One session with Irie sensei, 6.dan

5 03 2012

Only one session, never used as uke, but I still enjoyed this year “seminar” in Shanghai with Irie sensei!

Sensei came to Shanghai with about 10 young students from an university in Tokyo where he is teaching Aikido: a seminar and a cultural international exchange for the kids with other Aikidokas in China. Quite a nice experience for all I think.

Of course, having only a tiny chance to practice, I focused more on the practice than in the socialization. The level of his students was quite various, ranging from a couple of young, energetic, supple, extremely good ones to normal beginner level or so, as it should be!

Somebody (like me sometime ago) has the strange notion that since Aikido is Japanese, all Japanese that practice Aikido are extremely good. Now I can smile with some reasons at it, after having been a few times in Japan h\and having met lots of average or worse Japanese Aikidokas and amazing good not-Japanese ones!! It’s all in the practice.. and in the motivations and of course a little in the inborn skills of a person.

Back to practice, I admit I really like Irie sensei. Almost unconditionally!

Most of technical points from his practice focused on keeping the elbows along the body, inside the volume defined by the shoulders, and not outside.

The first technique he showed was a sort of  tenchinage ura version where tori was not doing a tenkan, but moving uke using the contact established by the ryote dori grip, kokyu ho wrist rotation (lower hand as for tenkan, upper hand as for tenchinage) and kaiten. From a complete contact and good kokyu, moving uke becomes effortless, as long as tori‘s elbows keep along the body: if the elbows stick out, it is very easy to test that any force applied by uke would result in shoulder contraction and strengthening in tori, making the technique a pure result of trying to forcibly pull uke along with you.. that would work only with a large weight difference (ie. me with any tiny Chinese boy/girl!!). Sensei applied the technique also on me when he walked around the dojo, and I felt how natural and easy was his throw!

Looking back we worked on several really basic techniques (thing I always enjoy): morotedori kokyu hosuwariwaza katadori nikyoushiro ryote dori and then some more advanced contact application, from an anticipated movement on the grip of tachiwaza katadori.

In the ushiro ryote dori, for uke side, sensei always shows the proper way to grip: a solid grip on both hands, lowering the body behind tori in order to keep a low center of gravity while attacking and especially avoid having your head too close to tori‘s back of the head. This happens when uke grips not fully and stands behind tori, that then could just head backward and more often than not be able to hit uke‘s face!! With a full low grip it is then possible to work the contact toward uke‘s center and unbalance him/her. With a standing uke behind you, you would not be able to do this technique (uke would feel very little from the grip contact) – but other techniques would apply well, if you decide to not hit uke straight in his/her face, I mean!!

Like in this technique, as in the last more advanced one (anticipating katadori attack) tori focus the control toward uke‘s center, usually through the contact with arms. Lowering the contact, therefore your partner, it is much easier to gain his/her control and therefore perform any technique.

Anyway, let’s close with Irie sensei in action:

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