10 Oct 2005

Making a cup of coffee is like making love to a beautiful woman. It's got to be hot. You've got to take your time. You've got to stir... gently and firmly. You've got to grind your beans until they squeak. And then you put in the milk.

—Swiss Toni

Making coffee really has absolutely nothing to do with shihonage (四方投げ); shihonage has everything to do with dropping bricks! Let me elaborate: the “throwing” stage of shihonage can be seen as something where you move the uke’s hand behind their shoulder and then you either push it forward or down. This works, the uke will most likely find themselves laying on the tatami, wondering how they got there. This, however, is perfect case of using force where there is no need for it. When you use force, the uke will reject it, i.e. resist it, and will end up stiffening the both of you, requiring even more force to be used to down the uke.

I’ve used the following in the basics course to describe shihonage “throw”: imagine you’re holding a brick and you’re asked to put it down on the floor. What do you do? Do you push it down? Do you throw it down? No, you drop it. The gravity will take care of the rest. Similarly, the “throw” in shihonage should be as if you were just dropping your hands. Dropping your hands, dropping ukes hands, dropping uke. In aikido fashion, dropping your hands is not just letting your hands go down, but rather dropping you hara and lettings the hands follow. Timing plays into this when you don’t stop after turning under ukes arms, instead let “everything” drop after you’ve stabilized your stand, i.e. dropping you hands is an extension of the henkan. If you execute the technique with step back, step in before the “throw”, the drop becomes the end of the step in. In any case, shihonage has nothing to do with pushing uke’s hands down, or with coffee. It has to do with dropping bricks.