21 Feb 2009

Lead a normal aikido class today, substituting for… umm… I don’t actually know I who I was substituting, Saturday classes are lead by three different people. I was once again reminded of the feeling you get when you’re leading a class and one of your teachers is there. I always get this uncomfortable feeling that I’m saying something wrong, that my theory on that specific technique is complete rubbish. It’s clear to me that people approach techniques differently, depending on their experience, size, interests and so forth. Still, even after being told that it’s more important that I have a consistent picture in my head, I don’t want to say anything that my teachers wouldn’t say themselves.

Anyhoo, ‘yey me’ is in order. Today I actually managed to execute a kotegaeshi I was happy with. A kotegaeshi that felt like uke was thrown because of correct timing and position. While I don’t think there is a single aikido technique that is ‘easy’, kotegaeshi has for the last few years been the one that is the most challenging. My archnemesis. I believe my problems with it are mostly due to incorrect timing. For ‘hard’ throws that have a sharp angle, my throw is always late. Uke regains balance and then it’s just… too late. Then, for for those forms that use more distance between uke and nage, with the contact being like a rubber band, my timing is too early and that that leads to me trying to force uke to fall. Grr, so annyoing.

What was different today? Well, I took my time. Or rather, gave uke the time they need. I think the reason has been that I don’t trust the uke to turn and return, so that I can continue guiding them down and out. But why wouldn’t they, they’ve attacked me and will continue if they can. So one should be able to wait for the uke, and try achieve the feeling of ‘doing together’ as opposed to ‘you fly through the air and I stand here’. Another key was that I positioned myself differently, so that I could guide uke right up to the moment I actually did the throw. Position and timing are always linked together, change one and you have to adjust the other to match. Today I got those to working together. Maybe there’s hope after all. I just have to work on it and occasionally remind myself of the contradictory nature of kotegaeshi: it has very little to do with turning the wrist in.