"Strike right up the center with your free hand," said Tatoian Sensei this morning as a student struggled to unbalance an attacker who had grabbed him by the shoulder. We were practicing the one-handed shoulder grab attack named Kata-Dori, a grab I love training partly because sometimes out in the world people actually do grab you that way.
If the attacker is skilled he or she will step off to the side while grabbing the shirt fabric just slightly to the rear of the shoulder. This provides safety from kicks and controls the defender's arm somewhat, preventing wide, swinging backhand strikes. Unfortunately for the attacker, such a grab does not prevent the defender from striking straight up his middle, as Tatoian Sensei is doing to Julian in the picture.
A new student, Brian, joined us again today. I remembered him from years ago when we trained at the Rohnert Park Sports Complex, and the relaxed ease of his body was different from most newer students, who carry some tension and tightness on the mat. At one point, when Brian did a really nice Shiho-Nage from Kata Dori, Sensei said, "he must be a ringer. He must have studied somewhere else for 8 to 10 years." That was a great compliment, the likes of which I've heard Sensei give maybe twice in the time I've been his student.
Eric, Julian, Brian and I took turns doing Shiho-Nage, Kote Gaishi, and a Kokyu-Nage variation from Kata Dori, all using the technique in which the defender responds with the strike up the attacker's center.
The Kote Gaishi variation we practiced was Saito Sensei's version in which defender steps off at a 90 degree angle, unbalancing uke and requiring for the throw only a simple step back with the foot closest to uke. This variation is much different from the more common version in which defender steps in toe-to-toe with uke and does a two-step hip move that whips uke around into the throw. This more common variation is fun because it allows for dramatic flying falls, but it is dangerous because uke can often get in a punch or kick if you whip him around too far in front of you. That's Tatoian Sensei demonstrating the off-to-the-side capture we practiced today.
Eric caught me sleeping once when it was my turn and he had grabbed me before I knew what was happening. This started a little game between us: catch the other off-guard. I decided to pretend to be distracted again when it was my turn on the next round. Eric played along and went after me with a wicked strike. Loud kiais followed.
After class with Tatoian Sensei I ran some quick errands and made to San Rafael in time for Goto Sensei's noon class. He was teaching a Shomen Uchi variation in which the defender draws out the attack with a kind of preemptive move that makes the attacker commit himself.
This drawing out strategy is a form of Yamabiko practice in which the defender, knowing an attack is coming, takes action to guide the attacker into the kind of strike the defender wants. The targeting for this preemptive strike by the defender is, you guessed it, straight up the attacker's center.
Goto Sensei cycled through Ikkyo Omote and Ura, and then said, "now we'll do Kote Gaishi." In a remarkable coincidence, or maybe not so remarkable in view of the fact that Saito Sensei was teacher to both Tatoian Sensei and Goto Sensei, Goto Sensei announced that we would practice the old variation that Saito Sensei taught in which the defender (nage) steps off 90 degrees to capture uke's balance. This of course was the variation I'd practiced two hours earlier with Tatoian Sensei in Santa Rosa.
This synchronicity between these two teachers is something I've grown to expect, and it makes me appreciate all the more the effort Saito Sensei put into clarifying his teaching so that everyone got pretty much the same message.
technorati tag aikido