Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kicking It Up A Notch

Ok.... In case you didn't figure it out, last Thursday's class was cancelled. Last nights however was not.

We mostly worked on a technique where uke does a yokoman strike. Nage blocks and enters taking ukes balance. While keeping arms extended, we use the blocking arm to push uke off balance and the other hand to push the opposite shoulder. As we step through uke is knocked to the ground.

For the first demonstration of this sensei told me it was going to be a back breakfall and asked me to attack. I got knocked back so fast it barely registered what happened. My back breakfall was fine though so at least that's automatic.

The movements in this exercise are fairly different in that they are large. Entering is a big slide in.... moving your arms at full extension in a large motion. I am totally used to tight movements so this was actually hard for me to do. In the end I can conceptualize what I'm supposed to be doing yet somehow I can't make my body do that. I hope we get to try this again next class.

Another thing different about this exercise is that its not starting from a static position. In fact, my partner was swinging at me with great intent so that's probably pretty good practice.

After sensei left for the night, Kim and I did a few rolls and talked about them a bit. He was complaining that he does a couple good rolls and then they degenerate. When I watched him I noticed that he was changing his axis after the first couple rolls. So rather than going over a shoulder he was going more sideways.

When I tried my rolls I experimented with trying to curve my back. Usually when I roll my back stays straight I think. That made my rolls a bit quieter. I think if I practice a few more times I may get them looking better. I made sure not to do too many since it was the end of the night and hurting myself because I'm tired is silly.

DAPI: 1 (I feel fine)
Day After Pain Index

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Solo Student

Kim didn't show up tonight. He actually warned me that he wasn't coming because he hasn't been feeling too well. I just hope that he gets back into the swing of things soon. It would be too easy for him to give up practicing. He sort of has an inertia quality to him. I've known him for a while and if he gives something up for a week or two... then it's over.

Since it was just sensei and I last night we spent time on sword techniques. Going over some of the first ones we did a couple of months ago. Included in that night was a 100 cuts from seiza on a hardwood floor. By the time I had finished my legs had fallen asleep and I didn't even know it until I tried to rise.

Sensei left me to close up the dojo so I tried doing a ki exercise that Francesca taught us one class. Just basically trying to form a ball of ki and play with it. At first I had a problem and then gained a nice ball.... then for some reason I thought of sensei and all of a sudden I felt this huge room sized ball of ki. I thought he could use it so I tried to push it to him. So sensei.... if you got a recharge at about 9:07pm or so.... that was me.

Day After Pain Index

Sunday, December 18, 2005

More Bokken Fun

It seems whenever sensei brings both his children we end up doing sword work. He'll give us an exercise to do and leave the room to keep his kids out from under foot.

He started us with some movements..... then handed me a sword to do the same thing with the sword. Then he added a piece. By the time he was done he had us doing a disarming technique of some kind. I never really got one piece of it down well at all. It seems when I allow the attacker to raise the bokken I have trouble getting it away from him. I'm not doing something quite right. I know all the rest I'm doing correctly. Perhaps if he stayed in the room more I would have gotten the correction.

BTW... last week, I never noted it but Kim and I held class alone when no one showed up to teach on Thursday. I had us doing some simple exercises. I then had Kim doing some footwork so we could work on his posture. For some reason he has trouble sliding his feet. Also, he doesn't always move with his center. Then I had us doing a tenkan drill... and finally... we worked on irminage. Basically had us doing stuff that we've worked on before. Also... I showed Kim a couple of cool things Sensei Mulligan showed me in a Saturday class a couple months back. Sensei made a point to tell me that he thought I made excellent choices for a class. We worked on everything he would want us to.

Day After Pain Index

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Test What? Huh?!

So we are doing our usuual stuff last night. We did some kotegaeshi. What was disturbing was that during the practice Francesca kept making comments like..... "Sensei Mulligan likes to see this during a test" .... "he likes to see that during a test".

I sort of get the feeling that there is something I'm not being told. I do have enough hours for a 5th kyu test. I didn't think I was testing any time soon as I never felt as though I had it all down perfectly. I mean... at one point I could do Ikkyo variations pretty well. I was doing the kotegaeshi well enough although we've only really done this a few times. I didn't think I was ready for a test. Perhaps they are looking for good and not perfect for the techniques at this level. Sensei does say... a 5th kyu should be doing the techniques like a 5th kyu.

