This morning in aikido, we took another step or two in our progressions toward "chaos" (or randori). Grouped in threes, each person took turns being attacked by the others with a basic shomen ate attack. The drill was to simple practice evasion with a slight touch (no technique).
Not many problems there.
Then, we moved on to arced attacks, such as yokomen uchi (or a straight overhead "hammer" strike, or "upper cut" kind of strike). That's when things started to get a little messy.
The odd thing is, there's really not a lot (if anything) that you ought to do differently as tori from what you would do in any of the other kata that typically use a shomen ate attack. So why did things fall apart?
Well, I have one theory (so far). I suspect that, when people are attacked with something that's different from the norm (the same could be said of an uke with a weapon), their brains simply freeze. It's "unfamiliar" to the Conscious Mind, even though the Subconscious Mind could handle it just fine the same way it handles "normal" attack.
From what I understand, we in the Tomiki world tend to attack with shomen ate as uke so that, when we spend half a class as "uke" we can at least be doing something that's inherently, principally aikido (as opposed to a yokomen strike, which tori wouldn't apparently ever do). The Ueshiba world, from what I can tell, practice it routinely, as in this video:
Conversely, they hardly ever seem to use a shomen ate type of technique at all, as tori or uke.
As it happens, there are a handful of techniques performed from a yokomen attack in the higher katas. The problem there is, at least in our school, we hardly ever, if ever, get a chance to go over higher kata. So I'm left to wonder, would it be worthwhile to spend a class or two working on techniques just from a yokomen attack, even if the techniques are already fairly familiar (shiho nage, etc) just to acclimate the brain to an "abnormal" attack?
I think I might, just for the heck of it, schedule permitting, of course.