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Playing with Sato sensei’s proposed rules

by on October 21, 2013

I got back from my second Henry Kono seminar of the month yesterday evening. As always, it was fantastic, and hopefully I can share some of the footage soon.

Tonight there were just two of us, but we had a great practice.

First we played with some of the ideas from Joe Cummins on taking ukemi, then a new tidbit from Henry, which linked real well to ideas from Sato sensei and new world champion Shimada Norihiro. I was going to shoot a video on the principal which unites these ideas, but since Chad’s true identity must remain secret, we’ll have to wait until Danny can make it.

From Shimada’s randori tricks we transitioned into our first trial of Sato sensei’s proposed new rules for toshu randori. For those who haven’t heard about them yet, here is a summary I made in a FB conversation with Jerry Bray over at Okie-do:

I don’t know if you know all of the history, but as I understand it, the tanto was introduced to solve the problem of distancing, because aikido toshu randori quickly reverted into something that looked very much like judo randori.

Sato proposes solving the distancing problem by 1) changing the way atemiwaza are scored, and 2) having the referees split up players after 3 seconds at judo ma-ai without anything happening

Basically, the scoring of the atemiwaza would be: full body motion (closing ma-ai) + tegatena connecting with proper part of uke = yuko; balance breaking = waza-ari; throw = ippon

There are some minor technicalities here and there, and various shidos he proposes, but that’s the gist. It would make randori players take a hand to the face more seriously for one thing.

The tanto randori stab is a specialized skill which has very little value outside of the game. But the ability to close distance with a well placed, structured tegatena is a skill which has much more general utility, as does the ability to defend against it.

If this form of randori ever gets adopted, the Japanese college clubs could start churning out some serious martial artists, rather than the (very talented) game players they do now.

I was optimistic about these new rules, but I can say after our first trial run they easily surpassed my expectations.

What we did tonight was a trial run of a progression you could take beginners through, an analog of the preparatory drills we have always done from tanto randori. Normally you might start with tai sabaki practice against knife stabs, or perhaps atemiwaza tsukuri practice but now you can kill two birds with one stone.

We started off with the tsukuri progression, and then once tori had thrown uke a few times, uke got a chance to practice tai-sabaki against those very throws that he had been playing dummy for.

We then played kakari-geiko, clearly designating tori and uke, who could attack with any of the atemiwaza from ma-ai. We didn’t have time to go any further up the progression tonight, but even from kakari-geiko I could tell this is a game that could have very broad appeal.

By virtue of arm-angle and/or momentum, these attacks open opportunities for techniques which will look much more familiar to students of more “traditional” aikido. I could see yudansha of other styles picking up this game much more quickly than they might pick up our tanto randori.

On the other end of the spectrum, the skills you train in this game are much more directly and obviously applicable to a stand-up fighting situation, which might broaden the appeal of this training system to MMA types.

The only caveat I have at the moment is that the potential for jammed fingers is greatly increased, especially when you start playing with some of Sato sensei’s shote tricks, so it will be critical to mindful about proper tegatena usage.

Jammed fingers notwithstanding, I’m done with tanto randori. This new game is the shit.

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From → Curriculum, Quick hit

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