This is the 16th in a 27-part series on the Aiki Ken and Jo Suburi presented by James Neiman, Dojo Cho of Shugyo Aikido Dojo, where martial arts instruction in Union City, California is offered. All the articles are paired with YouTube video demonstrations of each of the Suburi (click here to subscribe to the channel, and click here to view all the articles in this series). These paired demonstrations and articles are offered to Aikidoka who would like to more fully understand the precise mechanics within each of the Suburi, how they can be practiced in both solo and partner settings, and how one can align the Suburi with taijutsu to develop increasing competence and precision with both basic and advanced technique.
Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki
In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki, which is the 3rd of the Aiki Jo Suburi in the series known as the Hasso No Bu. Click here to view a video demonstration of the components of this Suburi. In summary, Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Tsuki contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a rear moving thrust to another uke. This particular exercise is a transition point within the Hasso No Bu, in which a second uke is introduced. The exercise requires a fluid combination of movements that can be divided into 3 major sections:
- Initiate Rotation and Block
- Re-orient your body for movement in the rear direction
- Complete the rear moving thrust
The movement begins with the jo being held in right side shomen kamai, as you learned in Hasso Gaeshi Uchi. Drop your center by bending your knees while staying in an aligned posture. Shifting your weight slightly onto your right foot, move onto the ball of your left foot, and begin to rotate the foot clockwise while coiling your left hip. As you do this, allow your hands to kokyu in front of you and slide along the jo so it is divided in thirds. Begin pushing off the ball of your left foot, committing to the rotation of your hips toward the right, extending both hands in front of you, opening your left hip, and allowing your right foot to step diagonally to the right and back. While completing this hip rotation, and extend through your arms into kokyu. The tip of the jo travels to the right and sweeps aside any incoming forces to the right side of your body. As your weight shifts away from your left foot and on settles onto your right foot, continue extending through your left hand, which releases the jo to complete its sweep to the right. Allow the jo to flip up around your right wrist, finally ending in a vertical position to your right. Grab the bottom tip of the jo with your left hand to stabilize it vertically, while coiling your right hip. This completes the Initiate Rotation and Block movement.
The next part of this suburi, in which you will ultimately execute a thrust toward another uke located to the rear, begins with a weight transfer, as you did with Gyaku Yokomen Ushiro Tsuki. You will begin by transitioning from the finished hasso gaeshi block. Shift your left foot underneath the center of your weight, which is close to your right foot. Transfer your weight onto the ball of your left foot while coiling your left hip. Release your left hand so it can eventually grip the opposite end of the jo as it moves into position, and drop your right shoulder to prepare for the movement and thrust to the rear. Allow the jo to rotate counterclockwise into your left hand. You have stored energy and prepared your body orientation for the rear moving thrust. You have re-oriented your body for movement in the rear direction.
The next part of the movement takes advantage of the stored energy: staying dropped, begin pushing off the ball of your left foot, opening your left hip, lifting your right foot off the ground, and allowing both hands to kokyu, breathing out slightly. In order to maintain the jo’s parallel orientation to the ground, move from your center and keep your right hand at the same position in front of your body, allowing the wrist and fingers to remain flexible enough to permit the jo to travel toward the rear through space in its parallel orientation and constant height above the ground. You have now begun to transfer the energy of the drop into momentum in the rear direction.
Your right foot transfers backward as your left hip continues to open and you push off the ball of your left foot. Pay close attention to the relative stillness of your right hand with respect to your center, as it represents the one point in space and enables the efficient, parallel motion of the jo with respect to the ground. Your left hand, already in kokyu, permits the thrust motion to the rear to occur. Your right foot stops its movement and settles into place, and your right hip tucks to absorb and stop your body’s momentum. You have completed the rear-moving thrust.
Notice that the movement from the ball of the foot helps you orient your feet in such a way that you can generate rotation through your hips. This is what allows you to generate a circular block, and moments after, transition into the rear moving thrust, thus adding the dimension of a second uke to the hasso gaeshi series. The rear thrust illustrates how you may be able to address a second uke in a linear manner after having completed the initial defensive movement. An advanced practice could include dynamically transitioning directly into the rear moving thrust through continuous and well-coordinated weight and jo transfer. The turning and thrust movements have great potential in randori practice, and the thrust toward another uke helps illuminate the transition of rotational absorption of energy into linear offensive movement, and important practice in creating space between ukes within randoris.