Martial Arts Nage Waza: Getting Thrown

Nage waza is the section of our training where we explore ways of projecting our training partner to the ground.

Throws are very dynamic, and each individual throw flows and has things in common with each other, but a good way to start practicing them is like this:

  1. Throws that sweep the legs taking the center of gravity away from your training partner, dumping them on the ground: osoto nage.
  2. Throws where you place your hips against your training partner and toss them over: seoi nage.
  3. Throws where you take hold of your training partner and crash them into the ground: yama arashi.

From the perspective of uke, (the person being thrown) getting thrown can be scary as they tend to happen very quickly, and we are not used to having our feet off the ground, falling through the air.

When that happens, something is tripped in our mind causing a feeling of panic.

The first way to approach receiving a throw is to work and drill ukemi so landing on the ground isn’t scary. Solid ukemi skills takes much of the fear out of being thrown.

Second is to take the throw slowly and remain relaxed as best as possible as you fall.

Working on these points makes being thrown a bit easier in training.

Bujinkan Dojo Shoten Jutsu

Shotenjutsu- the ability to run to heaven is part of our taijutsu skills where one runs up vertical surfaces without stopping. It is part of our ukemi taihenjutsu skill set, ways of changing and adapting the body to the situation.

Before we even start running up things (people also!) the ability to forward, side, and back roll needs to be explored and be made comfortable with.

Sometimes one runs to the top of something, and other times you run up and then fall back down- the ability to take ukemi and roll is KEY.

Once one is comfortable with the rolling part and has some proficiency, heading off to the woods to find rocks and trees to run up is the starting point.

Nothing 100% vertical yet.

Lower angles, not as high off the ground, so there is no difference in changing the movement from running to climbing.

Over time, one increases the elevation and speed, soon being able to run up vertical surfaces.

The first time you see it in action there is a good amount of doubt, but practicing over a season (usually the summer), at the end of the season most can do it.

The key is to not lose momentum in transitioning from running to climbing, and not letting your mind get in the way- your eyes telling you to slow down or else you will crash into that wall, tree, etc.

Now at the mid summer part of training we are going to again start exploring shotenjutsu.

Understanding Suwari Gata

Suwari Gata: the first step in learning these sitting forms is understanding the kamae of fudoza. For our Japanese counterparts in the art who culturally grew up sitting in seiza and fudoza as me might sit cross legged style or in a chair, many of us westerners are not used to sitting like that. There is a difference in sitting and being able to do a waza, and sitting comfortable and doing a waza.

If you can’t sit seiza or fudoza with the same relaxed manner you might sit in a chair then you will miss the transmission of the waza and the movement feeling it is trying to teach.

These should not be thought of as “ground fighting” (ne-waza) but rather as ways of using a solid surface- in this case the ground, but it could also be a wall, to support your movement.

Practicing Martial Arts At Home

In this post I wanted to share with you what martial arts practice and training at home looks like for our group. It would be easy to think that the learning the martial arts happens in class with your teacher or coach- and it does to a certain extend, but most of the real “learning” is at home.

Self training outside of class is necessary to advance in the art and refine your skills in movement.

Fortunately we have a very good road-map left to us regarding self training.

But first a bit of foundation regarding training in class.

Class is where your teacher corrects the mistakes you are making in your moment, while at the same time introducing new lessons for you to practice. Class is about adding new training responsibilities to the pile, and giving you the corrected movement so you can realize them.

Class is also about imparting the feeling and essence of the martial arts- from teacher to student, which is what makes our practice a living tradition and living skill set that needs to be learned first hand vs. academic study.

Training outside of class is about refining the foundations of our martial arts movement so as a student you put yourself in a position to be able to receive the transmission of the martial arts.

Diligent self study is KEY.

Our home/outside of class training focuses on the set of skills laid out in the ten ryaku no maki- ukemi, kihon happo, san shin no kata, kamae, Hoken Juroppo, etc.

Hatsumi sensei has also expanded on these training topics through his insights as published in Sanmyaku and Unarmed Fighting Techniques of the Samurai.

Commitment to reviewing, training, and polishing these lessons every day is the foundation of our training, and of our group.

Martial Arts Ukemi Taihenjutsu

On a practical level (goshinjutsu) ukemi is covers the skill set of rolling on the ground, taking break-falls, and ways of landing and falling on the ground without getting hurt.

Forward, side, and back rolls.

Forward and side drops.

Flowing and dropping.

Ukemi is a very practical skill and part of the kihon (foundation martial arts skills) that we practice. Just having a response to taking a slip and being able to land safely is useful.

Add a level of martial arts, and being able to land and roll safely, getting back up in proper posture (kamae) with balance and distance under your control from being thrown or taken down has many self defense applications.

But there is a third and even fourth level of ukemi taihenjutsu that we want to be not only mindful of, but also cultivate in our day to day training.

Ukemi helps you learn the martial arts- knowing that when you pair up with a training partner to practice techniques, knowing that both of you can go back and forth as uke and tori, allows you to have stuff done to you and still be able to train.

And then there is a more mysterious fourth level…

With each martial arts technique there is a feeling created, a manipulation of the mind, senses and perception- something that can not be seen by watching techniques or videos- the mystery of what it feels like to have a technique applied, and how that application cuts down your capacity for violence.

When done by a teacher or master, one experiences this essence of the martial arts, and in turn by “feeling” it, can begin to cultivate it in your own movement.

In this way having techniques and waza demonstrated on you by a teacher is actually a gift in the martial arts.

IF your ukemi is good enough, and you are not afraid of landing on the ground and getting hurt as a result of a technique, you can have a waza done to you, and free your mind from through- feeling, sensing, and experiencing the martial arts.