Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Matt Did Something Cool

Not sure if he just fell into this but it was neat.  From a wrist grab.  You cut sideways across the head.  Get ukes body turned with a bent elbow.  Your elbow should be bent as well.  Now comes the tricky part.  You tenkan in and as you do this you lead uke out and down... then as you tenkan in establish an armbar.  Was pretty crazy.  The first time or two I tried it I was getting it pretty well.. Then I started to think about it and analyze it and for me the technique fell apart.  I couldn't do it any more.  I understand what has to be done, I just have trouble doing it.  Maybe next time.

Sunday - Blending day

Spent a good amount of the class doing things that required blending.

Already have some ideas about the next class.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Great Class With Mr/ Mulligan

Mr. Mulligan taught the Friday night class.  Was great to have him teach.  We did a bunch of ushiro attacks and responses.  Seemed like old times where he would tell me to do something and I would struggle with it.  Always easier to do what you know.

Anyway... great class.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Drumming Up Business

I went to class on Tuesday.  Got to see Ryan and Ralph who I don't always see very often.  I was poking both of them to come on Sunday.  Ryan was seriously sad he missed out on a Taiotoshi class and Ralph just needs to come more classes more often.  If they both show up it will be challenging as Ralph needs to work on his 5th kyu test and Ryan although wants a big throwing class, needs to work on his sensitivity.

Peter taught.  Not always doing my "go to" responses can be challenging.  It's always tough to make someone else's aikido work for you.  Good class though.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

A Slew Of Taiotoshi

Ok.. So it's Sunday.  I usually look in the book to see what the other instructors were up to.  I was surprised to see Mr. Mulligan taught for a part of Saturday.  He wanted the class to brush up on a nikkyo variation. 

So... I have the class and myself repeat the exercise trying to stress the same points Mr. Mulligan wanted us to stress.  They advanced students were able to communicate to me what they did.  After that I had us do some tenkans and really tried to beat Peter into thinking about his posture.

I start the class off with a nice maki otoshi.  Then.... after was another taiotoshi variant.  After the second one, Chris looks at me and says, "This is a taiotoshi class isn't it"?  You bet.

So on and on it went....  kata hikiotoshi, seoiotoshi, and so forth.

There was one throw Peter did that was absolutely fantastic.  It wasn't fast, but I was off balance and then I was thrown down with his body drop.  Wish he could do more like that. 

Chris M joined us this class.  Not sure what he was expecting as the last couple classes he saw me teach were about positioning and taking balance.  This was using those for throws over and over and over.  Very fun.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Slew of Classes

Let's see how far back I can remember.  Not far I'm sure.

Monday night I went to North Shore Aikikai.  I let Joe know I was going so he could show up Monday. night.  It's not his usual night but I'm supposed to be his partner for his next test so he needs to show up once in a while on nights I am around.

Two things stick out the most.

One is that we worked on a Jim version of shihonage.  Very hard to break muscle memory for this.  I'm not sure I like this version.  It has the good attribute that even someone with tight shoulders can take this as uke.  Mainly you make a ring around uke's wrist with both hands and walk forward.  The circle being very vertical.  The problem I was having was that I instantly try to take someone's balance in the beginning.  If you do that, you end up turning uke and he is in the wrong position to do this version of the technique.  It relies on you pushing everything forward to turn uke away from you.  This happens much later than in the version I'm used to.  The other issue I had with it was that I was always taught that if someone does shihonage too high you can turn with it and get out of it.  This is solved by a couple of things I guess.  One is that the moment where this can be reversed is very short.  Most people wont be able to react in time to take advantage of it.  Still... this is probably never going to be my go to version.  It feels too much like I am using strength to move uke (despite the fact that hands are in front of my center.)  Uke is off balance not because of a lead.... but instead because he was forced.  Come to think of it, I know a student of mine who would probably enjoy this.  Nothing wrong with having another tool in the toolbox.  Maybe I will attempt to show this in class.

