Things have changed slightly since the last time I wrote about kokyuho.
My partners will find it increasingly difficult to bring me down, for a variety of reasons. Some will say that I’m just being an ass. I’ve got a junior belt who says kokyuho with me is like he is pushing against a brick wall.
And on my part, it seems elementary to displace my partner with relative ease. No bragging here, please.
More often, I’ve divorced myself from the ‘me’ when I am in class, I am the instrument of which the form and art of aikido requires me to represent. There is no ‘Randy The Aikidoka’ there’s just A Person, The Aikidoka. Let’s not get critical over if it is a good thing or not. It is what it is, I’m an aikido instrument.
Back to kokyuho
Tri was my partner a couple of evenings back, and the outcome is predictable. Unlike others I’ve partnered, I spoke with him, explaining to him what I felt, when he held my hand, and what I felt when I held his.
For a lack of better work, displacement. I weight 68kg, he weighs 63kg. I told him right in the middle where I have my hands and him holding, is neutral. 0kg.
When he tries to move me. He pushes forward and puts his 63kg in motion. I simply take his 63kg, adds to my 68kg, and he has 0kg to push against 130 odd kg, good luck with that.
When he holds my hands, and held the, tight, he gives his 63kg to the hands, and with my 68kg, combined with the 63kg he gave to the hands, I displace him easy, since he has 0kg with him.
I’d wish it was as simple as that, but it is fundamentally deeper. When I seiza, I just sit, period. I guess it comes with age and experience, I’m more centered when I’m in seiza. Period.
But my partners like to struggle against me, push, twist, wrestle, pull (which is the worst thing to do, I simply give, when my partner pushes, and they always topple backwards… More on that later.)
And I will yield, when I’m properly and skillfully displaced. There is no arguments about it, if you are doing your kokyuho properly, you will displace me. With senior belts, there is little charity, I’ll topple when you topple me, if you cannot topple me, I sit. It’s not me, it’s just how it is. I hold a hand, and held it until I fall, if I don’t, I don’t create my own story and topple just for the topple. It’s not an ego thing either (I hope!) but from the outside, it certainly look like I’m a tough little ass to bring down.
Kokyuho is not about pushing, pulling. But those with lesser experience always ends up in this duality. When my partner pushes, I absorb their energy into my center,and I sit firm, more than ever. The harder my partner pushes, the more stable I become.
Many pushes with over zealous, until they loses their core, and moved their head so close to mine, I often head butt them to remind them of their bad posture. Some learned with one head butt, others a couple more. Hard headed folks.
If you extend your hands properly, I’d been displaced and you can pivot me without even leaning forward. In fact leaning forward, would be a sign that there is not enough extension on the hands, and that results in your body having to come in to compensate for the lacking of power on the hands, and that will bring the body closer to me, and the head within striking distance of my head butt.
You don’t need to pull back a lot. Just a slight roll of both palms backwards, that’s enough for me to bring my energy with your retreating energy, and give it all back to you.
Imagine, Tri again, with his 0kg, and him putting 63kg on the hands, and I have my 68kg with me. When he rolls his hands back, I’ll follow with his 63kg and a little bit of my 68kg back into his 0kg. The sudden influx of weight will usually cause my partner to lose balance and topple back. I always preached. ‘Never pull back’ pulling back is a sure sign of fear and uncertainty. When we are not sure, or afraid, we will hunker down, withdraw back into our core; bad move, as I will follow you in, to your center and disrupt you.
Martial arts is a lot of 80/20.
Which means you never devote 100% into a movement, it is always 80% and 20% in reserve. So never hold an Aikidoka in a dead grip, in doing so, you’re dead, which is why it is called a ‘death grip’. When you held a person’s hands too tightly, you give away a lot of your center, and a good Aikidoka can feel that and use it against you.
When you become skillful, you just need 60% to kill your opponent, anything more is an overkill. If you can do it with 60-80% effort, why commit 100%? And if you cannot get it done with 60-80% effort, will putting all your eggs 100% make a difference? Perhaps, but what have you got left to recover? And if you put in all 100% and it still don’t work? What have you got left?
So in kokyuho I never give my partner a death grip. I grip firm, and feel, a firm grip connects my center to my partner’s. More often than not I can feel my partner’s center through the grip, and respond to that movement, in counter. By not giving a 100% grip, I am concealing my center from my partner, that displacing me will be difficult.
It’s like a poker game, you show your cards by not showing all your cards, bluffing your partner into showing all the cards, thinking you have shown all of yours. Then you can bring in the right amount of power to displace your partner.
Never give a 100% in any fighting encounter, have a reserve.
It’s not me
Like I said it, I’m simply responding to my partner’s movement, and when the movement is not generated from the center, there will always be a counter for that, the shoulder pushes forward, I’d push back, pulled to the right, I’ll push to the left, twist up, I’ll press down. It is a natural response to a movement, and unless you move from the center, then it will be very difficult to counter that, as long as you are able to generate movement from there and use that energy properly and skillfully.