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Omote waza & Ura-waza….?

Many people are using the words “omote-waza & ura-waza”. Especially in Aikido this is frequently used without an explanation about the real meaning of these concepts. It is maybe wise to introduce you to the meaning of omote & ura in Japan’s social life. The Nakasendo Way website is an ideal resource about culture in Japan.

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Old Tokaido Highway

Nakasendo Way (website)

The Nakasendo Way: A Journey to the Heart of Japan is a comprehensive resource on the historic highways of Japan with particular emphasis on the Nakasendo Way. Another important highway is the Tokaido Highway. Belgian Television (Canvas) broadcast a documentary about the famous Tokaido Highway, one of the five historical highways (Tokaido Highway, Nakasendo Way,….) in Japan.  Director of the documentary: Luc Cuyvers – Staff Members: Tim Wolput & Kaori Sanada….

Omote-ura – Public and Private Faces

Omote (the public face) and ura (the private face) are twin concepts that are applied to almost any aspect of Japan or life in Japan.

Omote refers to the image which an individual, a company, or any institution wishes to present to outsiders or the public in general. As with any image, omote is composed of a mixture of reality, myth, and lie. A building dating back 50 or 60 years which has been given a new facade is a good example: the facade is typically ultra-modern and designed with attention to creating a positive image in the eye of the beholder, but the building inside is quite the opposite. Similarly, the Liberal-Democratic Party frequently makes statements about party unity regarding an issue, but behind that is a high level of disagreement among the party’s various factions.

Ura is the opposite of omote. It is the reality behind the omote image with the myth and lies of the image stripped away. Ura is the old, dark, falling-down building behind the facade, the factional wrangling behind closed doors, the tensions between parents and children, or the mawkish and emotional outpourings of a drunk on a late night commuter train. Ura is usually covered up by omote; when it is suddenly exposed, there is great damage or embarrassment or both because the unreality of the omote is revealed for all to see.

In the feudal period, land granted to retainers was assessed as yielding a particular amount of wealth. This was sometimes called the omotedaka or public assessment, but increases in productivity and additional land brought under cultivation often pushed the real yield far higher, making the retainer wealthier and, potentially, more powerful than he nominally was. Villages in the feudal period were left to run their internal affairs themselves without interference by the government. The villagers would present a public face of unity and order to outsiders, perhaps masking severe internal tensions, even violence, but it was important to maintain the omote for the alternative was to have the government send a flock of officials and samurai to sort the situation out. That would only lead to more trouble.

Etiquette is an area where the concepts of omote and ura can be applied to advantage. Etiquette, or manners, are omote: the public face which the individual puts forth. It is extremely important for Japanese to be able to behave in conformity with society’s expectations. Thus, a young man or woman must use deferential patterns of speech and behavior toward older people or people in superior positions. With the democratization of the post-1945 period has come a softening in the distinctions which were once required. Many complaints are heard, therefore, that the younger generation does not know how to behave properly. The omote side of etiquette is slipping.

For the ura side of etiquette, the home might be the best example. Because the home is ura, individuals at home can relax and become much more informal. Clothing and speech both relax and food is usually ordinary fare rather than formal. However, the division of omote and ura is not absolute even here. A family at home may be more relaxed in behavior than when it is in public, but a young brother is still careful to call his elder sister by that name and everyone is polite to the father although in an informal manner.

Omote & ura in Martial Arts

Omote techniques are taught to beginner and are techniques considered less effective, if the movement is not perfectly executed. The view to the outside world is important, but speaking from a strategy point of view, the efficiency is not so high. Students are learning the basic movements of the art.

Ura techniques are more effective.  The techniques, in which one exposes oneself less vulnerable. These are techniques where we absorb the attack of the opponent. Strategy is an important element, besides the total control of the own body movements.

Randori no kata (Tomiki Aikido)

As we all know, randori no kata has 2 major components

  • Omote waza
  • Ura waza

Omote waza

The techniques which are allowed in a regulated randori.
There are some versions around, but most well-known are

Omote waza is also “the entry” to Tomiki Aikido waza.

Ura waza

Mostly people call this set counters to the basic techniques. This is in fact an “omote” approach and in many cases the techniques don’t work if the omote-waza is perfectly executed.

We have to start with a different mindset and this is described in the omote-ura in Japan’s social life. After all, fighting is a part of our social life and we cannot deny this.

