When a person is walking there is a moment in time, as weight is being transferred from one foot to the other, that a person can be thought of as being weightless. We use this term because at that moment in time it is nearly an effortless endeavor to move that person in nearly any direction you wish.
As someone begins an attack from Ittoma[/glossary/ or [glossary]Toma distance then they will be weightless just prior to delivering his or her strike. If you close distance and strike before the opponent can then you will likely catch him or her while they are weightless. Alternately, you may wish to avoid the strike and then push the person immediately after his or her strike has missed. The person will be essentially recoiling from the strike and will again be weightless at that moment.
When a person is weightless they not only will find it difficult to resist any movement you induce into them, they will be generally weak throughout the body. This not always true, but it is fairly common that a person exhibits a lack of muscle tension when they are weightless. Strikes to an area of weakness may be more penetrative than strikes to an area of tensed musculature.
An individual may also exhibit a good deal of weakness if you are able to root the person on a single leg. The opposite leg will not provide support and it will then be possible to pull the person such that the head moves away from the rooted leg. When the head moves sufficiently away from the rooted leg the person will become weightless.
Moving twice can also generate a weightless condition. There are two opposing methods for creating this condition. If you push someone slightly and then immediately and more dramatically push them at 90° to the original direction then they will typically be weightless in the direction of the second push. Alternately, you might elect to push a person gently in one direction and then pull them in an orthogonal direction. Again they will be generally weightless as you move them in the second direction.
Once a person has become weightless you may elect to move them to some other advantageous position, strike them, throw them, or root them in some manner. It may seem counter intuitive to make someone weightless and then subsequently root them, but this is a common strategy utilized in many Nage. You could also take a person from a weightless to a rooted condition if your goal is to strike them solidly.
As you work with others try to consciously notice when they are and are not weightless. Notice how your movements cause the person to be alternately rooted and weightless. Notice also how their independent movements cause these same opposing conditions.
It is not difficult to make someone weightless. Even a slight and subtle movement may be enough to accomplish the task. The weightless condition normally occurs as a person moves from one rooted condition to another. As a person shifts his or her weight they are weightless. Once the weight has been successfully shifted they are no longer weightless. So weightlessness is a condition of transition. While a person is in transition they are vulnerable to weightless maneuvering.
Here is a simple experiment you can perform to test this out. Have a training partner stand in a strong stance with his or her arm extended as though they have just completed some form of forward punch. Place you hand gently against your training partner’s extended arm. Now press in firmly. You will see your partner easily resists your attempted movement. He or she is not weightless.
Now have your training partner shift his or her weight in any manner they desire. Perhaps they may shift weight to the opposite leg, rotate slightly, pull the shoulders back, or entertain any number of other possible movements. As your training partner begins this movement, and before it can be completed, press gently into his or her arm. You could also pull on the arm instead or move it in any other direction. You will see your training partner move in a way they had not anticipated. They are weightless during this transition period and more readily moved.
Naturally your partner will attempt to regain his or her structural integrity. When they move to do this they are again weightless. Each time you partner will have moved into a state or position where they are vulnerable to subsequent movements, strikes, or manipulations. You might elect to keep them weightless for a time or two and then soundly root them purposefully in order to strike, initiate Nage, or perform any other martial arts skill. They will not be able to do much about it.
Understanding the weightless condition is a critical Tensoku Ryu skill. Spend a good deal of time studying how and when someone becomes weightless and what you may be able to accomplish as the person transitions into and out of a weightless state. There is a tremendous amount to learn here that you will find beneficial when you are a Brown Belt and attempting to earn Shodan.