Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A concept I learned from Don Modesto

The Concept of 'No'

    I recently learned of a friend, whom I knew through martial arts, had died.  His name was Don Modesto.  I hadn't seen him in over a year, but I would think of him, or of training with him every once and a while.  Through mutual friends we would keep in contact with each other, "Tell Don I said Hi" type of things.  If anybody asked I would describe Don as someone who had humble reserve.  You could tell there was a lot there, but he always kept it in.  He was a very literate guy who was always willing to have a discussion on any book I happened to be reading at the time.  He was also an amazing aikidoist (or aikidoka if that is your preference).
    Today, I'm going to talk about a concept that Don showed me.  It is nothing new, but sometime, just showing it in a new way can turn on the light bulb.  In Japanese language, they don't have letters the way we think of them in English.  Their writing is made with a combination of characters called "kanji" and other writings which designate syllables called hiragana or katakana depending on which is being used.  In Japanese the hiragana character for the syllable 'no' looks like the picture at the top of the post.  What Don showed me was the movement for connecting to someone's center was in the shape of 'no.'  When someone grabs your wrist, move your own wrist (by moving your center) in the pattern used to write/draw the character.  You can "write" no horizontally, vertically, or some combination.  It can be stretched, flipped around, but the direction of movement is still there.
   This is one of those things that has to be practiced to feel it, but try it out.  Anytime someone makes contact, try to control their center using the concept of 'no.'  I've continuously seen this concept applied in many different planes of action.  Have someone grab and perform a kokyu ho (or kokyu nage if you prefer) and watch the path of contact.  It makes a 'no' shape.  Irimi nage, nikyu, koshi nage.  These are some of the more obvious applications of the 'no' concept.  If you do try it, leave a comment on how it worked for you, or where you saw the application as a way to say thanks to Don Modesto for his indirect teaching. 

  If you find a technique where it is used, write it as a comment, and share with the rest of the world.

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