Kokyunage – One Name, Many Techniques Part 1 Fundamentals
Recently I viewed a video of O-Sensei, in his eighties, dispatching ukes as they came at him with a variety of attacks – each time with a different form of kokynage, and I was reminded of the huge variety of techniques that are encompassed by a single name. I was also impressed at the degree of fluidity of his movement as he executed various Aikido techniques. I was particularly impressed watching Sensei’s efficiency of movement and conservation of energy as each uke went flying.
Each movement was not only fluid, but it clearly demonstrated the raw power generated by proper body movement from the center. Throughout his movements, O-Sensei was completely in balance, and in control. As a result, he could easily control the movements of each uke (attacker). My first Aikido instructor was Rod Kobayashi Sensei, 6th Dan, who really emphasized the dropping of the hip to disturb the balance of uke.
What’s in a Name?
Kokyunage is literally translated “breath throw”, but can practically be defined as momentum throw because the energy created from the throw is largely generated by the force of uke’s attack. One of the key fundamental concepts employed in this technique is blending. Visualize an uke coming directly at you, with arms outstretched. If you meet the attacker head on, the winner of the encounter will be the individual with the greatest strength, momentum or leverage. The best defense will rely on a blending or harmonization of the force of the attack rather than meeting it head on. The blending movement will provide the opportunity to execute the next step.
In this demonstration, O-Sensei is clearly in his eighties yet his movements are so graceful. Note the power that is generated through the downward movement of his center.
To redirect movement is to capture the center.
The key is the redirect ki or energy that is made possible by the initial blend or harmonization. The blend allows you gain control of the attacker’s (uke’s) center. This is achieved by the redirection of the direction of the uke’s movement resulting in a disruption in balance. The power of the attack is weakened considerably when balance has been disturbed. The unbalancing of your opponent is the key to the effortless, successful execution of Aikido techniques.
In the next article will explorer some of the ways that the redirection of force and movement is achieved.