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Toe to Toe

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Your tai sabaki is indeed uke's kuzushi, Technique Number two confirms very clearly.
That is to say, when he attacks, your evasive maneuver (as you maintain your balance) is what draws your opponent off his balance and leads to his being thrown.
This was happening in the first technique, of course, but it's even easier to see this time around, as you counter uke's attempt at hiza guruma with a hiza guruma of your own.

Did you all see Aleks' (much appreciated!) comment the other day? That was an interesting drill and an interesting discovery he described about tori's telegraphing his intentions. I found myself thinking about the ukes in his case, the ones drifting along and sensing tori as he comes in, especially as they got even better after closing their eyes.
That brought up two reactions: one is that the aged and wise sensei always used to say, "Your eyes lie to you," which was usually right after he had admonished me, "Cut out looking!"
The second reaction is that I got to imagining how easy it would be for Aleks' uke to pick off tori as he came in. Here they are, with tori taking some time to get in a number of throws, and uke having an easy time of it. If they just changed the drill and allowed uke to drop tori any time he did anything too stupid (too desperate or out of balance), it wouldn't even be a contest.

The long range concept I'm mulling over as I work on this kata is the ideal of becoming bulletproof in randori, in terms of maintaining one's centered balanced body and having a ready response for any attack. Mifune, of course, is the embodiment of this, and I go back and forth on whether that was real or could be real or feasible in these days of grip fighting and ultra intense strength and conditioning.
Stay tuned on the 'bulletproof' concept. The Gonosen No Kata, however, is a great way to approach the concept. It is Aleks' drill modified: the 'attackee' picks off the attacker in his moment of vulnerability.

Uke attacks with a right hiza guruma, which means his left foot is on tori's right knee. Tori steps back with his right foot, and in return drops uke with the exact same throw, his left foot reciprocally on uke's right knee.
I am not a fan of gigantic, wide pulling motions and leaning far away from uke, hoping desperately that somehow he's going to cartwheel over a leg that's extended impossibly far. Our hiza gurumas are straight out of the Kawaishi book. They're tight, focused, and balanced, and they don't require any force beyond moving your own body.

If you have uke's right sleeve in your left hand, and his left lapel in your right, your first attack is going to be largely head on. Step in, toe to toe. This means your right big toe will be three of four inches directly in front of his right big toe. So, yes, you are shifted to your left a bit, but your still coming in head on, directly north-south. Step deeply with your right leg, which means that as you come in (toes close) your weight drops six inches; your right quadriceps absorbs the drop like a spring compressing.
When you reach that 'bottom' position, you engage uke. Your grip on his gi becomes solid; your elbows are at your sides. Your arms, shoulders, and torso are set in position. You've become as solid as steel, but most importantly UKE SHOULD NOT FEEL IT.
The compressed spring now fires. That right leg of yours now presses the ground, lifting you as a solid whole and uke along with you. You don't have to lift uke very far; in fact, the direction of your drive should be up and back slightly. You're not picking uke up in the air; rather you're taking his center of gravity from him, getting it up a quarter inch but mainly out in front of his toes an inch or two. He now no longer controls his own balance.
From here, your left arm, which is near your side as it grasps uke's right sleeve, brings uke out sideways and downward, as if to put him right behind you. Your right hand, with his lapel, comes across and aids in the effort. Really, it's a whole bodied, unified maneuver, turning that solid block of torso you had just formed. Your foot blocks his knee during all this; it's comfortable and easy and great fun - and as compact and efficient a motion as putting something in your back pocket.
(Your propping foot goes into place along his knee shortly after your right leg begins that drive upward.)

In the kata, uke can attack as intelligently and effectively as possible. Tori's evasion is simply moving his right leg back six or eight inches, to remove uke's leverage. However, that has to be a tai sabaki step. Tori's whole body has travel over that foot, and with that step. This way, we'll keep his balance; just jutting his leg back would have him bent forward. Also, this drawing himself back draws uke forward.
[In the kata, as the technique begins, tori's grip on uke's jacket is very light; he is not locking up as I described above - until it's time.] The time to lock up comes when uke's made his own stepping and locking entry. Tori's not going to have to engage with any strength at all, since uke's doing all the work, but he does keep what he has.
As he steps back to avoid the attack, this draws uke forward quite a bit. Uke's frozen in his attempt at hiza guruma, and suddenly his center of gravity is up and in front of his feet. Tori just has to turn and look behind himself, and uke is airborne.

Here's a question to ponder: when does uke's moment of vulnerability occur?
If uke and tori's hiza gurumas are equally effective and proper, what makes tori's better, so that he 'wins' this encounter?
Well, yes, he knows it's coming, but is that it?
If uke's doing this right, he should be able to step in and engage tori low and draw his center of gravity away from him, right?

Tori's gone by then, or he's moving in such a manner that uke can't draw his center.
HMMM.

1. If tori's gone by then he could be cheating because he knows what throw is coming.
Is it possible to be so finely attuned that tori can quickly sense what kind of attack is coming? That would be a question for Aleks and his gang. Have one person close his eyes and a partner tee up different throws to see if he can read them (and then react) at lightning speed.

2. Tori is moving in a manner in which uke cannot draw his center away? Again, hmmm.
How could one do that? I know the aged and wise sensei knows, but do I know it well enough to describe it (or even do it)?

Still then, if tori is bulletproof, when does uke make his mistake, on the throw attempt itself?
(No, we've established that he can do it correctly. If he's doing it right, which is to say in balanced fashion, how can he be doing something wrong?)
Is it BEFORE the entry? Uke is vulnerable even before he attacks?

I know Kawaishi has dealt with this in another book, and we're getting into other 'Sens.' For my part, I have to hash this out on the mat before I start looking things up elsewhere.

1 Comments On This Entry

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aleks 

16 July 2009 - 01:13 AM
Reading this latest post started turning few light bulbs in my head. So I will try to answer you question in a sort of round about way.

It is funny that you mention Mifune, because I have just been re-watching that famous black and white movie of him doing randori with all those burly westerners. Through many discussions on the forum many judokas were questioning authenticity of Mifune’s ability to execute those throws and that this was just an act for the camera. I, on the other hand was sitting on the fence, enjoying the mastery while watching but not being convinced due to my own past experiences. All that light and soft floating was ending with beautiful throws. Further the one throw that I have found most elusive and the one that Mifune demonstrate so well was sumi otoshi. There is no way, at least I could not get it, to use this throw in randori situation. Well this all changed when we started doing eyes closed randori. I was uke with my eyes closed, floating around, when the tori tried to ‘hit’ me with osoto gari. My body moved away from the line of attack and his hooking leg passed me. From this point I stepped forward in the direction that tori was facing and turned my hands like I would turn the stirring wheel. Halleluiah, my 110 kg tori flew through the air and landed on his back. Did I feel strain in my hands or back; absolutely not. Did I plan to do that; absolutely not. It just happened, it was one of those ‘no mind’ moments. Thinking about what has happened physically all I can say I did not ‘create’ the moment for this throw to work, it was given to me. Tori in his attempt to do osoto missed the target and the momentum took him to the ‘edge of the crevice’ that you were talking about in some of the previous posts. All I did is tip him over. Few days later I did the same throw while being attacked with ouchi gari.
Do I believe that Mifune was tossing those dudes in the video for real, absolutely. :hap:

Cheers
Aleks.
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