That Sweet Spot
Went to class last night at North Shore Aikikai. Once again the class centered around exploring aiki principles. The simplest description would be obtaining kazushi in a certain way.
We are paying lots of attention on getting uke in a position where his foot is stuck and he's not inclined to sink his weight down to regain balance. The feeling that you can move uke's weight on to the side or front of the foot.
I used to think that kazushi was just a place that you put uke in. While this is true, I've also come to think of kazushi as a moment. Something that off balances uke may be effective for a second. It's in that second that you can affect uke in the largest manner with the least amount of effort. Another way of thinking of the same thinking is the concept of staying connected with uke. Being sensitive and observe uke's position is key.
We can create kazushi different ways. If we totally compromise uke we can certainly perform a technique after. But... if we learn how to unbalance uke, we can still do the same technique. The difference may be akin to the thought of using large circles vs small circles for the same technique.
As uke, when someone gets me in this position before a throw it almost feels like you don't know exactly what happened, you only know that you fell down. I got feedback from an uke last night telling me this is what it felt like. This makes me think I'm on the right track.
If you can unbalance an opponent in this subtle way, there is nothing for them to push or fight against. This is the main difference between dragging someone around and leading them. There were times in my practice that I was doing this without realizing it. For example, at some dojos, when you do iriminage you pin uke's hand to your leg as you do a tankan. This drags uke around. What I was doing instead was to stretch uke's arm up and out(controlling the elbow) and then as I tenkan, bring it down. This has the affect of locking uke's spine and putting them off balance and gives them a feeling that most of their weight is on the ball of their foot. That means that I can easily bring them around.
So I've had some success using this kind of kazushi in the past but I didn't consciously know why it worked.