Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Had a Great Tuesday Class

Went to Peter's Tuesday night class.  He's not rid of me yet.

Peter had us doing various responses to a yokomenuchi attack that included two specific entries.  Class was mostly this.  I got to work with everyone who came that night.  I think there were six of us.

Ryan was there.  He's going to be doing his test on Friday night.  Should be a pretty good test.

Actually I made a suggestion for Ryan's ukemi.  I make this suggestion for lots of people.  More stuff I picked up with the guys at North Shore Aikikai.  When someone has udekiminage, you place your other hand on nage's wrist on the arm that he's causing the armbar with.  What that lets you do is control how much armbar you want to feel.  You can always push down.  The trick is to not thwart the technique.  Just keep yourself safe.  I wanted Ryan to know that one so when he goes off to seminars he can stay safe.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Test Prep

Tony came for the Sunday class.  Since his test is supposed to be Friday, we worked on his test techniques.  I showed different entries for each attack.  A lot of times you get stuck in a rut, doing the same technique repeatedly.  Some times using a different entry can put you in a different position and you end up coming up with a different technique.

Things went fairly well actually.  Tony was doing fairly well.

We did have a bit of a problem today though.  The arnis class practices during the same time slot.  They use the back half of the mat (which is a smaller space).  In the past it's never been much of an issue.  We always had to watch out for swinging sticks on the edge of the mat but for the most part it was safe(ignoring the beginners losing a stick).

Today, I did not feel safe at all.  They arnis class was blessed with a very large class today and at times during their practice they were working on the aikido mat space.  Although I do realize we don't always need the whole mat, having them come on to our space while we are practicing is not acceptable to me.  It creates an unsafe environment.  I'll see how next week goes but if there is a repeat I will have to have a discussion with the arnis teacher to work this out.

I can't have them on our mat....  They would be working on a drill... backing up swinging sticks and think nothing of it.  All I see is a student I'm responsible for getting injured.  I don't think they'd pull that crap on Peter if he were still teaching the class.

As for giving up some mat space to make room for the arnis class.  I'd have to think that one out.  I want to do what makes sense for the dojo... but that's the aikido mat space.  Either it's available for class... or it isn't.  I don't want to have to ask permission from the other instructor just so I can do a freestyle practice.  It's more coordination than I want to deal with.  Perhaps it would be best if they picked a time slot where they could have the whole mat to themselves.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Silent Meditation

A while back the Zen Center moved into the bottom floor of our dojo.  They created their own space down there which is quite nice.  It's definitely a calming environment.  Anyone into Zen meditation should check it out.

Bob has started Friday night classes wanting to do 15 minutes of meditation down there.  Anyone wishing to can come.  Trying to keep an open mind I went down with them last night.

I'm not sure how much my presence disrupted Bob and the other aikido student but I've been having issues with allergies giving me a post nasal drip which causes coughing.  I didn't give it much thought until we were in there and I was unable to stay silent.  Not sure how bad I disrupted things in there with my coughing that started about 10 minutes in.

Ignoring the coughing part, I found the experience nice but I feel better from moving around on the mat.  Whether you want to say I am generating ki, or just exercising, I always feel good from that movement.  The mediation experience struck me as a good one but cannot replace the same feeling of energy I get when I work on the mat.  It's a different experience.

So Bob asked and there is supposed to be a test Friday night for Tony and Ryan.  Tony would rather put it off longer but he has a good attitude on testing.... It's just a test.  He's been through many(coming from a judo background).  I'm sure most of it will look just like what he does in class.

Bob asked which technique Tony wanted to work on and he said kate menuchi attacks.  Since there were three students this night Tony was monkey in the middle and we took turns attacking.  Bob had showed a few different responses.

Then at the end he asked Tony to do some of what he just felt like.  Tony did a few more but immediately started off with Aiki-otoshi.  Then immediately did one that ended with a koshinage.  Taking the fall for that sucked because he kept my "slap" hand when he threw me.  Although I wouldn't have slapped per se, I use that hand to make contact with the ground early to lessen the fall.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I Added My Confusion to the Monday Night Class

Was very happy to get to a class at North Shore Aikikai on Monday night.

