Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ouch

Last night was a seminar with John Rogers. It was quite good. Due to family issues beyond my control I had to arrive late for the first session. I waited at the edge of the mat and did everything I was supposed to for etiquette. There were about 20 aikidoka. Around 6 of them were black belts.

My biggest problem was that there was an arnis class running in the dojo. They were banging sticks constantly to the point where I literally couldn't hear John at all. I watched and tried to pick up what I could but I was so far away from him at a bad angle I couldn't see a lot of what was being done. I'm not sure why but for some reason I had a lot of trouble performing techniques in general. It's like my brain shut down and I didn't know where to put my feet or hands at all. Perhaps this is because I didn't get to do my usual warm up exercises.... I just don't know.

The worst part of the night was my ukemi. We hadn't done much in the way of forward rolls yet. In fact we did one class where we did about 6 rolls.... and I attended another class where we did maybe 8 or 10 rolls. Thats it for my rolling experience. So my first couple of rolls felt ok. Then I started to try and make improvements and it just got worse and worse. I ended up jamming my shoulder pretty hard a couple of times. This made me a bit skittish which made me roll even worse. John was moving down the line working with everyone. Despite his seriousness he actually took it easy on me as a beginner. I made an extra effort and came up with a couple of decent rolls. I realized that fear of getting further injured was just getting me more injured. This morning my right shoulder hurts when I put my arm in certain positions. My left arm hurts just a touch. One of the things I didn't like was that John stopped performing a pin on me because he assumed I didn't know to tap out. Usually I tap out at first sign of pain. He was letting me go before I got to this point. I'd commend him on trying not to break uke but some of us are more flexible than you think.

There were three segments/classes with 5 minute breaks in between. If you attend the whole thing its a little over 3 hours. The extra long session was sort of tough. Usually class is half that time. John runs a very vigorous class. I'd say you'd gain the most benefit from it the more experienced you are. He's not really teaching so much as demonstrating which is traditional. Although I'm used to classes like this the difference is that in my normal class we will build up to technique. First.... focus on the ukemi for it... then focus on footwork... then focus on combining all the elements to perform the technique. In the span of 5 minutes, John would show 8 variations of one technique. Nothing broken down at all and one right after another. Perhaps typical but very difficult for an inexperienced student to remember/pick up all that.

At one point he was doing some demonstrations with a couple of our black belts. The younger black belt Mark got bashed around a little. Not really hard. Just an atemi or hair grab here and there to try to get him to protect himself better. I wouldn't call it abusive or anything, but it didn't look overly gentle either. Lots of throws one right after another. Come to think of it, this was the session that a video camara was turned on so maybe he wanted to give the person something energetic to tape.

Although I can't say I learned much from the seminar, it was well worth my time just for the practice.

After class Kim and I tagged along for dinner. Unusual thing is that it was Kim and I the beginners sitting and eating with the three sensei. Bob who is 4th Dan, Bernie who is 6th Dan and John who I believe is 5th Dan. Seems like the beginning of a bad joke. 3 sensei and 2 aikidoka walk into a bar............


DAPI: 5 (shoulders hurt when I put my arm in certain positions. Rest of me is fine)
Day After Pain Index

Monday, September 26, 2005

Got Some Homework Done

I realized that my ability to get to aikido class was going to be majorly hampered the next few weeks. Ths short version of the story is that I sent email to sensei to ask if I had any other options for training. Maybe if I can attend another class I can make up for lost training. Part of the problem is that our dojo only meets 2 nights a week. So... missing one night is a big deal particularly for someone like me who is just starting out. I'm guessing I've been to about 15 classes at this point. We can go to Shodokan for training but I don't know what nights I'd be welcome there particularly since I am a beginner.

This week may not be a total loss though. John Rogers is coming to Shodokan, the neighboring dojo. I already made arrangements to be able to go to his class on Wednesday night. I'm really interested to see how he conducts class.

Last night in an attempt to not lose muscle memory, I did a little home training. Not as good as the real thing but better than nothing I figure. I did 200 tenkan, practiced irimi sliding past my kids' toys and did some shikkyo with and without bokken. Also, I practiced my bokken cuts from seiza.

