Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Monday Night 2 Classes Again and News

The first class was fairly large. We did a couple of line techniques. In fact... one of them was from the advanced class last week. So I think Matt grabbed me as uke to demo it. I didn't really roll the first time. I always have to work it through once even as uke it seems. After that I did several falls. Perhaps not 100% correct ukemi but reasonable enough(weeble rollouts) and I popped right back up for more. Wish I could remember more of this class. As I do I'll add to this post.

The second class was fun. I didn't do ukemi nearly as well compared to last week. I did do a couple of successful high breakfalls but mostly I was pounding myself. I took one bad fall straight on my back. It didn't knock the wind out of me or anything but it was very uncomfortable for a minute or so.

The techinques were interesting. One of them I recalled seeing once before. Starts off with a wrist grab. You slip that hand out and grab the wrist with the other hand.... then strike uke with the newly freed hand. As uke blocks the strike you sort of use one arm to trap the other in a nice tight bundle, then step forward and push.

During one technique there is an atemi to the face. I covered my face and actually took a hit to the hand that covered it. That worked quite well. Didn't hurt at all. Glad I covered myself like I was supposed to.

We did a couple of different kinds of throws that all started with a hand grab or attempt at a hand grab(you take the target away). Then you uke over.

At the end of class I mentioned to Matt that I thought I had done better ukemi in the last class. He commented that the techniques were more involved in this class. One thought I had was that all these techniques started off more or less in a static position also.... I think my ukemi is better when I can get moving. A lot of the people taking the advanced class don't throw me with conviction. I don't think they are doing me any favors. I don't think I want to complain though as I'm guessing that their judgement is better than mine in these matters.

Kim and I had a thought yesterday. Why is it there are so many other people in the dojo with much more experience and talent than we have who never seem to go to the advanced class. In fact.... more often than not I seem to be the lone kyu in these.

Is someone not telling me something? Am I just too stupid to not be afraid? My thought on it was that the only beatings I take in the advanced class are from myself. When I don't get the ukemi right.

At the end of class I was informed of 2 things. The Boston Globe will be doing some kind of aikido related article and are coming to take pictures on Friday. I'll try to make that class. Maybe I can be famous (lol). The second bit of news is that there is a test coming up. I was asked by two different instructors to test. The next test is July 26th. I actually feel pretty calm about the test at the moment but I'm sure when I do it I'll be a train wreck. I've got to work on my kotagaeshi in a serious way.

Wrist still hurts a bit. Overall I'm a bit achy today( in the shoulders). Took too many bad falls last night.

Getting Your Gi Clean

A while back I had a brown rust stain on my gi. At first I didn't know what it was or where it had come from. Washing it multiple times didn't help. Treating it with 3 different spot removers didn't help. Then I tried bleach. That had no effect.

This was the point at which I realized it was a rust stain. After some reasearch I found out that the last thing you want to do is bleach a rust stain. The solution however was simple. There is a product out there that removes iron in the wash water. I've always been on city sewer and never had to worry about that in my water before. So I poured a little powder on the stain and added some water to form a paste and rubbed it on. I saw the stain disappearing before I even threw it in the washer.

The gi came out clean. Fair warning though. I think you're not supposed to really touch this stuff with your hands and it smells like sulfur or something. Not pleasant.

The reason I mention this is that I have another rust stain on my pant leg for some reason. I'll be using my rust remover tonight. I went through about 3 weeks before I was able to remove it the first time. Now.... you don't have to.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I Seem to Be Doing an Ukemi Bubble Sort.

A bubble sort(in computers) in the most simple of terms is to basically look at the guy next to you and swap places.

At the beginning of every class, we stretch, do rolls/ukemi practice, and then begin our techniques.

The dojo is longer than it is deep so we usually form 2 lines when we roll. You roll then return to form a new line. People apparently are passing me while I'm rolling. I'm not sure if it's just that I'm taking my time or that other people are speeding through it. All I know is that by the time ukemi practice is over, I seem to be near the end or at the end of the line.

Anyone else on the ukemi bubble out there?

Sunday Morning Hip Throws

We started off with some line techniques that I just didn't catch the name of. I was particularly stiff that morning because I had just woken up for class. I swear if I wake up 10 minutes earlier I'm looser.