Worked on a backstretch.  You might think it's a waste of time but there are basic principles even in what is supposed to be a simple backstretch.  There were three different versions.  I was getting some of it right.

The technique that stuck out in my mind the most was something I love doing.... which just to simply do the sky hand from tenchinage as a lead.  Force them to be put in a position where they almost can lean on it and then take it away which makes them fall to the ground.  You have to make sure that you don't push uke back.  Everything has to move forward.  Definitely wanted to do something like that on Sunday.  I was thinking of having people do this to feel a lead.  But... maybe after we can do the throw Rob had us doing.

At the end we did some randori practice.  For whatever reason... found my self in sankyo a lot.  That happens.  Some times you find yourself doing one particular thing.  Part of it may be because we are always doing yokomen.  Matt had a seriously cool thing.... he was dealing with Rob, as I moved toward him, he turned and struck at my face which caused me to block giving him a connection to use.

Fun class.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Great Sunday

This was another day I didn't expect any one to show for class.  Yesterday they held a 3 hour clinic at Shodokan.  I couldn't go.  I figured after that class most people wouldn't be interested in class on Sunday.

So three people showed up for class.  Which is good because I was able to be the fourth and mix in.  I had us do a class with attacks from tsuki.  Theo joined us again so I kept a mix of controls and techniques.  Theo's ukemi isn't well developed so I didn't want to push him for the whole class.

We did nikkyo, sankyo and so forth.  I did a 'simple' sumiotoshi.... irimi deflecting the tsuki as you enter and take the top of the arm at the elbow moving it in a small circle and aiming uke's elbow down to the third point..  I gave Buddy some pointers on his pinning technique.  I tried to show how to off-balance uke for the techniques.  Later I mixed in taiotoshi and makiotoshi.  Turns out that Peter has been helping Ryan study for his 1st kyu test.  Part of that is Ryan wanting to do a yokomenuchi taiotoshi.  So out of the blue I see Peter do a really nice breakfall.  A big difference from the last time I saw him(which admittedly was a while ago).  I was so excited to see him progress.  I think I was seeing progress in his techniques as well which is awesome because I thought he had hit one of those slow plateau like spots we all hit.  Maybe working with Ryan helped him focus.

Long ago.... I went through a phase of doing nothing but those kinds of throws when my teachers were doing a lot of that.  So although I personally don't feel the need to do lots now, I feel it gave me a great experience for my ukemi.  I've been wanting to improve everyone's ukemi at Shodokan so I intend to mix things up a bit and do these throws more often than I have seen other teachers.  Which is good... they can learn some stuff from one teacher and maybe pick something else up from me and so forth.  I'm hoping this will complement what they are learning.  Bob said he wanted to see a more dynamic class at Shodokan.  Since he's overseeing the aikido program now I'm guessing he won't mind.

I mix in as people do techniques.  Not surprised when Buddy did his taiotshi he blasted me down with all muscle.  I could totally feel it.  So I tried to explain that he should use less muscle for now and let the body drop do the work.  Instead of 100% muscle, I felt about 90% on the next throw.  Then about 50% on the one after that.  So he made a huge improvement.  I'm thinking we should keep doing this so he has a chance to keep refining it.  A while back Buddy told me that after class he always felt pretty rough.  It's because he uses so much muscle on techniques.  He can do it because he is a strong guy but he still experiences soreness.  So overall, I'm trying to get him to use less muscle.

After class Peter told me he was interested in working on his 3rd kyu test so I'll be focused on his and anyone else's test that shows up.

One of the things I noticed was that they obviously cleaned up a bit before the clinic as the dojo was looking pretty good. Somehow.... I have no idea how.... someone managed to clean the blasted mirrors.  I'd love to know how they did it and what they used.

What I'm excited about the most is that one or two of the students have told me that they see what I'm driving at.  That if you do a technique with kazushi, you don't need muscle (or you can add it if need be).  That getting the technique is more important.  I was seriously concerned for a while that the dojo was headed down a path where atemi was replacing other forms of getting kazushi (through off-balancing).... in my mind atemi should add to it not replace it.  I have hope now that the dojo Isn' going to head down some strange road that leads to a striking aikido. ( I do use atemi in some of my techniques, I just don't rely on atemi to make the techniques work).

