Today we worked on throwing in any direction. Once you have uke’s kuzushi, you can turn in any direction and throw where you wish. You can do four directions of shihonage, of course, but four directions of any other technique also. (And four directions implies all directions.)
We also worked on ukemi. If you flow with a technique, you can redirect it to a harmless direction, and even into another technique: kaeshi waza. Trying to stop a technique to do kaeshi waza only works on weak techniques, and even then usually leaves you vulnerable to a strike. Flowing with a technique can result in you being thrown, but there is usually a place in there where you can extend and redirect so that nage no longer has any power. Even better, redirecting nage’s power usually results in a suki, where you can move in and throw him.
You can not do counter technique if nage takes your balance (kuzushi), and keeps it. Nor can you do it against somebody at least as strong as you are who has momentum going for him. But you can take his momentum and move it along a different trajectory, and maybe get his kuzushi. To do this you have to study ukemi to the point where you no longer think about it, so we worked on kote gaeshi ukemi, flying into a slapping breakfall. We also did a few falls over a pile of the folding mats.
At the end, we did some freestyle (randori). Interestingly, the problems were mostly in the initial escape. People were thinking about doing technique, and messing up the initial part of it. Accordingly, we did a second round of freestyle, where we just escaped, and did not attempt to do technique. If you get the escape right, it leads naturally into taking kuzushi, and to the throw.