Showing posts from June, 2012

Jigotai: Slaying the Beast!

Occasionally, in judo, I get asked a question about a common problem. Essentially, a student it trying to throw their partner but can't get in. Maybe he feels like his partner is just too tall, or too big and strong.

Fair enough. The same thing happens, actually, in aikido randori. Things are great when practicing a throw and we have a compliant uke, but when it comes to an uke who doesn't want to be thrown, he hit a wall. What happened?

First of all, let me remove the aspect of sport or tournament judo from this discussion. Nothing against judo as a sport or those who participate in it, mind you; I love watching tournament judo, it's exciting stuff. It's just not why I myself study judo (and most of my peers, as well).

In a match, I'm trying to score points, to win; the other guy is also trying to score points and win. I'm trying to keep from being thrown so I don't lose; so is the other guy.

That defensive, resistant posture—jigotai—can be very difficult …

Eyes up here, buddy

One of the things I was taught from day one, and have heard over and over since then, is "maintain eye contact."

The reasons why one should maintain eye contact usually came from a strategic standpoint. If I'm looking at uke's eyes, I can see what rest of him is doing out my visual periphery. So if I'm looking at uke's hand because I'm trying, for example, to do kote gaeshi, I'm vulnerable to his other hand smacking me upside the head.

But when it came to judo, we find that if I'm looking at uke's eyes, I can see what his upper body is up to, but his feet tend to fall out my field of vision. Therefor we were often told to look about chest level, and huzzah! Now I can see all of him, the sneaky bastard!

Then I ran across this quote from O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba:
Do not stare into the eyes of your opponent: he may mesmerize you. Do not fix your gaze on his sword: he may intimidate you. Do not focus on your opponent at all: he may absorb your en…

A hammer for all occasions

For most of my aikido life, I've been taught to always, always, always maintain an "unbendable arm." Palm outward, fingers up, elbow slightly bent but with tension in the muscles. The hand should stay, for the most part, in line with my body's center line, and rarely stray outside of the torso "box" (the area defined by my two shoulders and two hips. It looked something like this:

Which is fine, great. The problem I'm coming to find is that was ALL we focused on. We looked something like robots moving around out there, stiff and inflexible, as if someone had simply nailed a 2x4 to the side of our chest. It worked great when it met the needs of the situation, but overall it has quickly become—to me at least—a problem of having only a hammer and all of my problems look like nails.

In the Walking Kata, tegatana no kata, however, we practice a handful of other arm positions that I found I rarely, if ever used. Why? Why were they in the Walk if I rarely used…

"Be like water, my friend"

Imagine a small rivulet of water, flowing gently downhill. Now, let's say a rock appears directly in front of this little stream. What happens?

Does the water stop and push against the rock, trying to shove it out of the way? Of course not.

Does it try to pull the rock off to the side to make more room? Nope.

Does it simply turn around and go back where it came from? Huh-uh.

The water simply flows where it can. Let me repeat that: The water flows where it can.

Water does not, conversely, flow where it cannot. I know, I know. All that sounds painfully obvious, but it's a rather basic principle that nature seems to understand quite well, without having to "think" about it. But people? Well, there's both a blessing and a curse that comes with the ability to think.

The ability to reason has it's benefits; I don't think many would disagree with that. It's through the process of thoughtful analysis, or careful study, and detailed experimentation that we di…

Aiki is becoming clearer

I've been getting so much out of watching this guy. This is a nice example of just pure "aiki": no focus on any specific technique, no competition, not randori just yet, but what's often referred to as jiyu waza, just.... aiki. (It clocks in at almost 20 minutes, but for me, worth it.)

"How Aikido Works"

I really enjoyed this explanation and demonstration of "how aikido works."