More technical explanations on Ura-waza soon

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Inspiration and creativity

tegatana secret front

In 2010, I wrote a book “Tegatana, the secret weapon of Aikido”. It describes history and technical content of Tomiki Aikido. Since that time my life changed a great deal. I am not going to disturb you with my family life. I like to mention the changes in my “martial art” life.

Since I wrote my book some interesting people came on my road to perfection. They changed completely my understanding of Tomiki Aikido.

Is this understanding the correct way of Tomiki Aikido, I don’t know, but at this moment it feels the best way for me.

Nevertheless, who are those people?

  • Mike Sigman : Internal Strenght & Chinese Martial Arts theory
  • Ilias Calimintzos : Yi-Quan, Chinese boxing
  • Akira Hino : Hino Budo, Japanese Martial Arts theory and practise

They triggered something in me and forced me to walk on a path in an unknown territory. I cannot see the end of the road but I enjoy very much the travelling.

Inspiration and creativity

”To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.”
Albert Einstein

interlinking-posts-630x401

Inspiration and creativity go hand in hand, but are 2 different things. There is also the “knowledge” component involved.

Inspiration comes at the right time and will be triggered in most cases by external stimulus. It creates new ideas how to solve old problems. The new ideas, of course, have to be concreted by action, in the case of martial arts: practise.

Existing knowledge is necessary, but it cannot interfere directly with new ideas, otherwise creativity will be blocked. Keep your mind open for evaluating the process of problem solving with existing knowledge. Unfortunately knowledge is sometimes hid by bad habits.

How to become creative in your training

First, forget you are a member of a big organisation. The rules of your organisation are blocking your creativity.
Next, study the basic principles of your martial art.
Ask yourself, what is the aim of your training? For yourself or eventually for your students? When you have your answer start with your training and keep in mind the basic principles of your art.

In my case, as I am not interested in competitive randori and certainly not in competitive kata or enbu, my interest goes in the direction “how to move efficiently the body in randori and kata”. I discovered that most of the basic principles in Tomiki Aikido are the same as in most of the other martial arts. My discovery is not based upon conscious thinking and using buzz words. No, my discovery is on the level of subconscious acting.

There are no words to describe how to imply the basic principles into my art. Maybe I can say the art are the basic principles itself.

Another discovery was the concept of “rendo”. The interlinking of all your body and mind movements in relationship with the opponent. Without this interlinking your martial art will be based upon raw muscle power and wrong use of bodyweight.

Once I had a bodily feeling (taikan) of rendo, I started to review basic kata and koryu no kata. Of course my rendo is not optimal and sometimes I am trapped in my old habits.
By reviewing kata, new problems came to the surface. By using the quote of Albert Einstein, some of the problems are solved by using creativity based upon the basic principles.
Besides using the basic principles of the art, you need training in the use of hara (koshi, tanden and yōbu). How to use the mind is another important element in the training. All of those elements are commented in the content of this blog.

Creative randori

creative randori

People asked on several occasions about the skills of my son. There is only 1 answer: practise.
Of course, there is external stimulus. In his case, he had very good training partners. Those men triggered him a lot to find new ways for improving his randori.
Once, a Japanese teacher said: Tim created a system which only suits him.
His ideas are written into a little booklet:

creative-randori

If you had a look at this booklet, you will notice this is not the basic stuff your organisation is providing. It is totally different, but on the other hand it is Tomiki Aikido Randori.

Don’t become trapped in your own structure

When creative movements become fixed movements you will be trapped in your own body and mind structure.
From a physical point of view, reference is made to doubleweight. Your body cannot move anymore. You are ready to be thrown by the opponent.

An example of this problem is called the stiff knee syndrome. Your knees are blocked because you are pushed in a defensive situation and don’t want to fall. The stiff knee syndrome is frequently seen by older people or overweight people.

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Jo & bokken in Tomiki Aikido

Using jo & bokken in Tomiki Aikido is only a small part of the syllabus and most of the techniques can be found in koryu no kata dai san & dai roku.

