Author: Eddy Wolput °1948 – 7th dan Aikido (JAA-Tokyo/Japan) – 5th dan Iaido – 5th dan Jodo
A principal obstacle to improvement in practice is the body’s usual mode of generating movements. One cannot improve, for example Uchi-mawashi or Soto-mawashi much unless one breaks the habit of the arm and shoulder muscles to dominate the actions, and learn how to use the waist to coordinate the muscles between left and right and upper and lower body. Between what the body is told to do -the control- and what the body does -the product of motion- is an enormous gap of neural mechanisms that is opaque. The practice is at the mercy of that black box of mechanisms, which include wrong habits.
The mind as an observer
The mind is a factor that cannot be denied, and first the mind will observe our actions to discover the possible mistakes made during our movements. These mistakes can be corrected using the mind, but the mind will once again act like an observer to find other mistakes in our movements.
Central axis and shoulderline
We need to realize that there is a difference between the physical aspect and the mental image of our centre. The central axis seen by the mind always creates a connection with the partner’s centre. This is the actual meaning of “Awase”. Mostly the physical and mental central axis overlap. However, there are instances where the physical central axis creates an opening, a feint. The central mental axis maintain control on the central axis of the partner. A less skilled partner/opponent will attack you, but you have not lost control over a partner/opponent’s actions.
During tegatana-awase the center line links the front hand to the center axis.
The line between the points of the shoulder joint remains the same relative length. The shoulder joint points are mentally connected to the hand and form a triangle. The lines between the shoulder articulation points and the hand are not fixed and will change synchronously when the shoulder line rotates around the central axis.
Turning the shoulderline is a matter of using the waist and not by using the hips. The upperbody can turn in-and outwards using the waist muscles.
During tegatana-awase, when partner/opponent moves forward with tsugi-ashi stepping, we can moves backward with tsugi-ashi stepping or turning the shoulderline.
Expansive force should not be confused with contractive force. Expansive force is the result of a mental image and muscle tone.
Muscle tone is defined as the tension in a muscle at rest. Appropriate muscle tone enables our bodies to quickly respond to a stretch.
Expansive force has to be trained to with special exercises. For example standing exercises like ritsuzen or zhan-zuang are very helpfull in the development of expansive force. Also, shotei-awase exercise is such an exercise to develop expansive force. Of course, the skill of remaining in muscle tone mode is necessary.
If this kind of training is not included in your training program, you have to rely on contractive muscle power on many occasions in your training when strong posture (static or dynamic)is needed.
The mental line from the central axis to the tegatana is not fixed. But the power in this line is always expanding. There is no pulling in.
Expanding is created by the powerline at the outside of the arm. Expanding power comes from the koshi/tanden and travels through the back to the shoulder and arm.
Range of movement
When adopting a “kamae” posture, mostly one foot is in the front.
Bodyweight can move forward and back. Moving to the side can compromise the stabilty. But the upperbody can turn without moving the feet.
Depending on the circumstances, turning the shoulderline can be performed with bringing the bodyweight forward or backward.
The upper and lower parts of the body are independent
I mentioned before, upper body is moved by using the waist. These movements are supported by the lower back (koshi) and the crotch/groin (mata). Turning movements by using the waist is fundamentally necessary during tenshikei exercises.
Many “kuzushi” drills use tenshikei. The use of the waist and back are the principal components.
Stepping during tegatana-awase
Footsteps begin with the use of Koshi and mata. Basically, the upper body is not involved in step motions (tsugi-ashi).
At times, the upper part of the body is used to invoke gravity in step movements (Ayumi-ashi/korobi-no-ashi).
Using the upper body (kyokotsu).
Tsugi-ashi or korobi no ashi need a flexible lower body. Especially the knees and Achilles tendons used the power of the falling body to move forward.
Using gravity during tegatana-awase is a method to study “yukozo” or using the flexible body while keeping the expansive power.
Tegatana-awase and intention
The intent relates to the mind, but certainly affects the mental and physical body.
In practice, we coordinate our mind and body with breathing and relaxation exercises to improve our various types of forces. We cultivate physical and mental control over our breathing, movement and energy flow. The exercises are designed to relax muscle tension and promote a natural energy balance.
In this growing process, there needs to be intent.
In general, “using intent” is subconsciously thinking, or more like something between thinking and doing. It’s like a pulse, a “thinking energy” that moves your arm forward if you want to grasp anything.
Training your intention means training your mind and developing a strong form of intention that allows you to be physically, mentally and neurologically prepared for action.
But the intention can be read by your partner/opponent and in that case you will have trouble. The skill is to use “Mushin”, the art of not thinking with the conscious mind.
Thinking energy is produced by the subconscious mind and this is only possible if your training program includes using the intention of the subconscious mind.
There is no delay when you use thinking energy in a situation where you must respond immediately to the right action.