The other thing about the last class that comes to mind is that we did a quick bit of freestyle at the end of class.  The attack was tsuki and we were attempting to cut down on using sankyo since that seems to be an easy go to move.  I ended up getting stuck in a rut with a couple of other techniques.  Did ok.  Nothing special.

Going back.... I taught Sunday's class.  I had us doing line techniques to warm up and then did some taiotoshi at the end.  One of the students isn't real comfortable with this breakfall so I watched his fall a couple of times until I think I figured out the problem.  Rather than the opposite hand coming down to the mat first.  The other hand is coming down.  Almost as if he is doing a roll.  While nice and soft, the problem is that when taking some falls such as taiotoshi you don't have that arm cause nage has it.  He's throwing you with it.  That's why he's not comfortable.  So, I pointed it out to him.  It's up to him at this point to try and fix it or not bother.

Friday night Bob taught.  Small class again.  Seems a shame that all the people that tested for Shodan in the past year or so almost never seem to come to class.  Bob had us doing some ushiro techniques and we did some 2 on 1 scenarios.  Been a while since I did those.  We also did a bunch of freestyle runs.  Tony wasn't around so no one got hurt.

Tuesday night I went to class at Shodokan.  Peter was teaching.  I remember liking the class.

All the classes recently have been pretty good.  Been enjoying coming to class lately.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Hit The Tuesday Night Class

Peter was teaching.  The class was fine.  We started out with a series of line techniques.  Later on moving to partners for a few different techniques.

Nothing sticks out in my mind except for one technique.  Peter really likes this one.  You start by getting someone in ikkyo.  Then... you reach over uke's arm with your inside hand(hand closest to uke) and grab your own wrist.  You can then use this structure to lock up the shoulder.  Ryan was in this class and we were taking turns.  Peter looks at me and says, you can take the breakfall for this right?  I said... yes, of course.  Then Ryan took this as a go ahead to tighten it way up and do the technique with no wriggle room.  I had to breakfall at that point.

In truth when nage has this tight it feels safer.  But I could sense that Ryan isn't feeling where I was at for this.  He was just plowing ahead and would have continued regardless of whether I was ready or not.  Had I not done a breakfall, my shoulder would have been badly injured.

This is the problem I have been working to fix in the past few classes.  Ryan has no sensitivity at all.  All he knows is he puts his foot there... a hand there... and magic happens.  He among others really need to focus on developing this.

The person that came to watch my class last week (Alex) visited Mr. Mulligan.  My understanding is that the next beginner class starts some time and March so he took a registration fee and told her to come back in March.  What I'm curious is, whether we will indeed start the class or put it off if there aren't more students starting.  This is what is typically done in this dojo.  I don't agree with it but no one wants my opinion so I keep it to myself.  Would be a shame to lose her as she seemed really stoked to start after I pulled her into the class.  Hopefully we will start the class.  I don't hold much hope as we have a history of literally turning away students.  Once upon a time there were enough students to group them up.  There just aren't that many new people coming in nowadays.  So people wait for a beginners class that never starts... and eventually they go away.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Nothing to do with Aikido

If you're looking for an aikido post move on.  The original intent of this blog was for me to write down what I was working on so I could process it better.  Help me learn.

I'm still trying to process a recent experience with my kids' dojo.  They go to a local TKD dojo.  VERY traditional.  The instructors are very talented and as far as I can tell the teaching is very good(perhaps excellent).  It was part of the reason I chose that dojo for my kids.  It was also part of the reason that we stayed with that dojo despite moving a whole town further away.

My kids have been attending this dojo for at least six years or so.  At this point they have earned their black belt.  They continue to work and try to learn in every class.  I've taught them to not squander mat time.

This year my daughter wanted to stretch her legs a bit.  She wanted to do a different activity.  She would love to do both this and TKD but she simply doesn't have the time.  In fact, previous years they were in classes almost 5 days/week, every week.  This year is a bigger homework load and we are lucky to hit 2-3 classes a week now.  This new activity will make it impossible for her to hit any classes and so she has to give up TKD for now. 