  • Tachi dori – defending against sword attacks
  • Jo dori – defending against trusting with the jo
  • Jo no tsukai – using the jo against an unarmed attacker
  • Tachi tai tachi – basics of sword fighting

tomiki manchuriaWhen reading the biography of Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba, there are references to sword and other weapons schools. Some of those references are from the time when Kenji Tomiki and Hideo Ohba were in Manchuria, Both were exposed to military martial arts especially sword, spear, bayonet and short sword and the  influence of this exposure can be seen in koryu no kata dai san.
Hideo Ohba was a skilful swordsman and studied intensively halberd (naginata). There are some stories of Hideo Ohba when he was facing swordsmen with a naginata.
Koryu no kata is in fact the work of Hideo Ohba and his close students. The manipulation of the sword is mostly influenced by the Kendo Renmei technical syllabus. Although Kenji Tomiki did some sword work when he was a student of Morihei Ueshiba, but most of the influence in sword came from Ohba.
jukenIn Koryu no kata the yari or juken is replaced by the jo, but of course the length of the jo is not fixed like the jo of the Shindo Muso Ryu jojutsu or Kendo Renmei Jodo. The origin of the jo-techniques can be found in the use of yari (spear) and juken (bayonet).

Aikiken/Aikijo system promoted largery by Morihiro Saito (Aikikai)), is different from Ohba’s method.

Aikiken/Aikijo has some influence on Kobayashi formalTetsuro Nariyama (Osaka Shodokan Dojo) and was taught by the late Hirokazu Kobayashi (Osaka Aikikai) a friend of Kenji Tomiki.

Which method you use depends on the educational line you are following.
But don’t make the mistake to mix up different systems.

 

How to start with bokken

Using the sword during training is done in a “kata” setting. Koryu no kata dai san and dai roku have such techniques for study and training. Focusing your mind on the correct performance is one of the most important  elements. Don’t forget “bokken” is a weapon and can be harmful for people. It can eventually kill someone.

How to start with jo

Most of the attacks with the jo are thrusting methods similar to the use of spear or bayonet. For this reason, basic kamae is an ideal posture to perform a strong and penetrating thrust to the weak spots of the opponent. Don’t pull back the jo before you thrust, start always from basic kamae.

Bokken & jo techniques in koryu no kata – will be published soon

  • Koryu no kata dai san – tachi dori
  • Koryu no kata dai san – jo dori
  • Koryu no kata dai san – jo no tsukai
  • some examples (kihon & waza)
  • Koryu no kata dai san – tachi tai tachi
  • Koryu no kata dai roku – tachi dori
  • Koryu no kata dai roku – jo no tsukai

Admiral Takishita 1935

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17-hon no kata

17-hon no kata

Kata in general consist mainly of offensive and defensive methods. Although there is no visible attack (for the untrained eyes) in the 17-hon no kata “toshu” method , there has to be an offensive and defensive action.

  • Uke’s attitude towards Tori has to be an offensive one. Uke is projecting his attacking mind forward in the direction of Tori.
  • Tori attitude towards Uke has to be a controlling one. Tori is grasping the attacking mind and neutralize it.

17-hon awase movement

Tegatana awase

nocquet tegatana011Tegatana awase is mostly referred as a sensitivity exercise when Tori and Uke have their tegatana together. This is not only the case in Tomiki Aikido but in all Aikido methods where Tegatana Awase is used.
Morihei Ueshiba & André Nocquet putting together the tegatana.

Touching the tegatana in 17-hon no kata is an important part of the performance. It is the first physical contact with Uke. Losing the fight starts here.

Benefits of kata training

When kata is done with the correct attitude, the are a lot of benefits for body and mind. The attitude of offensive and defensive actions is one of the most important elements in the kata training. Without these actions kata becomes an empty performance, a display without a soul.

Kata can be very beneficial as physical training, especially if Uke accept the many stretching movements during the performance.

ukemi forwardUkemi can be very demanding and is a form of cardio training. It is the task of Tori to keep always control of Uke, even when Uke is performing ukemi.

Throwing Uke in a violent way has to be avoided. Controlling Uke with pain is not the preferred way and shows a lack of skill in controlling violence.

Because the roles of Tori and Uke are set, precision becomes another element in the performance of the kata. Without proper technical and mental skill, kata becomes a dull and boring training tool. Learning precision is an important benefit of proper kata training.

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17-hon no kata – Uki-waza

Uki waza

The integration of our bodywork exercises into Uki Waza will generate extra power into the technique. This power is derived from Tenshikeiî or the power generated through internal body turning, stretching and releasing. This internal turning follows a diagonal spiral line or in other words: diagonal tension.

