This article is intended as an aid for those either teaching or learning suri-ashi at the dojo where I practice at and elsewhere.
Suri-ashi is a smooth sliding of the paws (or front part of the soles) of the feet where “the feet do not lose contact with the floor [Norwalk_Ashi].” It is not easy for some to learn and master this way of locomotion. For some, the feet may tend to stick on the floor. This can occur, for example, if the surface of the floor is on the stickier side (e.g. when recently varnished) or if the bare-feet tend to sweat or may be tender. For others, they may be accustomed to using the heels and/or lifting the paws off the ground to move.
There is a nifty way of teaching and learning suri-ashi. From 2:40 min to the 4:00 min mark of this video [KendoShow_AshiSabaki], Andy Fisher sensei shows the use of tissue paper as a learning aid. As shown in the video and in the above photo, a tissue paper is placed on the floor and the paw of the forward foot is placed on top of it. Suri-ashi is performed with the tissue kept under the paw. This helps those struggling with the foot-sticking-to-the-floor issue or those with a tendency to lift the paws – to learn suri-ashi. The sliding is made easier for the former and the tissue stay with the feet if done correctly by the latter.
Some notes. I have found the following helpful:
- Using paper towels as they are a bit more sturdy and less prone to ripping.
- Having students perform suri-ashi with the tissues across the full length of a dojo without “losing” or leaving a tissue behind.
- Incidentally, children seem to love this challenge and exercise.
- Using two pieces of paper tissues – one for each foot. This can help to promote the habit of sliding the paw of the rear foot as well.
- If a student is using the heel when doing suri-ashi, giving a student a small piece of paper towel to place under the paw of their forward foot paw as a physical and visible reminder to move with the paw rather than the heel over the floor
A “Thank you!” to Andy Fisher sensei for teaching this way of teaching and learning suri-ashi.
Keywords: suriashi, beginners, children, sticky feet, sweaty feet.
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