Grab a little higher

In the last month or so, our dojo has decided to go back to a format more reminiscent of the "old days" when we paired up and did the 8 releases (hanasu no kata) and follow that up with practice on the randori no kata (or the 17, junana hon kata, or the 23 which would be what? ni ju san hon kata?). This morning, though, since we had all yudansha except one, I thought we play a little with the releases.

(I was worried when I first got to class because I was so tired and didn't feel like doing much of anything, but fortunately Scott was feeling saucy and got us all revved up, for which I am very grateful!)

We started by doing the releases in the basic, normal way. Afterwards, I explained that I had noticed many folks, during any sort of random attack exercise, completely freeze when someone grabbed them anywhere on the arm higher than the wrist. They looked like a deer caught in the headlights: Oh, no, what do I do?! We've never done anything where uke grabs there!...

The first thing I told was, just do the release, the same as always.

The interesting thing is, because the structural relationship between tori and uke is slightly different now, you get some interesting opportunities to exploit. None of this is gospel, of course, merely my own experimentation mingled with some past experience with my teachers.

Ude gatame from Koryu dai san kata

1) Hon soto hanasu
Uke grabs anywhere on the sleeve above the wrist (cross grip) and tori does the number one release. If you make the motion fairly large and circular, you'll find your arm coming down over uke's, pinning it to your thigh, and your free hand draped around the far side of his neck. A position which, as you might imagine, looks an awful lot like the fifth technique of o waza ju pon, or aiki nage.

2) Hon soto te osu
This one is a little odd, and I'll be the first to admit it may have flaws. Uke grabs the same as before, and tori steps just as he would for the second release, allowing uke to go right on by. Now, because of the different grip, it's much more likely that he will turn around on you, and also pretty likely that he will turn toward his own hand (if he's gripping with his right, he'll turn to his right to come back at you). As he turns the corner, your hand (the one with the grip on its sleeve) is free to place in the inside crook of uke's elbow. Gently push his elbow past his butt and you get a fairly slick sumi otoshi.

3) Gyaku soto hanasu
Uke grabs high, but mirror side this time. You step to the outside as you would a normal number 3 release. Here, we came up with a couple of options. The main variation comes from san kata. If uke grabs high, above the elbow, you step as you normally would, then curl your arm to your belly, palm up, crimping uke's elbow much like the third techniqe of the standing section (tachi waza) from san kata. Once you let uke rise, your hand, palm up, goes under the chin/across the torso, and stepping sideways, knock uke into a back-fall (some Tomiki folks will do it palm pushing out, but you get the idea: it's gyaku-gamae ate).

If uke's grip is below the elbow (but above the wrist), however, you'll find that as you turn back toward uke, his wrist will lock in a sort of kote mawashi, and his elbow will be locked, keeping you from crimping it like san kata. We still made the same action with our grabbed hand of curling our palm to our belly, but our free hand cupped uke's shoulder and rolled it forward into a sort of standing armbar similar to the fifth technique of the knife section of san kata.

4) Gyaku soto te osu
This one's also odd. As usual, you do everything the way you would a normal #4, but you keep your arm swinging in a wide arc until it comes comes back underneath uke's arm. You end up coiling uke's arm into a very uncomfortable position, but I'm not entirely sure what to do from that point. Since uke can't let go, you could basically walk him out the door if you wanted, but I don't really have a definitive throw, or kake, in mind. You decided you could use your near foot to sweep uke's out from under him, if like. You also may be able to allow his arm to uncoil as you step across his front in mae otoshi. Requires a little further experimentation, I think.

5) Hon uchi hanasu
The "under the arm" releases are a little tricky. Well, 6 and 8 I had answers for, but 5 and 7 still perplex me. When uke's grip is high, you really can't go under the arm (unless you're really short or you bend your knees pretty deeply). About the only thing I could come up with here would be to proceed as you normally would, turn, but instead of going under uke's arm, you slip your foot behind uke and your free arm across his middle and get gedan ate. Otherwise, I'm open to suggestions!

6) Hon uchi ude hineri
This variation, as well as the one for #8, I had been shown a long time ago, and I'm not positive where they came from (I'm pretty sure they're just variations of techniques from yon kata), but I've always loved them. In this release, you step to your right (if your right arm is the one being grabbed), shearing uke's arm across his own body. This action, as we know, tends to turn him. Instead of going under your arm (which you can't do), you turn back toward him into an aiki nage/irimi nage position. The action is very quick and tight, and startlingly effective.

7) Gyaku uchi hanasu
This one really befuddled me. Mostly, we kept wanting to go to the outside, as in #3, but then we realized that we had to assume we didn't have enough space or time to do that. In the end we came up with the same ude gatame standing arm bar as in the knife section of san kata. But we also found that a form of kaiten nage could possibly live there, and maybe the technique that's similar to kaiten nage where you cup the far side of his neck and spin him until he sits down (if it has a name, I've never heard it!)

8) Gyaku uchi ude hineri
This one goes much like the #6 variation, stepping across uke, getting him to spin, but now as you turn back toward uke, instead of an aiki nage/irimi nage position, you get a gyakugamae ate position (palm up under chin, our palm out pushing). Again, very quick and tight, but wickedly effective.

So there we have it! By all means, if anyone has any thoughts or ideas, I'm happy to hear them!