Mae  otoshi

The setup for mae otoshi is creating diagonal tension. By stepping forward the tension can be released and becomes kinetic power.

  • Use the same setup as for tenkai kote gaeshi
  • Slide the arm closer to Uke’s armpit while turningin hineri fashion
  • Releaese and drop the power generated by the diagonal tension
  • When stepping forward, use rolling foot skill

Sumi otoshi

Sumi otoshi is an almost exaggerated example of “tenshikei”.

sumi otoshi diagonal tension

  • Use setup footwork from tenkai kote hineri
  • Don’t squeeze the wrist of Uke
  • When creating diagonal tension, keep koshi stable
  • Releaese and drop the power generated by the diagonal tension

Hiki otoshi

Remark the footwork to improve the diagonal tension. When releasing the tension and stepping back, tenshikei becomes kinetic power.

  • Don’t squeeze the wrist of Uke
  • When creating diagonal tension, keep koshi stable
  • Releaese and drop the power generated by the diagonal tension
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17-hon no kata – Tekubi-waza

Tegatana no mune

 Tegatana (Japanese for hand sword) is a term that refers to the idea the hand and the arm are in the shape of a Japanese sword.
During training, uke and tori often face each other with their respective tegatana that touch each other. From this position, considered the ideal distance for two unarmed opponents, many balance breaking, striking and throwing techniques can be applied.
The inside of the tegatana is called “tegatana no mune”, and can be used in techniques like tenkai kote gaeshi.

Mawari foot movement

mawari foot movement

This kind of foot movement you will find in tenkai kote hineri or sumi otoshi.
A similar foot movement can be used in tenkai kote gaeshi.

Kote hineri

  • Tori avoid by sideways Tsugi Ashi and contact Uke’s wrist from the side with the free hand (Mune edge)
  • Tori, at the same time, and with the thumb in the palm of the hand, twist Uke’s wrist. This is done by Tori using a diagonal spiral in the Torso.  This action is used to drive Tori’s elbow so that it can then drive Uke’s elbow so that it is above the shoulder line.
  • As Uke’s elbow reaches the peak, Tori reinforce this position by sliding the hand up to the elbow, thumb into Uke’s inner elbow joint.
  • Tori push Uke to the ground, maintaining the wrist lock.
  • Once Uke is under control on the ground, change posture by moving the outside leg forward.

Kote gaeshi

  • Use the same start as in Kote Hineri.
  • Tori change direction once Uke’s elbow approaches the peak.
  • Tori turn from the Torso and step to the side and onto Uke’s weak line. (Don’t step towards Uke,  Don’t pull Uke)
  • Tori slip the hand gripping Uke’s wrist from the outside to the inside.
  • Tori use Hikimawari Ashi footwork and apply the wrist turn in the direction of Uke’s side to create the effect of Kaeshi.
  • Uke’s arm and wrist must have the shape 90° and 90° respectively.  Tori use the thumb and the palm of the hand to implement this.
  • The throw is achieved using a diagonal spiral in the Torso.
  • The preferred method of Ukemi is not to jump or roll around before the throw has happened.
  • Tori maintain the lock on Uke’s wrist and use Hikimawari Ashi foot to finish.

Tenkai kote hineri

  • Tori step to the side and use Hikimawari Ashi footwork.
  • Tori keep Uke’s arm at Chudan level.  Use a diagonal spiral in the Torso to achieve this.
  • Tori’s leading hand grips Uke’s arm above the wrist using skin effect.
  • Tori step and turn Demawari Ashi and apply a twist to Uke’s wrist and bring it down to Uke’s hip. This creates the effect of Hineri in Uke.
  • The lock on Uke’s wrist must be maintained throughout the action.
  • Bring Uke down onto their front to finish.

Tenkai kote gaeshi

  • Tori bring the free hand up and under the Tegatana hand and on the inside of Uke’s Tegatana and sweep the arm down and across.
  • At the same time Tori Tsugi Ashi to the side.
  • Tori, and with a curved step forwards, raise Uke’s arm.
  • This action is a diagonal spiral in the Torso of Tori which create the effect of Kaeshi in Uke.
  • Tori now turn and create Tenkai to reinforce the effect of Kaeshi in Uke.
  • Tori then relax the diagonal spiral stretch to throw
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17-hon no kata – Hiji-waza

Skin-effect

skin-effect

When grasping the wrist of Uke it is only grasping the skin and underlying tissue. It is not grasping the bones. Grasping the skin has an effect on the fascia system.