For those of you who really need to know.....

Practicing shikkyo on an oriental rug is easier on the knees than on the berber.

Friday, September 23, 2005

No...NO... NO !!!

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I finally had a class that felt like nothing was working right. We started practicing side breakfalls. Gravity was doing it's work but I was thinking that I was doing things wrong. Sometimes when I learn something new I'll do a bunch of them and some will feel right. Nothing about this seemed right at all.

Then we moved on to a technique that is in the first grading test. Uke has to do a side breakfall for it. I don't happen to remember the technique. But.... you start with a same side wrist grab. Slide in and tenkan.... you break the attackers grip at this point....grab uke's hand now with the newly freed hand and tenkan back in front of them. You know have their hand up and their wrist twisted up a little. Turn a bit more and they can perform their ukemi(for us.. the side breakfall we learned). I did a terrible job learning this. In fact... sensei had to spend extra time with me just to get the basic movement correct.

If anyone knows the exact name of the technique please feel free to leave a comment. Feel free to leave comments in general. I am somewhat curious if anyone is reading these entries.

So I was still leaving the dojo happy as I'm just grateful I have the free time to train. Before I left I mentioned to Francesca that I felt as though I did quite poorly but wasn't discouraged by it. After all.... if you can't screw up as a beginner.... when can you? At this point she told me that it's a shame that I started learning so late. She says I still have good potential. She said she thought I had the right body type and really hold my center amazingly well.

Now.... what I didn't realize is that having a body type that is 20lbs overweight helps you in aikido. Good to hear. Maybe she was talking about general looseness of joints. Being aware of my center believe it or not came when I spent one Saturday night alternating between a bokken drill and practicing tenkans at home. The next class I attended made me realize that I changed my posture and how I use my center. All that progress from one night of practice at home. Amazing

Bummer is I want to practice more but don't have the free time to.

DAPI: 4 (forearms feel worked but generally ok)
Day After Pain Index

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Yes...YES... YES!!!

Last night was excellent. We did some kind of iriminage at one point. After we were doing a pin controlling the arm and lowered our center so uke goes down to the mat. Then connect that arm to our center and turn your body on an axis to stretch/cause pain to the shoulder.

Sensei gives me a small list of things to be mindful of while doing the pin. I thought I was keeping my back straight, apparently I wasn't. I now try again with and sensei is yelling.... yes...Yes...YES... YES!!! He tends to do that when I'm actually getting something right. I think he is even happier than I am about it. Loud positive reinforcement is kind of funny. Makes you feel good though.

Now the fun part..... Francesca performs the pin on me... and starts moving my arm up and twists.... and up and twists... and then says...."huh".... and then moves it a bit more... then I tap out. Didn't know it but apparently I have really loose shoulders. I think she had the attitude of "that was interesting, didn't think he'd be that loose". This is great... I'm thinking I am less likely to get hurt in this area because I am more flexible here. Also, one of the tricks was that I was able to totally relax that area so all I am doing is taking a stretch. I tap out at pain though.

Toward the end of class we tried to help Francesca train a bit. I think she is going for another rank as a black belt. I'm not sure but I think she is going for nidan soon. Since Kim's and my ukemi isn't up to par yet we tried a simple but effective exercise. We walked at a brisk pace at her doing different striking motions and she would just irimi or tenkan. This was really interesting. She was moving in and out of us pretty effectively but there were some moments where I actually waited a bit to give her time to deal with me. Maybe next time I shouldn't. I'll ask next time. Then sensei tried it. Wow.... he was paying a lot of attention to keeping us in each others way. At one point as I passed him I felt him tug at my collar a little and pull just a touch to one side. I decided that if we were going full speed that I would have been grabbed and thrown/pulled in that direction... so I changed direction of my walking and walked directly into an incoming attacker. Had that been full speed he would have used my attack to ward off another. This is exactly what he intended. I guess that's what you get when your a 4th degree(yondan I believe?). I was pretty psyched that I was able to harmonize with him and change direction in a realistic manner.

