Would you like to take a person down with ease? Drop a much bigger person to the floor with a scientific method? Then Danny Da Costa may just have the method and techniques you need. Here we look at his G.A.P method from his Shinjido syllabus as Danny has very kindly written a guest blog for us.
I have been a fan of Shinjido for some time now as it mixes the beauty and grace of Aikido with Judo and some of Danny’s refinements from a long competition career. The end result is a great art that enhances not just competition Judo but also self defence as well. Anyway Danny has written this article in which he explains his unique G.A.P. concept which is short for Gravity Assisted Power. If you like this take a look at the trailer at the bottom of the page for his new DVD.
Gravity Assisted Power – GAP
This is the predominate principle that distinguishes Shinjido from other throwing arts. It is helpful to use Judo as a comparison although the principle is equally valid for self defense
The power for a Judo throw requires substantial muscular effort.Kano(the founder of judo) described Judo as “the gentle way”. If you watch judo competition, particularly at international level, you would hardly describe it as gentle. Something has been lost in translation. A more accurate description, also used byKanowas “maximum effect with minimum force”. HoweverKanodid not regard judo simply as a sport and some of the techniques today would hardly be recognized by him as judo.
A throw can be broken down to 3 elements of which the first is Tsukuri or breaking balance. Geof. Gleason, British Judo’s first full time professional coach, described Ttsukuri in more detail: “the action done by Tori (the thrower) to make Uki (the recipient) move in the direction of the throw. It can be done many ways, using body weight, hand action, using Uke’s (uncontrolled) body weight….” The second element is Kuzushi or the thrower positioning their own body in preparation of the completing the throwing action. The final element is the throwing action that completes Uki’s downfall. In reality the three elements that constitute a throw are likely to merge into one continuous action.
The preparation for a throw i.e. Tsukuri or balance breaking may on occasion be subtle but the driving force that makes the throw work, is anything but. The power is most frequently derived from a driving leg. Therefore a forward throw becomes the most difficult direction to throw because Tori (the thrower) must turn 180 degrees and place their driving leg behind them. The further back they place the driving leg, the more powerful the action will be. Uki will seek to prevent this by blocking with an outstretched arm or thrusting his hip forward on the side being attacked. Tai toshi, Seionage, Harai goshi, Uchimata are just a few examples of forward throws that require the action of a driving leg
The other major use of muscular power is in a throw that requires a lifting action such as Ogoshi, Uranage, Katagaruma etc. Both the lifting and the driving action oppose the force of gravity. To be effective they require much skill in reducing the effect of gravity through initially unbalancing the opponent – Tsukuri and Kuzushi.
The Shinjido approach is to join with the force of gravity, applying body weight directly down. The power required is not so much a muscular force. It is effortless power created by moving the body mass and adding your weight to the opponent. Tsukuri or balance breaking is still required but not to the same degree as a judo throw. Consider this, an upright body can only lean forward about 10 degrees before it needs to take a step or fall. Because Judo requires muscular effort, at the application stage there is a good deal of muscle tension. With Shinjido, the emphasis is on remaining as relaxed as possible, which allows the application of more weight. This is a very efficient way to make a throw. The most remarkable first impression is that the throw seemed effortless both for Tori and Uki.
I frequently take someone with no martial art or falling experience and drop them down using GAP. I am so much in control that I can easily vary the impact from soft to severe and the novice can have their head protected while they are gently sat down. The common cry of students with experience in other arts is “How did you do that? It seemed so easy.” Intrinsic or effortless power works that way. Because there is no great muscular effort it does indeed seem effortless. Strong thigh muscles are wonderful to have but provided you can “let go” and bend your knees, little muscular effort is required to put someone down, when you work with, rather than against gravity.
Used with correct timing GAP can be effective against a strike, without any application of specific technique. You simple block downwards against the opponent’s arm, in the region of the elbow, allowing your body weight to follow through. Once understood not only mentally but at the physical level, this is a simple concept that can become an automatic response. Having someone on the deck in front of you lays them open to any number of completion moves. This principle is best understood by having on the mat experience. As moving pictures are worth a thousand words, I recommend Shinjido Evolution Innovations available from Fighting Films as a download.
Danny Da Costa
6th Dan Judo, 6th Dan Aikido, Founder Shinjido
Be sure to check out the trailer below