Then the rest of the classes focused on taking center from various attacks. Shomen uchi (top of the head), yokomen uchi (side of the head), and mune tsuki (chest strike) were the primary attacks from uke. It always amazes me how the sword or in our case the use of the bokken, relates to the empty hand technics of Aikido. In some of my earlier posts I have discussed taking the center and unbalancing uke and this is what we explored with the bokken. Breath, timing, foot work, hara, ki, correct posture, AND spiraling must all work in concert in order for this to happen. One of the analogies that Sensei used was a screw driver screwing in a nail. There is the force from the arm pushing forward (irimi) and the spiraling action from the hand (tenkan) that must work together against the screw in order for the screw penetrate the wood. This same analogy is used in working with the bokken in taking the center. There needs to be a turning spiraling motion from the bokken as you move toward uke. The lesson that I gathered is not to get fixated on the weapon itself but the person holding the weapon is what we need to deal with.
Then in Monday nights class Taisho reviewed the weapons aspect of taking center and then examined how that aspect relates to the empty hand applications of the Aikido. After trying to take center with using the weapons it was much easier to understand the principles when I tried to apply this concept without the weapon. Weapons and the empty hand applications really do work hand in hand (a dash of pun intended!). It has been a great couple of days of Aikido. Have a great week and see ya next time on the mat as the journey continues!