Showing posts from October, 2010

The "L" shape

The "L" shape
One of the principles or concepts I've heard about from time to time over the years is the "L" shape. Specifically, we're talking about making a movement starts in one direction, and then at a certain point, changes direction, usually 90 degrees or perpendicular to the first line.

It's a wonderful principle, really, and while the reasoning behind it is simple enough, it still feels like magic when someone applies it to you. Uke feels energy going in a certain direction. Typically, he reacts by resisting, even just a little. A moment of tension is established. He can deal with that singular line of force or energy pretty well, his body structured is set to withstand it.

But when that line suddenly changes at a right angle, uke isn't prepared or his structure isn't set to deal with that line so he's very weak. A simple concept, but hard to internalize!

Kata gatame
The first place I remember learning about had to do with a particula…

Past the point of comfort

There's a point in many techniques (heck, maybe all of them if I thought about it more, but I'm thinking of some specific recent examples here) when uke reaches the end of his range of motion. We talked somewhat about this with kote gaeshi, when a handful of people were struggling to make it "work".

They had the hand position, they kept their centers moving as we're so often told, they maintained ma'ai, all of that. Uke was slightly off balance, or at least his posture was a little bent, but didn't fall. He just continued to stumble along.

If that sounds familiar, try taking your partner and just stand there, not moving around, but facing each other. Take his hand in a kote gaeshi grip, and without moving around, just arms, go from the starting point  moving your arms in an arc until you get to the "end", the kote gaeshi. If you're tori, you should be able to feel all of the slack is taken out of uke's arm, everything's tight, and h…

Yin & Yang with Jo Nage

Ever since I heard Henry Kono Sensei talk about understanding "yin and yang" in aikido, I've been searching for it. Below is an interesting little piece of yin and yang with jo nage (techniques that involve tori holding the jo staff).

Lightening the load

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits:

"Minimalism is lightening your load so you can soar, & land lightly if you should falter."


I've been fascinated lately by two aspects of "space" in aikido.

There's the sort of movement that creates space, or in other words a vacuum, when uke finds himself drawn into this emptiness.

Then there's the sort of movement where you occupy space that uke either used to occupy (displacement) or wanted to occupy but couldn't (interrupting).

For example, the first technique in this video demonstrates to me the idea of creating a vacuum, while the second and third technique involve occupying uke's space and displacing him.

The chin in magic

One of the phrases folks in the morning class have been hearing from me more and more lately, in both aikido and judo, is this: "the chin is magic."
There's another phrase they're probably tired of hearing that falls along the same lines: "the elbow is magic."
I'd like to film some video on my thoughts relating to both of those statements, but for now, I'll share this bit about the chin as it relates to aikido (then judo in a future post, and hopeful both and in a little more detail in video). 
While I've always sort of known that displacing uke's chin (or in general, his head) can have a potent effect on the rest of uke's body, I'm only recently beginning to see how wide spread the application is. Or rather, could be. Or perhaps should be.
Of course, like anything else I post here, the things I talk about are probably old news to you and your school or system, but it's not necessarily the way I was "brought up" in the art,…

Do you need the hands? Yes and no.

One of the things that has fascinated me of late is the use of hands in aikido. By way of example, I'll talk about kote gaeshi.

Last Saturday, I attended part of a godogeiko, or dojo "play day" (a sort of informal gathering of various schools and styles of aikido getting together to play and experiment without any real formal teaching). One of the things we played with was performing kote gaeshi without ever getting what you might think of as the "classical" grip or twisting uke's wrist. Instead, uke clasped both of his hands together, outstretched in front of him. As tori evaded in a tenkan, turning, fashion, he simply laid his hand on uke's. When it came time to change directions and apply the throw, tori simply put his other hand on uke's forearm.

I've also seen many other very subtle, high ranking folks throw it as they separate from uke, with little more than a pinky and ring finger lightly hooked on the base of uke's thumb. Not a lot …