NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

Inside Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #37

April 6, 2016

In This Issue:

  1. The Whip Throw Mystery
  2. How Do You Remember The Classical Techniques?
  3. Website Features: Hokkaido 2020 ~ our dream to open up a Nihon Goshin Aikido Dojo in Chistose by 2020.  Vintage Pictures of Kuma Station ~  the Army base Shihan Bowe was stationed at when he was in Japan.
  4. Seminars:  New Jersey every Saturday, South Carolina in April, and Georgia in June
  5. New Nihon Goshin Aikido Study Group Opening Up in North Central CT/ Western MA Under Mike Murphy’s Leadership
  6. Growing Our Subscriber Base ~ Please Forward to your Friends and Training Buddies
  7. Announcements:  Got a rank promotion, opening a new dojo,  hosting a seminar, etc.,? Let us know, and we’ll spread the word

Greetings Nihon Goshin Aikido Aficionado!  

April is here, and all of March’s deadlines have thankfully passed.  My strategy sessions with my accountant have paid dividends, and my “total tax” is much less than it has been in over 15 years even though my revenue is higher.  

The easiest pay raise one can accrue is when one does what he did last year, and pays less taxes.  It pays to be proactive.  Cha-ching!

Let’s get to it.    

1.  The Mysterious Origins of the Whip Throw:

Review any self defense curriculum, and you will see many Nihon Goshin Aikido staples such as the Arm Bar, the Mugger’s Throw, Shoulder Throw, etc.  These techniques transcend style, and simply exist on their own merits.  Watch an old Star Trek episode, and odds are good that Captain Kirk will execute a perfectly acceptable Groin Block application if he is fighting an alien for possession of a weapon.  

It might be said that “Everything that could be done with hand to hand combat has already been done.”

With that back drop, I have been thinking about the Whip Throw and its origins.  Last month I sent out a few emails to senior students in our art and asked them their opinions on Whip Throw technique, and if they had any ideas about its roots, origin, etc.

The information I received back from these students was very consistent in that they all stated that after the initial "whip lash effect" the projection will be down, and not out, in a street application ~ causing uke to land on his head.

When asked about the technique's origins, I was pointed to a couple of different places:  perhaps Yonkyo (Aikikai) which controls uke higher up on the forearm, activates a nerve pressure point, and generally results in a pin.

Another possibly mentioned was a 2nd Scroll technique in Daityo Ryu that attacks the wrist at the same point, but projects uke out at a different angle (a 45 degree angle) across nage's body.

Since there were no “perfect matches” in other arts, I began to speculate that the Whip Throw might very well have been a technique that Master Morita customized, modified, or even potentially invented himself ~ making the Whip Throw particularly unique to his style.  In my mind, this possibility might explain “why” you don't see it represented in other arts (exactly the way we do it).

So, steeling my resolve, I sent a message to Shihan Bowe asking for help.  His cordial, nearly instantaneous, and unbelievably cogent reply follows:

“Regarding the whip throw, like many NGA techniques, its elements can be traced to sword play.  Use your imagination and think of a swordsman with sword drawn turning to face an attacker who is behind him, then, with both of his hands on the sword handle, swiping the sword in a downward stroke causing the sword to strike the attacker. The tip of the sword travels in a circular path with the sword being the radius of the circle and the NGA-ka's hands being the center of the circle.”

Now, after reading Shihan Bowe’s reply my mind was spinning in that electric, creative way it does when you begin to finally put things together.  Sword  play!  I grabbed my copy of “Mastering the Samurai Sword” by Cary Nemeroff, opened to page 91, and read this passage ~ that could just as easily be describing the Whip Throw instead of a sword cut:  

“A few subtle mechanics are involved in the execution of a shomen-uchi (overhead strike to the front of the head) sword cut:  As the blade is swung in a downward direction the swordsman’s elbows, initially bent, finish in a completely straight, locked position.  Additionally, at the cut’s apex (above the head), the grip on the tsuka (handle) should begin to tighten, in a wringing motion for additional power, as the sword descends upon its target.  This wrist-twisting motion most closely resembles the wringing out of a cloth.”

~ Think of the “wrist-twisting” motion and compare it to the motion of your hands as you secure uke’s wrist in both your hands on the Whip Throw.  This is the same position as the apex of the shomen-uchi cut ~ when the blade is straight above your head.  At this point your hands will be centered between your patches, and you are controlling uke's wrist in both your hands using the same "wringing out of a cloth" movement. From here continue your  cut by extending your arms outward while maintaining the grip on your imaginary tsuka (handle), and you will finish in the exact same position as you would if you were finishing the Classical Whip Throw Technique.   It’s is a spot on match!

So, with a literal swipe of the katana, the case on the origins of the Whip Throw is closed.  Sword Play!  The Whip Throw traces its lineage straight out of sword play!

Thanks to everyone who helped me in my search for the origins of the Whip Throw; especially Shihan Bowe.  

2.  Mnemonic Aids:  How Do You Remember Your Classical Techniques?

Yesterday evening, while reviewing applications with a student who will soon be testing for Green belt, I was once again struck by the simple truth that a portion of the test for rank is simply remembering the techniques you’re being tested on.  It was clear this student knew all of them, but he struggled to name them quickly.  We’ve all been there haven’t we?