For ukemi, the instructor commented that I might want to roll a little differently. When I was rolling poorly a while back I was doing a barrel roll sometimes. I have gone in the other direction. I tend to be a little too square sometimes. Instead of rolling from shoulder to hip. I'm rolling from shoulder to spine maybe. This is part of the reason why I'm having trouble with tenkans at the end of a roll. This is also why my rolls just end with no energy at the end. They are comfortable.... just not perfect yet. So I made a concious effort to roll differently and I was able to do the tenkans better at the end.

At the end of class Jim had us do a bunch of hip throws. I'm comfortable taking these at this point so this was fine.

Then Jim added yonkyo to the throw. I still have trouble getting a good consistent yonkyo.

wrist still hurts

Friday Night Hip Throws

The instructor for Friday nights seems to hammer away at the same technique over and over. Last time I remember attending his class we did nothing but sankyo's for over an hour. By the time class was over my wrist was really feeling it.

On this Friday night the technique of the day was koshinage. Yep..... Hip throws. We did a couple of variations. At the end of the first set of throws I actually had to rest the muscles in my legs. My partner was much shorter than I and I had to get really low to throw her safely. In addition she really wasn't comfortable either throwing or being thrown so that made things a bit harder. I always seem to take hip throws better when they are done with deciseveness.

Then we took a break and went to suwari waza ikkyo. As soon as he started the technique I immediately came out of seiza and sat cross legged. I was afraid that knowing this instructor that I'd have to be doing suwari waza for 45 minutes. I wanted to rest my knees up for the onslaught. It was only for about 15 minutes or so and then....

Back into more hip throws. With a different partner and a different variation. This went a little better.

At the very end of class we notcied some blood on my partners gi. Searched around and couldn't find the cause. Then we noticed more blood and looked again. The back of my hand got scratched somehow. Strange place for a scratch. Then the clap came to end class anyway.

No idea why but wrist was bothering me

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

2 Classes Again

Why take two classes? It gives me two chances to get everything wrong. Ok... just kidding. The first class usually warms me up enough that I can do the more advanced second class. Although last night was like in the 90's with bad humidity. A friend of mine commented that there was a strong breeze blowing through his apartment(even though it was 90+ degree wind) and I said... yes... that's what they call convection cooking. Sensei Mulligan grabbed me and another beginner to fetch a couple more fans out of storage. They did help some.

The first class I did so so. One nice thing was the on again off again success I have with shomenuchi nikkyo. On this particular night I was getting the technique fairly right.

I think from now on I'm going to have to take notes at night. We are doing enough different things in a class that I can't remember specifically what we were doing.

I finally saw my old sensei from Cape Ann Aikido. He popped in for the class. He worked with a beginner in the corner. I looked over a couple times to see him teaching rolling and... I thought I saw him doing shihonage. I really wasn't paying lots of attention. When I'm practicing aikido my attention is usually on what I'm doing or what my partners doing. I don't find lots of time to look at anywhere else. I did see one thing though. During one lesson I was attempting weeble rolls for the ukemi and doing them reasonably well. I happen to glance over to see my old sensei watching me and smiling. I think he was happy to still see me practicing and improving over time. A far cry from my first attempt at a roll. To this day I don't believe I've seen anyone do worse than I did on my first roll attempt. For me the ukemi has been and will be an evolving process. Speaking of which....

The second class went well for me. I can remember a lot of what we did but can't remember all the names again. Maybe after hearing them over and over I'll start to remember. We started out with a jo exercise where we were taking ukemi from a couple different jo movements.

We did something I guess I'd call suwari waza nikkyo. It was a shoulder gi grab version. Start off stepping offline, atemi, grab the wrist and nikkyo... go up and through in an omote version and do a nikkyo pin. Oh ya... for this I couldn't resist ignoring people's nikkyo again. The first lucky person to try to nikkyo pin me was the instructor that took over Tuesday classes for a while. She's excellent to learn from. Actually, she's the one that had me dancing like a puppet a while back in a sankyo. Her sankyo's kill. She started pushing and then I hear her say "wow... that's kind of rare". Then other folks tried. One guy who is amazing to watch went for it and he was very strong but it just didn't hurt. Finally, Matt (Monday's first class instructor) who knows my wrists took a crack at it and managed to make me feel tingles so I tapped out. After class he asked to take another try at it and he had me tapping out quicker. I think he didn't put my arm all the way down to the ground and instead pinned me to his knees. Somehow having my arm up like that helped the pin. I think he had my elbow bent a bit.

