Definition of Earnest
One of the many challenges of learning Sumo on your own is the distinct lack of an experienced hand being able to guide you around pitfalls. A big part of training in JCSC is to spend some time in meditation and I would recommend anyone who is serious about improving spend time in meditation daily contemplating your sumo.
This brings me to the next Keiko Lesson. Being earnest while wrestling. One of the pitfalls I have noticed for myself is the tendency to pay more attention to the kimarite, less to the tachi ai, and give very little thought to what grip is being used and why I am using it. This is a bad strategy for many reasons. One of them is we are only visualizing part of our victory. The second is whenever we are not enforcing our will the opponent’s will is instead being enforced on us. This only allows for victory against another opponent who lacks the same earnest intentions. Now, as I stated before the lack of experienced sumo wrestlers carrying on the torch and training younger ones is a problem and the only solution I can see is to rely on the experience I have and through deep thought apply the principles I know are successful to the pieces and techniques of the Sumo puzzle.
Now, some of us have years of wrestling and other martial arts to fall back on to and glean experience from. I will say, however this is not needed. What IS needed is any experience in life in which you have built something. I intend to illustrate to you how even a child’s experience given the correct attitude can lead you down the path of successful sumo. Think about your sumo as building a structure piece by piece. Now, think about stacking blocks as a child would to build a tower.
If I start my tower by stacking one block, then two on top of the one, then three on top of the two, I will not get far before the tower collapses. The same in Sumo. If my tachi ai is weak, it does not matter how many kimartie I can name, or know. I will collapse before I get the chance to try to win.
Now, just as in building a strong tower out of blocks, I must first build a wide base. I should start with 6 blocks and subtract one as I go up. The one constant with every level is the block of earnest thought. I must know why I am doing what I am doing.
If I were Japanese, and well versed in Shinto we could begin this tower prior to the Chiri Chozu, however since we are not, we will begin with the (bull rush position) I will not go into different ways to be in this position because it will vary from person to person depending on skill level, strength, flexibility and body type. However, I will say this. You should be working to get into the position that best supports your tachi ai. If you are letting your bull rush position dictate itself to you this means your legs need work in both strength and flexibility. If you are a football player you may try to get into a four point stance heavy on your hands like a nose tackle, and charge your opponent like the black rhino was known to charge ant hills before it became extinct. The position chosen supported the tachi ai. Now, I will add that in my club I would try to sway you from this type of tachi ai because I personally see flaws and limitations to it, but I am not every wrestler so be thoughtful with what you apply and do not apply. I would also adjust my bull rush position based upon my opponent and what position I want my tachi ai to get me into.
I ask myself will my tachi ai allow me to easily be in the chugoshi position. There is a progressive drill I use for this. Standing facing my partner I call Chugoshi (get into the chugoshi position) then call shrikiri (move into the bull rush position) last we call go and execute the tachi ai then immediately into the chugoshi. Over and over and over again with these movements. The point here is to quickly move from tachi ai to chugoshi, and allow my body to learn how to best support itself in these movements both before and during the execution.
The next is to do this drill with my partner. I will start to think about my chosen kimartie and if I will try to grip the mawashi, or try to use tsupari or oshi-dashi so on. Once I decide what I am going to work on, I then add this step to the drill. Chugoshi, Shrikiri, Tachi Ai, Chugoshi, then either grip or position the hands for the kimartie. Once I achieve my position I will do it again and allow my practice partner the same chance only giving a small amount of resistance. This is not to forget the importance of fighting your opponents will when needed with defensive techniques, we must also work those. However, the stronger, quicker and more earnest we can be when imposing our will (offense) the more victory we will see. Like a child building a tower each layer is thought out and done to support the next. You know the top of the tower will hold only one block and each level before supports fewer and fewer.
Once you have this progression down, you must not forget the base which will carry your tower to success. Your surashi. We will then add a slow walk through to completing the kimartie. The focus here is now on your legs as well as your chugoshi position, and how you use your hands and body to execute the chosen finishing move.
With this building block approach you can add and remove anything from your Sumo to get better and better. Just remember every movement supports the next movement. The more time you practice the stronger your body gets. The more time you meditate on your sumo the more earnest each movement you make becomes. The more earnest each move becomes the more your will is imposed on your opponent. The more you impose your will the more victory you see