Monday, May 3, 2010

The tall and the short of it, part 4

Continuing my thoughts on approaching aikido and judo as a tall person and as a short person, let's look at the last two sections of junana hon kata:

Tekubi waza (wrist techniques)

11) Kote hineri
Tall: Just like oshi taoshi, elbow through the ear, over the top of uke seems to work great.

Short: Just like oshi taoshi, it's harder for shorter people to get the elbow through the ear, so the tenkan, turning version tends to work a little better.

12) Kote gaeshi
Tall: For me, I have plenty of success with extending uke over his toes, but I also do well with a more sideways version, which puts uke's wrist over the side of his foot, or even back towards his rear corner, collapsing him.

Short: Kote gaeshi can actually prove fairly problematic for smaller people, mostly because of the grip. It's hard for a tiny hand to put torque on a big bear paw. I find smaller folks have two options here.

One, if they're keeping with the idea of extending uke forward, drawing him out, you can try adding the other hand to help get the torque on the wrist. Ordinarily, we warn everyone about committing two hands to one spot, because if everything isn't just right (if you don't truly have uke's balance, and he's within reach) he'll likely use his second hand and push on your elbow or face, game over. It's a calculated risk, but when it works, it drops uke like a stone.

Second, maximize the "principle of dynamic reversal". I watched our tiniest class member dump one of our biggest several times the other day like this. Basically, tori uses the tenkan action to set it up. Once the bigger uke catches up and "rounds the corner", tori changes direction and starts going back the other way. In effect, it looks like tori is scooting underneath uke and the big lug just falls over her (much how shorter players do with hip throws in judo).

Again, there's a calculated risk here: you're traveling right towards uke's second hand. But, as I mentioned in a previous post about what I call the "sphere of influence," you can actually negate much of the effect that hand can have by stepping so close to it, it can't get a shot off or deliver efficient power. Again, if done right, it's a heckuva ride!

13) Tenkai kote hineri
Tall: Any time taller folks step under uke's arm, they always assume they should sink low to accommodate uke (if you do, remember to bend at the knees, not the back). But, why accommodate uke at all? Maximize your height by remaining as close to normal height as possible and really extend uke up on his toes!

When finishing this one, I like to turn 180 degrees and face uke, which nearly makes him do a face plant.

Short: Well, you can't extend uke up on his toes even if you tried, so whenever you go under uke's arm take it as far away from his body as you can, turning directly underneath his hand.

When finishing, turning and facing directly at a tall uke may not always work, so stepping down the line of the arm and extending uke out seems to work nicely.

14) Shiho nage
Tall: Placing uke's hand behind his head works well for taller people, but...

Short: ... for shorter people, they end up having to reach too high. I would recommend turning to the side (which some might then call tenkai kote gaeshi), which will keep your arms more in your center and brings uke down to you.

Uki waza (floating techniques)

15) Mae otoshi
Tall: This one seems made for taller guys, extending uke down a line from behind. The thing to remember is that with the initial arm coil, if I put my arm at mid-level, between my naval and my chest, a shorter uke will sometimes follow the upward arc and slip under in a release motion and I'm dead. I have to keep their arm low at my belt level.

With the throw, I find that my center line intersecting uke's center line happens primarily at uke's shoulders.

Short: It's just as important to keep the arm coil low here, too; not because a tall uke will duck under your arm in a release, but you want to bring uke down to you, right? With the throw, your center line will intersect uke's more at his hip level.

16) Sumi otoshi
Tall: Sumi otoshi is actually really ideal for smaller people, because it keeps that hand nice and low. So if you're taller, you might try the turning, more "guruma" version from "the 23" version of the kata.

Short: Sumi otoshi was made for you. Become very good friends with it.

17) Hiki otoshi
Tall: Dropping to the ground in front of uke doesn't alway get the effect I'd like, perhaps because, being tall, when I drop, it doesn't feel to uke like I went very far. Then again, having long legs, I can extend a loooong way away and get something. But, you might as well try the turning "guruma" version (which looks a little like the big 10) instead and save your knees.

Short: For you, the old school Tomiki style where you step back right off the bat and extend uke will yank uke out of his jockey shorts.

. . . . . . . . . .

Next up, the judo side of things.

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