Last night at Aikido we went through a number of base moves from the shoman uchi attack. Ikkyo, nikyo, sankyo, irmi nage, shiho nage and ude hineri, before finishing with kote gaeshi. (Check this website out for details of these defences.) This was a lot of techniques to move through in 90 minutes. It was a warm evening and despite the dojo doors being left open to catch the breeze, towards the end I was glowing a good warm shade of red and feeling a more worn out than I should have done.
The final technique of kote gaeshi is one I have done in jiu jitsu and aikido, from a variety of attacks or stationary positions. So I felt confident in my ability to apply it, albeit at a rudimentary level compared with the higher grades. In came the attack, I started my defence and… my brain shut down. I found myself staring in a puzzled manner at the wrist the lock was meant to go on. Nothing came to mind. The blank feeling continued.
A little coaching later and I had something approximating kote gaeshi, but it was certainly a far cry from what I knew it should be and from what I knew I could do.
On the way home I chatted with a fellow aikidoka about the merits and pitfalls of grading systems within martial arts. His argument in favour of gradings is that it provides an opportunity to test skills under pressure, to prove to yourself that the skill has become ingrained within your body.
It was these comments which made me realise that where I had thought I knew the basics of kote gaeshi, in truth I was mentally thinking through each step as I did it. What I should be doing is aiming to feel the attack and train my body to respond with subconscious thought, as outlined in last weeks post. And the only way that I am going to reach that stage is to keep practising, practising and practising.
- Until application becomes automatic.
- Until the small variations of each attack from differing uke’s is felt and addressed.
- Until it no longer matters if I am hot, tired and out of breath because my body has truly learnt the technique.