Posts Tagged ‘Tokui-waza’

kaeshidoEveryone has their favourite techniques. I like ojikaeshi do and suriage men. One works against taller opponents and the other is useful against players of the same height or less. I find though, that if you rely on a limited number of techniques, you are easy to read and a skilled opponent will instantly be on his guard. So there is a conflict between the need to polish your best techniques and insure you have a varied selection of techniques to work with.

I was taught that to learn a technique you should practise it exclusively for three months. The way I understand this is that you should concentrate primarily on the waza that you wish to master during your kihon practice and to use it as much as possible in jigeiko, but not to the extent that your dojo mates become totally bored.

To be frank, It is much easier to concentrate on a specific technique if you are the senior party in jigeiko. You can decide on a technique that you will attempt a certain number of times in each practice with your juniors as a form of yakusoku-geiko. This is not possible when you are evenly matched or outclassed. When you stretch to become a useful opponent for senior kenshi , you have to give it 100 per cent;  attacking any target that presents itself as soon as you see the opportunity.

When should you start to “make it your own”?  I am not sure. If you start too early, you are in danger of ingraining bad habits. If you never find a technique that you prefer to all others, you have either reached  a level of munen mushin that many martial artists aspire to throughout their lives, or you simply have not got anything to work for you well enough to concentrate on it as a speciality.

The logical way forward is to practice all the techniques that are taught to you. If and when you find something that is particularly effective; then experiment with it. Try techniques against shorter and taller opponents, younger faster and older more experienced players, when you find something that works start to polish it.

The first of the shogo titles, Renshi, means amongst other things, polished person. Polished in this case applies to the whole person, not just to particular techniques that they are good at. However in Japanese practising and polishing can have the same meaning and as the old British proverb has it “practise makes perfect”.

Train to perfect your tokui waza, then put it away. Hide it until the opportunity to make the decisive strike presents itself and then just let it out.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had an interesting conversation with Uegaki-sensei during my last trip to Japan. He made the point that if you want to improve a technique then you should work on it exclusively for 3 months.

This makes a great deal of sense. If you focus exclusively on one waza for this length of time you are going to absorb it into your muscle memory and it is going to become second nature when you deploy it in keiko or shiai.

The only word of warning is that you need to practice the technique correctly. Constantly repeating a mistake will only magnify it, so you need to be fairly certain that you understand exactly what you are doing before you commit yourself to 3000 repetitions per day.

The best way to improve is through kihon drills, but it is difficult to focus these exclusively on your own needs. In most dojo the training exercises are prescribed by an instructor whose job is to build a training programme that is valuable to everyone in the dojo. Often though if you tell your sensei what you are trying to do, he will set aside some practice time to help you, and you will have the bonus of him helping you get it right. I sometimes use motodachi-geiko sessions with students to work exclusively on the points that they are struggling with.

If sensei is not able to, or available to help, then it may be worth going to the dojo early with a buddy and working together on one technique, or taking turns to act as a target for different waza that you each need to work on. I know a number of people who have gone to the trouble of renting squash courts so they can spend some quality time developing their tokui waza.

What takes more discipline is to use your time in jigeiko to focus on one particular technique. Going into a keiko with the intention of only hitting men is commendable, but if all of your opponents are head and shoulders taller than you, it is difficult not to switch to dou of kote. Perhaps a better way is to set a goal of trying a particular technique a given number of times with each partner. There is of course a strong likelihood that everyone will catch on to you plan and make it more difficult for you  to achieve your aim, but that resistance can also be used to improve.

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