This saturday definitely gave some things to ponder on.
With tegatana, i need to devote more practice to the kata. As the first kata we learn in our style of aikido it's seems easy, after so many repetitions, to simply zone out on auto pilot as i go through the steps. I don't want you to think that i flop through it without any care as to what's going on at all, because i don't. Generally, i think of the up and down and how the motion of my arms effects the side to side. As i found out later in class i need to keep from losing track of how my feet are acting. When i have to stop and think about it or explain where they go, i run into a snag. "Does my foot turn out or in?" "Will my hand be on the same side as my foot or opposite?" I have to work on making the katas i've learned stand out of the background haze of my thoughts and become something that i can consciously cite whenever i need to.
My hanasu isn't immune to foot misplacement either. Hon Soto Te Osu (#2) and Gyaku Soto Te Osu (#4) have alway been two moves that have never felt.. quite right. Pat gave me another idea to iron them out. At times the way to move off to the side is to make a full step, then a shuffle adjustment then to move behind uke takes another full step and a shuffle adjustment. As always i need practice practice practice.
For me, our nijusan practice was what gave me the most to noodle on from that class. We worked on shome ate and aigame ate.
The entry to shomen ate as uke attacks with his right hand is for tori to step off to the right with a deflecting qucik/small push against uke's arm causing an off balance. If uke insists on continuing the attack tori makes a block with the left hand and then makes a shomen ate forward with the right.
With aigamae ate, when uke makes a forward right handed attack tori deflects the attack to the right attempting to cause an off balance between uke's feet. If uke is able to recover tori stays behind uke's arm making a series of steps to the left deflecting uke's arm with tori's left hand. When uke gets into a position where he can attack it will cause him to stop moving and face tori. Tori then makes a right handed shomen ate to uke.
Now, if you were able to follow my explanation of these two moves ( i admit it's probably very convoluted in it's explanation) then you noticed that there are a lot of switches from the left hand to the right hand and vice versa. As Pat explained, what really places the strength in these right and left movements is the placement of your feet in unison with you hands as a stable cohesive motion creating a wall that won't move. In my case, as far as my hands were concerned, they were more or less on autopilot. When Pat had me pay almost exclusive attention to my feet things definitely came together much better. Even in aigamae ate as i stayed behind uke my left hand would be in place but having my foot work with it i was able to build a better wall each time.
One of the best ways to practice this simultaneous right side/left side together movement is to stand in front of something sturdy and pick a side to some ate against the (let's say a wall) wall. Then as one side makes firm contact roll over to the opposite side. You can do this back and forth however many times you want to help get that idea to become more natural. It's something that Pat had us do every now and then, but it's importance never really clicked until saturday's class.
All this stuff to readjust my thinking of aikido and we got to do some extra ukemi practice too. It was a great class.