Recently in class, Harry sensei shared with us something i’ve seen done for years, but i’ve never agree to. that is the way we hold our Uke’s hands. Be it an ikkyo, to sankyo, I would hold the uke with all my five fingers, until Harry sensei explained it to us.
He explained that the gripping starts from the pinky, followed by the ring finger and finally the middle finger. the index finger is usually left out of the grasping and sometimes extended, as if to provide a direction for the gripping. The thumb will be the thumb, closing the loop, not tightly, but firmly. so Harry sensei suggest that we wrap our four fingers around our uke’s wrist, or whatever part we want to. Wrap, not grip.
This is surprisingly a good grip, well not as good as five finger grip of course, but that is precisely the whole point. there is a little slack in which the four finger hold has which allows us to extend our centre into our uke, Because of that slack, we can keep our centre hidden from the uke, and at the same time, feel our uke’s centre through our grip.
On the contrary, if we grip our uke with the all the five fingers, whilst it offers a stronger grip, it also risk exposing our centre to our uke, and to counter techniques. By gripping our uke with five fingers, we tighten all the tendons in our hands and that tension is directly fed back into our centre. and if we encounter an uke with a superior centre, we will become displaced.
This form of four-finger gripping is also faster. although it doesn’t take much time to wrap five fingers, instead of four fingers, that slight speed is sometimes advantageous.
The sensitivity is also improved, by offering our pinky first instead of our wrists or index fingers, we can better guide our uke’s direction in a more subtle manner. perhaps it is because we cannot use a lot of strength in our pinky, we had to somehow cope by not using the pinky head on with our uke’s descending arm or chopping hand, instead allow our pink ot come into contact and with that slight contact, bring our uke’s direction towards a better ending.
Harry sensei offered another reason, as Ki travels underneath the arm, it flows out through… the pinky. That, remains to be explored.