Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I Did 2 Classes Back To Back

1st class we started a little slow and quickly picked up the pace. By the time class was over I had a great workout going. As usual I have very little memory of what we were working on. I seem to remember doing some kind of ura shihonage. After getting a hint from my partner I was doing this real well I think. I felt really loose so my rolling was better overall than a couple weeks ago.

The second session was more of an advanced session. It was me.... some other kyu who had decent ukemi, and half dozen or so black belts of varying degrees. It was a great session. I didn't always get the ukemi.... in fact I likely did 95% of the ukemi wrong but I never got hurt. Probably the only technique I did fairly well on was tenchinage. At least with that one I didn't have to think too hard on what to do. For me attending a class like this I spend as much time studying people's ukemi as I do studying the technique. So in that way its a little harder to pick stuff up. I imagine as I improve this will get better. I'm just really grateful we have such a great group of people at Shodokan. They are supportive and helpful and I'm lucky to be training with them.

Stiffness in my shoulders but I think its from stress and not aikido.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tsuki Sunday

We did tsuki irminage, tsuki nikkyo and then ushiro tekubitori sankyo.

My biggest problem with the iriminage is that I have a tendency to project uke out instead of down. And ... yes, it would be nice to get someone out of your face but getting them on the ground is better. I tried to practice my j-step for this, stepping behind uke as I move forward.

One correction that was made right away was making sure I deflect the attacking hand better.

For the nikkyo, I did ok. I usually feel like I have good control when I grab someone in this fashion.

The sankyo was pretty much the same one we did on Friday night. The instructor made a few corrections for me. So now I'm wondering if Kim had it wrong or that he simply learned a different way from another instructor. I'll have to figure that out someday. I told Kim about the differences to see what he thought.

One thing that was different. Frequently one of the other instructors makes it to Sunday's class and I was lucky enough to be uke for him for a couple techniques. For the pin he decided to really pin me way up. He gave my shoulder a real nice stretch. On another one I tapped out early because he was moving a little too fast for the stretch to be comfortable. I'm really flexible there but even I can't be cranked that high in a quick manner. It has to be slower when I take that kind of stretch. The nikkyo pin he did on me was pretty good. He had to push really hard and I could have basically ignored it longer but since he got tingles out of my arm and he was really pushing I tapped out. The reality was that I never really felt pain.

If you really want to horizontal pin someone like me with strong flexible wrists you can try one of two things. Raise my arm higher above my head(not great since I can spin out), or create a circle with your arms and push together, with one hand sliding across the elbow/arm and another grabbing the wrist. Make sure the wrist is turned a bit with the pinky finger turned toward uke for maximum effect. People never seem to turn the wrist and it makes a huge difference on me. If I've done a bad job describing this feel free to ask questions. Keeping in mind of course that it's coming from an ungraded beginner. It works on me though.


Saturday, May 20, 2006


Ok... this is the first class I took that the instructor stuck with one technique for the whole class. We did sankyo for 95% of the class. We did it suwari waza.... we did hanmi handachi... we even did some standing ushiro tekubitori versions of sankyo. After all this my left wrist started hurting a little.

On top of this.... I happen to get Kim (from Cape Ann) as a partner. Kim had one class one night with one of the instructors as his partner where they did sankyo. Kim can do a fairly good sankyo. At the very least... I can tell you, when he does it... I can feel it. So, he imparted some knowledge about grips and so forth. So having Kim as a partner was a mixed blessing. He could do it well(and you could learn from it).... but he could do it well(and it could hurt).

There was even one moment that I tapped out but not loud enough... so Kim twisted me some more... which brought me hopping to my toes.... tapping louder.

I'm not sure if Kim is 100% right on the 'takedown'. But his sankyo grip was great.

I remember Sensei Bob once told me that a lot of people will find that one or two techniques come naturally and they do them real well. That these are the techniques that you may end up using in a real situation because you perform them well. I'm wondering if this is Kim's technique. It seems to me that he does sankyo a good deal better than other techniques. I think this is going to be one of the ones he 'owns'.

After class was down I felt great and ready to do more. It seems this particular instructor picks techniques that require less intensive ukemi. I don't get nearly the workout in his class that I get in others. This is kinda nice in general but when I've missed the more rigorous monday night class it's actually kind of a bummer. I like a good workout.

Walk in the park.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

2 Classes no details...

Sorry I haven't kept this up.... my house flooded recently with all the rains so as a result I haven't been to any classes.

