Day 17 – nikajo & very clean mats

This post originally appeared on my AikiWeb blog…

While yesterday was a lovely day, unfortunately I forgot to hang out the zokin rags to dry at the end of keiko. Normally, I rinse them in the bathroom sink, then take them to the stairwell and put them on drying racks there. However, there is a door inside the stairwell that gets locked when everyone leaves, and as it was already locked when I was told to meet Crampton and company at the cafe, I forgot the zokin weren’t out.

For the first keiko session today, we spent an hour cleaning the dojo mats with zoukin over and over. You start at one end of the dojo, get down on hands and toes, hold the zoukin flat to the mats with the palms of your hands, and push it to the other end of the dojo (running if possible). Normally, we do this each day after class, but it takes only a couple minutes. It is a little tiring after an hour.

I would love to say I will never forget the zokin again, but…

In second keiko, we worked on performing nikajo. I have felt nikkyo performed by other aikidoka and practitioners of other martial arts in the past, and I was under the impression it is supposed to hurt. Au contrare! Actually, pain in the wrist means a lousy lock that isn’t connected with the body. However, it is very difficult to make a connection to the hips through the arms. I think I did it maybe once today.

In third keiko, we worked on the entire technique of katate mochi nikajo osae ichi, including some hajime geiko.

I wish I had more to say about nikajo. It is a wonderful technique to feel when it’s done correctly, whether you are shite or uke. Learning it is very difficult, however. I haven’t met anyone yet who can explain how it works from the perspective of uke’s body mechanics. Teaching is always about shite’s form and actions, which seem contradictory… Drop your body, but don’t bend your knees. Extend forward and backward with your upper body. Extend your grasp like you’re holding a sword, but don’t twist uke’s hand…

One thing I figured out today is that if you do it wrong, it becomes like kotegaeshi. Instead nikajo’s lock is on the side of the wrist and forearm rather than the middle. If you twist the hand around the wrist, the pain occurs on the pinky-finger side of the wrist, but the lock actually happens in the middle of the wrist, whereas you want the lock to occur in that place of pain (rather than the pain) so that the force is transferred to the elbow and shoulder along the bone structure rather than into the soft tissues of the forearm. At least, I think that is right.

Today was Carter-sensei’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Sensei.