Comparing Saito Sensei with Sugano Sensei – Attacking

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It is interesting that Sugano Sensei did cover the material presented in this video, but from the perspective of flowing technique.

Saito Sensei explained how to attack strongly in static technique so you could follow the process step by step. As Sugano Sensei did not really emphasize static technique, his explanation was related more to flowing technique.

Specifically, he covered how to protect yourself as an attacker both in falling and how to set up the counter. He was succinct. “You should never allow yourself to be placed in a position where you need to break fall.” You had to study. He meant that you should take the development of perception from your throwing practice, and use it to see where the person was going to throw you when you were the attacker. If you get there first and have strong hips (a term he did not use), you would take the fall at your own speed. Also, you were well positioned to counter the technique if the practice session called for it.

Then as far as general practice is concerned, you are offering your body to your partner when you attack, as a means for them to study the elimination of all openings in self defense. This is really a profound practice. So when your partner has a question in one area of the technique, you would suddenly find yourself in a position where you might not fall. Their questions would be amplified and they would have a chance to study the problem and find a solution. If they still had trouble, you might answer their question to the extent you knew something about it.

These methods are also useful in ki no nagare practice in the Iwama Style.

While this video did not discuss this aspect, the idea of a strong attack in Iwama Style Aikido also suggests powerful strikes. In fact, I heard Hitohiro Saito once explain that you should be able to hit hard, and he even talked about practicing on the makiwara (for those familiar with Karate). Sugano Sensei taught that in Aikido strikes are only used to distract an opponent so you could do another technique without harming them. If you wanted to learn how to strike hard, he suggested studying other martial arts. However, he did mention that in Aikido, while damaging strikes are not taught, you can figure out how to do them on your own through training.

I think the material covered is largely the same. The difference is in how Morihiro Saito brought the methods of challenging the attacker strongly in right from the beginning of static practice. It is a subtle difference, but defines Saito Sensei’s approach. His process of teaching was step by step. With Sugano Sensei, you had to study hard to understand one simple sentence which defined the target of the practice.