Accepting the Gift
Seminar by Sensei Mark Dransfield 2nd Dan
Held at the Box Hill Honbu April 2019
In randori, students often employ sutemis as attacks and this helps them learn the techniques but it is impractical. Why make yourself so vulnerable when it is unnecessary? Usually, a better throw exists. As students progress, their aim should rather be to use sutemis as counters. A good sutemi counter is employed at the very last second, replacing the breakfall as one is thrown. To do it well requires complete acceptance of the gift of the attack and complete harmony with your partner.
An in-depth look at Sutemi in action, dynamically. Great for understanding how to incorporate into your randori or self defence. Explore fearlessness not courage, awareness not knowledge. This is the ultimate manifestation of harmony without end.
Review by Damian Barnett 3rd Kyu
I really enjoyed Sensei Mark's seminar. It appealed to my own interests and personal philosophy. The name of the seminar was what initially attracted my attention. Accepting the gift. I didn't know what it was about when I heard it. There was mystery about it but I liked the allusion to gift giving and the counterintuitive challenges that can be faced in being fully open to accepting gifts. What aspect of my martial art was this going to apply to?
When I learned that sutemi's were the focus of the seminar I began to get a bit excited. I'm fairly small and light, I like to jump and I feel comfortable flying through the air. One of the challenges I encountered early in my martial arts journey was remaining connected to the ground. I see sutemi's as my opportunity to tap this natural willingness to leave the ground behind, but I feel like I'm only beginning the journey of understanding how to make sutemi's really work.
The seminar began with dive roles, so right away I was in my element. Sensei Mark spoke of the value of fun and joy as crucial to the lesson he was trying to teach. He had us dive and pick up a Tanto. We were laughing and making jokes.
Then endowed with that sense of joy, the hard work began. Each pair was given one throw to work on and we studied that throw in detail. Examining the different changes that could be made by uki as the throw was being executed. I really appreciated the detail of the analysis, the way in which we were given time to really examine and explore subtle consequences of the different responses uki can have to a throw. From doing nothing, to jumping to changing position mid flight. There were no sutemi's yet but that theme of accepting the gift was beginning to emerge. We were learning to avoid getting in the way of the throw that we were being given by tori. Learning to allow the throw to take place, at times even learning to help the throw along, to make it bigger.
Finally we had the opportunity to respond to our given throw with a sutemi. We weren't asked to do any particular sutemi, just what ever worked to turn the throw into a sutemi counter. It was all quite cooperative, tori, who was now becoming uki, was asked to allow the throw to happen. Which was consistent with everything we had been practicing so far about acceptance.
After we had spent some time exploring how what we had been practicing applied to the actual scenario of a sutemi Sensei Mark changed the base technique. We all had to do a sutemi off the first hand throw.
My experience of this was wonderful as the lead up to this point seemed to have put me in just the right head space to be able to feel what was needed in order to perform the sutemi's well. It flowed naturally and I felt in control of what was happening.
My experience of this seminar is one I will cherish as it took me through a process that lead me into being able to perform in a way I had not yet been able to. It formed a reference point of what is possible, what I can be capable of.
I am very appreciative of the opportunity to have been able to participate in this seminar. Thank you to Sensei Mark and also to Sensei Toby who was my partner and very much contributed my experience of this seminar being such a positive one.