Posts Tagged ‘Taiatari’

Going Straight!

taiatariOn Sunday after the Dublin Open we ran a kendo seminar. It took the form that most people would recognise, with lots of work on basics in the morning and moving on to more technical waza practice after lunch. I taught suriage men as part of a series of oji techniques. As you may have seen in previous posts , my view on suriage waza  is  simple – You create the opportunity, slide up the shinai and cut down in one movement and without moving back or to the side, go forward to your opponents centre as you finish the attack.

After spending some time practising this, Henrik, one of the senior Dublin members, asked the question, “what happens when you try this and you have 150kg of Noel bearing down on you”. Now to be fair to Noel, he does not really way 150kg, but he is significantly bigger than Henrik. Rather than just explain, I demonstrated how it would work against Noel. As expected, he came forward strongly for shikake men, but stopped when my technique hit. I was able to finish my attack going forward, without moving from the centre line.

The logic is simple.  As long as your distance is correct, you keep your point forward and stick to raising the shinai and hitting in one continuous movement, the strength of your attack will break your opponent’s forward motion. One other tip to bear in mind is that if your opponent is coming forward, you can use their movement, so you do not have to step in as deeply as for shikake waza.

So, problem solved, but then thinking about it after I realise that many people are reluctant to commit to aim for their opponents centre in a spirit of sutemi (sacrifice), whether they are initiating shikake or oji waza. This is particularly true for smaller people, who may fear injury from a collision with a bigger person.

 If this is a concern, I have two suggestions. Firstly, seme – If you truly break your opponents’ centre, they have nothing left to hit you with. Secondly learn correct taiatari. If you keep your weight down and your hands low, you should be able survive clashes with opponents of any size. I can’t guarantee that you will not be the one who bounces back, but you can do it with strong posture and balance, safely ready to make the next attack.

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I have been trying to illustrate my posts with photos, but I have had no luck in finding a half decent picture of taiatari done correctly. This perhaps illustrates my point that we do not do enough of it.

Certainly in Europe, there is a reluctance to teach taiatari, as many instructors believe that it destroys correct form. Very often kirikaeshi and kakarigeiko are taught with the explanation that hands should just touch lightly in chudan after shomen and that kakarite should then move on to the next waza. In some ways this leads to a vicious cycle, where people do not do taiatari because they cannot do it correctly and they cannot do it correctly because they do not practice.

Certainly bad taiatari is to be avoided, particularly when the action is to push from the upper body at shoulder height, catching motodachi in the chest, or worse, the face, but taiatari is an essential part of Kendo. You often need to make taiatari to set up hikiwaza and to benefit from jogai hansoku in shiai.

I have practiced with a number of senior sensei, who regularly teach butsukarigeiko. At one dojo in Kansai, they make it a regular part of any training session.

I believe the secret to successful taiatari is not to compromise your posture. After hitting, keep your arms and shoulders relaxed, drop your hands into correct tsubazeriai, keep you balance between your feet and slightly drop your hips forward. This should be enough either to move your opponent, or at least to put you in safe, close distance ready to make your next move.

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