Then we did a really cool technique where nage is seated and offers a wrist to uke. When uke grabs, nage turns his open hand upward forcing uke to his toes. Nage brings other hand over the first and moves uke around him and brings him down off balance. Sort of ends up in a pin you'd see for shihonage knife disarming where uke's hand is behind his own shoulder. The first one of these I didn't move right away and felt the full force. I was up off my toes and my forearm was killing me. I started moving finally and took the pin. I couldn't get up. I forgot that I had loose shoulders and I guess people were really pushing down and it felt comfortable. Then they experimented a bit showing a couple things. At one point the guy pinning me asked... does that hurt? Nope.... it's comfortable. I can't move.... but it's comfortable. After I got home I wondered if it's possible to roll over your own arm and head to get out of that.

In general I tap out early nowadays for wrist and shoulders. I've been told from people that even people with looseness can permanently damage things if you keep pushing it. Also, in the basic class, I tap out on nikkyo's if I feel enough pressure so that my partner is likely doing things correctly. It keeps my joints safer, and keeps the practice moving along. I couldn't help messing with the advanced class. Also, they if anyone can benefit from working with a strange case and most of them teach the classes I attend and I like the instructors to be familiar with my ability or lack thereof. So... unless someone asks for it, I'm tapping out again early again from now on. They've all seen the show and I don't want permanently damaged anything.

Then we did a technique with uke doing a yokomen strike. You sort of spin down on a dime taking the arm and making a circle. My first toss as uke had me catching tons of air. I was way up there. Very cool.

Overall, I felt my ukemi got a little better. I actually did a few correct advanced breakfalls. There was one where I really got tossed and it felt like I went over like a hip throw so I treated it that way. I felt great when I landed. Then another, I was tossed far and I did a correct breakfall for it. It's so sweet when I do even a few of those right that I even if I do nothing else well I feel like I did great for the class.

After class, Matt suggested that I try to make more advanced classes. He said that in the first class he saw me struggling with some of the techniques. Yet in the advanced class I managed to have steady improvement as nage. He felt as though I am learning more being surrounded by more experienced folk and I'm the type of person that can somehow take advantage of that. So... whenever I can I will be taking 2 classes on mondays. I also need to give the instructor some credit here too. Because it was such a hot night, slowing things down and explaining more gave everyone a chance to breath ( 90 degree air) and gave me the chance to learn more. Frequently, he is very clear in what you want to do. That doesn't mean I can do it. It just gives you a fighting chance.

Anyway, although Matt thought my nage waza was improving.... I felt as though my ukemi was coming along. This was so fun.

Wrist hurts a little along with forearm. That suwari waza killed me because I didn't move when I was supposed to.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Heat Taking It's Toll

Among other things we practiced a shihonage. After screwing that up for a while the instructor had us switch to a sankyo using the same shomenuchi attack. Except.... now my poor brain is stuck on shihonage and I do that half the time. I didn't feel as though I was doing it particularly well either. I didn't unbalance uke enough. I know I've done better in the past. Or.... perhaps I'm just more aware of my mistakes now. That can be an important realization. At some point when doing aikido, you realize what you used to do wrong. I think back to the first class I had. We did shihonage but I now recall that I never unbalanced uke and never lowered my center for the relatively short partner I had. I had the basic motion down well enough so for my first class I think the sensei was satisfied with that at that point.

Here is something nobody ever seems to talk about online. Gi burn. I don't know what else to call it. It's when nage grabs your arm and pinches your flesh within the folds of the gi. I got a couple good ones on Sunday resulting in some cool purple bruises. They don't hurt to touch or anything... they just look like heck. They do hurt a little when uke grabs you but really not bad. Easily ignored.

The last thing we did I can't quite remember(maybe we went back to shihonage?).... but... whatever it was... we added a yonkyo to it. The strange thing is that at that point your thumbs are on uke's wrists so I used one thumb on my partner and used about 65% of my strength on it. I didn't want to really kill the person(it was actually another instructor not that it matters really). He told me that I was getting the yonkyo but that it was 'annoying'. Then he seemed a little surprised that I did that with my thumb. I don't know how much more it would have hurt if I used my full force. I don't ask too many question but after class I asked the instructor about the grip. He told me to regrip and use my fingers like normal. Honestly at this point if my life depended on it I think I'd just use my thumbs. If we do this in practice I'll have to work on regripping my hand. I would like to learn how to do it 'right'.

