Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One-Legged Cutting

Azuma sensei frequently talks about balance. Last class he had us standing on one leg and cutting. We had to think about why we wobble back and forth, and also why we tended to kick up the foot that we had lifted off the ground at the moment when we cut.

It was really hard to do, and I thought about my friend Ed, who has one leg but does beautiful iaido. The reason he does such nice iai is because he is never off balance. If he goes off balance, he takes a fall. The rest of us, however, can indulge in bad habits where we lean forward, or lean backwards, or bob our heads when we cut. These habits are extremely hard to break because balance is so fundamental that it is hard to change.

So here's a suggestion: lift one leg right up and try cutting a few times. Keep doing it until you can cut without wobbling or moving your lifted leg. Gradually lower your foot until it is almost in contact with the ground. Then, cut and without toppling forward onto that foot, shoot the front foot out. Next, try to step through and recapture the feeling of loading your weight entirely on one foot as you transfer your weight. Now, try and make the whole process natural!

Here's another check. Do ipponme-mae but stop at nukitsuke. Check your posture mentally. Carefully perform furikaburi, and at the jodan position, lift your front leg completely off the ground and cut with your front leg in the air. Could you do it? I couldn't.

One more check: do mae and continue through to kiri-otoshi. Before you do chiburi, imagine that your opponent suddenly cuts for your front foot. Don't block, just step backwards so that your feet resemble the nukitsuke position for Ushiro. Was it easy, or were you so dog-legged that you couldn't stand up easily?


Anonymous Ed said...

Hey Jeffy!...Yes I do read your Blog! Thanks for the complement..but I am not worthy. Now if I could only master doing iai with my eyes closed...

8:19 PM  
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