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Hand Tricks

Grasping, Releasing Reflex

Grip Strengthen Demonstration

Fig. 1 Start Grip Strengthen Fig. 2 End of Grip Strengthen

  1. Fig. 1 shows the start of the demonstration. Nage stands to Uke's side and in front of Uke. Nage's wrist is turned palm up so that Nage's hand can turn counterclockwise. Uke's hand is palm down when Uke grasps Nage's wrist. Uke is comparing two conditions so Uke should hold with moderate strength. Do not hang on for dear life and do not just let go.
  2. In Fig. 2 Nage's hand has turned counterclockwise and pulled Uke's hand away from Uke's body. Uke's grip will be very strong.
  3. This kind of twist into Uke's fingers and away from Uke's thumb can be used to get Uke to hold on rather than let go. It works best if Nage is striking Uke with the other hand or otherwise distracting Uke so that Uke does not have time to make a conscious decision to let go.

Grip Release Demonstration

This demonstration is more familiar to people in the sense that almost everyone who studies martial art knows that one of the best ways to break a persons grip is to move against the thumb.

Fig. 3 Start of Grip Release Fig. 4 Hand Rotating

  1. This demonstration is best done with the Grip Strengthening Demonstration so that Uke can feel the dramatic difference between the two. Uke should hold with the same strength as in the previous demonstration. The purpose is to maximize the difference illustrated in the demonstration, not defeat the demonstration. It is not competition.
  2. In Fig. 3 Nage's hand is palm down so that Nage's wrist can turn clockwise. Uke grabs palm down as before. The relative positions of Nage's and Uke's bodies is the same as in the Grip Strengthening Demonstration.
  3. In Fig. 4 Nage's hand is rotating clockwise and pulling away from Uke's body.

    Fig. 5 Hand Released

  4. In Fig. 5 Uke's grip has been broken and Nage's hand has come free.
  5. The obvious use for this is to free oneself from someone's grip. It works best if it is performed quickly before Uke can react or if Uke is being distracted while the hand is being released so that Uke cannot think about it.
  6. The point of view here is that these are really reflexes rather than just strength. When Uke is distracted Uke will respond reflexively to Nage's behavior. Nage gains greater control by actively manipulating Uke's reflexes.

Weapon Holding

When showing the Grip Strengthening Demonstration it was pointed out that this reflex can be used to get Uke to hold on. In regular Aikido many exercises are practiced where Uke grabs and holds on while Nage leads Uke all over the mat. It is very difficult to train people to hold on like this. The point of view here is that these exercises are rarely viable techniques.

The way Grip Strengthening is normally used here is to hold weapons. This will be illustrated with wringing out a wash cloth.

Wringing Out a Wash Cloth.

Fig. 6 Initial Wrist Position Fig. 7 Final Wrist Position

  1. In Fig. 6 both of Nage's wrist are flared out from Nage's center line. Nage's hands are going rotate so that the fingers move toward the wash cloth strengthening Nage's grip.
  2. In Fig. 7 Nage's top hand has rotated clockwise and the bottom hand has rotated counterclockwise to twist the wash cloth and wring out the water. Because both hands are twisting the wash cloth towards Nage's fingers so Nage's grip reflexively becomes stronger. Nage does not have to intentionally tense the hands to have a strong grip.

Sword Grip Demonstration

Fig. 8 Initial Wrist Position Fig. 9 Final Wrist Position

  1. Fig. 8 shows the initial sword grip with the wrist flared out from Nage's center line as with the wash cloth. Normally when this is done the sword is raised above Nage's head. The sword is held down to get a direct comparison between pictures. The difference between the two pictures is still not as obvious as desired.
  2. Fig. 9 shows the final sword grip at the moment of striking. Here Nage's elbows and wrist have been brought in towards Nage's center line as with the wash cloth. This turns the sword handle into the fingers of Nage's hands making Nage's grip very strong with out Nage's having to try to consciously learn how to tighten the gripping muscles while leaving other muscles relaxed.
  3. This method of sword gripping is what is normally taught in Aikido and I assume all two hand Japanese sword fighting.

Pistol Grip Demonstration

In combat shooting one is normally taught to have a tight grip on the pistol. One reason is because most people are nervous and tightly grip the pistol anyway when someone is shooting at them. This is difficult to understand but it seems true and it is best to make practice as much like combat as possible. Another reason is that in combat shooting one frequently double taps. A double tap is firing two shots as fast as possible. To do this the pistol must be held on the target.

One way of holding the pistol tightly without excessive muscle tension is to push the pistol forward with the hand holding the pistol and pull the pistol back with the support hand. This way the pistol is held tightly by muscles in the body rather than the arms and hands. This can be difficult to do. Some people find it much easier to use the same method of gripping the pistol that is used to grip a sword or squeeze a wash cloth.

Fig. 10 Initial Wrist Position Fig. 11 Final Wrist Position

  1. Fig. 1 shows the initial hand position with the wrists out from Nage's center line.
  2. Fig. 2 shows the wrist rotated in so that the pistol is being rotated into the fingers of both hands. This easily gives a tight grip without a feeling of muscle tension.

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Last Update 3/17/2008