This section has rooting and off-balance exercises in it. If you lose your root, you can be thrown, so learning how (and later when) to be connected to the floor is essential. All of these suppose that you are familiar with the eight directions of movement.

Happo no sabaki, eight directional movement drill

This means "movement in eight directions" and is a fundamental footwork drill. It is simple in its most basic form: Just step into each of the eight directions, going into a stance. You should step with same foot same side, so if you are going to the left, you lead with your left foot. Your trailing foot should not ever have to pivot more than 90 degrees in this version of the drill.

More advanced variations are as follows.

Finally, you should practice the drill using different patterns. For instance, do the drill stepping as follows:

12 - 6 - 3 -7 - 1 - 9 - 11 - 5

This is an excellent drill since it forces you to move through several different angles. You should also practice stepping and doing other techniques (striking, blocking, fit-ins for a throw etc.) once your footwork feels comfortable. This is more than busy work, it is doing the vital work of getting your feet and hands independent.

Happo no kuzushi, eight direction off-balancing

This means off-balancing in 8 directions. This refers to moving your opponent into a direction until you feel their balance break. There are many ways to do this. Here are some suggestions.

Wall pushes

This is an exercise you should practice at home. Simply drop into a stance, facing a wall. Put the palm of your hand on the wall and statically push. Find the path and root. Concentrate on being stable and think of pushing upwards at about 45 degrees into the wall. This forces you to rotate your pelvis ("hara to the heavens", i.e., try to point your navel towards the ceiling).

Vary the height of the wall push. Push at face level, midriff and hip level. Each of these requires small adjustments to your structure. Remember that root is a function of both force and angle!

You striking will actually only be as good as the structure behind it. This is consequently an extremely useful drill as well for getting solid striking, plus it can be a very good isometric exercise to build the power needed to strike. This does not replace practicing striking, but should be remembered as an adjunct to it. If you practice striking and find low power or that you lose your balance, practice pushing on walls for a bit. You're apt to see an improvement.

Pushing People

This is one of our most useful basic exercises. The idea is simple. You need to be stable in your stances so you should practice moving people. We do this in stages. This does a couple of things. First of all, it allows you to find what your body alignment and geometry must be in order to be stable. This varies considerably for different people and cannot be practiced really in any other way. Secondly, this allows you to move a large object, which will train and stengthen the muscles needed for powerful striking. This is not a drill that will give you a usable technique by itself, but will make your techniques usable. All of this is to get you to be able to really use one of our most effective techniques, hakko zeme.

The basic exercise is to have each person in a front stance. Uke places his hands on tori's hips and locking the elbows. Tori grabs uke's forearms and keeps them pinned. This is to give tori as direct a connection as possible to uke's center, so tori doesn't have to fish for it. Uke slowly tries to push tori over. Tori's center of gravity should drop until fully stable. The upper body is erect and the feeling should be relaxed. Stay in this position for 30 seconds, then switch roles. Your first goal is that as uke pushes on you, you can find where you are stable. Vary the height of the push, so that uke pushes then at the bottom of the rib cage and then at the shoulder. Be sure that you feel stable with the push at the hips first.

The reason we push on the hips is that we are trying to remove as many joints as possible from the exercise. This is the most direct path possible from tori's hips to the ground. As uke moves the push higher, more joints are pulled into play. This allows tori to start with a firm base and then modify it as needed.

Finally, have uke raise his bent arms and push right on his elbows. Once you have this down, you are ready to practice the kata meaningfully. Comment: The kata for this technique is really hard, but once you can do it you own this technique. It's a bit frustrating but well worth the effort. Most applications of hakko zeme are pretty easy and direct. Things to watch out for

To step, tori must disrupt uke's structure. This is done by projecting upwards at 45 degrees and lifting one of uke's shoulders. When uke's structure is moved, tori steps through smoothly.

A final comment on people's comfort level. Some people do not like having their hips or chests touched. (Hey it's their body, deal with it.) You can still do this drill in such instances by simply using the bent arms as described above.

This just describes the front stance. You can vary this in the following ways.