Comparing Saito Sensei with Sugano Sensei – Flowing Slowly Example

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This is an interesting technique to compare. Sugano Sensei relied entirely upon timing to throw the attacker. He would turn 180 degrees and then step almost straight back to execute the technique. If you get there before the attacker, this works fine. But if the attacker catches up to you, he could turn and face you with a strike.

In the Iwama system, you don’t have to project the attacker’s punch by continuing it along the straight line of its origin. You can bring it in front of your center when you turn 180 degrees. Then when the attacker turns to try and catch up to you, facing you with a strike, you don’t have to step straight back. You can step back  further behind the attacker so they have a harder time keeping up. Of course, in faster flowing technique, you can do it either way. Observe the video:

Sugano Sensei was clear that Aikido did not include taking the balance of the attacker as in this video. Instead, he relied upon using their force and extending it further than they expected. For anyone who took falls from him, you would know his technique as highly effective. However, it is difficult for me to fathom that someone on the level of Sugano Sensei was unaware of the practice of taking balance in Aikido. He did have a tendency to get people to focus on his basics for years before allowing them to advance, those basics being timing. He did show me static technique once, and had a very good understanding despite never teaching it in the dojo. So I suspect he would know how to take balance if his timing failed him, but did not teach that aspect of the practice in NY as his focus was still timing.  You can see this technique here at 20 seconds:

In the Iwama system, the basics include taking balance first, and then you can use the timing aspects simultaneously. You have the tools Sugano Sensei offered, plus some additional from earlier on in the practice. Sugano Sensei’s method of training was more focused.