Oshi-taoshi

  • Tori use skin effect on Uke’s wrist.
  • Tori using a diagonal spiral in the torso move from the elbow to drive Uke’s elbow up to above their shoulder level.
  • Tori push their thumb into Uke’s inner elbow joint; very slightly release the grip on the wrist to allow Tori to rotate their hand from palm in to palm out.  Re-grip Uke’s wrist.
  • Tori control Uke before bring them down.  Don’t be tempted to push Uke laterally away or use them as a prop.
  • Control Uke on the ground, chest down, Their palm up, wrist below the knee cap, Tori’s palm down, stretching the arm.

Ude-gaeshi

  • Start as per Oshi-taoshi.
  • Tori make contact with Uke’s elbow; use Inside Turn action, Mune then Tegatana.
  • Tori Tsugi Ashi forwards so that the hips are alongside Uke’s.
  • Tori stretch and release to throw with rolling foot

Hiki-taoshi

  • Tori avoid to the side whilst rotating the upper body in order place the free hand palm up under Uke’s wrist. (Here again the upper and lower body are doing different things)
  • Use Outside Sweep action to start moving Uke’s hand down and across to Tori’s other hand which continues the movement with Inside Sweep action.
  • Tori grip Uke’s elbow and bring Uke down whilst using Hikimawari Ashi footwork, which sweep Uke off their feet. (This is stepping back with a circular foot movement is initiated by turning of the Koshi and Tanden)

Ude-hineri (Ude-garami)

  • Use the same start as in Hikitaoshi.
  • Tori make contact with Uke’s elbow use Outside Turn action, Mune then Tegatana.
  • Tori, with their other hand on the wrist of Uke, use Inside Turn action driven from the turning of the Torso, above the hips.
  • Tori focus the direction of Uke’s hand to the region above their spine.
  • Tori complete the throw which will induce a spiral effect into Uke’s Ukemi.

Waki-gatame

  • Tori avoid by turning the Torso and grip Uke’s wrist from the underside (Ulna side of the arm).
  • Tori keep the interface of the three arms and Tsugi Ashi to the side and keep Chudan level.
  • Tori then Torso rotate towards Uke and stretch the arm towards Uke, connect with Uke’s arm and release the stretch to apply the lock.
  • Tori turn towards Uke to secure the lock.
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17-hon no kata – Atemi-waza

The integration of our exercises, discussed in this blog, have of course a great influence on the performance of our waza in kata and randori.
Major influences are:

  • stretching the body
  • diagonal tension
  • twisting and untwisting
  • rolling feet
  • and other elements…

Shomen ate

  • Tori stretch the body as the arm is raised as a threat.
  • Attack Uke’s arm as the stretch is released.
  • Tori use gravity effect and step before touching Uke’s chin.
  • Use rolling foot skill as you touch and push Uke.

Ai-gamae ate

  • Avoid in reverse posture along the line of Uke’s feet.
  • Use Inside Turn action on Uke’s upper arm, close to the elbow (Don’t grip).
  • Lightly grip Uke’s skin at the wrist.
  • Use gravity effect and step into regular posture and control Uke before moving the leg and then touching the chin.

Gyaku-gamae ate

  • Avoid in regular posture as Uke’s wrist is lightly gripped (skin effect).
  • Tori stretch the body as the arm is raised as a threat.
  • Attack to the face but lightly land on the chest of Uke.
  • Use skin effect on Uke’s upper body.
  • Gravity effect, Step with rolling foot and tsugi ashi and throw.

