This is the 18th 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 Harai
In this article we examine Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai, which is the 5th and final suburi 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 Harai contains part of a figure-8 movement, resulting in a block followed by a turning, sweeping strike. This exercise continues the orientation toward multiple ukes in the Hasso No Bu. 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 sweeping strike
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 Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi. 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, and turn on the ball of your left foot in a clockwise direction to prepare for the ura movement that will follow when you execute the sweeping strike. Transfer your weight onto the ball of your left foot while coiling your left hip. Maintain the positions of your hands on the jo, allowing it to rotate clockwise toward a horizontal orientation, with your right hand in kokyu with the palm facing upward. You have stored energy and prepared your body orientation for the rear moving strike. 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. Allowing both arms to pronate to counterclockwise around their center axes so the back of your right hand and the palm of your left hand are facing you, move from your center and keep your left hand at the same distance from your center, allowing the wrist and fingers to remain flexible enough to permit the jo to travel diagonally downward and toward your rear through space. You have now begun to transfer the energy of the drop into momentum in the rear direction.
Your right foot transfers in a circular, 180-degree movement as you would do with Tae No Henko. Your left hip continues to open and you push off the ball of your left foot, which was preloaded and rotated clockwise (inward) on the ball of the foot to prepare for the complete rotation. 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 the jo rotates around the center of your right palm as it begins its arc into the striking motion. The palm of your right hand reinforces the impact of the jo on the target to your rear as the strike is completed. 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 sweeping strike.
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, once again adding the dimension of at least one other uke to the hasso gaeshi series. The sweeping strike illustrates how you may be able to address a one or more additional ukes in a linear manner, since your strike will clear any ukes in its path after having completed the initial defensive movement. In this case, the ukes that are cleared are on the opposite side as those cleared with Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi. As you compare these last two suburi in the Hasso No Bu series, consider how Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Uchi uses Morote Dori Kokyu Ho footwork and how Hasso Gaeshi Ushiro Harai uses Tae No Henko footwork. These basic movements illuminate the great potential of this mature series of suburi in your taijutsu and randori practice. You have now completed your introduction to the Hasso No Bu series!