Friday, October 06, 2017


Ya that was Friday night..... Between busy people, injury, and who knows what, I was the only person that showed up Friday night.  Good thing I did too.  We had a guy from Greece come in to take a class.  I guess he's been kicking around for a week or so and will stay in the area a couple months.

His english was good but not great.  Still impressive as English is a crappy language to try and pick up.

He came in with a brown belt which in a lot of aikido systems is like a 1st kyu.  At the end of class he told me he was a 2nd kyu in his system.  I think his lineage is through toyoda sensei.  So that puts him in line with AAA maybe?  If so that means he's been practicing about 2 years.  I didn't ask.

So, I started off light to see what I was working with,  We started with some back stretches.  Right away I could see stuff just from his back stretch.  Enough to concern me.

So I kept it light by starting with some controls.  I changed things a lot because I was trying to see what he knew.  When I asked if he wanted to show a technique, he would put his arms out as if to say he didn't understand me or he didn't want to pick.

We did variations of nikkyo, sankyo, kokyunage, shihonage, udekiminage.  I tried to show how to increase the effectiveness.  His nikkyo grip was odd.  I didn't focus on that though.  I had him make some adjustments though.  He was doing what a lot of people do.  He brough uke's whole hand/arm down... which does nothing... or sometimes he would not have his center attack mine.... other times he would turn as he attempted nikkyo which made it looser.  Every time he did something like that.... I did the same to him so he could feel the difference.  Then I did it to him with a correction.  He improved his nikkyo a ton.  If he remembers the changes.  May be hard for 1 class to remember it forever.

Then I tried moving us into kaitenage, sumi-otoshi, and maki-otoshi.  It was apparent that his ukemi is not too advanced.  He was barrel rolling a lot.  So we took a moment to talk about it a bit and practice forward rolls a little.  he showed vast improvement while focusing on it.  However, during techniques, muscle memory crept in and he barrel rolled.  He fully understood that this was a harder fall.  In any event, I thought working a little on ukemi was sufficient.  No need to spend too much time trying to fix something all at once.  He said he gets hurt falling all the time.  And he seemed very uncomfortable with even the thought of a breakfall so I didn't even go there with him.

I did a varied type of techniques.  Some flowy and long, others short and very direct.  When class was done he said he liked tenshin style aikido.  So he likes the short direct stuff.  Glad I mixed it up.

Anyone that works with him will have to be careful with him.  His ukemi still needs work.

In any event, I was glad as hell he showed up so I had someone to practice with.  It was a fun night.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Busy Tuesday Class

Went to a Tuesday class at Shodokan.  Peter taught... there was a good group there.  Maybe 7 people, including Ariel who I haven't seen on the mat in a while.

There is a chance that Sunday attendance will pick up.  At least a couple people told me that their schedule was shifting and the weekends are the best days for practice.

At least two people attending this Sunday are working toward testing... so we'll focus on that I think.  We shall see who shows up.

So... class this night was fun... Most of it was from moretetori.  Towards the end of class Peter said we could do anything we wanted from it.  I got to work with people I hadn't worked with in a while. 

At one point I worked with Peter (the student).  For moretetori he was grabbing me in all different ways.  Sometimes strongly, sometimes wrong hands in the wrong place.  Other times he'll grab with a little twist on my arm to start.  I told him that in some cases, if he grabs me differently then I wouldn't be doing the technique that was shown, I would do something else.  His kind of attacks can be good practice but if you were trying to learn something new, there are other things to focus on.  More important things.  It's like his mind is always active and impatient.

Come to think of it, because he isn't concentrating on the technique.... he threw me on to the extended mat once which is normally fine but the judo guys were there practicing for an upcoming test.  The second time he almost threw me through the shoji screen into a closet.  But... I modified my ukemi and pulled my legs in as I knew where I was.

One of the more strange things I'm going to have to get used to was the absence of Mr. Mulligan.  I'm not sure what nights he will visit the dojo but it was strange to walk in there and not see him there on the couch.  I did not miss the cigar smoke but I did miss him.