Mike and Bella didn't show up again. I am now wondering if they quit. I asked Sensei about it and he said that for the other dojo he teaches in they'll have a beginners class of 10 people and out of that class only 1 will continue on. I had no idea the dropout rate was that high. We shall see though. It could just be that work pressures pulled them out for a short time. I hope to see them again.

Kim had a great class too I thought. I'm not sure why, but he stopped resisting as uke. I don't know if he finally got it through or he was just afraid of getting hurt but there was no real resistance in him last night. I guess for the fist pin Francesca said he was resisting a little. I think he was a little apprehensive about letting someone pin him in this manner. Even if it's done subconsiously you can tighten right up. Both Francesca and sensei worked his shoulders over well to try and stretch him out. I will ask him later today how he feels.

As for me....

DAPI: 3 ( Shoulders feel a little worked today)
Day After Pain Index

Friday, September 16, 2005

Who's who.....

Ok.... I finally decided that using people's actual names is the way to go for this blog. Since I'm only using first names privacy is preserved for them. Also.... anyone that knows us is going to know who's who anyway....

So .... here is the current(we've had some come and go) line up for our small but growing dojo

Zacharia - Younger guy. Among the missing. He hasn't shown up in a couple of weeks. I hope to see him soon. He has a couple years worth of full contact kickboxing and is quite intense to work out with. We may have actually lost him.... no one has heard from him.

Francesca - Not sure if I have the name spelled correctly. Great to work with. She helps polish things up quite a bit. She helped me stop looking down during techniques.

Mike - A beginner. Gives huge resistance as uke. He's extremely strong as well. Although the resistance can be a pain for nage it can also be good for learning. You'll recognize him by the pools of sweat coming off of him. (That resistance doesn't come without exertion). I'd like to know if he eats wheaties or something. He's in better shape than me and is older.

Bella - Mike's wife. Also a beginner. Has been great to train with although I've not actually been partnered with her too much.

Matt - Younger guy(early twenties I think). Just tested for his 4th kyu test. Likely passed it. He left to travel and will be back in winter. Hopefully he'll come back to train. His martial arts background (TKD black belt) has him in great shape.

Kim - (oddly enough ... no.. he isn't asian) Started the same day as Mike and Bella. He also offers some resistance as uke. My biggest concern when working with him is I'm afraid of hurting him. I tend to be softer if I can while training with him. His resistance will cause him more body ache than necessary in the long run.

Greg - 4th Kyu who is closing in on a 3rd Kyu grade shortly. Watching him work is amazing. He acted as uke for Matt's test and did what I thought was an excellent job.

And ... last but not least....

Me - A beginner with about 3 or 4 weeks head start on the other beginners in the class. Training with me is an absolute pleasure. Last night was a riot... since it was just Kim and I. I took my place as sempai. Theoretically I could test for 5th kyu in November(I'll have the hours) but I'm guessing that because we are only training 2 days a week I'll have to add a month or two to make sure I really have things down. We shall see. I try to train saturdays when I can get to the other dojo but family life is interfering.

Two Students No Waiting

My wife makes an extra effort last night so I can leave the house a little early for a change. I actually was the first person to arrive. I was dressed and ready to go but the door to the dojo was locked.

Sensei shows up and tells me that he has to leave and asks F( our black belt ), to teach the class. Well, it was an interesting night as only K and myself showed up. So the two of us assembled the dojo and F helped a bit at the end. For those just joining me.... our dojo is in the top floor or an office building which shares the space with a dance studio. So we have to set up our tatami and kamiza for every class and break it down at the end.

F warmed us up a little different then sensei did. Actually... the whole class was a bit different including teaching styles and technique. F tends to tweak a lot more than sensei does. Sensei's attitude was letting you do a couple minor things wrong if it meant getting the rest right. This is so you can build muscle memory. Do it 1000 times and he'll make a tweak..... lather, rinse, repeat. After 10,000 repetitions he's got you to the point where you're competent in a technique.

So... we work on ikkyo for a bit. F was constantly tweaking K to the point where I think it was a bit detrimental. As his uke I refused to "lead" him through it. When he moved the wrong way, I let him. The last thing he needed was someone else correcting him. He was given so much to think about that he wasn't getting the basic movement right for the technique.

