Thus endeth the first lesson

And so we have finished the first Tuesday night beginners’ course. I hope that everyone who completed it enjoyed it. Those who didn’t complete it have probably voted with their feet. Sorry if it wasn’t for you.

Tonight we begin a new set of lessons. This is not a course where you pay up front. You now have to pay each session, or monthly if you are keen. What we will be doing is consolidating what was taught in the beginners’ course and pushing out into the further realms of the aikido universe.

There are so many options available in terms of techniques to practice, principles to study and people to train with. To keep it simple and also to focus on those people who have been regularly attending the classes on Tuesdays we will be looking at the rest of the randori no kata. I recommend this to all club members as it is never a bad thing to go over these techniques regularly. Even if you are focusing on the koryu katas for higher grades you still need to have these techniques perfect.

The randori no kata was developed as a set of techniques that could be used in the tomiki style randori or competition aspect of aikido. All the techniques are executed from a straight forward shomen attack, although with a little variation pretty much any attack can be accommodated. The kata is broken into four sections. Each section contains techniques that have some similarity.

The first section is the ate (striking) techniques: shomen ate (frontal strike), aigamae ate (natural posture strike), gyakugamae (opposite posture strike), gedan ate (low strike) and ushiro ate (rear strike). Of course the strikes are actually projections or throws and could be described as nage rather than ate, like in irimi nage, which is very similar to aigamae ate. That being said these techniques require a certain martial spirit to be executed effectively, requiring timing and a good understanding of entering (irimi). This is the section that we focused on for the beginner course.

The next section is the ude (elbow) techniques: oshi taoshi (push down), ude gaeshi (elbow fold), hiki taoshi (pull down), ude garame (arm rotation) and wake gatame (arm bar). The absolute classic is oshi taoshi. This is often the first technique to be taught and O Sensei described it as such, “ikkyo” (first technique). We are going to spend a few weeks looking at these techniques in some detail.

But there are some lovely techniques later on and I will definitely be touching upon shiho nage (four direction throw) and tenkai kote hineri (turning wrist rotation) as they are great fun and have lots of “aikido” in them. I would also like to take a look at tenshi nage (heaven and earth throw) as it is also quintessentially aikido.

Look forward to seeing as many of you as possible tonight.