Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, January 08, 2024

Murder on the Dojo Floor

Not really. Below is an excerpt of a post by the Thoughtful Sensei organizing the techniques in his style using the term for a gathering of crows, a "murder." The full post may be read here.

Many martial artists look at a kata (aka a group of techniques) and only see ......... a group of techniques. This isn't a bad thing because after all ... it really is just that. Unfortunately however, little thought is given by the younger and the relatively inexperienced players that those techniques (and kata sets) might have been placed together for a reason.

Just for the fun of it (now entering "mild humor mode") let us refer to that group of techniques as a "Murder" (3 or more items involved and generally used for groupings of crows).  In this case however we are not speaking of crows (specifically) but rather of groupings of principles and techniques needed to excel in whatever martial art suits your fancy. In our case it's Tomiki Ryu Aikido/Aikijutsu, the Aikijutsu coming from our pre-WWII origins.

In our view Tomiki Ryu has two levels of kihon or basic techniques that come before the Murders and that everything coming after is based upon. In Tomiki Ryu these are taught as the walking and the 8 Releases. The walking is done solo and the 8 Releases are done with a training partner. Every hand motion and footstep in Tomiki Ryu are taught within the walking and every off-balance and re-direction of energy and power is explored in the 8 Releases.

Then come the Murders; the groupings of waza (techniques) that are based off the kihon, each with a different underlying theme or "Flavor" if you will.

In Tomiki Ryu the 1st Murder is the 17 Attack Movements teaching the fundamental principles of distance, timing, posture, gaze, off-balance of self and of attacker, foot movement, basic techniques, hand exchanges, and underlying purpose as seen within the idea of "Closing Centers" (centripetal forces) or the application of power as the centers of gravity (of defender and attacker) move towards each other.

The 2nd Murder in Tomiki Ryu is The Big 10 Defensive Movements which uses some of the same techniques as the 17 but within the context of "Separating Centers" (centrifugal forces) or the application of energetic power as the centers of gravity move apart. This 2nd Murder is actually considered to be more powerful (read "dynamic") than the 17 because of the attachment points and flow of energies as tori and uke merge, attach, and then forcefully separate.

The 3rd Murder in Tomiki Ryu is Yon Kata or the 4th of the koryu (old flow) kata groupings where the idea of synchronizing the movements of both the defender and the attacker is developed and then how to "break" that synchronization at the best moment is learned; becoming "one mind" for a brief moment before tori breaks that connection and throws uke.

The 4th Murder is an advanced koryu kata labeled Go Kata. This Murder teaches combative principles via techniques using both closing centers and separating centers. It is done at speed to pressure the defender such that they must intuitively react from the subconscious.


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