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Clash of the O Soto Gari's

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A throw done directly downward will prevail every time over a throw that is trying to move somebody over a lateral distance.
That's the lesson from the first technique in the Gonosen No Kata, in which uke's O Soto Gari is countered by tori's. This was a continued lesson for us on the ideas of narrowing the focus of our force and managing our strength. 'Narrowing the focus' would mean reducing the area in which one's force is applied - to uke's hips, for example, instead of his entire upper body, and 'managing our strength' is really taking our strength out of our techniques. We want to use an elegant amount of effort, not too much or too little, but really we want the throw to exist simply as a motion, without any undue muscular effort.

Uke attacks with a O Soto Gari. Tori, according to the instructions, 'resists with his abdomen.' He drops a bit for the sake of balance, pivots slightly (which will be to his left) and plants uke with his own O Soto Gari.
Remember from the last blog entry, the core concept in this kata is tori's keeping his body centered and unified - or re-centering and reunifying rapidly if he gets in trouble. When tori resists with his abdomen, he's merely keeping his balance, or preventing the shot glass of whiskey in his belt from spilling. 'Resisting' is a slightly misleading word; he doesn't go force against force with uke directly. Rather, his aim is to keep his body in one piece.
If he fights uke directly, bodily, then his muscular effort is concentrated in one spot. That's a a real lack of balance, and an astute uke would use that. However, if tori merely unifies his body, which is to say distributes any stresses among ALL the muscles of his body, then he's still balanced.
This works if uke keeps him more or less in place during his attack or bulldozes him across across the mat. Tori is using his tai sabaki; he's maintaining his bodily control, and dropping a bit for the sake of stability.

Uke does not have to attack like a moron to facilitate tori's success. He can come in and try to hammer tori down as correctly as possible. A brief aside: our O Soto's do not off balance uke backwards. We displace the guy's center of gravity forward. He never feels anything until our leg is behind him and pushing the knot of his belt out in front of his toes. We'll have his sleeve and lapel, or an arm across his chest, but the victim feels nothing until he's met with ann unanswerable force upon his center of gravity.
Correct or as forceful as uke might try to be, if tori holds his ground - if he does not surrender control of his own center of gravity - he cannot be thrown.
Correct or as forceful as uke has been, he has taken a bit of a plunge. His center was moving forward as he raced into position beside tori. Therefore, it's very easy for tori to help that along enough to break him. It can be very slight, but uke is a dead man. In fact, done quickly, the throw looks as if uke does the entry and then tori does the throw: in - snap! as instantly as you could imagine.

On the slight rotation: that's mainly for the sake of follow through, so that tori can take out uke's center. Uke will have wrapped in some manner his leg behind tori's; when the tables are turned tori's leverage is a notch inferior, so a reap on the leg per se will not have its full effect. However, if tori turns a bit to the outside, (his left on a right sided throw) he now has a clear shot for following through 'up the wazoo,' as we say, quoting Kano directly. Aim for uke's crotch. You're high centering him and, more importantly, displacing his center out from underneath him.

The dynamics that result immediately when uke fails is that his force vector changes. (This also depends on how long tori takes to drop him.) He can no longer throw down, even if he knew or wanted to. If he keeps trying despite being stuffed, he'll wind up trying to throw tori back. His force is in his chest and abdominals, rendering him out of balance, and he's no match for tori when he snaps straight down. Tori drops his center hard; he does bend his supporting leg and he slams his belly button toward his big toe as he mule kicks his reaping leg upward and backward. It' a very fast and hard fall for uke - who should know his falls - - - and, practice this slowly as you begin and work your way up to higher speeds.
Tori's dropping his belly button to his big toe means that his center is not only staying over his feet, but he's actually becoming increasingly stable during the course of the throw. This is a beautiful thing when it works.

Tori should use no strength, and that, I would say, would be a good definition of doing this elegantly. As fast and brutal as this can be, tori shouldn't even feel it, or as my aged and wise sensei used to say, "If you feel it, you're wrong."

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13 July 2009 - 12:57 AM
Hi Tom

‘As fast and brutal as this can be, tori shouldn't even feel it, or as my aged and wise sensei used to say, "If you feel it, you're wrong."’

Just recently I discovered how true this statement is. For some times now we have been doing this randori where tori is only attacking (sometimes with specifically noted throw) and uke is only moving around and avoiding to be thrown. It goes until tori achieve five throws. Then we change sides. It usually takes about five minutes for tori to get his five throws. Few weeks ago I suggested that during practice uke have his eyes closed just to make it little bit more difficult. Well suddenly taking the eyesight away uke’s feeling for the attack becomes so good that pulling the throw become ten times harder. He would just float away. So irritating sometimes, however through discussion we realised that the reason for tori’s trouble is so much ‘telephoning’. Every time tori attempted the throw, hands were pushing or pulling ahead of the rest of the body. So now we are at task of relearning our throws without giving it away so early.

Keep up the good work.
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