Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quick fix for Hikiotoshi in Jodo

There are few "quick fixes" in budo, or at least few that I have found, stumbled onto, or been taught. But occasionally, you do get something that instantly fixes a problem you've been having. Sensei had us do an exercise the other night that really helped me, and I thought I'd share it.
When we do hikiotoshi, most of us start out too stiff and rigid, and don't use our arms to full advantage. To fix that, most of the teachers I've met have emphasized using the forward hand. Let's say you're standing in "right hikotoshi", so you're looking at teki over your left shoulder, your left hand is over your chest, and your right hand is down by your right thigh. Most of the time, Sensei will tell you to use more left hand, squeezing as you strike. This is good, but it leads to another problem: neglecting the right hand! Of course you need to use both hands to their fullest to get a powerful hikiotoshi.
So, the other day, Sensei had us go into hikiotoshi no kamae, then just let go with the left hand, and do the strike using the right hand only. It's okay to "cheat" a little bit here and choke up on the jo by 10 cm or so. The feeling is almost like you are doing a one-handed sword strike to teki's sword. Suddenly, without the support of the left hand, you are using the right hand properly, thinking about things like "hasuji" and getting your hand and wrist in the proper position. You are also more-or-less unable to stop the jo, so you naturally do a beautiful follow-through after the strike. One-handed, I was doing better hikiotoshi strikes than I usually do with two hands. Remembering this feeling, I returned to the two-handed grip, and did some of the smoothest, quietest, most effective hikiotoshi strikes that I've done in a long time.
Try it and see if it helps you!