Friday, October 28, 2005

Fall....Get Up.... Repeat

So Kim and I show up for class with Francesca teaching. I guess she decided we needed a workout so we basically did throws all night almost non-stop. Very tiring. Kim seemed to have some problems working out some of the movements. Here is where I think sensei might be a little better of a teacher.... instead of letting him work the problem out.... Francesca changes the exercise. Then when that presents a problem to Kim.... she changes it again. Basically, she just confuses him by altering stuff so much I think. That's just my opinion though so what do I really know? I've only been doing this for 3 months. I just think that breaking it down might be better than changing it entirely.

Worked up a big sweat. One thing though.... the space in which we practice has the heat on and it was set so high it was 82 farenheight. We opened the skylights up and by the end of the night the temperature dropped way down ..... to 81.

I did pretty well picking stuff up last night.... One thing I thought was cool was Francesca asked me to be uke for something and didn't tell me what she was going to do. I was actually able to follow where she was leading me which meant less effort for uke. So at least I got better with harmonizing with my partner.

For the second time in my training I bent back the nail on a big toe. Last time made sense as the nail really was too long. This time it was ridiculous. The nail was cut way short yet somehow I still caught it. I think my nails are flexible and soft comparatively speaking. It didn't hurt but it bled just a little bit. I did it during suwari waza kokyu ho at the end of the night. I taped it up and we all bowed out at that point.

DAPI: 1 (Nice and loose)
Day After Pain Index

BTW Tuesday's Class Got Cancelled

No class tonight.

I believe there was a miscommunication between Francesca and Sensei. As a result, neither of them showed up to teach. Kim and I just hung out and talked a bit about aikido.

There is talk now of getting keys for us so we could at least practice. It may not be ideal but I think I know enough to easily keep Kim and I busy.

Day After Pain Index

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I've Grown Some Roots

I went to a Bruins game instead of hitting class tonight. I wasn't real happy to miss the class particularly as I'm not going to be able to make it up on Saturday. Really didn't have a choice on it though. Unfortunately, the Bruins lost but had a good time anyway.

Not sure what made me want to try this but on the subway ride home I chose to not hold on to anything while standing. I lowered my center and was actually able to keep rooted to the train fairly well. The coolest part about it was when the train came to our last stop and my wife looks over at me and realizes I'm doing something funny. She sees me just standing there not holding anything and when the train lurched to a stop, her and everyone else sort of lurched forward. I stayed "glued" to the floor and didn't lurch at all.

Man was that fun.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bokken Practice

Wow... that practice was different. Warmed up as usual.

Then we did nothing but bokken practice. Everything from practicing feeling your center as you walk in a line to learning how to draw, cut, turn, cut, turn, and sheath. All the movements felt natural for me so doing all this was easy for me and looked pretty good.

I even have my hips moving the way they are supposed to.

DAPI: 1 (no falls.... no hurt)
Day After Pain Index

Monday, October 17, 2005

Great Class Different Sensei

Went to a Saturday class at the other dojo this weekend. Sensei Mulligan who runs the place is this unassuming older man (probably in his 70's now). Once he put on his hakima, holy heck. You wouldn't think anyone that looked like that could be that strong. One time he was giving a demonstration to my partner by using me as uke. Wow!! You sure knew he was there. I don't know if its the years of training or that he's kept his strength as he's aged or some combination but when he grabbed me I sure as heck knew it. Almost felt like I was a rag doll in the jaws of a tiger. I got the impression that he could toss me around any which way he wished. I bet if I asked him I'd have a 50% chance of hearing that training was the key.... and 50% chance that I'd hear him say that he ate his fruity pebbles that morning.

One thing about a funny sensei though.... he has uke in a nikkyo and he starts cranking him a bit. Uke is not cooperating so he applys more pressure and uke taps out really softly... so he cranks him a little more and the tapping becomes hard rapping on the mat. Sensei lets him go and says... thats better, you should tap nice and loud.

I warned my partner to feel free to crank my wrists up on the nikkyo practice. I'm relatively loose. She never even came near pain. I think she was doing something wrong. I reminded her to crank on me ... but it never really turned into a nikkyo. I started to wonder if she just simply wasn't strong enough. She seemed really weak in general but she was lightning fast and very fluid in her movements.

It seemed as though Sensei Mulligan was focused on the self defense aspect of Aikido. I'm not sure if its because we had a cop in the class or whether this is the angle he teaches from all the time. From what I've read Sensei Mulligan has pursued a life of martial arts that started in the service.

So... we did a lot of irimi. Deflect the punching hand.... enter... and then sort of do a heaven type throw with your arm...
Another... step back slapping the attacking hand down... grab it and step in so your back is to him but youve got him in a position where you control the hand and elbow and you can then put uke down on the mat.
Another where there were 4 simple variations of responding to a ski punch. Turn sideways off line and allow the punch to go through your two arms.... turn and they fall back. If arms are reversed then turn the other way and they are thrown forward. Another is where you step across in front of uke and before he finished just sort of enter while placing your hand on his shoulder and back uke goes. The fourth escapes me at the moment.

One of the more fun things we did was to grab uke and apply pressure to side of the neck so that we can cut the blood supply to the brain. One time I got it wrong and I was choking the throat and sensei comes over and says..... "No no.... she(uke) can hold her breath for a real long time you have to do it like this".... and he grabs her hard enough for her to grimace a bit. Sometimes I missed it... other times I got her good because she tapped out when ordinarily you wouldn't for this.