I encouraged her to stay but she really wants to move in another direction right now.  Being the supportive parent, I'm at the point where I am 100% behind her.  She even said that she may go back to TKD at some point soon.  All this sounds good to me.  It's her decision.

So... what is there to even think about?  Her TKD school asks for a 1 year commitment.  I spoke to the chief instructor there (a grand master in his art).  I told him that my daughter is leaving for now to pursue something else and won't have time for TKD.  He looked disappointed.  I know he likes her.

I then mentioned that her activity didn't start for another six months and was wondering if we could have her come during that time and not make a 1 year commitment.  He said... the only option is just the monthly option.  There was no six month contract.  The price structure he described was a 25% increase over the normal rate.  Having two kids with bills to match (orthodonture and so forth) I asked if it was possible to pay at the rate we were paying before.  He said no.  I told him my daughter's last day was Friday.

What I got for a reaction was anger.  Barely contained anger.  I was grateful for the half wall between us as I seriously wondered how far this person was going to go.  I could only stand there as he let loose a tirade.  After he was done he walked away.  There wasn't even an opportunity for me to speak.

I've had a couple days to think about the encounter.  He is pretty old school.  He basically was most likely headed nowhere in his life, was selected by his TKD teacher and recognized for the talent he could develop.  The teacher then took him under his wing and taught him.  The master.... choosing the student.  In his mind, being chosen is an honor.  He was able to make TKD his life's work.

When I asked him about a reduced rate he spouted off many things first of which was "Do you expect me to work for free!!?"  He also said things such as ... "he is paying $230/month" (pointing at an adult student).  "You don't think my teaching is worth what I'm asking?"
Keep in mind these questions he brought up were fired one after another with no chance to respond.  He wasn't looking for responses or a conversation.  He was just yelling.

He had interesting questions.... we actually pay more than that gentleman when you combine our two kids.  Whether it be 1,2 or 10 kids there is only so much money we have for expenses such as these.  In fact, my own practice has been impacted.

At first I understood where he was coming from.  The master chooses the student... we were lucky he was willing to teach our kids and so forth.  However, there are a lot of good teachers out there.  Hopefully ones that are better businessmen.  This attitude he copped was bad business and frankly it was bad TKD.  There are tenets that he teaches to my kids.  You're supposed to believe that stuff not just teach it.  Saying no would have been fine.  Looking like he was going to hit me ... was not.
Not once did I say that he wasn't worth the money he was asking.  It's just that there is only so much money to go around.

The other comment really tells me something about his character.  I don't know if his dojo is going to close due to money issues and he's stressed but commenting "do you want me to work for free"....

The dojo's I attend are filled with talented, generous teachers.  People who teach to spread the art and to help people develop.  None of them are paid.  I'm honored to be teaching among them and training with them.  The chief instructor at shodokan, whether you agree with his policies or not... has committed his life to teaching martial arts(essentially for free).  He's lived a modest life style.  A sharp contrast to this TKD teacher driving off in his $50,000 Mercedes.

I don't expect someone to be a monk and give up all luxuries in life but when I look at these two chief instructors, I am amazed by the contrast.  One teacher really spending his life teaching (albeit, his way) and the other, egotistical and self interested, demanding respect.

The scary thing is that this teacher is in the TKD hall of fame and has a lifetime achievement award.  Isn't the commitment supposed to be tabout teaching the students?

I told my daughter to be sure to thank him before she left for her final class last week.  I also told her if she wanted to come back to his class some day she should let him know that.  I suggested she form it as a request.  Feeding his ego is free.  He responded well and said she was always welcome in his class.

At least he can separate his problem with the parent from the child.  I wasn't sure that was within his capabilities.  This is good as I still have my son going there.

Next week we examine other TKD options much closer to home for my daughter for the next six months.  If one looks good enough perhaps both my kids will change schools.