The tube strike appears to have had an impact on numbers this week. Tuesday night stalwart Simon turned up as usual. His continued attendance and commitment is displayed in his growing aikido ability.

We mainly focused on the second section of the randori no kata for Simon’s sake but it actually was a useful session for all of us. Points that I picked on during the session included:

1) Ensure that the pins that complete the technique control the shoulder of uke. If this does not happen it is fairly easy for uke to get up even if you are applying quite a lot of pain.
2) Techniques 7 (ude gaeshi) and 9 (ude garame) are setup in this kata by uke trying to prevent the previous technique, 6 (oshi taoshi) and 8 (hiki taoshi) respectively. In order to train for these techniques correctly it is important that uke actually reacts correctly. In the case of ude gaeshi, uke must try to come back into good posture. It is no good doing this half heartedly, knowing that tori will apply ude gaeshi anyway. Tori must really try to do oshi taoshi and uke must really try to stop tori. To emphasize this we first got uke to reverse tori’s oshi taoshi with an oshi taoshi of their own. This has the helpful feature of getting uke to block the initial technique in exactly the way that leads to ude gaeshi. Once this was being done effectively, tori was then able to transition into ude gaeshi. This gave much better feel for both parties and resulted in better technique all round. The same ideas are true for 8 and 9.
3) All the controls at the end of techniques, whether pins on the floor or standing locks should not require any muscle strength to maintain. Otherwise how are you going to keep someone controlled for a long period of time, may be until the police or help arrives? If you are getting pumped and tense when controlling people then you are doing it wrong. Try to find comfortable positions to stand in where the control is primarily provided by the skeleton and body weight.
4) Finally as always, it is vitally important that uke’s balance is broken. A compliant uke will go down with any old dross but a resisting one will just stand there and look at you unless you break their balance. Breaking balance is so fundamental it should be considered for every technique in every class. You can only control someone larger and stronger than you if their balance is broken. This was demonstrated rather badly by all of us in our little session of aiki sumo at the end of the class.