Saturday, March 22, 2008

Straight man

Sometimes, I enjoy playing the straight man, especially for Douglas Firestone's routine. I think he knows I do it, at least on some level, and seeks to capitalize on it -- with interesting results.

We were doing yokomenuchi kokyunage and Doug stopped the pair next to me to demonstrate. During his demonstration to some new guys, he stressed that they should put their feet behind uke at the throw. If he would have just showed that, or said it was an option, I wouldn't have thought much of it, but he made it sound like the correct thing to do every time.

Though many instructors and sempai do this on a regular basis, I never got the impression it was "standard practice," but just a slightly more advanced and perhaps more martial option. Usually, I don't do it, but I fool around with it sometimes when I have an experienced uke.

So, I questioned him on it. "Should I put my leg behind uke all the time?"

"Yes," he said, "otherwise it's just a punch in the face." I could see his point. I said OK, thank you, bowed, and turned back to my partner.

What's the aikido equivalent to a sucker punch? A sucker throw? Maybe a sucker slam. Yeah, I like that.

As I turned my attention to my uke, Doug moved in, put his leg behind both my feet and threw me hard! Of course, this fast action, combined with me being completely unprepared for it, resulted in quite a SLAM. These days, I've gotten better at taking that ukemi over the leg. But I guess not yet with surprise and at speed. I literally didn't know what hit me! "See," he said, "just like that." Still stunned, I managed to get out a single "hai."

As I was getting up, I saw a replay of the event in my mind's eye. During the throw, I really had no thought at all. Not even any time for an "oh, shit." But after it was over, I saw the look I had on my face when he moved in. It was one of complete shock. Too bad there is no photo or video. It would have been a good one.

Don't think I'm complaining. I should have known better. That is 100 percent Doug. Serves me right for letting him break the maiai. I believe he spent a lot of time with Chiba-sensei and this sort of thing is very Chiba-esque. Chiba-sensei is notorious for exploiting openings and lack of attention by his students. Certainly after a few of those, one is likely to learn his lesson.

I happened to be partnered with a visiting yudansha. I don't know where he is from. The look on his face was priceless. It was like, "Is that what you people do around here?" Haha.

A while later, we were doing kotagaeshi and Doug noticed I was futsing with uke's arm during the pin. "Don't do that," he said. "Just one motion." He demonstrated cleanly on my uke.

Never one to know when to keep his mouth shut, I persisted, "but what if uke doesn't cooperate? Don't I have to get his arm in the proper shape before the pin?"

"No. Watch." He proceeded to put me in the pin. "Don't cooperate," he said. I tried not to let him get my arm, particularly my wrist angle, in the proper shape. Of course, he was able to get me in the proper pin in a millisecond.

"Did that work?" he asked.

Playing the straight man again, I made it appear I was distressed and confused. "Yeah, that was pretty good." I cracked up everyone around us. In truth, I was careful to tap out in time and I was fine. ;)

Actually, this is something that still needs work. How he can get the arm into position so simply and quickly is still beyond me. But at least now I'm aware of it.

Here's a short example of Chiba-sensei showing his uke he came in at a poor angle:


Patrick said...

"Never one to know when to keep his mouth shut..." this made the blog. LOL. On Main Street it often translates to "what the f*ck was I thinking!"

Another thing about the video - I laughed hard when I saw that and someone had tagged it under 'music'. I guess uke came in 'lazy' and left his guard down and open to 'music'.

See ya soon !

AikiAddict said...

I'm not sure what you mean by the "pin" in koshinage? Could you clarify? Thanks! And I've found the safest response is always, "Yes, Sensei". (grin)

AikiPenguin said...


Brain not working. I meant kotagaeshi!

It's been fixed. Thanks for bringing this to my attention Karen!

Yes, sensei always works. ;)