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Episode 5: A few thoughts on posture and footwork

by on December 6, 2011

I was hoping to have a video of our kotegaeshi trick for you today, but we decided it wasn’t quite ready for prime time. (Basically, the trick works against one common type of resistance, but needs to be modified to work properly when uke has a more aggressive intent.) So today we have a few quick thoughts of footwork and posture instead.

Our small class size often allows Eric, Janine and I to work one-on-one with the lower belts. When we rotate we sometimes pick up the thread from the last instructor and take it in a slightly new direction. Last class was a good example. Eric had been working with Chad on ways to think about posture and movement for shomenate. When Chad recapped these for me, I added an additional thought about footwork.

Here’s some of what we told Chad:

From → Video

  1. Thanks guys for sharing your thoughts. I like it when we can get a discourse between dojos and even organizations via the miracle of the net.

    I give a big thumbs up to hip focused and driven movement.

    I would suggest shorter and more frequent stepping. From what I have found, except in fencing, the deep lunge is trouble for aiki arts. Sensei used to say “keep your feet under your butt”

    • Likewise! I appreciate getting feedback from a different perspective.

      The Shodokan folks are all about idōryoku and their unsoku sometimes reflects it with big sliding steps. On the other end of the spectrum, Henry Kono practically takes baby steps. I use both kinds of movement at various times. Big unsoku is a less natural way to move and therefore requires more practice. I’ve seen some of the Waseda kids just practice tsukuri for hours.

      The schools that I’ve seen that make good use of bigger footwork all emphasize the speed at which the trailing foot catches up to the lead foot. When done properly, your feet should spend almost all of the time no farther than shoulder-width apart as you suggest. Focusing on bringing up the trailing foot quickly has the added benefit of causing you to pull with the front foot.

      I think footwork size offers a tradeoff between power and difficulty blending. As my aikido evolves to focus more and more on blending, I’ll probably end up taking more small steps.

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