“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.” – Morihei Ueshiba.
Following from the previous blog, the initial set up for SLT in detail:
The First Move –
- Setting up the Yee Ji Kim Yeung Ma
Start with your feet together and your hands by your sides, relaxed, but alert and to attention. Be looking up and forwards, head erect, just as if someone has lifted you up by the hair. Neck is straight. Feet are together, knees straight but not locked. Shoulders square to the front. I like to get people to breathe in a little deeply just once, and say the name of the form in their mind before they begin, because this helps people to focus on the form, and not just consider it a series of moves in the air. I usually wait a few moments so everyone settles down in the class, and everyone is paying attention, and can all begin together. See the quote above from Morihei Ueshiba, the legendary founder of Aikido.
Now we can begin.
Put your hands out in front at shoulder height. The hands move in a straight line with the fingers thrusting forward to the centre. This is to symbolize that your energy goes forward into your opponent. Move hands directly from the side to forwards. Don’t lift then thrust out, and don’t simply lift in a circle. The hands should end up almost touching, and as close to centre as possible. If you were doing it with one hand, it would be exactly on centre, but since we are using two, we have to compromise, and simply go as close as we can. Fingers are straight, as is the hand. The elbow is locked straight out. It is a very definite move, done with firmness and decisiveness, and not a relaxed, casual move. Nothing else except the arms move. Focus the attention on an unseen enemy, perhaps off in the distance forward. Do not look around. Focus. See figure below.
Figure 2 Move hands in a straight line to shoulder height
Elbow withdrawal: See Figure 3 below. Withdraw your hands, first making fists and then turning them over at the early part of the movement, perhaps in the first quarter. Then draw your fists back as close to your armpits as you can, using your elbows to pull them back hard. Each elbow withdrawal should come back quite hard to stretch the muscles around the back of the shoulder, just as if it was an elbow strike to an enemy behind you. The forearms should end up parallel to the ground, fists as near to the armpits as possible, the elbows straight back and the arms parallel to each other as well. This same method is used singly and with both hands all through all of the forms. It is done in the same way. From now on this action will simply be called “Elbow Withdrawal” to simplify matters.
Figure 3. Elbows back, waist forward
Simultaneously with the elbow pulling back you must push your waist forward, and bend your knees. This is a powerful thrust, not simply relaxing into place. This forward waist position is very important for the entire system, and this position is held very strongly throughout the first form.
Your knees should be about over your toes, your waist over your knees. Your back should be straight. The head should be held up proudly.
Now, measure out your stance (Hoi Ma). See Figure 4 above. While keeping your waist forward (this helps you keep it forward no matter what happens in a fight), you need to also prevent your head and shoulders moving around, and generally flailing about. Your hands should not move either. Only the legs and feet move at all.
1. Moving right back on your heels (a), move your toes out as far apart as you can. This should be at least 45 degrees. Still do not move your body.
2. Then, moving on the tips of your toes (not the balls of your feet – the toes), move your heels (b) as far apart as you can, until you are in the training stance, with the centres of the feet at 60 degrees at least, or preferably 45.
3. Both feet should be at 45 degrees, both the same angle, not one more in than the other. Some flexible people can do more than that, it is not necessary. Most have enough trouble getting it this far.
4. Now, if you have lost your waist, you must push your waist forward again if you have lost your position. You should practice until you do not lose that position even during the measuring out of the stance. This is important as it trains you to keep your waist forwards even during stress, so you will maintain stability during a fight.
This position with this stance and the hands back will be called the neutral training position for reference. It is used often throughout the entire of the system. This position is also used when the student is waiting or listening to the teacher to explain or teach something to the class. It is a respectful way for the student to pay attention. The stance alone (with the hands doing other things) is called yee ji kim yeung ma.
For the explanation of the letters and arrows see the previous post.
There is also an article on the subject of the training stance. It will be online soon.
The next blog will be on the theory of this section.