Watching yesterday’s waza geiko at Mumeishi dojo, I was fascinated to see people who can make strong shikake waza, have a relatively hard time applying the same basic techniques to oji timing.
Rightly or wrongly, I believe that there are only four techniques in kendo – men, kote, dou and tsuki. There are of course numerous ways they can be applied, depending on distance, direction, timing and opportunity, but the fundamental technique does not change. So in my mind shikake and oji waza are one and the same.
I initially though about writing this post on suriage men, but the more I thought about it, the more I believe that what I want to say applies equally to all oji waza. I have covered a lot of the key points in my recent post about kaeshi dou, but on watching yesterday’s training the areas that generally need fixing are:
- Timing – Either waiting passively for the opponent to strike or pre-empting and going too early.
- Distance – Either generally being too close or waiting too long so that you are no longer able to strike with the correct part of the shinai.
- Kime and hasuji – Different problems, same cause. Normally too much power in the right hand and lack of flexibility in the wrists.
- Zanshin – Moving diagonally or worse back, make it difficult to show sufficient kigurai and claim the point.
My suggestions to fix these are:
- Keep the point of the shinai forward, point it in at your opponent as you make seme with your feet and body. Make them attack and then lift your shinai straight up for suriage and kaeshi. Do not bring your point back.
- Start from the correct distance and force your opponent to attack.
- Keep your wrists and arms supple, make sure your elbows can move easily and turn your wrists in. Think about using the power of your left hand.
- If raising the shinai and then striking do it in a count of one. This applies to suriage, kaeshi and nuki.
- Wherever you can, go forward with strong fumikomi, kiai and zanshin. It is much more effctive to go in a straight line. If you have to side-step, finish by going forward.
- Keep going in a straight line to safe distance then turn quickly to re-engage with your opponent.
Successful oji waza depend on these points plus an attitude that does not differentiate between oji and shikake waza. Approach every technique with an attacking mind.
I have already used this picture, but it shows completion of suriage men