A month or so ago I asked sensei about how much resistance uke should offer nage. During an ikkyo nage hadn't gotten me off me feet so I let myself stay centered. Nage felt that the solution was to whip me around. This unbalanced me and worked(and I actually flowed well with him). What I expected him to do was to take a step and drive my shoulder down. The fact is that you never know what nage will choose to do when you offer resistance and my beginner ukemi may not be up to doing the unexpected. In this case I was fine because I kept myself loose. Sensei said that at our level we should give no resistance. In fact it's even more important if you are with a partner you don't know. He said he was training with one partner who decided the only option left to him was to strike sensei in the face. Not a feint.... an actual strike.

So.... I related this story to K a couple of weeks ago and it had no effect on his training. He still resists. I know him really well so I know whats going on. He believes he's doing you a favor by resisting. In fact... if HE thinks you're doing something wrong he will resist more. He is unable to "check his ego at the door".

Working with someone like this isn't always a bad thing though. You have to make adjustments sometimes. At one point he chose to really resist the part where I'm supposed to take his cross hand grab and make a big circle to complete the ikkyo. What I chose to do in response was to really lower my center so he had no choice but to come with me. F said that was good basically making due with what I was given. Once I had him started I could then finish the technique normally. F showed me another way to deal with this by lowering my elbow more. I'm curious to know which method sensei would have preferred. Although both work quite well.

Although my ikkyo felt better in the past with a more cooperative partner I made sure I could get everything else as right as possible....... don't look at my feet... keep my posture... keep good extension..... stay centered. Make sure uke goes down to the mat before I go down for the pin. use live toes during the pin keeping one knee into the armpit, control the elbow.... etc. Believe it or not... all this is done without any thought at this point. Not bad for a beginner.

There was one other exercise we were doing which uke grabs nage.... nage slips off line and moves up behind uke. Then you take uke's head and put it against your shoulder. The next sequence would be to do a throw but F wanted to take it easy on us I think. One thing I was doing though was instinctively jamming my arm/wrist into uke's neck. Well... that might be an ok thing to do in a fight but F asked me not to do that as there is a chance that I would be blocking the carotid artery. Don't know why I did that.... the only thing I can think of is I saw someone do it in an aikido video at a seminar or something. www.aikidoonline.com

At the end of class F made a point to mention that she saw large improvements in both K and I since we started. This is probably true but sometimes it doesn't feel like it.

Last night was great though.... since it was just K and I there was no waiting for a partner and full attention from the sensei(teacher). So we both got a great workout.


DAPI: 1 (loose as a goose)
Day After Pain Index

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Harmonize With Your Partner

The beginning of the night I had once again walked into a nearly completed dojo. There were a few mats that needed to be placed but other than that everything else was done. So this time I bow as I enter the dojo and bow again to the kamiza. Not two minutes later we had sat in line and F asked me if I remembered to bow in. I said oh yes. I did. She smiled at me and said "good boy". Kind of teasing me a bit. Funny. One thing she did miss though is that another student K walked in and he did bow to the kamiza but in our dojo we do a bow from seiza for that. K merely did a standing bow. I didn't fink on him though.

Just before the night ended I managed to catch my toenail on the tatami and sort of bent the first third of it back for a moment. That really smarts. It was pretty much fine for about 10 minutes and then it started to bleed just a little. Before it got to that point I bandaged my toe up and helped with the breakdown of the dojo. I couldn't resist the comment....

Me: Hey sensei, I did really well harmonizing with my opponent today.
Sensei: Oh yes, you did great. (not understanding what I was getting at)
Me: No..no... I meant my toe(last week my partners toe was bleeding and is still bandaged)
Sensei: *chuckles*

Last night was one of the first nights since the newer beginners started that we had a real workout. Lots of throws. Mostly practicing heaven and earth throw. I had what I thought of as better luck the first class I did this. My biggest problem was that I was not sliding in far enough so I had to take and extra step to complete the throw.

Somewhere in the middle of class sensei McDade arrived. I think he's a first or second dan. He is an older man and has a kind of small frame. His technique seemed great to me though. At one point during his throw he repeated a movement with his hands over and over until I realized he was trying to teach me something. Then ... unfortunately, we had to change to partners.