Friday nights class.... We did a variation of Ikkyo. I did ok with this. My uke kept straightening his arm out so I ended up with his arm pronated and he wasn't as off balance as I would have liked. Most uke's move a little more for you. This guy is strong and doesn't move unless you move him. Good practice actually. Someday I may want to do this technique on someone and they aren't going to necessarily allow me to bend them at the elbow and push. Overall this class made me sweat but I noticed that it didn't seem to push me physically. Ukemi for ikkyo just isn't that taxing.

Sunday morning I astounded the instructor by touching my toes. I've always been tight in the legs. My entire life I've never been able to touch my toes. Somewhere along the line I've increased my flexibility. This is good as it can prevent future problems.

I was a little out of it for this class. We warmed up with an exercise or two that gave us a rollout. That felt good.

Thats it for now.... I may class for a week depending how much progress I can make drying my home out.

DAPI:1 x2
I feel wet.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Have Spooky Elbows

The past month something has been happening to my aikido. I can't exactly put my finger on it but I feel different during practices. I've always had fun and still do but I'm now getting a different sense of something too. It's almost a quiet joy of accomplishment. Not that I do anything particularly well. Just that I think I hit a stage that I feel as though I am improving at a steady pace. And... the improvement maybe in my overall body conditioning, my ukemi, or even how to pin better not necessarily on how to perform a technique.

My body awareness is changing a bit. Enough so that I was actually doing a couple of wobble rolls correctly during ukemi practice (right side only). I finally got it into my head that I need to do the roll there.... not simply just fall in that direction. Sunday I did Koshinage. When compared to that.... suddenly, rolling sideways doesn't seem like such a bad thing after all.

We did several techniques last night, one of which takes uke's arm and brings it across nage's body sort of in an armbar for the first part of it. While demonstrating the technique to my partner, the instructor mentions to my partner that he knows my joints are little looser than average. He gets my arm in position and says.... "ya... his elbows are loose... that's kind of spooky actually". Kim mentioned working with someone else who is really loose there.... he described it to me and if I have spooky elbows than this guy has a full blast possession going on for his.

One other odd thing.... for the bow in and bow out you usually want to get in order of seniority/rank. People seem to ignore this at times and more experienced people end up sitting to my left. Somehow in this last class I found myself sitting on the far right facing the kamiza. So... I know that theoretically, people are waiting for me for the final bow after the instructor has left the mat. I was just about to bow when the guy to my left gives a slight nod of his head to signal me that it was ok to bow out. Funny. I thanked him after class. For those of you who are new and find yourself in that position. I don't think it's an accident but there is a mirror that allows you to see the doorway where the instructor will usually leave. Peripheral vision is a wonderful thing.

I feel great

Monday, May 08, 2006

Koshinage - Keep a Firm Center as Uke

We did our usual warm ups and ukemi. Overall... my rolling has improved but still needs a little work. I am at the point that I feel really comfortable with it finally. I am still a little weak on my left side. For the past couple weeks I started rolling from my right side to let my left arm/wrist heal up. So at the very least I was taking one less roll on that side. Unfortunately, I feel as though that side needs more work.... so starting sunday, I am rolling with my left side first to get an extra roll on that side if possible. I still can't come up in a tenkan after a roll. When other people do this it looks smooth. I feel as though, I'm coming up and then doing the tenkan after. This is not what I should be doing. My backwards rolling is a mystery to me. I seem to be able to get over both sides with no problem now. Sometimes I think I'm doing them correctly and other times I'm not so sure.

One of the techniques we did in the class was sort of a shomenuchi nikkyo ura. This is similar to what we did on Monday's class. Unfortunately for some reason it seemed harder for this class. I did some ok ones in there. Getting different aspects of it correct while others not. My vertical pin is abymsal. I have to stare at the hand for 2 minutes to figure out which way it goes.

Now we moved on to Koshinage. I was fumbling through it a bit and then we changed partners. I got an instructor as my uke. Between his advice and the help of the instructor for this class I was improving greatly. I'd say I was doing the technique fair.... but my ukemi for it got better by far.

One of my general problems as uke is giving to much or being too soft. In the case of this hip throw I was letting myself get so limp that the everything at the hips and below followed the top half of my body. This means that I was sort of in an L shape when I hit the ground. So.... There is less area to spread the impact over and worse yet, my legs were accellerating as I hit the ground because of the angle of everything. So, my feet came down with a whack. My partner commented on this after I mentioned the foot whacking and I tried to keep a firmer center. You don't necessarily want to be like a plank of wood but firmer is better for this. After that, the throws felt much more comfortable. I still get disoriented when going upside down but I'm doing a little(slightly) better at slapping the mat as I come down. A good deal of the fear of this fall is gone.

