Weapon: Jo Saburi, focusing on
Technique: Morote Kokyu Ho
One of my big hang ups is when people take the steps of a
technique as the whole of it. Instructors have to break things
down for the students to understand. The best instructors
of the Iwama tradition break things down into digestible steps.
The danger is in not seeing the entire movement but only a
sequence of steps. I believe over time the steps get oversimplified
as they are transmitted or, worse, the steps are taken as
pure dogma, immutable and unquestionable. Take Hasso Gaishi
Awase techniques as an example. If you watch Morihito Saito
Sensei execute the Hasso Gaishi movement as in the 5th Ken
Tai Jo, you can see how the jo deflects the sword strike down
and out. That’s the ideal. Saito Sensei’s movements
are so amazingly subtle that he looks blasé as he moves.
But his timing is such that his body is in position before
the sword falls, and the deflection is effortless. If you
only execute the steps of Hasso Gaishi without treating it
as a continuous technique, the deflection will rarely if ever
go down and out.
Weapon: Sword Techniques, focusing
on Ichi No Ken Saburi
Technique: Katate Dori Technique
Hanmi, Every instructor I’ve ever known teaches Hanmi
on the first day of class. Most students, however, stop their
exploration of Hanmi after learning to stand with their feet
in a “T”. Hanmi is a very big concept. It takes
in feet, shoulders, posture and most importantly hips. If
you take a serious look at just hip placement and rotation,
then you can see the power plant behind every Aikido technique.
For example, the 90 degree rotation of the hips when stepping
from one Hanmi to another has tremendous power, as seen in
the opening to the Katate Dori Ikkyo.
Understanding Hanmi is to understand what your body (feet,
shoulders, posture and hips) is doing throughout the technique.
That is particularly important for shodan and above.