Comparing Saito Sensei with Sugano Sensei – Flowing Slowly

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Again, here Sugano Sensei did not break out and specify this speed of training. The closest he may have come is when working with a beginner – right after they got the footwork, he might tell them to execute the technique without stopping. He did not go into how to lead the mind of the attacker, but just wanted to get them moving. He didn’t specify blending as the underlying principle, or getting them to match the timing.

The Iwama system is much more precise here. The point is to develop certain skills in basic practice, and then introduce those skills into a flowing practice. Saito Sensei’s key point was that if someone grabs you powerfully in an attack, you should be able to handle it. By bringing the skills from the basics practice into the flowing technique, you retain the ability to respond to strong grabs.

This approach highlights how the Iwama system begins as a very physical practice and then migrates the a more mental emphasis in ki-no-nagare flowing technique. Sugano Sensei’s approach jumped to emphasize the mental side almost immediately. His training methods came from studying the mind and culture of westerners to try to identify the most effective way to communicate what he learned from the founder.