me play too.

The mudansha is a physically strong and flexible fellow who also studies karate and judo. Altogether that made working with him interesting. He fought every technique so I very carefully splattered him to a degree that he seemed to find satisfying and occasionally broke out of his pins to show that I really was paying attention.

The tall French sempai was altogether a different story. In terms of proficiency, the difference between us was not quite as great as that between me and the mudansha — I really want to believe that but it may just be hubris. He made me earn every throw and pin while calmly and casually reversing every opening.

Kobayashi sensei was substituting for Doshu that morning and he came by a few times and watched us. I’m not sure why but once he sort of shook his head, smiled and wandered away. It wasn’t that we were intentionally ignoring what he had demonstrated but rather there were such vast differences in size, strength, skill and intent that exactly replicating what he demonstrated was difficult. Watching the mudansha trying to perform morote tori kokyu nage (諸手取り呼吸投げ: two handed breath throw) on a guy thirty centimeters taller and five black belt ranks above him was not so much a study of how to do the technique as it was a study of how to teach someone how to do it.

In the end, that was my biggest take-away from the class. Too frequently, morotedori techniques are executed in ways that, at least to me, seem ineffectual. Sempai provided understandable instruction on how to turn the elbow in, align his posture and extend while rooting through his trailing foot. Somewhere along the way the mudansha’s techniques became more effective. He will not run out and take his black belt test tomorrow based on what he learned in that class but between start and
finish it was pretty clear that he had experienced an “Aha!” of some sort. I carefully stored that away with the hope that someday I will be able to provide someone with a similar epiphany.

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