I felt as though this was great practice since.... if I can get over the fear of this fall.... I can generally improve a lot of my ukemi.

(Mostly muscle ache but not related to aikido. I did yard work right after)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Iriminage Is My Friend

Part of last nights class was doing some iriminage. We did so much of that at Cape Ann that it's one of the few techniques that I feel that I have down pretty well for my level of ability. It was nice to do it though since its been a while. We started out from cutting down uke's hand, entering and then doing a tenkan while they are off balance. Then as they try to stand, raise them up and over and down. The instructor suggested that I not have uke so far down... that I go for a different angle instead. Oddly enough I had Kim as my partner for this. Kim was the guy I used to see a lot of at Cape Ann. So... it was like old home week for me.

The other positive thing from last night's session was that I got to work with the kendo instructor. This guy is usually excellent to work with. He led me through the nikkyo. After a few corrections from him I was doing the technique fairly well. We even worked out one problem I was having with the grip. The technique starts out with where uke is doing a shomen strike. You block it with the crosshand and use the same side hand to grab the elbow. Slide the cross hand on the back of uke's hand and maintain contact without actually grabbing. The hand on the elbow slides down but maintains its grip( I was letting this grip rotate around at first). You take uke's balance. You step in... tenkan... then lift the hand up to the shoulder for a nikkyo. After we had that down we added an ura component where when uke comes up you push through him and tenkan.

As far as ukemi goes.... This particular instructor seems to love those wobble rolls. On this occasion I again couldn't do them during ukemi practice. I'm sort of close though.... the instructor asked me to stand still... he comes up, adjusts my hip a little, moves my rolling arm a bit... and gives me a push. That roll wasn't bad. It felt a little hard but the essential motion was there. I think I finally figured out what it is about this roll I have a problem with. The roll is like this.... instead of facing forward.... you are facing at like 1:30 .... about a 45 degree angle. then you sort of bend down towards the rolling arm and roll at an angle. You then roll across your shoulder to your back and end up on your but with your legs in a V. My problem with the roll... is that when I look down at the mat, I see myself putting my entire body weight on my rolling arm which I know won't work. Now... when I shift my body and roll forward.... I don't think that way.... at least ... not any more. So somehow I have to train my body to curl in the correct manner to make this roll comfortable. This is maybe why I've done them successfully during a technique and yet can almost never do them in ukemi practice. During a technique I have no time to think and just throw my energy into it.

After class the instructor commented that he's seen some improvement in my practice. It didn't occur to me at the time but I was wondering if he meant.... in the past week... the past month.... or since I got to Shodokan. I think I see definite improvement since I started there. If nothing else... I've had the benefit of many instructors and been able to do more than 2 classes a week which is all that was offerred at Cape Ann.

Hand feels better from sankyo from Wednesday. Nothing new bothering me.

Sleepy Sunday

Sunday morning classes can be hard to get to but this past Sunday was brutal. My wife had to wake me out of a sound sleep so I could get up just in time to race off to class. I arrived in a state of sleepy confusion. Somehow I managed to put my gi on correctly.

At this point I'm having trouble remembering how class went. I did some things right. For some reason on Shihonage I have my forward foot at an odd angle when I finish which makes it more difficult to cut uke down. I was told about that in a previous class so I started working on it. After the throw, I'd look down and adjust my foot if need be. The instructor saw this and commented on the bad foot placement before as well. So... I've heard about this problem from a couple different instructors at this point.

We did some nikkyo which results in a shomenuchi nikkyo like pin. The arm is out on the mat and nage pushes the wrist in and the elbow in. My partner for this was one of the beginners that just started in the last beginner start. Probably 8 weeks ago. As usual, he couldn't get a pin on me. I've had 1st kyu's fail to pin me in such a way that I experience pain. So the instructor comes running over to help him and I watch. I learned more about pins in this Sunday class than any other I've attended. By the time he was done with the student, I was tapping out. He wasn't casuing me intense pain or anything but he was getting tingles on me which is better than most people ever get. My wrists are so flexible that I usually feel nothing. So I learned tons. One of the funnier moments is when he pins me. I tap out but he's discussing the pin with the instructor so he doesn't hear my tap... so I tap out louder and more frequently. He says.... "OH!".

The day terminated with some kind of judo like technique where you raise uke up and reach down and grab the leg. Uke does a side breakfall.

Wrist hurts from Sankyo from wednesdays class