starting waza – shihonage

We started practicing techniques, or waza, for the first time today.

For today and the rest of the week, we are practicing shihonage, which is the first technique in Yoshinkan. Specifically, we started today with katate mochi shihonage ichi. In Yoshinkan, techniques are divided into ichi and ni classes depending on whether you are moving forward or backward. Katate mochi is wrist grab, and shihonage is “Four Directions Throw.”

The day started well with a good first class, and when I heard we were going to start shihonage today, I thought, I’m going to knock this class out today, because I’ve been doing shihonage in ippan classes since I got here in January. But by the end of the day today, I didn’t think I understood anything about shihonage at all.

In ippan classes, I am used to Payet-sensei saying things like “good, good” or “yeeees” or “that’s it”.  Not necessarily to me, but in general–he is an even and good-tempered instructor.  But today I think he actually looked exasperated.  I guess that is the difference between expectations for ippan students and kenshusei students.

Here is a partial list of problems with my technique:
– atemi coming from arm rather than back leg
– too much tension in the forearm, breaking partner’s grip
– too little tension in the forearm, losing form
– hips aren’t low enough
– back foot isn’t flat
– shoulders too high and tense
– after relaxing, body and arms aren’t extended enough
– after extending, shoulders too high and tense
– hands coming too far over head during rotation
– hips out of alignment after rotation
– using arms rather than hips to take partner’s balance
– arms chopping rather than extending forward
– stepping rather than sliding during the throw

All of these specifics aside, I think all my problems with this technique can be summed up in one point: I don’t really feel any connection with my partner.

Payet-sensei does demonstrations–one again today–where he talks about energy going from your hip to your partner’s hip.  And when he does techniques in super-slo-mo or stop-motion, you can see his partner’s body changing in response to his movements. But I can’t feel this connection at all.

Kudos to Nick today for a good catch:
The main shihonage exercise for the second keiko session was performing the technique with only one hand.  When my arm kept coming over my head and then down with my shoulder forward, Nick said, “that’s your swimmer’s arm.”  Sure enough he was right. I was performing the movement almost exactly the way my arm would enter the water for crawl stroke.  Good insight.

Only four more days to get this technique right.  That’s more than one problem to correct each class!

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