We had a visitor Friday night hit the mat. Some black belt from the MIT club. A couple of people recognized him so he's probably been practicing a long while. He looked familiar so I'm wondering if I've seen him at a seminar or two.
Well... the guy couldn't make it to MIT tonight so he dropped into our dojo. For good or bad, Bob has a tendency to make visitors work. Good for us to get exposed to someone from another dojo. Bad for them if they thought they were going to get a chance to experience our aikido as a club. So he was kind enough to started off with his version of a familiar kokyunage. The difference in his version is that he tended to go through uke's head(as if his thought were it's a strike). Perfectly valid, just different.
I also noticed a different ukemi. For an iriminage, he would turn his back and roll away. I've seen this and variations of this over the years. I'm not sure I like that particular ukemi because you can't hang in there very long for the technique. I think nage gets less out of the technique. It's certainly easier on uke to bail like that though. If someone had issues and needed to take care of themselves I'd do that in a second but otherwise I prefer to hang in there longer.
I liked how he went through the whole class taking turns with everyone so they could get a little help or at least feel what he was doing for the technique.
The only other thing of note was at the end he had us doing suwari waza kokyuho. He went up the line, off balancing each of his partners as they attempted to do the technique. When he got to me, I immediately pinned him and he had this look of surprise on his face. Then for the second go round I couldn't easily move him. He gave me a totally loose grip. It's hard to establish a connection if there is no intent/no grip. Still. It's a good exercise.
Then after a certain amount of time of me failing to get him pinned, he tried to pin me. I softened up and just bent with him. The first time he tried it got him no where. Then he finished the pin by coming forward and bumping me with his shoulder. Other pins after that were a little more normal. He tended to start moving before I settled in (which is a good thing) and easily could move me. He adapted well. For me he suggested that I extend before moving forward. When I tried extending forward as he suggested, he merely pushed my hands down. So that didn't work out for me.
After class one of the other students commented to me that he couldn't do the exercise well because our visitor didn't give him a real grip/attack. Then he further went on to suggest that the visitor was doing this out of ego. That he wouldn't allow a while belt to pin him. I'm not totally sold on this theory. Although it may be the case. It may also be the case that this is how they practice at his dojo and you sometimes have to handle someone who doesn't give you strong intent (a solid grip). Could be very likely that he was trying to teach how to establish a good connection when one isn't given.
At the end of class he did a quick demo of several techniques from one entry. That looked fun, I was hoping we'd get to do that but he simply did the demo and ended class. The demo was an extension of the last thing done. But it was simple enough with a nikkyo, kotagaeshi, ending and so forth.
In any event, I'd love to work with him again to see what they do over at MIT for techniques. We didn't do too much in that class. I'd like to see more of their style.
EDIT: Someone else I spoke with agreed with me and thought that the point of the whole class was establishing that connection.