Little topics here....
Two-handed rope dart: Cane twirling has a lot of hand-to-hand transfers. But all the Chinese Rope Dart work I've seen has been right-handed only. Last week I just started doing two-handed poi work with a single-weighted rope, alternating left and right control of the weight. With a twelve-foot rope, and sliding grips, there's a lot of transfers possible.
Even more interesting is using the free hand to push or pull the rope along. The physics of a pendulum mean that a motion applied can be released into a different direction... it's possible to push the rope away from the target and have that translated into greater movement *towards* the target, depending on when during the circle you release. If you've got good timing of your motions, you can keep pumping energy into this circular system with relatively subtle motions.
When a limb interrupts the weight's circle, the new center of revolution is the point of interruption itself. That point can be moving in space, whether in the direction of the rope's motion (to dampen the system), or against the direction of rope motion (to add energy to the system), or in some other direction relative to rope motion (which gets complex pretty quickly).
Anyway, my big brainstorm for the week was that ambidextrous two-handed techniques can be applied to a single-weighted rope, starting from a springboard of two-handed cane transfers. Feels more like Hell's Kitchen than Shaolin Temple.
Rear circles: In a normal rope grip it's held by thumb atop the curled forefinger, pointing forwards. To do a Figure8 it's easiest to move the wrist, the forearm, the elbow, the upper arm, maybe even the shoulder and trunk. But it's also possible to just flip the wrist, changing its orientation while not changing its position.
(This stuff is very hard for me to talk about, I keep staring at the keyboard.... ;-)
Suppose you're rotating a weight in the front plane (like you're standing facing a wall), with the hand down towards mid-thigh, a natural rest position. The thumb would be atop the forefinger, pointing directly forwards. At the right point in the arc the wrist could just twist around to point to the back, not moving, so that the weight makes a Figure8.
This kind of near-motionless flip can also be done above the shoulders. I've made Triple8s from a front thigh-level spin, then a rear spin, then on the forward raise it to shoulder-level for a back spin high. Looks like three circles: a high one behind you, a middle one in front, then a low one behind, going from one to the other.
Wrapping and bouncing: There's a continuum of different ways the rope can interact with an intercepting object. Tangling someone's knees, or turning the rope by catching it under the arm, or slapping a nylon poi sock against the arm to sproing it back... all occur when the rope hits an object, but what happens after that is very open to control.
In the movies, Indiana Jones has the tip of his whip wrap around a tree branch three or four times, then pulls the whip to the side to lock it atop the wrapped section. That's a binding kind of wrap, secure.
But without that final locking, it's just a fancy way to reverse direction. I've been keeping a single-ball spin in the forward plane, then wrapping it around the other arm two or three times, letting it unwrap and spin away in the opposite direction. The goal is to never have the rope go slack, or the weight jump... just nice smooth movements. Incidental motion of the arm as it's unwrapped can give great velocity to the rope.
Rope Dart techniques of elbow wraps, arm wraps, neck wraps, leg wraps don't really wrap so much as bounce. (These folks do wrap to shorten the rope, but directional changes generally use shorter contact.) These body parts can also be moving in a direction of their own, changing the course of the rope.
Then there's soft damping to reduce the speed of the rope... spinning on the vertical plane and wrapping it around the body, using the opposite hand to gently slow it down.
Using a soft nylon poi sock taught me a lot, because it's more elastic and adds additional jump to a return. Once I started seeing the similarities between different types of techniques, it became easier to approach each different rope, each different situation.
Eighth-inch tent cord: I got fifty feet of this at REI. Cost $4. I sliced off about ten feet, doubled it up, put a big square knot on the end, and it became a necklace. Now I've always got a rope. In case I have to tie something. (I've frequently packed a marker pen with some duct tape around it, in case I had to tape something, but I haven't.)
I'm trying to think of a nice weight I can tie on it... something soft so I don't crack my shins, that I'd naturally carry. Something in a bandana as a weight is a possibility.
Anyway, that 1/8-inch tent cord is a nice convenient little rope. I'm looking for some thicker ropes, ornamental quality, that could pass as a belt too.
Masaaki Hatsumi: This guy knows rope! The first time I read his classic "Stick Fighting" book I thought it was interesting, but each time I re-read it I learned at a deeper level. Documentaries have portrayed him as "The Last of the Ninjas". He has videotaped his workshops the past few years, and they're available on DVD. I picked up his "Kuden vol1" in the Bunjikan Hikan Densho series, and it shows workshops from 2003 using sticks, ropes and other things.
He did some wild, natural tying of attackers. The situation was artificial -- the attacker struck a pose and froze -- but the work seemed very plausible. I had the feeling Hatsumi could switch into any of several paths at each moment. Once you bind the attacking hand (whether by wrap&trap, or lasso, or quoit), it's wrapped around another limb (such as the neck), and cinched tight. The hand gets attached to the neck. Then wrap and cinch the other hand. Or a foot. One by one, each gets attached to the next, never retrieving any motion they first gave away. The range of motion is methodically silenced.
But even with just one limb wrapped, you can apply your own bodyweight against wrist muscles or whatever that aren't used to being pulled in such directions. It's a power multiplier.
It's hard for me to see hojojutsu as being a practical self-protection technique, but with sufficient training, it might be... it's just hard to get such complex habits engrained. There's something very attractive about not relying on an impact weapon (such as a cane) as an equalizer... I don't carry a knife, because I don't want to cut anyone, and I'd really rather not strike anyone either. If a rope could be real protection, that'd be cool. Regardless of whether it has a practical use, rope is sure fun to practice.
Hatsumi has lots of tapes available, but there's not much description about each disc. I'm not sure if every disc has similar types of content... suspect it was just capturing whatever happened to be taught at each session. I like keeping it on in the background, muted, so I can watch how he moves.