025) Funakogi Undo (Rowing Exercise): Week of February 8, 2009

This week, we will focus on the importance of this genkido exercise.  This exercise has the same type of hip movement that is contained within the Ikkyo Undo exercise.  Please review that blog if you do not remember what I wrote about how we move our torso on a horizontal plane.  I will review this during the classes as well.

The rowing exercise appears to be a easy exercise to do until someone grabs onto our arms!  This exercise works as long as we move our torso/hip on a horizontal plane while maintaining a stable, erect posture.  The other critical component that I will focus on in this blog is how we create movement in our arms.  We typically tense our arm and shoulder muscles in order to push our arms forward (away from our body) and to pull them back to our torso.  If a person is grabbing onto our arms, we find that we need a lot of tension and muscle strength in order to move that person along with our movement.  Another major problem with that type of movement is that we typically end up off-balanced with both the forward and backward hip/torso movements.

There is another way to move our arms which is both a more efficient method of movement and also more effective.  This type of movement requires us to focus deeply on what muscle groups we use to effect movement in our arms.  The starting place of this is to allow our arms to seat properly in our shoulder sockets.  When we execute arm movements with our arm and shoulder movements we tend have our top of our arm slightly forward of the socket itself.  The shoulder rolling exercise that we do each class is designed to allow us to become aware of how are arms are seated in our shoulder sockets and to move our shoulders with the arm properly seated in the socket.  Once our arms are seated properly in the sockets, the forward arm motion (that is unified with the forward hip movement) is controlled by the muscles at the back and side of the shoulder blades, along with our chest muscles.  The retracting arm movement (also unified with the backward hip movement) is also controlled by those same muscle groups.  Please reread the blog from week #11 as well for additional help on how to move the arms.

When we can execute the hip and arm movements correctly, we find that we can move people much heavier and stronger than us without unnecessary tension, while remaining balanced.  This type of movement is contained in many aspects in the execution ofAikido techniques.  These movements are important in unbalancing an opponent without the opponent feeling as though he/she is being forced into an off-balanced position.  Proper focus on this exercise will help us to see how these “simple exercises” are critical for our growth in Aikido.

Marc Abrams Sensei

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