Gedan ate

  • Avoid in regular posture as Uke’s wrist is lightly gripped (skin effect).
  • Tori stretch the body as the arm is raised as a threat.
  • Uke closes down the options to an upper body attack by slightly turning and raising their arm.
  • Tori then drop to gedan and form a sword-drawing-like shape with the attacking arm.
  • Use skin effect on Uke’s lower body.
  • Gravity effect, Step with rolling foot and tsugi ashi and throw

Ushiro ate

  • Tori using the Mune action from Inside Turn, place the hand onto Uke’s upper arm.
  • Tori lightly grip the skin of Uke’s wrist and with both hands and using a diagonal spiral in the torso; slightly rotate the arm and Tsugi Ashi to rotate Uke.
  • This is an example of Tori’s upper and lower body being separate as the action is made.
  • Tori then, using a similar movement, Tsugi Ashi sideways across Uke’s back and touch the hands onto Uke’s shoulders.
  • By bringing down the elbows and rotating the hands; rather like rotating a Jo which is situated along the shoulder line.
  • Uke will be fixed in a stretched falling rearwards position.  Tori momentarily keep this before moving back.  Donít be tempted to pull Uke back.

You’ll find the complete Basic 17 here

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Diagonal tension in Uki-waza

Mae-otoshi – Sumi-otoshi – Hiki-otoshi

spiral line012The integration of our bodywork into Uki-waza will generate extra power into the waza. This power is derived from “tenshikei” or the power generated through internal body turning, stretching and releasing. This internal turning follows a diagonal spiral line  or in other words : diagonal tension.

Diagonal tension is one of primary factors for the skill of cutting with a sword. It is Monjuro Morita, a famous kendoka who wrote a book on kendo covering diagonal tension.

 

Monjuro Morita (1889-1978)

Adapted from Kenji Tokitsu book : Miyamoto Mushashi, Myth & Reality

Morita Monjuro and his attempt to understand Musashi’s Single-Cadence Strike. Monjuro believes that Musashi had perfect handling of the body because he knew how to use the diagonal tensions of the abdomen/thorax.

The tanden and the koshi, located on either side of the body, form one set in practice. Each muscle use of koshi is transmitted to the tanden by stimulating pressure, which activates positively different parts of nervous systems.

Tanden and the musculature of the koshi form a unity, but their roles are not the same. The tanden controls the koshi. The training of koshi is synonymous with the training of the tanden, center of the body, and thus it becomes a training of body and mind … We can say the training of each technique strengthen the muscles of the koshi and the tanden. Which has almost the same effect as to strengthen the tanden practicing zazen. If the practice of Budo remains at a mere technical manipulation, the effect can not be the same. By producing the art of the koshi and tanden, we can strengthen our mind and body.

To hit properly from the tanden and koshi, we must use a perfect structured body and a perfect handling of the sword. This is a gesture that is produced in accordance with the two forces that go diagonally right leg left arm, left leg and right arm.

The perfect handling of the sword is produced by the integration of three elements: the rotation of koshi, diagonal tension produced by this rotation and displacement of the body.

The perfect handling is achieved by integrating the tensions of the body diagonals that cross the legs to the arms. Applying this principle, I discovered that the force spontaneously filled the tanden, and my kendo has been completely transformed.

The Key to Power: Spiral Movement and diagonal tension

Spiral movement is defined as a three-dimensional curve in space around a central axis. A spiral elongates as it turns so it has a built-in expansive quality to it. Spiral movement is a type of movement we naturally and frequently perform throughout the day.

When we turn our body to shake another’s hand, you should feel the spiral not only in your upper body but all the way down to your feet. 
While the entire body should spiral, the upper body (i.e., from the waist up) will turn more than the lower body. This creates a dynamic stretch of the muscles. It is like stretching a rubber band with all the resulting stored potential energy. The separation of the upper and lower body is a major factor in generating power from spiral movements. But keep in mind, the body is functioning as a whole unit.

The separation skill is possible when we can control the lower part of the body. The control can be explained as stretching and releasing the muscles of koshi and tanden.

Contracting muscles can not spiral.

Contracted muscles can only rotate and twist. In contrast, lengthening (particularly lengthening of the whole spine) is what allows the spiral to occur and give the possibility to generate power. “A spiral elongates as it turns so it has a built-in expansive quality to it.”

Maybe you understand now why we have to keep the body in an upright posture. By taking up a curved posture, the tendency is to contract muscle of the torso and no power can be generated from spiral movement and diagonal tension. By adopting an upright posture we can generate power from spiral movements and diagonal tension.

How to apply spiral movement and diagonal tension in Uki-waza

puzzels123-waterval-van-iguazu-2000-stukjes_085143023_thumbStretching and releasing following a diagonal pathway is the key to powerful “otoshi” techniques. Remember not to use muscle contraction during the throw. It is about releasing the stored power in the lengthened muscles.
The power in the throw can be compared with the power of a waterfall.

