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19Dec/150

ninpo taijutsu training notes

I'm going to experiment with blogging my training notes instead of just leaving myself a voice memo which I'll probably never have time to transcribe. They'll be kind of unnecessarily detailed.

At taijutsu practice today, we worked through some of the curriculum for second degree black belt. We started out talking about shizen no te: how to receive attacks, roll, and fall in natural ways that move a fight forward in your favor. Gamers reading this might compare it to the term "failing forward." A common example is re-rolling your attacker when they roll you over to pin or hip throw you. This discussion led into a comparison of wristlocks in aikidō and wristlocks in our taijutsu, specifically kotegaeshi versus omote gyaku. The variant of kotegaeshi we looked at wasn't one I knew from my time in Kōkikai Aikidō, but I've seen it at an Aikikai seminar: rather than throwing my enemy backwards, I cross in front of them and rotate their wrist so that they have to dive-roll over their own arm in order to fall safely. This approach makes the aiki-style grip—one hand on the target's wrist, one on their hand—more attractive.

Conversely, such a grip would actually impede an omote gyaku by bracing the wrist against the hand. In omote gyaku, I place both hands on my enemy's hand, pressing my thumbs into the pressure points between their metacarpals, and turn the wrist to throw them backwards. This approach works much better against armored enemies, who are less able to right themselves when they begin to fall backwards. If I were to throw an armored target with the aforementioned version of kotegaeshi, they would probably not be able to perform the roll required, and instead their arm would simply break. In the battlefield context we assume for taijutsu, breaking their arm in this way wouldn't be worth it for me, as my target would probably just latch on and stab me in the side with their other hand while my two hands were stuck to their broken arm.

We went on to discuss 気剣 kiken, literally "breath fist." This term refers to attacking an enemy with one's intent rather than with one's body. The concept is frequently sensationalized as throwing actual ki fireballs at your enemy, but actually refers more to nonverbal social and attention cues which lead a target intuitively to do what you want. Dr Hatsumi sometimes describes it as a silent kiai.

Finally, we practiced the figure-ten form in the Kotō style. I've never learned the Kotō variant of the figure-ten stance and it's really cool. In a Kotō-style figure-one stance, my left foot and left hand are forward, my right foot is back with a little more weight on it than on the left, my body is bladed towards the enemy, and my right hand hovers over my upper arm palm-down. In a Kotō figure-ten stance, my hips are square towards the enemy, my left hand crosses in front of me and hovers between my right shoulder and my enemy's left shoulder, and my right hand is in the same position as in figure-one stance. So a Kotō figure-ten stance actually looks a lot like a Gyokko-style figure-one stance. I'll try it out in sparring on Monday.

In the Kotō figure-ten form, I evade the attacker's punch to the outside, extending a high-level receive into their space before crossing my left arm up underneath their arm into a figure-ten capture. I lift their arm up and a little backwards to break their balance backwards, then strike with a stick fist or a weapon into their torso. We also practiced an aggressive variant of this form which one can do while walking past a target: as I walk past, I press my right arm into their arm or grab at their elbow with my palm turned towards them and my elbow into their space. Then I move my left arm across in front of me into the figure-ten capture and finish the same way.

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