So now I am working with F as a partner and she has to leave the mat for a moment. I'm left there with no partners and nothing to do so I decide to practice my breakfalls. I really need to practice those anyway. I did that for a short while until she got back.

At the end of the night we did suwari waza kokyo ho again for our warm down. At this point I had M (strong as an ox resistance guy) for a partner. I once again had problems finding his center. Sensei stopped us for a moment and showed me a couple of things that I can try. I managed to get my palms sort of together and my elbows high and he was way off balance at that point. I think it was the first time I did it the "right way". Neat.

Class ends and it's test time. Normally we test at other dojos but we wanted someone to test earlier than the scheduled tests because he's travelling far away soon(and it's only a 4th kyu test). This is why Sensei McDade showed up. Our sensei wanted a second person there to grade. McDade rated him higher than our sensei did. I'm pretty sure he passed although he thought his test was terrible. One thing I noticed was that he was a lot more winded for this real test than the "practice" test he took last week.

We all go out to a local bistro for a drinks and a bite to eat. It was a tad pricey but the food was great. I ordered a Hefeweizen. I don't drink beer often but when I do I like good beer. Basically it was family and friends of our newest 4th kyu(I assume he passed). During the meal sensei looked at me and said... "You're coming along". Before I could get him to give more detail the table discussion quickly changed. Bummer. Although, I'm not a kid and I don't really need a pat on the head, I am curious what aspects he sees getting better. Frankly I didn't think I was making any progress in the past week or two. I really miss Ikkyo. Maybe I was doing it wrong but it felt so right. One other thing was said that sort of surprised me. The guy going away said he'll miss my enthusiasm. I guess it shows through quite a bit. Unless translated this actually means.... 'you really stink at this but you sure do try hard'.

We had one guy in the class Z who seems to have disappeared. That bums me out as I really liked his intensity. Also, he was one of the few people I can partner with and not be too afraid of hurting. He did a few years of full contact kickboxing at some point. He's also a young guy. His shoulder was giving him some trouble so I am wondering if he's just taking a break or he's stopped. He did say he wanted to train in a hard art and it is possible that he just didn't want to do both at the same time.

DAPI: 2 ( feel real loose today. Toe hurts just a little)
Day After Pain Index

Friday, September 09, 2005

First Blood !!

Aside from my etiquette issues last night we had one other interesting thing occur during training.

My partner M started bleeding. He now has the dubious honor of being the first person to spill blood in our dojo. Just as I happened to notice it and ask him about it, sensei stops everyone for a moment for a quick lesson on what to do for the inevitable occasional blood loss. Unfortunately, it was on his big toe so as he moved around the tatami he left blood spots everywhere. We stopped practice and taped his toe up and cleaned the mats. M wanted to quit practice for the day but sensei encouraged him to continue. I think he felt bad for some reason. Well... I'm glad he didn't quit for the day because I partnered with him for some of the training and he always presents me with different problems. M is the guy who resists everything. I learn a lot from him.

One of the exercises was the first part of a nikkyo. Uke grabs nages gi and you're supposed to step off line and bring uke off balance. So M is the proverbial immovable object. Now I go to move and I can't because he's lowered his center and holds me with all his strength. Sensei shows me how I can lower my center way down as I'm moving and he has to move with me. So now about 90% of the time I can get him to move even when he resists. Better technique from me.

Sensei then shows the rest of the technique of grabbing the hand and attacking the wrist. So we practice this. I only get a couple in and sensei ends practice for this technique. I think I was doing fairly well for my level.

Only one nikkyo was performed on me correctly. We were doing 3 partner, monkey in the middle, practice. M wasn't grabbing my hand at all. He was grabbing my wrist. I didn't say anything to him per sensei's instructions. A few practices ago sensei commented to the class in general that you shouldn't be trying to help correct your partner. Some of the training is muscle memory and when you give someone something new to think about they reset the clock. Sensei says he sees someone doing something wrong but is willing to tolerate it at this time. It's up to him to correct the student. K did somewhat better but wasn't putting my hand up against/into his shoulder/chest correctly. He wasn't attacking the wrist either except for once.

