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Digging Deep into Ganseki Nage

February 9, 2015

We’ve been working on throws this season. The good thing about throws is that they can be used to teach beginner level material (control over your own body) or intermediate level concepts (control over the opponent’s body). And they are also a lot easier to get correct than strikes.

Looking at ganseki nage, 巌石投 (page 20 of the beginner’s notes) the past few lessons. Here are some points to remember:

Force Generation

Many people step back incorrectly. They let their legs and hips go back first, but leave their arm/elbow largely in place. That means that when they pull their arms back later, they only have arm-strength behind it. The foot, knee, hip and elbow are to go back together, so you can create enough pulling force to unbalance the opponent.

And if even that level of force is not enough, then push with your front leg as you twist your hips back with the step. That is REAL taijutsu for force-generation!

Dealing with Resistance

A lot of criticism of Bujinkan ninjutsu is about our training. They say we don’t train to deal with resistance. I, for one, do not want to have my students going at each other, not sure what exactly they are doing. When it comes to grappling, I know i can handle resistance. What I am working on this season is trying to codify and systematically impart what I do instinctively when I encounter resistance. The following explanations use ganseki nage as an example.

1) Going the opposite direction – when you pull back with your right arm (on his left), he pulls back. If he is stronger than you, you can just step in with his pull and ganseki nage his right arm (which will often be extended nicely for you).

2) Firming up – either his kamae is strong and you cannot pull him back, or he tenses up his body and you are not able to move it. Doesn’t matter. If you can sense that his body coordination isn’t on par with yours, you can hit him a few times and see if that whacks the tension out of him. If you can sense that his coordination is there, that attempting to strike him will only get you countered (painfully). In that case, you can only just wait for him to attack and try to seize the opportunities that will come up.

When your opponent has decent kamae, you may not be able to move him to the ideal angle for ganseki nage. You can either move yourself into the ideal angle for ganseki nage, since you cannot move him into place quickly enough, or if his leg, the one nearer to you, is in the right place, then go for uchi mata. My kamae is quite decent, so when my students attack my arm for ganseki nage, they would move my rear leg (decent integration between my arm and leg). My front leg would remain in place, and that makes it convenient for them to uchi mata.

3) Escape – the ganseki nage is not complete until the opponent is thrown over the leg. If someone is trying to use ganseki nage on you, one of the easiest ways to escape is to go into hicho no kamae to keep yourself from being thrown over the leg. And from there you can proceed with a ura gyaku type of lock or throw.

4) Complementary Counter – ganseki nage and musha dori have a complementary relationship. When you attempt to ganseki nage your opponent, you are moving your arm to where your opponent can musha dori you. Who wins? The one who has better kamae and better coordination, better integration.

The first 2 forms of resistance, pulling and firming up, are lower levels of resistance. They can mess up your technique, but unless you are really incompetent, will not defeat you. The next 2, Escape and Complementary Counter are higher level. When you encounter such resistance, you cannot overcome it with the beginner’s level of skill. You need to move on to the level of controlling your opponent, the ability to use his force changes to his disadvantage. And that is what we will continue to work on for the rest of this quarter. We will add more techniques to our repertoire, so that we have more tools to use when facing a resistant opponent.

OK, so see you at class!

俊傑 (Shunketsu)
Bujinkan Ninjutsu

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