Some cool bruising on my upper arm. Do chicks dig bruises? I'll ask my wife.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Relaxed Monday Session

The dojo has been quite hot as of late. I find myself feeling almost physically ill from the deep breathing in the warm up. It soon passes and by the time I'm rolling, I feel fine. I just don't do heat well. I love 64(f) temps and never will youhear me complain about the cold.

I'm not totally sure what the name of this technique was. Anyway, uke starts out with a 2 hand wrist grab(morotetori). Nage bends elbow, sort of tenkans around and does a step forward (sort of like a J step). Your supposed to keep your arm in the same position for much of the technique. I kept dropping my arm. Eventaully, I think I worked that problem out.

Then we took the same basic technique and changed the end of it a bit. We even had an irminage version where after we spin uke around you pivot at your hips 180 degrees and spin him down to the ground sort of.

For the early part of the class I had a really tall strong guy who was very helpful. He kept a nice firm grip as uke to the point where I ended up with bruises where his thumbs were on my forearems. Oddly enough no bruising lower down. Maybe my tissues are used to katetori and toughened up lower down on the wrist.

After the class was done I was sorry I told my wife that I would food shop that night. I'd rather have stayed for the second class. I was really relaxed. Even when we set up a line, I fell comfortably. There were two ocassions that people commented on my ukemi. One person asked if I was ok because he sort of knee'd me on the way down. I was fine. I did what was the best breakfall I had ever done and it felt so comfortable I felt like I had just simply lay down on the mat. The other time someone held on to me a little long for a line and although I didn't roll out well, I was so relaxed, it felt like nothing happened.

Now... If I could only do ukemi like your supposed to.

Feel great

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Beginners View on Aikido Books

The subject of books came up in a class and the instructor generally expressed the same view that I have on the subject.

My take on it is this..... reading about baseball does not make you a better baseball player. Reading about aikido won't make you better at aikido. There is no replacement for time with a knowledgeable instructor. Will a book give you some basic idea on what a technique is like? Yes. Absolutely. But it can't replace an instructor. I have had instructors show me something over and over and I can't repeat it. How could a book do better?

Speaking for myself.... reading these books do have some positive aspects. I enjoy reading about aikido. Even if I can't necessarily learn a technique from a book, it's sometimes nice to have a gist of what it's about.

I own exactly 3 books related to aikido. One just recently purchased I can't speak about. Of the remaining two. One was referencebook like... and I know for a fact that trying to even get a glimpse of aikido out of it as a beginner is a waste of time. The other book I kind of liked. I read it before I even signed up for aikido. The reason I liked it was because it went over some of the etiquette, simple stances, exercises and techniques. It was also written in an entertaining way with the author racing offtopic frequently. For someone who is used to learning with books to do their job like I am it was a nice way to get an introduction. At no point in reading it did I think I was learning aikido. I was just enjoying the subject matter and trying to get a glimpse as to what I may be doing in a typical class. (I had no way at the time of witnessing a class for myself). If someone asked me what goes on in a class because they were interested I'd suggest they just simply watch one.

It also helped with some terminology. Typically, you'll learn all that in class at some point. So reading about it is not the least bit necessary. It's just reading about a subject you like that matters.

This was the book I found fun to read before starting aikido.


I invite you all to share your book reviews here. Have you come across an aikido related book that you thought was particularly fun or informative?

My First Yonkyo

We did some Nikkyo that I had done in the past. For some reason, rotating your hand around to get the hold was tough for me. I know I've done it better about a month or so ago. At first the whole technique for me was bad but then I remembered how to spin uke around effectively and things got a little better.

For those who have no idea what yonkyo is.... It's sort of like grabbing just above the wrist and apply pressure on either a nerve cluster or tendons or something..... All I know is it hurts when it's done correctly. The after affects feel remarkably similar to a case of RSI. The instructor at one point was able to just grab my wrist with one hand and force me to go up on my toes, or down to the mat. After class I had a discussion on yonkyo and received a few in a row. As a result I had some temporarily loss of hand strength. Apparently if this is done correctly, uke is not able to even make a fist for a few minutes.

Because I type a lot for work, I am very aware of this feeling in my wrists. I hadn't taken ibuprofen for a while but took a few last night for this so I could work today without making it worse. It helped. I don't expect to take any more. It's feeling better.

Wrists have a dull ache still

Friday Night Was a Long TIme Ago

My CPU fan fried so I wasn't able to post earlier. As usual I forgot most of exactly what we practiced Friday night. The two things I remember the most.

