This Week In Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #9
May 14, 2014
Greetings Nihon Goshin Aikido Aficionado!
I hope all is well with you at your end of the great blue aikido mat!
Things are outstanding here. If you are tired of the place you’re living, consider South Carolina. There is a lot to love. For starters, “True Winter” lasts about 4-6 weeks ~ and even a “cold” day will get into the 50s.
For the other 46 weeks of the year, it is either Fall, Spring or Summer ~ with temps in the high 70s, 80s, & 90s.
Now there is one thing I should warn you about ~ and that is “the month of August.” Imagine 100% humidity and 90 + degrees from 10am - 8:00pm ~ simply put, there are better places to be in SC in August. Of course 30 days of discomfort is a small price to pay for the plethora of usable months throughout the year.
Another reason to love SC is the numerous NGA dojos. If you live in the “Famously Hot” Columbia area of SC, you have your choice of two dojos ~ and you can train 6 days a week! Greenville & Spartanburg (upstate) have NGA dojos also.
Perhaps someone will volunteer to move to beautiful historic Charleston, SC and open up an NGA dojo down there. It is the next aikido land of opportunity in our state, and a city of epic proportions in its own right.
Aikido Topics this week
Classical Technique Finishing Positions!
At some point early in my training, my ole training buddy (Big Tim McNeal) and I began our habit of critiquing each other’s finishing positions.
“What in the world was that?” (With strong emphasis placed on the word “that”) was an all too common refrain ~ which was then typically expounded on with follow up statements like, “The Come Along Throw does NOT finish in an Extended Hamni!” Etc.
Alas, we were young and in love (with Nihon Goshin Aikido that is) ~ so perfecting our skills, or dying as we tried, was our sole ambition,and finishing stances were the ever popular topic of our never ending pursuit.
At some point though, it occurred to us that the Finishing Position (that point of the technique’s completion ~ which should be held long enough for a snowflake to melt) was more than just ‘where and how your feet were placed at the end.”
You see, “Hand Placement” is just as important ~~~~ and as Sensei Carter began to massage our technique to meet an ever increasing higher level of efficiency and style, Hand Placement became an even hotter topic of discussion than Foot Placement.
I remember serving as uke on a friend’s Classical Technique Test for Ni-Dan and a re-check was ordered over the finishing position of the hands on the Spin Around. “It must be functional, and pretty.” was Sensei’s comment, as I recall.
So here is a quick “trick that may help you get your hands in the proper position on the “finish.”
First, and by way of background, recognize that the Samurai were a people who believed in strong posture and balance. To achieve their ambition, they made it a habit of walking with their hands directly over their feet. This gives the Samurai their distinct “waddle” motion as they walk, but they are always in a balanced position.
In the western world, we typically do the opposite ~ extending the left hand as the right foot moves forward ~ this of course emphasizes momentum at the expense of balance.
So here’s the deal, if you are wondering “where” to put your hands at the end of a throwing technique, place them directly over your feet ~ and you’ll be in the ball park. In other words, put the right hand over the right foot, and the left hand over the left foot, and you’ll will not be far from the truth.
Some Notable Exceptions to this rule regarding Classical Technique: Elbow Chop, Whip Throw, Wheel Throw, & Spin Around.
That said when doing Applications, you may find that MOVING your feet to the finishing position your hands finish in when doing the Classical Technique will lead to a natural follow through ~ and help you improve your balance over your one point (Center). Don’t take my word for it though, work it out during your dojo’s open mat time, and get back to me with your thoughts on the matter.
We don’t use it much, and we make no apologies for it.
That said if we ever do use it, let’s make sure we’ve got the translation correct.
Consider “Daitō-ryū” ~ as in “Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu” ~ (Takeda Sōkaku's art that comprises many of the roots in which Nihon Goshin Aikido and Traditional Aikido is based). “Daitō-ryū” ~ does NOT mean “Great Sword School.” What does it mean you ask? It means: “Great Eastern School” (reference here).
Of course, our confusion comes from the fact that “Daitō” actually does mean “sword!” It is a general term for a Katana (Japanese Samurai sword).
The relationship between the words is as follows: they are two Japanese “homonyms.” A homonym is a grouping of two or more words that sound alike, and have the same spelling, but completely different meanings. Consider these examples of English homonyms:
“Bow:” An archer’s weapon.
“Bow:” A ribbon in a female’s hair.
“Bow:” A long wooden stick with horse hair attached to the ends which is used to play a stringed instrument like a cello or violin.
Lesson: Don’t say, “Great Sword School” when you refer to “Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu.” I know sounds cool, but it’s simply not accurate, and anyone who speaks Japanese will know better ~ and we’ll come off looking ridiculous in the process.
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Let's meet on the mat together soon!
Sensei John Carter and me
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Japanese Vocabulary Lesson:
“Daitō-ryū” ~ as in “Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu” ~ (Takeda Sōkaku's art that comprises many of the roots in which Nihon Goshin Aikido is based). “Daitō-ryū” ~ does NOT mean “Great Sword School.” What does it mean you ask? It means: “Great Eastern School” (reference here).
Of course, our confusion comes from the fact that “daito” actually does mean “sword!” It is a general term for a Katana (Japanese Samurai sword).
They are two Japanese “homonyms” (two or more words that sound alike, and have the same spelling, but completely different meanings).
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