Friday, 6 July 2012

Up up and away

Last night we were playing with wooden swords and spears again, or naginata actually. I explained what a naginata is in my last post so don't look so dumbfounded. I shouldn't really say we were playing with wooden swords, but sometimes, depending on the training partner, that is what it feels like. Some training partners are a pain in the arse.

When using weapons for training you have to do four things. 
1. Suspend disbelief. for the purpose of training this is a real weapon with razor sharp edges and pointy bits that can really hurt.  
2. Actually try and hit the person you are training with. I don't mean wildly swing for them, but at least aim at them with the intent to hit them. Okay so we can be safe and practice at half speed etc, but if your partner does not move out of the way then hit them! This way the training partner actually does feel the necessary emotion for conditioning because if they don't react they will get hit.
3. Understand that this is not a play fight in a school yard. go through the drills and practice the basics before you start trying to embellish or move in any fancy or super-dynamic way. This applies to both partners. As uke I do not deviate from the strike that we are defending against because this makes practice safe. When you are uke I expect you to do the same. That way we both get the maximum benefit, our reflexes are conditioned, our movements become precise etc. If you do something unexpected then you will get an unexpected response. so even the thought "ah but what if I hit you like this instead" will often be met with a naginata or bokken in your face/chest/ribs. If I do not know what is coming and I have suspended my disbelief then I will react in the most natural way that I have conditioned myself to do.

There is a reason for this rant.

Scene one.
Uke: Be careful because I could have reached you then.
Me: I am at the other and of a 7ft pole and you are on the floor with a blade at your neck.
Uke: I could change hands like this and just reach.
[Uke demonstrates, placing his bokken in his left hand, holding it at the very end and swinging it. He misses my right knee by inches. The naginata at his neck leaves a red mark as he scrapes his own neck against it in the process.]
Me: That looks quite nasty, are you okay?

Scene two
Me: what are you doing?
Tori: Just seeing where I can go with this.
[Tori flourishes a bit, steps here and there, tapping me with the end of his naginata. This is quite annoying.]
Me: ready?
[Tori nods, ready, I attack. Tori goes completely off piste with something he has picked up from watching too many kung fu movies and I see the naginata swinging up at my face, I react.]
Me: That looks quite nasty, are you okay?

Scene three
Uke: Ready?
Me: Yes.
[Uke strikes, I defend, everything goes swimmingly.]
Uke: Your movement is not right, you should be going left not right.
Me: Why? What's the difference?
Uke: That is what we are practising.
Me: Okay it's a fair cop.
Uke: Ready?
Me: Yes (this is going too well)
[Uke attacks again but his attack is off, I again move to the right, everything goes swimmingly, job done.]
Uke: you did it again.
Me: I know.
Uke: You need to go left.
Me: I am moving with you.
[Uke stares at me as though I have insulted his mother in Dutch. He readies his bokken again and we take up positions. Uke steps in, this time a little too deep as he has not paid attention to distance. I react safely, but then he has another go. I am forced to react very quickly]
Me: that looks quite nasty, are you okay?

Scene four
[we step forward after watching a demonstration and take up our positions. Uke launches at me, bokken pointed at my face before I have even taken up position. I react, swinging my naginata upwards in an arc. Uke falls backwards]
Uke. Mmph!
[His lip is starting to swell alleady, this is not good]
Me: That looks quite nasty, are you okay?

We have all been there, and it really does look quite nasty...

Play safe.