If we take the original three matlengths distance as the ‘demonstration space’, then Tori can mentally mark out for himself the spot which is the centre. He often finishes the second (left) Ukiotoshi about three feet on Uke’s side of the centre. The directions are for Tori and Uke to ‘approach each other’, but in fact Tori generally stands almost still. If he likes he can get himself on to the centre spot to receive the Seoinage attack. But he must do this while Uke is getting up, otherwise it will throw Uke out. In all the waza which begin with a blow, it is Uke who adjusts the distance, and Tori must stand still so that Uke gets himself right.
Uke must be careful to step straight forward with the right foot and not across. Uke’s weight comes between the front and right front corner, that is, on his middle toes.
The usual thing is for Uke to form his fist as he steps forward with the left foot; he raises it above his right shoulder at the end of the step. Then with the right step he brings it over the top down towards the top of Tori’s head. (Tori used to take just one step forward, with the right foot; note that he now takes two.) Tori takes the blow on the forearm and carries Uke’s arm up and forward, and he must shoot in as he deflects the blow above his own head. If Tori blocks the blow the throw is ruined; still more, of course, if he pushes back. After the throw both maintain their posture, ‘freezing’ for a couple of seconds with Tori holding the sleeve. Then Uke rises to face Tori and makes the same attack with the other hand. As always, it is up to Uke to calculate the proper distance; Tori simply stands still, making sure however that Joseki is on his right.
The whole movement from Uke’s initial blow to the final stage of the throw, is in one unchecked movement; Tori should whip in and throw in the same breath as it were. To do this he must keep his shoulders soft. If the right shoulder is hard, it hits Uke’s chest and prevents a free turn. Attention should be more on turning from the hips than centred on the shoulders. The body turns in one piece, pivoting on the right foot. Tori keeps the upper part of his body straight as he jumps in, while bending the knees well. Similarly Uke must not ‘break’ at the hips; if he does, this throw becomes very difficult. Tori’s hand used to grip Uke’s jacket at the right shoulder; now he is simply directed to grip near the shoulder point, which can just mean applying the palm and fingers there. The main point is to secure that there is no gap between the bodies.
Tori used to bring his left foot right round inside Uke’s left foot, which (unless he moved it) was well to the rear. But now in practice Uke mostly draws up his left foot level with the right, and Tori brings his two feet inside Uke’s and throws him straight to the front. If Uke fails to do this, Tori either has to throw him to the left front corner, or run the risk of Uke’s off in mid-throw.
Mter left Seoi, Tori moves to somewhere near the point where he began Ukiotoshi, and waits for Uke to come round in front of him. Tori changes his grip on step two in order to prevent a necklock when he attempts the throw.
The left hand pull must be continuous and strong, breaking Uke’s balance to the right front corner. At the execution of the throw the left elbow comes down towards the hip.
Note that the right foot stays where it is on the third step. Tori steps away with his left foot to get a good pull, and then brings it in again. (In some variations he used to take his right foot out as well, and then shoot it back again, but this is not correct.) Tori drops into Jigotai, and then even lower, which needs special practice for Westerners. It is usual (though nothing official is said in the books) for Tori and Uke to adjust their clothing, where necessary, before turning to face each other for the new section. This is best done when walking back to the original positions, otherwise there can be an awkward pause.
When Tori and UJce face one another for the next section, they must again look at each other and create the full Kiai alertness and vigour of posture and movement.
Tori’s neck is supposed to come just under Uke’s centre of gravity; it is not easy to secure this without bending forward, which is fatal to the lifting action. Tori should feel he is lifting with his right hip. Uke can help by keeping straight and applying his left abdomen on to Uke’s right shoulder. Uke must not bend forward. Tori does not step out again with the left foot as he throws; this variation is not now standard.
At the end of Kataguruma on the left, both turn the back and return to the original positions. In the old katas the enemy was never to be lost sight of, but in the Nagenokata Dr. Kano relaxed this rule. In fact in Dr. Kano’s writings the word ‘enemy’ does not occur, which is a significant fact.
In the ‘approach’, Tori may cover more ground than Uke, to get himself somewhere near the centre of the demonstration space. Uke stops about 6 feet away; he is supposed to estimate the distance he will need. Tori’s left arm runs along the belt and not across it or too high. The flat palm is applied, but the feeling should be that the pressure is with the little finger side. If this action is well performed it brings Uke on to the toes of both feet.
Tori pulls Uke’s left arm across his own chest so that Tori’s hand comes about level with the nipple. Tori must shoot in; it is not a measured pair of steps, but the feet are moving together. He must be careful not to bend forward, but drop his left shoulder and open his chest. Tori must be sure to get his right foot well turned round, or he cannot make the final twist. Note that most people feel awkward when making the left-hand blow, and it needs extra practice.
In Ukigoshi the knees are not forcibly straightened as in Seoinage, but the throw is a simple twist of the upper body and hips. Uke is not lifted but spun about his own left shoulder. In some hip techniques Uke is first lifted and then turned, but in Ukigoshi he is only turned, and the time between getting the hips in and the throw is very short. The throw is thus a fast one. Uke is spun off his toetips to the ground before he has any chance to adapt his posture, and this is the special feature of Ukigoshi.
Uke used to take only one step forward, with the right foot, in this and other throws which begin with a blow. But now he always takes two. The blow is as in Seoinage, down. Some teachers used to discriminate all the blows in Nagenokata, and made this one directed towards the side of the head and not down at the top. The evading movement by Tori was more convincing against this type of blow. In any case Uke, in practice, keeps his weight about evenly between his two feet, and does not come right forward on to the right toes as in Seoi.
© Trevor Leggett