My biggest problem is that in class they ask us to do techniques and exercises and don't really label them in class. This means that during a test I need to remember what everything is called. I think I can do all the techniques.... I just won't know what to do when they are called out.

I'm waiting to see if they ask me to test. I'm a little excited by the concept. I didn't think I had come far enough to do a test yet. So... I'd actually rather wait a bit but if they ask me to test I will.

I have one other reservation. Although it's not part of USAF test requirements, Shodokan has a tradition of testing ukemi as well. I'm wondering if I will be asked to do some rolls and wonder how well, I'll be able to cope with that. I can do forward rolls now.... they just aren't pretty.

DAPI:1 ( I feel fine)
Day After Pain Index

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saturday Conference at Harvard

There was a conference at Harvard yesterday. My sensei was one of the people involved. He ran one of the three hours of aikido.

I have to say this was excellent. The first hour we did some great stuff. Some tenchanage... etc. It was great to work with other people. One person I worked with was a girl who was 4' 8" or so. Her aikido was great but the height difference was interesting for me to work with. In contrast I had some 6' 8" or so tall guy as my next partner. I liked him too. He had a great attitude. Also... he suggested that I make sure I keep my elbow away from his face as best I can. That... other people might take offense to that I should do my best to make adjustments. He was a nice guy.

The second hour was all bokken work. That was great. Not much to say about this except that I liked it.

The third hour was taught by my sensei. I felt particularly comfortable with this session even though it shouldn't even matter. I found it mildly amusing that I was the only person on the mat that knew his warm up routine. It's easy enough to follow along but I knew ahead of time what he would do next. We worked on irimi nage. My practice partner this hour was just going through the motions. He was some young guy but he said he was exhausted. I was a little tired but really quite capable to keep the pace up. I'm not sure why he pooped out so fast. I have noticed over the years that I can do work over a long period of time without stopping with no problems. Like do 8 hours of yard work with no problem. It's only when I stop that i have a problem

After the third session the yudansha all had a chance to show 10 throws each. Most of them were pretty interesting. A couple however stand out in my mind. One guy defended himself from a sitting position. Although I am aware there is some of that on the 4th kyu test I never really saw much of it. Another demonstration that was interesting was watching another sensei do sword disarming techniques. Bob sensei, did his throws in a very serious ... very energertic fashion. His aikido just looks different to me. I think I can understand when people say that they recognize who studied with whom by observing them.

I think I am very lucky to be learning from him.

DAPI: 2 (general weariness in my body but no pain. Slept like a rock that night)
Day After Pain Index

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

No Class Tonight

Warning.... Most of this post does not directly concern Aikido... skip to the bottom to read the aikido stuff.

Class begins at 7:30p. I got the call at my house at 7:17p which means that I was on my way or already there at that point. I had mixed feelings about class getting cancelled.

I was exhausted from the night before. My daughter decided to keep everyone up last night. I think she was just lonely. So, once I established that she was ok... didn't need a blanket or anything, I basically tried to ignore her. She cried a little bit and then just talked for hours.

On the other hand.... I'm about to lose my job so I am currently in a job search mode which is very stressful. I really needed to workout to relieve the stress.

While I waited outside the locked dojo I decided to do some ki exercises. I sat in seiza and realized I couldn't get anything flowing. Maybe I'll try again tonight as I got a good nights sleep for a change.

So... the extent of my training last night was that I sat in seiza for 20 minutes waiting to see if anyone was coming to teach. Actually...That's the longest that I've ever been in seiza. I could have stayed in that position longer but my feet were falling asleep at that point.

The other night I was doing a few tenkan in the kitchen just for practice while the kids ate in their chairs. They were watching me so I told them I was doing tenkan.... I do a few and stop and I hear... "more tenkan!... more tenkan!!" I think they were channeling sensei. Now the next night I do just one in front of them and they say "tenkan". Then .... "more tenkan". They learn fast.

One other thing that occurred at work that I thought was neat. Someone jokingly pretended to stab me with a fork. Although I didn't act on it, in a split second I was thinking deflect and irimi. Some of this is apparently becoming wired in.

DAPI: N/A (Class cancelled. ribs are finally almost fully healed up)
Day After Pain Index

Friday, December 02, 2005

Improving My Posture

I was really tired from the night before. My son kept me up all night. I'm not sure why he was so edgy but it was only a one night thing. I think his main problem was he was hot. I left socks on him because it was a cold night but he uses his feet to regulate his temperature a bit. If he's hot he just sticks his feet out from under the covers and thats enough for him to feel cooler. Eventually, I had a short conversation with him (tough with a sleepy two year old) . Anyway.... I was tired for aikido class.

