NGAExperience® Nihon Goshin Aikido

Inside Nihon Goshin Aikido ~ #60

15 March 2018

Inside This Edition:

For the record, I held the release of this edition of Inside Nihon Goshin Aikido until the commencement of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  As you read it you will see a recurring theme that calls for a return to fundamentals.  

March Madness:  Simple Steps to Increase Your Free Throw Percentage and How to Get Good At Aikido

Background:  In the summer of 1989, I was a fresh college graduate, and a brand new 2nd Lieutenant US Army (Infantry).  As I had also done in 2 of the previous 3 years, I decided to spend my final summer as a college student as an athletic camp counselor before reporting to Infantry Officers Basic Course later in September.  This particular athletic camp was unique in the fact that it was an all-sports camp ~ meaning all sports were available.  For soccer player it was a soccer camp. For gymnasts, it was a gymnastics camp.  I had a great time for about 2.5 months, but I wasn't sleeping very well.  See, after the kids went to bed, most of the soccer counselors met at the indoor soccer fields and played late into the night every night.  The games were very good and very competitive, as we were all current or former college soccer players.  Several nights, turned into all nighters ~ in which we got zero sleep.  You can imagine how bad the following day would be after staying up half the night or the whole night playing soccer.  You would try to hold it together until the next "lights out" so you could get some sleep ~ but when the time came, you'd skip the much needed sleep in favor of more midnight soccer.  By late summer, I was completely exhausted, and I needed to remove myself from the equation because I was addicted to the notion of keeping my soccer skills after college.  One day, I went in and asked the camp director for a reassignment.  He asked me if I would like to work with the basketball players.  I laughed and said, "I've never played basketball."  He said, "It doesn't matter.  We'll put you with the 8 year olds.  You're taller than they are.  They won't know the difference.  You'll be fine."  The next day, I was on the basketball courts.  A few days later, a college coach came to the camp to explain the nuance of the set shot" to the kids  It was a fascinating clinic, and I could really "envision" what I was supposed to do.  I can still remember his "steps to success."  

1.  Knees Bent,

2.  Elbow tucked in

3.  Wrist Over Elbow,

4.  Extend the wrist straight up as you straighten your legs,

5.  Wrist follow through generates a goose neck finish.  

We practiced the set shot at the Free Thow line.  As the clinic was going on, I worked on my set shot with the kids.  It was sensational.  I had never played basketball before, so I had no bad habits.  In short order, it became nearly impossible for me to miss a free throw.  Before we broke for lunch, I was invited to join the other basketball counselors (who were all college basketball players), in a game of "Knockout" (a game in which you must make consecutive free throws to stay in the game.  I made over 20 consecutive free throws to win the game over 5 or 6 other college basketball players.

That night, I got an invitation to forego more sleep ~ in favor of counselor's midnight basketball.  ~ Fortunately, I couldn't dribble a basketball with any serious skill so my job was very narrow in scope; stand at the 3 point line, and jack balls into the basket (which was not the same as jacking balls into the basket while standing at the free throw line).  Not surprisingly, my invitation to midnight basketball was not renewed the following evening, and I was finally able to catch up on some much needed sleep.  

When I think of the Nihon Goshin Aikido pedagogy, it is easy to see the similarity between the 50 Classical Techniques and the steps to success on the free throw that the basket ball coach laid out that day so many years ago in a Missouri gym.  With the instruction so precise, anyone could follow them with fine results.  What a great teaching model.

Goatkido: Cocoa’s Dynamic Front Wrist Throw

The origins of Goatkido are relatively recent.  A month or so ago, my father bought a pet goat named Cocoa.  The idea of the purchase was for the goat to keep his horses company.  He and I put the bleating knee high sized goat into the horse pasture, and watched the horses run away from the goat.  Then we watched the goat run around for a bit.  Then we got bored, and we went back inside.

