Your Sho-Dan Test
By Jonathan Wilson
One of the sho-dan tests I’ve heard a lot discussion about about in my dojo was Bryan Winfree’s test. Sensei Winfree has a very decorated and accomplished karate background. So he approaches his aikido through the mind of a “striker” (his words). As such, most of his applications have a hard feeling to them. With every block or parry there is a near simultaneous strike. His aikido is very direct, and effective.
So in aikido you have these two warring impulses ~ the Hard and the Soft. When I have my “Hard” hat on, my first thought on nearly every round punch is enter and execute an Unbendable Arm application ~ with the unbendable arm being a strike to uke’s chin. That said, there is precious joy in putting one’s “Soft” Hat on and leading uke’s striking intention around in a circle to off balance him, allowing him to ‘almost’ recover, before ending the engagement with another technique.
Regarding the “Hard” hat (striking). One of the things Sensei Carter has always said is that your test should not look like a Karate exhibition. While it may have all the elements of karate contained in it, you should still see Aikido movement, blending, and the performance of aikido technique throughout.
I think that about sums it up. Hitting uke’s “reset button” by fanning your open palm in front of his eyes, or placing your inside fist on his chin while parrying the wild roundhouse punch with the outside hand before transitioning to a recognizable Nihon Goshin Aikido technique is A-OK!
What say ye?
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Uke Appears Unhappy ~~~
The Tenshin Movement ~ modified to operate out of a shizentai stance. It is a movement back and off line, offering tremendous kuzushi (balance breaking) opportunities. The Tenshin movement works especially well against round attacks. Unlike Irimi and Tenkan Movements, the Tenshin Movement draws uke into the space nage was holding.
The Tenshin Movement