We also did some knee walking. I had covered this in one class before the other beginners joined but doing this again was excellent as I see more than I used to. I think I do this better now. I'm going to combine this with my sword to exercise at home. Maybe this weekend I can find the time.

Then at the end of the night we had a practice test for the guy going for 4th kyu. He did generally very well. Sensei and F (the black belt) made some constructive comments. It was interesting to watch. The guy doing the test is in his twenties but was really working. It makes me wonder how I'd hold up trying to do that. I'm hopeful that when the time comes I'll have just built up the endurance and learned to pace myself well.

One other minor note for this practice... we started the class with a few breakfalls. I was doing a little better on the falls but amazingly better getting up. I used to have to stand up afterwards. During this practice I was able to sort of roll/stand up smoothly with less effort. Very cool!

DAPI: 1 ( woke up feeling like I had a good massage)
Day After Pain Index

Dear Emily Post......

Ok... so if you've been reading along with me you should know that I have 2 year old twins at home. This means that I can't always control when I leave for the dojo as my wife has her hands full. Last night I was a touch late leaving for class and arrived a few minutes late. (the kids needed a bath)

You need a little more background here. We are a small dojo that shares space with a dance studio. This means that we actually have to set up and break down the tatami, kamiza, and wall hangings every night we meet. If everyone is around, it goes pretty fast. This was the first night that I came late enough that I actually walked into a fully assembled dojo. Sensei was fully dressed and was addressing the students who were all in seiza. Now... everything I read said that I'm supposed to wait to be acknowledged before stepping on to the mat. So I bowed as I entered the dojo and then I wait. The black belt in the class told me it was ok to come on. In her mind class hadn't started yet I guess. I stepped on with my left foot first and started to move to take my place in line. So at this point F ( the black belt ) tells me that it is customary to bow to the kamiza where O'Sensei's picture is located. In fact.... she seemed quite annoyed. The exchange sounded like this.....

F: You know... your supposed to bow to the kamiza before coming in(In a loud voice).
Me: Oh yes... thats right... I forgot.
F: THEN DO IT !!

So I go back and bow and then take my place in line. I actually didn't mind the correction as I'm taking the attitude of I'm learning and I'm a beginner. At first I was bothered a little bit that she decided to correct me publicly. I work in a business world of "punish in private, praise in public". It's one of the first things I learned about managing people. But... this isn't a business environment... this is a dojo. My mistake will likely not be repeated by the others in the class. By correcting me in front of everyone the rest of the class gets a free lesson in etiquette. Frankly I don't see it as a big deal and it was quickly forgotten but I was amused to see the reactions of others in the class. To my right in line is a soon to be 4 kyu(he's testing next week) who has been doing martial arts most of his life. I believe he even won two TKD championships at one point. He sort of pats me on the back and says..... "your the first person to ever walk into the assembled dojo". He was trying to give me a little solace where none was needed. K commented to me after class about how I was publicly corrected where some etiquette during the class was discussed by her quite quietly. This was likely because we were all doing training at that point and she didn't want to disrupt others. K also comes from a business world but is a bit rigid in his thinking.

So I have two thoughts on the whole subject..... Thanks for the lesson in etiquette.... and ... maybe in this case it would have been better for F to "Shut up and train". Most of the stuff we learn in class, etiquette included is via observation. Eventually, I would have corrected myself. It's hard for me to take this view with F because when she has been my partner I learned much from a suggestion or two from her. Either way, it was no big deal for me. People are what they are and no harm done.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Extend Ki

Just before class I saw M writing out a check for the dojo. Theoretically he should have paid last class. So I told him that sensei would use him today as uke for not paying on time. And... that it would hurt. (This is just teasing of course but I think he actually believed me).

Oddly enough he was uke for most of the night but mostly because he was the strongest guy in class. We were doing a lot of work with maintaining our center. One exercise was to push your partner on the shoulder as hard as you could. Nage should sort of rotate around letting uke push past. Another exercise had us line up in front of sensei has he did a shomen cut. We were supposed to get off line, slide in and go for his floating rib. I liked this exercise but it wasn't until the last one or two that I thought I had gotten close to what I was supposed to be doing.

