Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Love for the Ox Tongue

This ain't China! I don't really know what that is supposed to mean, and this isn't about food, but rather martial arts and the application of a technique called the "Ox Tongue." My first experience with this technique was in Bagua Zhang where you step behind your opponent while draping your arm over your opponent's collar bone and pulling them down with your qua and ox-tongue-of-an-arm-drape while stepping back. I started to actually like this move for its simplicity and use of soft and heavy power, but tried to apply it in the Aikido class and it was not what we were supposed to be working on.

That night we were working on kokyuu nage, which is a very important move in all Aikido styles I think, and very very difficult for me I know! Anyway, as you step behind your opponent and place your hand on their neck to pull them around, I was getting really close to the opponent and started naturally using the ox tongue I had learned before. Not that its wrong or necessarily bad, but it just wasn't the technique we were working on, and that's cool. I like them both and look forward to someday being able to do kokyuu nage with some grace and efficiency.

This does make me think more of the similarities between Bagua Zhang and Aikido. Both focus on the utilization of circles, flanking your opponent, and using soft power, but I'm beginning to see many differences. Actually one of the biggest differences I feel is that while practicing in the internal arts of Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua Zhang, and Hsing I, all the movements come from very small details of positioning and posture IN your body while I feel that in Aikido right now, more emphasis is put on the movement itself. Also, the internal arts seem to work their best in great proximity to one's opponent in order to execute throws. Of course, in Aikido the focus is often throws, but they seem all done at a bit of a greater distance from your opponent.

Also, my own training habits account for many biases. After spending most of the past couple years on internal aspects, I got used to dissecting techniques down to very small details with my training partners, and also allowing for a lot of creativity in figuring out what worked for each person. Now, its strange for me to be in a class where repititions have priority, and there is less explanation of each technique's minute details ... not that I would understand them! Ha, actually, Sensei does explain quite a bit, I just don't understand his Japanese yet.

I feel kokyuu nage and the ox tongue reveal great differences in the two arts of Bagua Zhang and Aikido.


  1. Does kokyu-nage as they practice it reverse direction after the Ox-tongue? In other words, you circle behind, pull opponent in like you are starting ox tongue, then suddenly reverse direction turning into the opponent and bringing your arm up in kokyu across their face for takedown?
    Hows that for a run-on sentence?

  2. I just recently figured out that we practice quite a wide range of moves, but that all of them have many many different entries and executions, like kokyuu nage for example. From what you wrote that is it, and its awesome but still really hard for me.