Chiba sensei is back in the UK and we just completed a two day seminar with him. This time he was accompanied by Hayashi Tatsuo, Kyoshi Hachidan who acts as official translator for the ZNKR, so he took on the onerous task of translating Chiba sensei’s teaching into English.
Firstly I had some good news and bad news from Hayashi sensei, who told me that he was a regular reader of this blog. He did point out however that although he agreed with the points I made on kime, my assumption that the literal meaning was based on kimeru meaning complete, whilst the kanji used actually mean to fulfil. The logic therefore is that all the elements needed to successfully complete the technique need to be present.
However moving back to the seminar, this time Chiba sensei introduced a whole new approach to waza training. As before he started by ensuring that everyone was cutting with correct tenouchi and went on to teach the basics of shikake waza. This time however, he put far more emphasis on distance, timing and opportunity. All techniques were practiced with seme and sensei made the point that the technique does not follow immediately after seme, but that you need “tame”, or the state of holding the focus of your pressure after you step in. This allows your opponent to react, so that you can choose the most effective attack according to his reaction.
He does not hold with the “one size fits all” approach to distance and believes that you should step in as far as you need to find your ideal maai. He incorporated this concept into the shikake waza drills, by asking people to launch their attacks from different distances until they were in their optimum position. He also looked at reading opportunity by way of pushing the opponent’s shinai in different directions and watching the reaction to choose the point to attack.
Oji waza were also heavily explored, through drills designed to exploit the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses to select the most appropriate technique. For instance, suriage men will not work against someone who lifts the shinai after hitting, where kaeshi dou will work all the time with such an opponent. He also had us try an interesting drill for debana waza. Two partners attempt to hit at the same time immediately after sensei blows a whistle. The loser does 30 hayasuburi, later traded down to 20.
Finally he put an interesting new spin on hiki waza, showing how to make the opponent open by forcing him to push back against your pressure. I have seen this before with men and dou, but his idea of pushing his hands to the left in tsubazeriai to make him push back to the right, opening his kote; was a revelation.
So as ever, Chiba sensei delivered an awful lot of information in a short time. For me this is a great opportunity to incorporate some of it into my teaching and of course, my own kendo. I may well write more about specific elements, once they have had a chance to sink in.