Practice started with a look at irimi tenkan, focusing on establishing the connection that breaks down uke from the first touch. The conversation soon shifted to the importance of honest ukemi in training, in seeing where opportunities for technique arise from that first point of contact. We broke off and did free practice for a few minutes, exploring what shows up from the katatedori connection, with the intention to complete irimi tenkan behind it.
Michelle Sensei emphasized softness, and finding the point of connection where uke’s balance is taken behind him, switching to katatedori kokyuho with multiple attackers (David, Dwight, and Jim Sensei) as an example. We could explore this one on one or with multiple attackers. Sensei further proved that you don’t need to be in hamni, or even standing for this to be effective. You can sit on the floor to find it, to find the spot where you take uke’s line and come up and over and down, or around and down, or however you need to direct the energy to load uke down. So we did that. It was amazing sensitivity training.
From there, Sensei shifted gears to ryotedori tenchinage, never forgetting the principles of softness, position, and honest ukemi. A good point was the need to connect your hips to the movement, and not be late. If the technique wasn’t there, it wasn’t there, and uke could respond honestly and overtake nage.
After a few minutes of that practice, we switched gears to kosadori kokyuho, stepping back to suck in uke, always working to take the center. Then we added kokyunage to the mix, and nage could alternate, depending on what showed up. For kokyunage, the hand that goes down to the mat completes the throw, more than the one that goes under the arm. You can’t muscle any of these things.
Key words I took away from the class: Connection, hips, down, honest ukemi, and soft – can’t muscle.