Faith in the Basics

Over the last few weeks, covering the Thursday evening body art classes at the dōjō, I have deliberately restricted myself to teaching a very limited selection of techniques. These self-imposed restrictions are an attempt to solidify my basics as much as the other students’, and are somewhat inspired by tales of Dōshu’s classes in Hombu Dōjō in Japan.

After the warm-ups, ukemi exercises, and tai sabaki (typically gyaku hanmi katatedori tenkan with uke’s hand kept open to promote good contact), I typically select from the following techniques, performed from a single attack:

  • the “holy trinity” of pinning techniques: ikkyō, nikyō, and sankyō;
  • the “holy trinity” of throwing techniques: iriminage, kotegaeshi, and shihōnage.

It’s definitely interesting to follow this “roll dice for the attack and then follow the basic script” model. If nothing else, it shows how poorly understood the basics are. I definitely feel deficiencies, and I hear other students muttering the same things.

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