A professional educator friend told me never to tell people what not to do, but to accentuate the positive actions that they should be taking. Nevertheless I am going to point out what does not work when making oji techniques:
- Bringing the point of the shinai back towards your body makes it impossible to achieve correct suriage or kaeshi waza
- Dropping the point of your shinai unless for ukenagashi (which we almost never use in shinai kendo) is a no-no
- Blocking and cutting in two separate actions also dooms you to failure
- It is nearly impossible to make suriage waza against overly large, badly timed or off centre cuts
- Waiting for your opponent to attack before you react is a waste of time
At the risk of confusing readers, one of the biggest problems we encounter in ojiwaza practice drills is in starting your counter attack before the opponent starts his strike. Because it is a drill we obviously know what is coming, so we are tempted to attack too early. I often see what should be suriage men turn into debana men.
Whilst I can think of so many don’ts, I can only think of three imperative “dos”:
- Always push the point of the shinai forward when meeting your opponent’s technoique. This applies to all suriage and kaeshi waza
- Always make oji waza in “the timing of one” sliding up or blocking on the upstroke and cutting down to the target in the same movement, using just one step
- Always control the timing by inviting your opponent to attack
This last point applies equally to drills and to jigeiko and shiai. If from chudan you squeeze the shinai gently with the little finger of you right hand, your point will move towards his left eye. More often than not this will make him attack your men at a time when your energy is focussed and you are able to respond immediately with suriage men or kaeshi dou. Move the shinai slightly to his right and he is likely to attack your kote leaving you set up to make kote suriage men.
One effective way is to practice oji waza was taught by Chiba sensei. The class forms groups of between five and nine. Everyone takes a turn as motodachi and the rest of the group are split into two smaller groups one facing him and one behind. Each makes either a men or kote attack, either at random or the group in front attacks men and the group behind kote. Motodachi faces each in turn, turning from group to group and makes the appropriate oji technique, remembering to invite the attack in his or her own timing.
The key point is to control the timing of the attack by holding and breaking centre in the way described.