Saturday morning the parking lot at Tatoian Sensei's dojo in Santa Rosa was filling up by the time I got there 15 minutes before class. It was Field Trip Day for Bay Marin Aikido, and Goto Sensei and his students were there to pay a visit. What none of us could have predicted was that Jay Bell Sensei, an old student of both Tatoian Sensei and Goto Sensei, now teaching on his own in Santa Rosa, would also show up to train.
Tatoian Sensei has been preparing for another trip to the Phillipines, where he has an enthusiastic following, and lately he's been teaching some of Saito Sensei's more offbeat stuff. One item among these is the "escape from four attackers and stack them in a pile" technique.
On Saturday, after Tai no Henko and Morote Dori Kokyu Ho, Tatoian Sensei treated his visitors to a class in this technique. In the shot above, Stephen escapes behind Goto Sensei, and below Bell Sensei has fun stacking his ukes.
What you do is stand in the middle of a group of four attackers, each at compass points and within striking distance, and wait for them all to initiate a shomen strike at your head. Then, before anyone can hit you, you slip out of the circle and get behind one of the attackers, throwing him or her irimi nage. Once the first one is on the ground you have to make the others strike at you over the first body so you can perform a kokyu nage or irimi nage on them and pile them up on top of one another until they're all in a stack. From there you can hold the top one down so that the rest can't get up. It's hysterically funny the way Tatoian Sensei does this, smiling like a Cheshire Cat while feet and arms of ukes are squiriming out from the pile.
There was a lot of groaning from the bottom layers of the piles.
After a while of this Tatoian Sensei made us change it so that the attackers all came from the front, striking all at once. He showed how you can lock them up as a four-headed uke and throw the whole pile irimi nage. That variation was beyond most of the rest of us, so we tried to get them two at a time, which actually worked now and then.
To me this technique embodies Saito Sensei's rule of managing randori by staying pretty much in one spot and letting attackers come to you. Saito Sensei would just move his hips around and people would fly like mud off a spinning axle. Tatoian Sensei would always yell at me when I'd go off on search-and-destroy missions during randori. I was always thinking to basically hunt the attackers down, but Tatoian Sensei said, "that's too much work, and anyway, they're the ones attacking." It was in this spirit that he always taught this technique.
Below is a photo of the whole group after class.
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