Technique of the Week (December 12th, 2010)
Rob Neff, San-Dan
We start the technique from Zenkutsu-dachi. The instructor will normally say "exaggerate" the stance. To do this move the front foot forward and bend the leg more, making sure the knee remains directly over the toes. Kyoshi Mackay then has us release our hands from our hips, allowing us to open up our chest and shoulders while stretching back. Then we reach up as high as we can with the hand of the forward bent leg. Finally, we reach around the front leg from the inside to the out while putting our back foot up on its toes. Our other hand goes down as well. The teacher usually tells us to do 10 pushups to ourselves.
I use a Shuto (open knife hand) while performing these stretches. I pay particular attention to the hand not wrapped around the leg. It is a great time to press the knife edge of the hand into the deck and visualize going through a board or brick. You could use a regular flat hand, palm heal, hammer fist or even work finger tips, but I always keep my hand in a Shuto when executing this pushup.
After the 10 pushups we gently put our knee, instep and head to the deck. Some of us may not be able to get our heads to the deck. This is OK. Just work it as best you can; dont twist and distort the body. I have been to one of Hanshi's classes in which he told us to lift and lower the head working the stretch. As always, breathe into your stretch and adjust it as you feel necessary. You will then do the other side. As with most stretches, one side may feel better than the other.
Domo Arigato Gozaimasu-
Sensei Rob Neff, San-Dan