Fall forward – Nov 1, 2015, Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

And spring back, or at least that’s how I confuse myself at this time of the year. Your clocks go back in Fall, by the way, so I woke up an hour earlier than I needed to this morning. For us fellows of a “certain age” that isn’t a big deal, we’re up four or five times a night anyway, it’s usually a matter of picking one to stay awake for the day.

Falling forward is an image I use to describe how to tell if your maai is too close. “If he can kill you by fainting you’re too close”. That’s fainting, not feinting by the way. While there’s nothing wrong with “sneaking in” to range, if you’re doing it without meaning to, it’s a problem that might get fixed with a poke in the chest. Hopefully with a bokuto rather than a shinken.

Speaking of men of a certain age, the sign just fell off the door of the cafe and two of us were fixing it within about ten seconds. A bit of an adjustment to a wire and it ought to be good. It’s just what you do, something needs fixing, you fix it… and hope someone doesn’t see you doing it so that you don’t get sued. Yeah, cynicism increases directly with the number of times you have to get up in the night.

Aikido is one of those arts that suffers from “too close”, especially when you’re trying to take a sword away from someone. “But it’s impossible for me to jump in that far and get hold of his wrist”. Yes. It is. So don’t try and don’t worm your way close enough to the sword that he can kill you by fainting. Stay at the same distance as you would be if you had a sword in your hand. In fact, sneak your feet back just a bit so that he has to really leap in order to hit you. Then wait.

When he leaps in to hit you he will be committed to his movement and it will be very hard for him to adjust as you slip to the side and calmly lay your hand on his. If he is swinging into the space where your head was, you can reach his hands, a sword is about the length of an arm. This, by the way, is your one and only chance to take a sword away from someone. If you can’t wait for him to commit to a movement you’re not going to take the sword. If you can’t get the timing and distance right you’re not going to take the sword. If you can’t catch his balance before he can recover from his attack you aren’t going to get the sword. Your best chance is to hope that the fellow with the sword believes it’s impossible for you to take his sword. It isn’t impossible, just very, very difficult.

At this point we’re into “self defence vs the boyfriend” territory. You know, you show someone a self defence move and she comes back next class and says “I tried it on my boyfriend and it didn’t work”. Did you poke him in the eye? Did you stomp the inside of his shin with your shoe? No? Hmm. Did you tell him you were going to try something? Yes? Hmm. Put a kendo player with a shinai in front of yourself and tell him that you’re going to take his shinai away. Go ahead, try.

Now get your bogu on and play some kendo, when you get into tai atari just roll off while grabbing his hand and then rip his shinai to the side in a small overhead movement as you step back. Did it work? Maybe half the time? If it works once then it’s not impossible.

What’s the point of only practicing stuff that works all the time? We’d just sit at home and laugh at youtube videos if we did that. Better to get up an hour early and go try four impossible things before breakfast. Gasp… I said four!

Kim Taylor
Nov 1, 2015

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