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