Hitting People with Sticks
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Working with tenkan – aikido

Tenkan is a technique in aikido that is devastatingly simple and surprisingly hard to get right.  Sounds like a lot of aikido, actually.

The basic move is performed by leaving your hand out in front of you and rather than pulling back, you move in to that spot.  Basically, you figure uke has your hand, so let him have it, or think he does.  Then you do a 180 so that you’re facing the same direction as uke, perhaps a bit in front of him.

The big secret to this move, it seems, is to connect your movements and complete the circles involved.  If you stop in the middle of the move and break the circle, you can lose the effectiveness entirely.  Making that scooping motion with your hand pulls uke down with you and never gives him a chance to recover.  It was really amazing to me how wonky my positioning was as uke – my hips would be off to one side, my head down and tilted to the other side, and I’d have very little balance.  It was all taken away by my partner.

Another note:  since I’m generally shorter than my partner, I need to remember to roll my arm on top of his arm when doing this move.  I get a lot more control and take his balance away much more easily.

An interesting thought:  Phil again used that little crossed-feet drop again with last night’s technique, and it struck me how well that seems to engage uke – the natural reaction is to grab on and try to compensate, and that really is vital in performing these movements.  You should be using uke’s energy, after all, not your own.

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