Ura waza experiments part 4

Last month, the overall "theme" if you will for all aikido classes was "randori", and I chose to explore the ura waza techniques covered in both the usual forms but also the experimental stuff covered in last year's shochugeiko. This month, the dojo has moved on to koryu dai ni kata, and we're following suit in the morning classes, which means that I didn't get a chance to play with some of the last techniques in junana hon kata.

At least, not in regular class. I've a few occasions no to play around with some things outside of that, and I thought I'd jot them down here to finish out this series of posts and if anything make a record of what we found.

Where did we leave off? Oh, yeah, kote gaeshi. Wee covered ideas regarding tenkai kote gaeshi in early classes and posts, so we'll skip that and move on to shiho nage.

There is, of course, the classical counter of doing shiho nage right back to uke, which works pretty darn well, thank you very much. (There's another slight variation, though, that I've used in randori before, but I have no idea how to explain properly in words. I'll have to shoot a video someday.) But just for fun, I thought I'd poke around and see if I could find any other opportunities that lived there.

Interestingly enough, our work lately on ni kata as well as my own work with my friend Scott Weaver on yon kata over the last several months has apparently sunk in a little deeper than I'd realized. Specifically, I'm thinking of the 15th technique of yon kata (migi gyakugamae ate) and the 6th technique of ni kata (ushiro katate eri mochi gyakugamae ate).

There's a moment, when uke is trying to do shiho nage, that you can make that same sort of balance break. We work off of the condition where uke has stepped off the line of the initial attack and established his "butterfly" grip on our wrist (our right hand). Let's say he doesn't really get your balance here and he starts to do the hip switch in preparation for stepping through and under, turning, and finishing shiho nage. As he starts that first hip switch, we pivot the left foot back behind us with our right hand in our center and it catches uke perpendicular to the line of his feet, just like yon kata and ni kata.

Now, you can do the grip break action and proceed as in yon kata if you like, or you can spin them again as the try and recover and get a number of things: gyakugamae ate with your left hand, mae otoshi (which is strikingly familiar to #8 of yon kata), or kote taoshi; or you could do a #1 release and end up in an oshi taoshi sort of situation and all of the things that live there.

Since we dealt with mae otoshi earlier, we then played with sumi otoshi a little. The absolute best shot we found came from my buddy Christian Lamson. It incorporates, as so many of these counters do, a very very tight turning motion, pre-turning your foot under your hips. So as uke is trying to put your right hand into that back corner, you just keep turning tight, to your right, but here's the thing: cock your right hand, not with the fingers pointed upward like we normally would, but pointed to the right (the direction you're turning); at the same time, let your right hand come down to right thigh.

Yeah, I know, we're supposed to always keep our hands in our center, but this is one of those exceptions to the rule. But this brings up another fairly common method of countering techniques in addition to the tight rotation, which is attaching the arm and/or hand that's being attacked to your body while doing it.

Trust me, we got plenty of eyes going wide and various augh!'s from uke's who suddenly found their head shooting straight to the mat like a lawn dart (luckily, the guys I'm working with have such great ukemi).

Alternatively, I watched Henry Kono Sensei on video, simply go with uke's direction of power (rather than perpendicular to it) and drop to a knee. This also works pretty well, especially if you add your free hand to the inside of uke's forearm =).

I haven't had much time to play with the last one, hiki otoshi, but we did find that when uke is trying to get the arm lock that precedes the throw (the way the KG system does it, anyway; I don't think the rest of the Tomiki world does it with that preparatory jamming of the arm), you can do the very same hand cocked, pointing to the right, turn tight thing we did for sumi otoshi which worked pretty well. If I get a chance to work on it some more, I'll follow up later.