Posts Tagged ‘Hikiwaza’

29323_1401129875529_1450794437_1070239_8154535_nAt the asageiko sessions at every Kyoto Taikai the 8th dan motodachi are colour coded. Each wears a coloured band around his zekken denoting hanshi , kyoshi or handle with care. The latter refers to  the older sensei, who whilst still able to reduce the average seventh dan to tears, have reached a stage where the body does not repair itself as quickly from hard physical knocks.

Although nowhere near the level of these living legends and hopefully with a few years to go before I shy away from physical contact, I am increasingly aware that a push to the face now means two or three visits to the chiropractor.

Younger people whom I practise with usually fall into two groups; those who are committed to finishing their technique and those who are wary of hurting the old codger in front of them. Luckily most are in the first category and regardless of who they are up against, will take the centre and go forward in a straight line. The few who are nervous about colliding with their opponent make the mistake of launching themselves of at a tangent after hitting the target. This unfortunately has the effect of spoiling both hasuji and zanshin and invalidating the technique.

When we launch an attack against a motodachi , regardless of age, we should follow the principle of attacking with total commitment and full spirit. In 99 percent of these situations your opponent will be able to move to the side and allow you to go through and execute correct zanshin. In most cases moving to the side or diagonal is an automatic response following a successful strike. If he or she does not move, then the answer is obvious – taiatari.

As we all know, taiatari is not a push from the shoulders and arms, but uses your abdomen and back muscles to close with your opponent so that you are in a safe “tsubazeriai” distance and no counter attack is possible. To do this effectively you simply drop your hands and push down with your hips as you complete your strike. The objective of taiatari is sometimes oshidashi , the act of pushing your opponent out of the shiaijo, but this is definitely not always the case. You can make “soft” taiatari and then use the safe distance to either cover your opponent’s shinai as you move back to issoku-ito-ma. Alternatively you can use the chance to launch a hiki waza.

So don’t worry too much about the old boy in front of you, he can probably take care of himself.

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Hiki_tai atariWe practised butsukarigeiko on Thursday. If you are not familiar with bustsukarigeiko, it is the continued practice of men and taiatari followed by hiki waza. It’s rather like kakarigeiko but with alternate forward and backward strikes separated by body checks.

We don’t do it very often because classes are normally made up of kenshi of a variety of sizes, ages, experience and fitness levels, which can make this form of training slightly hazardous. On Thursday however we had a group of young to middle aged males all in apparently good health, so we gave it a try.

We started by working on our taiatari, ensuring that we made contact in correct tzubazeriai and used the power from our hips by dropping our weight down. We paid special attention not to push from the arms and shoulders. Moving on to men- hiki- men, we looked at how to create  correct distance as we moved back, so that we hit the target with the datotsu bu of the shinai. We then tried men-hiki-gote and men-hiki-dou. With these the challenge was to ensure that motodachi gave the correct opening, so for hiki gote the idea is to push to his right in tzubazeri, so that he pushes back and exposes his kote as you step back and release the pressure. With dou you need to push down so that he pushes up and creates an opening.

We finally added gyaku dou to the set and put them all together. Men-hiki-men, men-hiki-gote, men-hiki-dou, men-hiki-gyaku dou, followed by a shomen strike to finish and repeated the exercise for 30 minutes in mawari geiko.

I have seen and taken part in this kind of drill on a number of occasions in Japan. In fact one teacher in Hyogo uses this as the backbone of his dojo’s training. When I first saw this my first reaction was to wonder why such emphasis was put on body contact. However, watching colleagues I know well do the exercise was enlightening. As in kakarigeiko, a degree of tiredness makes people relax and use correct technique. Butsukarigeiko also ensures that your posture is correct as it is impossible to make repeated taiatari and hiki waza if you are leaning forward or backward. So any thoughts that the teacher in Hyogo was being harsh for no particular reason have now been dispelled.

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