Because ki tends to flow in the direction that the fingers are pointing, the first step in tenkan is to curl the fingers (see page 34) in order to blend with and redirect uke*s ki. A big strong nage may be able to muscle and force the issue with a small uke, but this approach can't win against a balloon. Nage must curve the fingers, must concentrate on extending ki and blending, or else the balloon will go wafting, skipping and dancing across the room.
No fair holding it with two hands except at beginning and end. Also, keep fingers together and curved — this is not an exercise in gripping the balloon with big basketball hands. It is an exercise in controlling the balloon.
This technique is similar to that used in lacrosse. The ball is kept in the basket by controlling direction and inertia. Think of your hand as the basket and the balloon as the ball. Try it again with just two fingers (no thumb).
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