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Tenkan under the microscope

posted 16 Oct 2011, 15:51 by Dan James
tenkan aikido
Tenkan is a fundamental practice in all aikido school ( known as tai-no-henko in many). Understanding of its purpose and whether it is something that takes ukes centre, uke's centre line or a blending exercise or steps along the continuum is a something that is the subject of some debate. This year Maruyama Sensei opened the national seminar with tenkan at kotai level, specifically teaching a version where nage does not disturb uke's centre at all, and that uke should release the grip enough so that their centre is not taken. It seemingly flies in the face of much of our existing practice, and certainly the responsibility of uke to commit to the attack. We had opportunity to discuss with Maruyama Sensei more about the teaching during the course of practice and so it seems to a few of us that this is a specific practice for Kotai level understanding and helpful as a progression for the higher levels of practice (see Kontai to Kutai) that he went on to, rather than a 'though shalt do this practice at all times'  

After class, and a scrummy vegetarian lunch in an out of the way restaurant that Mark Evans sensei always seems to know how to find, a few of us  adjourned to the dojo to work on the toppling concepts comparing notes since we had last practiced at the winter retreat. And then we returned to tenkan, its always a pleasure to work with Andrew Sunter Sensei in this, he is a prominent researcher of tenkan and a senior instructor in Aikido Yuishinkai with many an insight from the other aikido schools some of which he also holds dan grades in. Andrew shared his thoughts on taking the centre in tenkan and than manner in which it is achieved, small (though often insurmountable) problems like meeting but not engaging the conflict and uke's centre through pushing, pulling and changes to the shoulder joint are all under the microscope in a not quite glacial practice. Drawn into the mix Mark Evans sensei shared his thoughts with some surprising new perspectives garnered from being uchi-deshi to Okajima Sensei for most of 2010/11  (along with partner Lisa) from his backgrounds in many arts including in Daito-Ryu

I hope there is opportunity to explore in the dojo in the coming weeks and will also be good to get  more detailed seminar summaries from Alison, Eric Anthony and others than went to the seminar.