My posture evidently stinks. I know in the past I've done better. We were just doing simple tenkans on a same side grab. I was dropping my eyes which dropped my whole posture. Francesca pointed it out to me and it improved a little. Then sensei came by and told me to bring the top half of my body up and lower my center. In the end my posture improved a great deal. Sensei is really trying to make sure this stuff is as good as it can be because it will actually help the learning curve if we don't have to go back and unlearn bad habits. Trying to basically form good habits early. I am a little disappointed that this isn't second nature. I thought I was doing this fine in earlier classes. Of course, its been a while since we last looked at this.

At the end we did some suwari waza kokyo ho again. After Kim and I did some sensei stepped in to work with both of us. My experience is that sensei's arms feel like they are made of iron and a lot of times when he moved to attack me it felt like there was a freight train pushing yet he appears to just be flicking his arms nonchalantly. I'm guessing that he's using his center amazingly well to attack me.

At the end I think sensei wanted to let out a little steam so we degenerated into some quasi-judo. He took it easy on Kim and I though. From the seated position we would sort of wrestle around a bit.

Watching him and Kim was amusing. At one point I even saw him grab Kim's knee and just flip him over. Kim's comment after was "I didn't know I had so many handles".

Then it was my turn.....

Once he pushed my head to one side to lead my body in for a pin and I ducked under only to be met with another hand which shoved my head in the other direction pinning me firmly. This was one of those exercises that sort of show how much control sensei has. Once in a while he would explode with movement but it was never directed at us. It was usually done to get a better position. Three particular situations that stuck out in my mind.

At one point he and I got into a rhythm of him attacking by moving his hands and arms and me defending by deflecting the arm. I actually kept that up for about a minute before he moved on to something else inevitably knocking me over. That was fun.

On the second occassion he grabbed one arm with his two to attempt to pull me off balance. I can be fairly solid in seiza so I was able to stay put. Also, because at this point he sort of had his side/back to me I look over and see that there is a nice elbow there. I grab it with one hand and push it up forcing him to stop what he was doing to my arm so he could move around the force and release his own arm.

The third thing that stuck out in my mind was a really cool pin he did on me. He was lying on the top half of my body with me on my back/side. My left arm was stretched out straight and he had something under my upper arm which meant that he could attack the elbow. Basically dislocating it in a second. Although I'd never seen this before I knew right away what he was attacking and how so I did what I thought best..... I freed my other arm up so I could tap out. In that position though the only thing I could reach was sensei... so I tapped out on his kidney. Yes I could reach his kidneys but there really wasn't anything I could have done to counter the broken elbow. Maybe someone who knew judo could get out of it but I just don't have that knowledge.

Is it possible to do an unbendable arm in that position? Maybe I should have thought of that before I let him straighten the arm out. Darn.

DAPI:2 (ribs still hurt a touch...two new black and blue marks from wrestling)
Day After Pain Index

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Hey... Whats With That DAPI Anyway?

Ok. You might be wondering. Why does this guy put "DAPI:2" Day After Pain Index at the end of his posts?

Simple..... I'M OLD !!!!!!

I started training a few months back at the age of 40. Actually, I look at that number and it really doesn't register. I have a mental age of around 23 or so. Anyway... I'm in relatively good shape except for 15lbs of extra fat. Nothing hurts, aches or pains on a daily basis. I have friends my age who have rheumatoid arthritis, massive overweight, high cholestorol, etc. I take no drugs and have nothing wrong. My blood pressure is awesome.

Nonetheless, I may come away from a training session with an ache or pain. Most of the pain is immediate and transitory which is why I only rate the pain the next day. If you go through all my posts though you will see that I don't think I had more than one session that caused any serious pain and that subsided after an additional nights sleep. Although the past two weeks I've been experiencing discomfort with my ribs. I've had this kind of thing a couple times before in my life and this kind of injury takes a while for it to heal up. I had this occur to a much greater degree when I was in college and it took months to get better.

So thats basically it. When I started the blog I was trying to capture not just what went on but how the training pains were. I was surprised to find out that there has been little or no pain training. Usually after a session I feel really relaxed like I just had a massage.