30 minutes later, the phone rang.  My father is hard of hearing, and he generally talks on speaker phone so I could hear the phone conversation from across the room.  "Mr Wilson, this is (your neighbor) do you by chance happen to have a new goat?"  

"Yes I do."  

"Well he's over hear eating the flowers I just planted in my flower bed."

"That's impossible.  Jonathan and I just put him back in the horse pasture not 20 minutes ago."

"Does your goat have a collar around its neck with the name Cocoa?"

"Yes ~ well I guess that is my goat.  We'll be right over to get it."

My dad looks at me and says, "Get in the truck!  The goat is up in a neighbor's yard half a mile a way."

I guess goats move fast when flowers are on the menu.

When we got there, Cocoa was in no mood to be disturbed.  He loves his flowers.  He planned on eating many of them.  My Dad would have none of it however and grabbed the newly acquired escapee by one horn thinking he could simply drag the goat back to the truck.  It seemed like a fine idea.  The goat only weighs 45 pounds.  What could go wrong?

It turns out lots can go wrong when you grab a goat by the horns.  Cocoa stepped back, dropped down, and twisted her head down and to the side.  My dad held on, and did an unvoluntary, but spectacularly executed high break fall into the flower patch.  It turns out that Cocoa the goat knows how to execute a proper Front Wrist Throw.  

I said, "Goatkido."  My dad, laying on his back, a bit dazed, and still hard of hearing said, "WHAT?" ~ lol

We borrowed a leash from the neighbor and led the goat back to the truck.  Cocoa stays in the dog pen now.

Back to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  

I wonder:  How many games over the next two and a half weeks will be won or lost over one team's ability to make free throws (the most basic and uncontested shot in basketball)?   The Free Throw, the Charity Stripe, And One, etc.  They all refer to the same shot in basketball.  You are fouled in the act of shooting.  You go to the free throw line.

Here is a description of the free throw:

The NBA, the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations dictate that the free-throw line is 15 feet horizontally from the plane of the front of the backboard. The edge of the hoop is six inches from the plane of the face of the backboard. The ring has an interior diameter of 18 inches. This places the front edge of the hoop about two feet from the backboard.  

As to the shot itself, there are many descriptions of "how" to do it, but here is a link to one that popped up in a web search that I found helpful: (I bet you learn something if you read it)

The Free Throw is the one constant in shot taking.  While there will be attempts from all over the court in the run of a game.  The free throw is an untimed shot.  The shot is also uncontested, meaning that no defenders are allowed to defend your attempt.  

What could go wrong?  Many things actually.  Even though these players shoot an average of 50 free throws a day throughout the year, the best players in the country hover around an 80% free throw shooting percentage (meaning that they miss 2 out of 10 opportunities from the charity stripe).  Considering the volume of practice that goes into this simple shot, it should be automatic, but when the game is on the line.... it is never automatic.    

Think about that.  The shot never changes.  The shot is never contested.  The shot is practiced more than any other shot on the court by most players.  The shot is not automatic when the game is on the line.  

Are we practicing enough?  Is one attempt on the right side followed by one attempt on the left side, and then proceeding to the next technique sufficient?  Can you pull it off cold, when the "proverbial" game is on the line?

Practice Practice Practice

Alright ~ well that is it for this issue!  Have a great month.  In my mind March is the unofficial start of summer in SC ~ but it was warmer in February.  Hopefully April will be better.

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Mystery Articles of Interest

Mystery Article A

Mystery Article B

Mystery Article C

Let's meet together on the mat ~ and soon!

All the best,

Jonathan Wilson

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Unless otherwise stated, the author’s views, musings, and opinions do not necessarily reflect the attitude of leadership within any of the various Nihon Goshin Aikido associations, or unaffiliated Nihon Goshin Aikido dojos.

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Sensei John Carter demonstrates Front Wrist Throw Classical Technique and A Few Common Applications.  So easy, even Cocoa the goat can do it.

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