Dave R. wrote:
Cichorei Kano wrote:
Aaron Fields wrote:Funny, in my 20 plus years this has never been my throw. I could make it work here and there, but I never had a good feel for it. For years I have played with it, tried other variations etc etc. Several years back Fred Sato spent a few hours having me throw it, coaching me the whole time. Well.. I continued to work on what he showed me, then the other night.. bingo. That was what tai-otoshi is supposed to feel like, the nice thing is it came almost as cleanly off the other side.
That is what all this is about.
I've always had trouble with the tsurite hand, I think I'm starting to get the hang of it a bit now. Tai otoshi is now one of my favourite techniques.
One of my somewhat peculiar conclusions is that sensei can be less than helpful in helping their students master tai-otoshi. Tai-otoshi was my first tokui-waza. No doubt my memory will be somewhat biased, but it was the first throw I more or less decently mastered, and this while I was still a yellow belt. No doubt if we would see it today, we would find all kinds of technical problems, but anyhow. There must have been something good about it, because when I started competing as a green belt, it was still the throw I was successful with. I left the club shortly after my promotion to 2nd kyû, and joined a different club where I didn't stay long either because of the sudden departure of the star teacher just a few months later. So, I ended up in my third club which was known for its good tachi-waza technique. I learnt a lot from my sensei there, but we collided on tai-otoshi. He didn't like my tai-otoshi and started changing all kinds of things. Needless to say that he completely destroyed my tai-otoshi and I was never able to score with it anymore until I was a nidan, and thank to extensively studying Hirano's tai-otoshi. Much later I learnt that several other jûdôka who had a reasonable tai-otoshi all had them destroyed by my teacher. In all fairness when one looked at my teacher's tai-otoshi, it was not very good, rather fake, one of those "demonstration-only" kind of things he would never be able to pull off with a noncooperative partner. It is even fair to say --as I realized in hindsight-- that my sensei did not properly master tai-otoshi himself. As teachers this can be one of our problems ... namely trying to teach our students things which in all honesty we don't properly master or understand ourselves. It can even be worse, namely when we don't even realize we do not properly master or understand the technique ourselves. For that reason our task as teachers should not always be one of maximal interference but sometimes of minimal interference. Your students should have the right to make mistakes. You can't force the learning process. You may be helpful to provide certain tips, but you should also give your student space to grow and develop him-/herself (in my opinion).
I remember you telling a similar story years ago regarding your tai otoshi. If I recall correctly you were taught it by a nikyu. What was so different about your tai otoshi that your third sensei disagreed with it? I have the Masterclass book on tai otoshi and I always found it interesting the section where it shows the various forms of tai otoshi. Some of the forms were unrecognizable to me prior to reading the book.
Good question, but it is hard to say, as I don't have hard evidence and my view may be biased going so far back in time and looking at it with the knowledge I have now. The person who first taught me was an ikkyû, since that was the rank which my first sensei held. I know that originally I performed it (right) with my my right foot flat on the tatami and with a straight leg. I also know that at that point having never heard of Hirano I spontaneously and without anyone instructing or suggesting this to me, developed a tai-otoshi tobi-komi version (jumping in). In my opinion, the reason I became successful with it is because (given my low rank and low experience) certainly was not some excellent tsukuri or debana, but somehow I got the timing of the pulling right and got synchronized with my upper body turn without thinking and without realizing or understanding or even knowing any of the theory behind it.
There are several things which my third sensei changed. He made me change my leg from straight/flat foot on the tatami, into a slightly bend leg with only the ball and toes on the tatami. Only much, much later did I learn that neither is wrong, but that they are two different things. Mostly though he messed with the action of my arms. He wanted a separate pulling (thus visible kuzushi) action, that then had to be converted into a pushing action. Later, as a teacher myself I realized that it is particularly difficult for novice jûdôka to smoothly convert actions from one direction into another. Thirdly, he messed with how I had to transfer the weight from one foot to another.
I think that there were two or three things which my teacher did not realize: 1. what he tried to have me do, was likely too technically advanced for me at that stage, 2. even if you master every step of it, it still won't work unless you can get it coordinated, and the level of coordination required to pull off what he wanted was beyond my technical skills at that time, 3. he did not realize that sometimes it is better to leave a novice jûdôka with one particularly successful throw even if it use technical refinement since at that stage the factor of winning or simply being able to throw others is psychologically also very important in terms of motivation and taking that away could backfire as the jûdôka now may be left without ay further successful technique taking years to develop something else that is reasonable successful. Think about it, I was a green belt with one very successful throw; I know many brown belts who do not have any successful throw. In teaching, you have to be careful, sometimes show restraint. Completely changing a technique can be risky, and as a teacher it is --in my opinion-- better rather than to impose your own approach to try and work from the student out, perhaps giving some small pointers. In clearer terms, my teacher was not trying to improve MY tai-otoshi, he was trying to REPLACE it by HIS tai-otoshi, which ... moreover ... wasn't even successful. The irony is that he was a first-generation student of Hirano. It also brings me to something else I have many times mentioned before and which I keep repeating: no student of Hirano --to the best of my knowledge-- irrespective of how much he worked under Hirano, was able to replicate his tai-otoshi with that efficiency, speed, and effectiveness. Having superb technique is one thing, but successfully transferring that skill is another.