Monday, 29 November 2010

Cold floor, seminar and moustaches

Even real men feel the cold. Even real men with moustaches for Movember feel the cold, wintry, November floors of dojos. That's what me and fellow Movember bandido felt when we went down to the Bristol winter seminar for some extra tuition.

As ever with Shorinji Kempo the folk were friendly and we had a good time and picked up a few learning pointers along the way.

Sparring practice and eager to score

A tiring session tonight started with some light randori to warm up and also to see what issues fell out of these encounters with which to work upon. On of the things that sensei TO mentioned was the concept of winning before the engagement. An idea which involved trying to stack all the cards in your favour before the conflict even starts: something which can involve many elements but on the physical level it can mean making the opportunities for yourself without getting hit too much.

It occurred to me as we were discussing this that all my martial arts career I've always been eager to win the point. In sparring I tend to take the fight to my opponent always looking for opportunities but hungry for those occasions to arise. Wanting to land the kick or punch so much that I'd spar offensively. I wouldn't say I was impatient but I certainly usually look to put pressure on my opponent, chasing him or her down. The trouble with this strategy is an experienced opponent can simply wait and pick you off.

So this evening's lesson was simply that I should look to make the opportunities without the rush into conflict. Hold back, see the lay of the land and react to the opponent's techniques. Sounds rudimentary but I have to confess that it's something I still need to work on.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Shorinji kempo as self defence

Last night I was battered by a woman and it reassured me.

Sensei set up a sequence of attacks or approaches which could easily be seen as self defence moves and my partner (a woman of much slighter build) and I started practising. We both took turns as the aggressor but it was quite obvious to me she was executing good technique and obvious to others that she was throwing me around the dojo. This made me feel pretty good. I knew I wasn't faking it (not being easy on her-in fact sometimes I was quite awkward) and my partner, SD, had to make the technique work within this self defence framework. It gave me a good feeling of reassurance that what sometimes seem as quite formal techniques can be effective as self defence moves; all this as she bounced me off the walls.

I'm not saying that this is 'Woman's Self Defence' (a term I find incredibly condescending) nor that I'm pleased a *woman* can make these techniques work, simply that I felt a smaller, slighter person can be effective on a heavier aggressor who acts with feeling and with intent.

What is not considered in this format, of course, is street environment or street clothing. Any dojo 'self defence moves' are really no more than an approximation of the physicality of what might happen in the street/bus/tube. We walk into a dojo with sports specific clothing, bare feet, clean flat floors and bright lighting. None of these elements are guaranteed on the street.

This does not mean practising the self defence technique is worthless. If it's never used then it can never be conceived of or tapped into at a subconscious level when needed.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Aikido, Judo and Iaido throws

Just a quick look at some 'nage' or throws in Aikido, Judo and interestingly an iai form with a throw (although this is possibly an Aikido waza with swords-anyone?). The obvious similarity which runs throw all of these different techniques is the use of the opponent's momentum: body movement or tai sabaki. In the sword form it's much more subtle as the movement of the opponent's body is his flinch against the strike as the instigator capitalises on this and carries the movement down to the floor.

Irimi nage - Aikido

Tai Oshi - Judo