Ushiro Tekubitori Kotegaeshi - I haven't done any kotegaeshi for like two months. I did really bad in the beginning and achieved a better form of poor later on. I started unbalancing better again. My biggest problem was getting the grip I wanted. For some reason I couldn't get it right away. I always had to adjust.

Morotetori Kokyuho - I actually did this fairly well. Sensei Mulligan who was teaching this class told me I looked really relaxed doing this which means I am using my center more than my muscle.

Slight twinge in my wrist from not following a kotegaeshi well enough.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Am a Dancing Puppet

The beginning of the class I came a little early. The instructor last week said she wanted to speed up our warm up a bit to get more practice time in. She usually does a longer than average warm up. So... I get to the mat early so I can stretch out extra. Actually, I try and come early to stretch out most days. So... I stretched out... did a few rolls. Then the warm up started. between the heat (the dojo has no ac) and the deep breathing I actually felt a little faint. When we moved on to rolling practice I started feeling better. We did some normal rolls where I did fine (although I'm still not sure about my backwards roll) and then we did those crazy weeble rolls again. I think in general I'm improving on these. I was able to do them without killing my ribs. I'm not sure if they are 100% right but at least I'm not killing myself any more.

We did some shomenuchi sankyo( both omote and ura). We've done this in two classes the past month so it was familiar.

So during the Sankyo practice the instructor wants to show how you can stay connected to uke and really move him wherever you like. So she gets a sankyo on me and moves me sideways, forward, up, down, backwards. I was like a puppet. I can say that I probably did fairly well at receiving the ukemi. I made myself as loose as I could, stayed connected and tried to follow her.

We did tsuki iriminage short and long version as it was named by the instructor. Short version, you just enter, bring the person down and as they try to rise, turn at your hips step and come over them and down. The longer version as she called it was what we did at the Cape Ann dojo. You enter and bring them down. While you have them down you tenkan with them, then turn at the hips and throw just like the short version. We used to grab the head at Cape Ann, but I noticed that no one does that at Shodokan. Everyone grabs the shoulder/neck area so I started doing that.

Then we did a warm down with some suwari waza kokyuho. The partner I had is a little short stout girl who is fairly fun to practice with. Sometimes her lack of height makes it really challenging to do certain techniques. So, after a couple turns each, I take my turn again. I try not to use strength and try to go around force but on this occassion she decided to get playful and started to try muscling me around. I couldn't redirect the force enough to take her down (I didn't want to use strength). She changed grip a little bit and grabbed the top of one of my hands and pushed it into a nikkyo. I ignored the nikkyo since it didn't hurt at all and held my center as she pushed forward. I hear her make a puzzled "hmmm" noise. Yes... she did the nikkyo fine. But, you have to really push hard for it to do anything to me and apparently isn't aware of my strange anti-nikkyo wrists. So then we both are up a bit more than we should have been and she had a great idea. I instantly know what's coming as soon as I feel her weight shift, but I had no idea what to do about it other than to receive it well. She moved in and basically did a hip throw from the seated position somehow. I got thrown and couldn't help myself. I let out a loud "Yes! Cool!". Then we went back to doing the suwari waza like we were supposed to. The throw was fun and totally comfortable.

Sankyo wrists felt fine the next day

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tuesdays Class.... eehhh

I wish I could attend more Tuesday classes. The instructor for this particular class is usually very dynamic for our practices and I get a good workout. This particular class was a bit lighter but still a good one.

My ukemi was good for this class. I was holding my center well for my partners and not just flopping down. It's been this particular instructor that's been hammering at me to improve this in general. She even noticed it. For the rolling exercises I actually did the weeble roll ok for both sides.

We started off with some center moving exercises such as rowing. It's been a while since I've done these. It was nice to get back to some really basic movements.

Once again I have waited too long to blog so I've forgotten a lot of what we were working on. Foremost in my mind was a round of shihonage where we wanted to offer a wrist but grab uke's before they get a chance to lock on to you. It was a great timing exercise. In addition, instead of going through like one normally would, she had us step offline almost perpendicular to uke and then move them... so when you finish, uke gets thrown to your right or left of starting position. Even though these weren't much different from other shihonage, I was definitely missing something on the hand movements. Tiny differences seemed to matter a great deal. Very rarely when I was doing this did I feel as though I was doing it correctly.

Chalk that up as another flavor of shihonage.

Unscathed... well ok... tiny bruise on my left wrist. I usually don't even mention stuff like that