Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hard Falls

Not too long ago a fellow with whom I was practicing objected to me grabbing his gi during a throw, which effected hard falls on his part.  He was astonished when I said this was for his safety.  He had practiced for years and had never heard this.

Yes, in martial arts, the black belt is a dividing line.  If a black belt hurts a beginner, it is the black belt's fault.  If a beginner hurts a black belt, it is the black belt's fault.  But both nage and uke have a responsibility to see neither gets hurt, and an active way is for nage to direct uke safely into the mats.

Especially in a crowded dojo, there is no reason for people to lighten up practice.  If doing a kokyu nage, in which the uke normally rolls out, the nage should grab the gi of uke so uke is laid out immediately down and in front, not unlike what you see in a judo ippon.  Certainly if the uke will hit a post, a wall of go off the mats, nage should effect a hard close landing by grabbing uke's gi to keep uke close for the fall.

Nage ought to be testing his own centering by controlling the momentum of the throw and the weight of the uke.  Uke should be practicing tight small rolls to get out of trouble, and rolling out and standing immediately, clearing the mats as efficiently as possible.  Uke should also be practicing counters by grabbing nage's gi and using nage as an anchor upon which to effect uke's hard fall.  Nage should be learning to remain balanced no matter how tight a grab uke has.  The usual result is uke can only hold on so long before his grip lets go, but long enough for uke to position himself for a clean safe drop.  In fact the drop usually comes when the energy of the throw has been dissipated into the ground back from uke through nage's legs. Energy, dissipation... thud.

A dojo that slows down as it crowds up should introduce this change slowly, it is a skill.   Every dojo should hear the crash of hard falls regularly during practice.  Even more so when the dojo is crowded.

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