DAPI:1 (feel good)
Day After Pain Index

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yay...Small Progress

We spent a good third of the class just having me work on forward rolls. When sensei saw a few of them he asked me to stop. Then he had us doing some rowing exercises. Which then became varied such that the forward motion was way forward. After a bit of that we did a similar exercise while kneeling. Moving the arms in a wide circular diving motion with blade hands touching the ground.

Then he said to do that several times and at the count of 5, roll forward. I did a few of these and what do you know.... I didn't pound my shoulder for a change. Then we progressed where we just did a rolling drill back and forth. Some rolls were better than others but all of them were better than anything I'd previously done. Kim's rolls were always fairly nice looking so I don't he benefited as much as I did from the exercise.

Then we tried the roll from a standing position. I did a so so roll. Once that was done.... sensei wanted us to roll after a throw. So he stood there and threw each of us in turn....
First... Francesca.... fwoop.... nice roll
Then Kim.... Fwop..... Ok roll
Then me..... whump.... Crashed to the floor.

I got up chuckling... I think even sensei laughed at that one... and he said I was thinking too much. He may be correct... but what I was thinking at the time was that the floor looked further away while I was standing then when I was kneeling. I attribute my failure there as fear of getting hurt. After a while I'm sure this will pass. I really need to practice rolling more.

So... we moved on to a heaven and earth throw. One thing I noticed was that Francesca was actually throwing me harder than she used to. I was wondering what the reason was for this. Perhaps she's just helping me develop my breakfalls better..... although I have to say.... I did some great back breakfalls as her uke. So that got a little better. Maybe I need to "harmonize" with her more and start falling down with the throw rather than letting the throw put me down.
I'm safe either way so I'm not worried about getting hurt.... just concerned that I do what I'm supposed to as a beginner.

Are there any experienced folk out there who could answer that one?

DAPI: 1 (not even pain in the shoulder)
Day After Pain Index

Monday, October 10, 2005

Picked Up An Extra Class

Terrific... I picked up a class on Saturday. It meets in the Salem dojo which is fun because I get to train with different people. On this occassion there were two people down from Lewiston Maine. They drove about two hours to get there.

The younger guy (Robert) was going for his 5th kyu test. I'm guessing that the older gentleman who showed up was his instructor. He wasn't a black belt but said something about practicing for 20 or 30 years. There was one other guy from Shodokan at the class (for a total of 4 people plus sensei). I think sensei wanted Robert to get to know his uke for the test so he partnered him with the Shodokan guy. His ukemi is better than mine so he's a better choice.

I find this to be a bit of a bummer. I do a lot of things really well... Some techniques I perform above my level. I hold my center amazingly well and I have some good control because of it. I just can't do a forward roll. I'm not sure what it is I'm doing wrong but even my best roll jams my shoulder a little. I asked sensei about it and he didn't seemed concerned by it.

Partnering with the Maine instructor was interesting. He could take falls but his knees aren't the best any more. Sensei told us to let uke take the fall at his pace. I was following this instruction when my partner asked me to push him rather than letting him set the pace of the fall. I think he was just wanting to know that I could do it as I was being really gentle with him. So I still tried to be gentle and performed the technique.... His eyes popped open in surprise and said.... wow... ok... that's good. I didn't crush him or anything but I don't think he expected me to be able to do it effectively.

His student Robert did really well on the test. I was watching to see if I saw anything that I could improve on. It's not a big deal probably but I was always told to keep your feet together when you are on live toes to do a pin. I noticed he always kept his feet far apart. I tried it later on at home and thought this felt less powerful.... and more tiring to maintain position. I thought I saw him hesitate on one of the techniques which is probably fine. I also thought that I like to control the elbow more than he does. The instructor from Maine asked for a litle feedback. The only things sensei commented on is that they use a different entering move then what he was taught.... not wrong... just different. Also... Robert was taking a full tenkan in one direction but only a fivekan in the other.

I'm sure he passed.

Oh ... and before I forget.... Robert's ukemi looked really good... I'm not sure if he can harmonize with his partner but just watching him during warm ups.... wow.... beautiful rolls and breakfalls.

DAPI: 1 (ahhhh felt relaxed again)
Day After Pain Index

Friday, October 07, 2005

I Miss Sensei

Well... once again it was just Kim and I with Francesca teaching the class. It's actually been a week since I've been to aikido. I had to miss a couple of classes. It is likely I will miss Thursdays class as well.

We were going to do a technique that required a forward roll but my rolls aren't up to snuff. We did some rolling practice. I think part of my problem is that I try to roll slowly so less energy to work with means that I have to really work to keep my arm and elbow from collapsing. I jammed my shoulder just a little bit but I didn't really hurt myself. Perhaps it would be easier if I were 20 lbs lighter?

We did some Shomenuchi Ikkyo.... I'm still stuck on some of the names for techniques... but we did omote and ura. Nothing too exciting. At this point I do Ikkyo sort of automatically. I realized that I don't think about where to place my hands or my feet. I just sort of do it. Once while acting as nage I stopped to ask a question. I had uke by the wrist and elbow, I had my center right in the correct place... but uke didn't want to go to the mat. It turns out that I was subconciously turning his arm to apply pressure and drive him down and he was waiting for me to start that. I had no idea I was even doing that. The next time I was nage I paid a lot of attention and noticed it.

DAPI: 3 ( shoulders a little stiff )
Day After Pain Index