 

Mae otoshi

The setup for mae otoshi is creating diagonal tension. By stepping forward the tension can be released and becomes kinetic power.

mae otoshi 001

Sumi otoshi

Sumi otoshi is an almost exaggerated example of “tenshikei”.

sumi otoshi 001

Hiki otoshi

Remark the footwork to improve the diagonal tension. When releasing the tension and stepping back, tenshikei becomes kinetic power.

hiki otoshi 001

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Balanced body frame: Shizentai

Shizentai

Tomiki100yrs 034Tomiki wrote many articles and books about Budo, mostly Judo and Aikido. In his writings, but also in his lectures he stressed a lot “shizentai” mostly translated as “natural posture”.
Shizentai is a posture neither limp or neither rigid. From shizentai we can move in any direction. If someone is pushing we can move away without changing the distance in our relationship with the opponent or partner.
The picture of Kenji Tomiki is sometimes used as “the” example for “shizentai”, but this is not completely correct. Shizentai is all about how your body is behaving during activity and rest. Tomiki’s picture is just one of many examples of shizentai.
Shizentai is a kind of neutral body structure, a balance between a tensed body structure and a slacked body structure.

Balanced body frame

A balanced body frame is not a fixed posture. It is a dynamic structure, and sometimes it balances between a 1-part body frame to a more multipart body frame. Both body structures are in a balanced status depending on the use of the structure in a specified situation.

It is also possible to have a “neutral” body frame, a structure when someone is touching or grabbing you and the opponent just feels your skin.
This kind of body condition is very convenient to hide your intention.

1-part body

1-part body frame

A 1-part body frame is used when we have to increase “momentum” by using more body mass.

Using gravity in a movement is a good example of the use of 1-part body frame.

By stretching up the body, a 1-part body condition is created. When the body is tilted slightly forward, a forward step is needed to keep balance. Momentum can transferred into the strike with the “tegatana”. The attacking arm is a part of the 1-part body frame, the full body weight will increase the momentum in the strike. Of course, the skill of rolling foot and tsugi ashi is needed to keep balance.

shomen ate old

Multi-part body frame

A 1-part body frame is very useful when we seem to have a lot of space to move around, but this is not always possible.

Our body has more possible options for moving and generating power. The skill of “rendo” is based upon using a multi-part body frame.

kyokotsu exercise 10

When the wrist is grabbed and twisted, the different parts of the body will allow the twisting. By allowing the twisting, energy is storing into the twisted body. This energy can be released by moving the different parts in a correct sequence.

TenshikeiThe sequence in a multi-part body frame

It is important to keep the interface of the grasping unchanged. This is only possible when the body has a neutral condition. Opponent just feels the skin of your wrist, but opponent has no access to the rest of your body. You just accept his power which doesn’t interfere with your balance and moving abilities.

The photographs are taken from a documentary:
Hino Budo by Akira Hino
The pictures are taken from Akira Hino’s book:
Don´t Think, Listen to the Body

Keeping the interface

Do not resist or try to modify the situation. If you do, you change the state of the interface (the gripped part), and change is immediately detected by the opponent who will adjust the grip and hold you more firmly. Keep the interface as it is.
The change of the interface is an indication that you’ve used your consciousness to resist intentionally. You may use your consciousness to feel, but never use it to think or plan otherwise it will be detected by the opponent. Keeping the body frame neutral is an important skill for all Budo Aikido practitioners.

Untwist the body by itself

As the twisted body untwist itself by releasing the stored energy, your elbow drops and bends, and your palm turns upwards. You may think it is advantageous to step forward and turn to the antagonist to use the weight of your body for resistance, but you’re advised not to do so. Do not try to move intentionally, for it will be overpowered by the opponent who is in a better position, he’s twisted your arm already. “Keep the interface as it is” is important here as well, for as soon as you try to use your intentional power, the state of the interface changes and the opponent will notice it immediately.

The “real skill” of Shizentai

Shizentai is a dynamic condition of being. There are no unnecessary tensions, there is no slack in the body. All actions are optimal, even during the “rest” action. Of course it takes time to develop such a skill.
Shizentai is a skill useful in all aspects of life and it must be practised until it is a part of your being.