We also did unbendable arm finally. I was pretty psyched to have M as my partner because I knew if I did it right his strength wouldn't matter. Also, it would be obvious whether I'm doing the exercise correctly. I was psyched to see that I could pretty much do it the first try. M was pushing with all his considerable strength and it took almost no effort from me to keep my arm in that position. I was frankly more worried about a bone breaking then anything else. We did that several times to each other. The only way I could even get M to move a little was when I pulled down and lowered my center at the same time. Perhaps this was "cheating" but he's so strong I wanted to give him as much force as I could.

After this exercise we tried a few forward rolls. I only had one other class in which we did them but they felt better this time. I'm not sure if it was the unbendable arm that put me in the right frame of mind. One difference is that the first time it was explained to me I didn't realize where on the arm I was supposed to be rolling. This time I noticed he started more on the blade edge of his hand. I didn't see that before.

DAPI: 3 ( no new bruises today, bummer. Some muscles feel worked in my arms and shoulders)
(Day After Pain Index)

Friday, September 02, 2005

A good night

Going in last night was tough. I haven't been sleeping well the past few nights. Because of this, I didn't feel particularly good when I started but as soon as the warm up exercises started I forgot about everything else except the training.

The class broke up into two groups with the beginners practicing their breakfalls and the more advanced students practicing their rolls. I think they were doing other things as well but I didn't really notice as my full attention was really on my own breakfalls. I can fall reasonably smoothly but the added "slap" of the mat just doesn't feel right yet. I really think my ukemi needs more work than anything else.

One of the people in the dojo I get to train with is also a beginner. The funny thing about him is that he is the only person there that resists everything, all the time. The first time I trained with him I sort of found it bothersome that he wasn't going "where he was supposed to go". For example, when doing one technique I'm supposed to lead the attacker off balance. Rather than letting himself get off balance this guy will take a step forward. He is now in my face and I don't have the angle I need to do the technique easily. It's at this point that I have to make some kind of adjustment. In the end, I found that if I slowed the technique down a real lot(sensei's suggestion) this guy did not take the step and would allow himself to be off balance. Leading the attacker instead of lugging him. At this point I've decided that training with him is very useful because it forces me to either do a technique perfectly or come up with something else.

Last night, we practiced what I believe was some kind of ikkyo variation where the attacker grabs each wrist from behind. You sort of bend your wrists/hands/arms a certain way and slip under him. At this point you have a normal ikkyo. Now... I get resistance guy again. So I successfully slip under him and try applying the ikkyo and he's resisting me so I do the best that I can and found a position with his elbow bent that I could control him easily but I let him go because I was concerned for his safety. I wasn't sure that what I was doing was safe for him. I'm new at this and don't want to hurt my partners through ignorance. The sensei spotted this and commented that what I was doing was a variation that he would teach us later. I just sort of fell into it by necessity. I'm not even sure how I got there. It did feel right though. My partner commented that I had him in a position he couldn't resist at all so that must be pretty effective.

The sensei then decided to show us a nikkyo. He went up the line and did a nikkyo on each of our wrists. As he's moving up the line he hits a beginner who lets out a small yelp. As the sensei is setting up his other hand the beginner looks at him and says "Did that a little fast don't you think". The sensei with a small smile says.... "No... I don't think so" and punctuates this with a nikkyo to the other wrist. Ahhh.... silly man, never talk back to sensei during nikkyo.

My best move of the night came in the last 2 minutes. We were doing some simple back stretches. My partner at the end of the night was a short woman who is also a beginner. She wanted to stretch me first so I grab her wrists... and up I go. We are back to back.... for about 1 second and then I feel the force of 1G. Yah.. thats right... she collapsed right under me. Somehow I sensed quickly enough to react and rolled in mid air and fell on my side very gently. She simply fell down. So the good news is I didn't crush her under me. A black belt in the class who witnessed it said I looked quite graceful.

There are some days I feel like nothing is working and others things feel good. Even on this night where I worked with "resistance uke" it was a good night.

DAPI: 2 - I feel great today. Not even a new bruise. Muscles feel a little worked.
(Day after pain index)