How I Remember The 1st Set

As I think back to my salad days as a new aikido student getting ready to test for yellow belt, I remember thinking about how I initially struggled to find a method to “remember” my techniques.  It was my sempai Tim, who suggested arranging the first letters in each technique to spell words.

Though Tim’s arrangement is slightly different than mine, my First set ~ goes like this :

How I Remember The 2nd Set

On the Second set, there is only one technique that begins with a vowel; so spelling words is difficult.  On this set, I made a sentence instead.

Here is my yellow belt set sentence:

Please Letme Smooch a Registered Pharmacist Heartfelt Lovingly With Authenticity

Which translates ~

Peel off, Lift Up, Spin Around, Reverse Wrist, Pivot Take Down, Hold Down, High Bridge, Low Bridge, Wheel Throw, Arm Bar Throw

Nota Bena:  For the record, my particular fascination with smooching registered pharmacists is limited to my soul mate ~ the beautiful red-headed pharmacist I’ve been married to for 24 wonderful years.

How I Remember The 3rd Set

If I ever struggle to remember techniques in a set, for some reason, it is typically the techniques that comprise the 3rd set.

On this set my order is arranged like this:

How I Remember The 4th Set

Now this set is the beginning of the home stretch.  

(3 Kick Defenses)

(Another Scoop that is not a kick defense)

(Now attack uke starting at the head and work your way down.  Don’t forget to throw him at the end.)

How I Remember The 5th Set

(Initially arranged by the letters they start with)

(The next three sort of rhyme)

(The last one sounds really exotic)

So those are my memory aids.  I know that to be most effective, memory aids need to be personal.   Just out of curiosity, what memory aids do you use?

3.  Website Features:  

We’ve got a whole section on the website featuring pictures of Kuma Station, the Army base Shihan Bowe was stationed at in Chitose, Japan?  I found a cache of photos on the internet which were taken during the same period of time that Shihan was stationed there.  I find these pictures compelling.  Click here.

We plan to go back to Chitose one day!  Read my vision statement called, “Hokkaido 2020” ~ a dream to establish a Nihon Goshin Aikido dojo in Hokkaido by 2020.  Click Here.

4.  Seminar Announcements:  

A.  Spartanburg, SC  (April 16, 2016):  Instructors will be Nihon Goshin Aikido Sensies John Wyndham (Host Instructor, Spartanburg, SC), John Carter (Lexington, SC), and Joe Beckham (Greenville, SC).  Cost is $75 to preregister, or $100 at the door.  Time is 9:00 am - 3:45 pm.  Click Here for more information, and to register.

B.  Covington, GA  (June 3 - 4, 2016):  There will be a Nihon Goshin Aikido Seminar at the Covington, GA dojo.  Sensei MacEwen will be the primary instructor.  The dates are the first weekend in June, so mark your calendars.  The cost of this two day workshop is only $89 total, so don’t miss it.   Click Here for more information, and to register.

C.  Edgewater, NJ  (Every Saturday) Time is from 1:00 - 2:30 & 2:30 - 4:00 pm beginning this Saturday.  Sensei Jose Garrido will be teaching Daitō-ryu Aikijujutsu at the UFC gym in Edgewater, NJ.  Cost is only $20 per class o $30 for both, but you must let Sensei Garrido know you are coming at least one day in advance.  I think this is a special opportunity.  I always talk about the importance of gaining a better understanding of our art and its roots.  Sensei Garrido is uniquely positioned to bridge Daitō-ryu and Nihon Goshin Aikido for those Nihon Goshin Aikido brown and black belts who might have an interest in exploring their martial history. Click Here for more information, and to register.

5.  New Study Group Leader in North Central CT/ Western MA.  

Mike Murphy, a Nihon Goshin Aikido sho-dan under Sensei MacEwen, is beginning a Nihon Goshin Aikido study group in the North Central CT/ Western MA area.  Please forward this information to everyone you know in that area so that they can begin their training in our great art.  You can contact Sensei Murphy by email here, or via our website here.  

6.  Newsletter Subscribers:

More subscribers is the goal ~ so can you help us grow our Newsletter Subscription Base by passing the website along to your training buddies and asking them to subscribe also?  It makes for good conversations as there’s nothing like sitting around the water cooler in the dojo and lambasting me for all the stupid things I’ve written over the course of this newsletter!  

Our hope is to be an inter-dojo clearing house for all things NGA, but we need more subscribers to do that.  Best of all, it’s free, and who doesn’t like the word “free!”  Click Here to Subscribe! (And make sure you forward this link to all your training buddies, and would be training buddies).

7.  Announcements:

Do you have an announcement?  If so, we would like to share your information on Seminars, Dojo Expansions, Relocations, Grand Openings, Promotions, and/or Other Information with our subscribers.  Please forward all of your announcements to us so we can get the word out.  Send us the information on your announcement, and we’ll post it here for you.  

Let's meet on the mat together soon!


Jonathan Wilson

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Unless otherwise stated, the author’s views, musings, and opinions do not necessarily reflect the attitude of leadership within any of the various Nihon Goshin Aikido associations, or unaffiliated Nihon Goshin Aikido dojos.

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