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A little more about sonkyo

by Olga
(Ukraine)

In your article 'How to Take Chudan: Draw Your Sword' it is described how we sit in sonkyo. It is pointed that after taito we draw our sword out and appear in chudan no kamae. Then we slowly let our body move down. And here is one moment I'd like you to clarify.


Should we appear in chudan no kamae before starting to lower our body or that position can be blurred by starting to lower our body when our sword is drawn out but not in the chudan yet (kensen doesn't point the opponent's throat or face, it is somewhere above his/her head yet and we have been already lowering our body at the same time lowering our shinai as well to sit in a proper sonkyo)?

Sometimes people stay in chudan for a moment and then start to lower in sonkyo. But very often they are lowering in sonkyo without staying for a moment in chudan, like one wave - drawing out the sword slips into lowering body to take a sonkyo.

I hope the question is understandable :)

Answer: That is a good question.  

We do not have to take chūdan and pose.  After drawing your sword, simply slowly lowering your body as your sword comes forward.

Then why do some look like they take chūdan first and sit in sonkyo?

Let’s think about what sonkyo is.

Sonkyo is a way of greeting (to show respect) others.  It does not matter whom you are practicing with, you do sonkyo.  It is just like the bows before and after training.

Now let’s think about how we do kata .

Uchitachi initiates moves. Shitachi follows uchitachi.  It is because uchitachi is the position of a teacher and shitachi is the position of the student.

We do not mess with that process, right? 

When in jigeiko, we know who is higher and who is not.  So when we bow, we follow the rule of kata.  Those who are higher initiate the move, i.e. they bow and those who are lower follow.

Some sensei do it very slowly and when this happens it looks like they are taking chūdan

But the purpose here is to show your respect not to take chūdan so you do not have to take chūdan.

The important thing is to harmonize

As described above, we follow sensei from the beginning bow to the end bow. That means we have to feel their energy flow.  We have to adjust the timing and energy level to those of sensei.  

Of course, the energy level of sensei is stronger/higher than ours :)  However, we have to feel it.  If not, we have to try.

This is the state of aiki (yes, as in aikidō).  The kanji for aiki simply means “to match your ki (inner energy) with that of your opponent“.  You can say “harmonize your ki with your opponent’s”, if you want.

This is very important. 

If you don’t know which one is higher you or your opponent, it is important to be the state of aiki.

Unfortunately, people tend to just bow and sit in sonkyo without trying to be in the state of aiki now, so in such case, you may have to forget about being aiki with your training partner/opponent.

Hope this helps.

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