Thursday, April 27, 2006

I Took Two Classes Last Night

The first class was great. I seemed to be doing a lot wrong lately though. Even during shihonage I wasn't unbalancing my uke enough. This became obvious when uke resisted and threatened a strike to my face. If he's able to do that so easily.... I know I was doing something wrong. The instructor came by to fix me up a bit. I'd really like to try all that again to see if I 'got it'. Same thing with a kotagaeshi we were doing.

It seemed like a night of almost doing it right. I'm not sure if I just never got corrected before on my mistakes for some of these techniques or I was falling into bad habits last night.

My ukemi was a mixed bag. Early on I worked with this guy who tends to do strong techniques. The throw he did is supposed to require a rollout. He was lifting me so high that I did more of a backflip. It didn't hurt at all, it just was kinda high and I landed with a loud thud. After that he eased up a bit and I was able to do proper rolls. The good part of this was that I was able to fall and not hurt myself. I'm getting better overall at protecting myself. Which brings me to the second class.

I felt all warm and although a little tired I wasn't exhausted or anything so I decided to take the second class. Although scheduled as a 'Basic' class the reality is that more often than not the black belts all work out in this session. I'm sure my presence slowed their practice a tad as I had to be shown one or two things for each technique to keep everyone safe. Even still, during one technique I inadvertently held on to my uke right through the fall. Judging by the look on his face and the feigned atemi to my head, I knew I held on too long. Then sure enough the instructor running the class told me to let go earlier. Hell, letting go at all would have been nice. I felt kind of bad. To his credit, this instructor who was my abused uke for the throw didn't take it out on me when I was uke. Actually, everyone seemed to have a good amount of patience with me making beginner mistakes.

I've had better ukemi on other nights but nothing I did hurt. If nothing else I was psyched I managed one mostly correct breakfall. One where you totally flip over and land on your other side. It was cool. The person that threw me was a 4th kyu who unlike the instructors didn't worry about taking it easy on me. So she threw me with commitment and I took my ukemi with commitment. I'm so tentative on the breakfalls that I'm not making them work yet. That one though, I did mostly because I think I simply had no choice. After I landed I looked up and I saw the line of black belts grinning at me and one asking me how that felt. It really felt ok. In fact, it felt better than the rollout attempts I was doing. I guess I got some distance on the fall too. I have no idea why that's a good or bad thing. Maybe it just looked nice. It was certainly more comfortable than the hip throws I took a few weeks back.

That one correct breakfall made the whole night worthwhile. Maybe next time I'll be able to do two. Although..... I still need to learn to rollout better.

At the end of the night, the instructor said I did well. I think he's nuts..... I did lousy... but I did fair on the techniques for someone at my level and although my ukemi was eh... I didn't get hurt from any attempted rollouts and hey... I had one really nice breakfall. I would love to come again but I can't usually make Wednesday nights. Too bad too.... since I think if I did attend this class my ukemi would get better faster. Or... maybe I'd just get dead. :)

Wrist hurt on a Sankyo. Apparently I'm too stupid to move where I'm supposed to. It took a moment for it to register and for me to remember that I needed to move. I remember exactly which sankyo did it.... but not who applied it(not that it matters... my own fault really).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Yawn.... Sunday Morning.... Yawn

I'm feeling the ebb and flow..... my ukemi on Tuesday night was great. I was flying around doing rollouts with no problems. Sunday morning.... although I never really hurt myself...... I didn't feel as though my ukemi was great that day. So... I've had worse days.... and definitely better.

I believe we had 3 other students.... one brand new beginner, one experienced... and one black belt... and me of course.

We switched around partners at times. The black belt didn't want to take falls.... I'm guessing he hurt something in another class. This guys ukemi is usually good. The biggest problem with working with him most days is he tends to be self involved. He'll take 8 turns in a row and give you 2. He frequently barrage's the instructor with questions and if (the instructor is) not around may stop in the middle of practice to watch everyone else. Last week when he was taking falls, I had a problem where he wouldn't hold on to my wrist for a given technique. It was kind of annoying.

The new beginner was tough to work with at times. He's still working on his rolls. If we have to do a rollout, you feel kind of bad because he goes over in a sideways roll thats got to hurt some.

Towards the end of class we were working on a kotagaeshi. As far as I'm concerned I can't get enough practice for this since I almost have it kind of right. The last comment made by the instructor was that I was doing a so so tenkan. Part of that is not wanting to hurt people. I have it ingrained in my head that if I do a full speed tenkan that I will hurt uke. At the time I had a guy who has excellent ukemi so I suppose if I can't abuse him.... I can't do anyone.

Even after all this time, I'm still trying to get over the mental hurdle of not wanting to hurt other people. I am too tentative at times. I have had no martial arts experience in the past and this has been a bit of programming that's hard to break for me.


Friday Night

There were two other students and one instructor. So... the instructor would take me aside, and give me a few corrections/pointers for a given technique.... then set me loose on the other two guys. Meanwhile, they were pounding each other pretty good getting a good workout.

Usual stuff going on. The other two guys were great... they gave me a few pointers such as offbalancing.... covering/protecting my face as uke, and one bit of ikkyo advice, which was... for ura. I do a great tenkan for this technique but I don't corkscrew uke down. So... if he wants, he can simply follow me around and still be on his feet. I have to corkscrew/spiral down.

Other two guys got introduced to my nikkyo resistant wrists. I believe I heard something like..... "whoa.. look at that"... "I'm jealous of those wrists". They just went to the vertical pin instead and got me to tap out right away. Don't think by the way that I'm confusing an unusual body feature with talent or technique. It's nice to have some small advantages but it isn't through skill. It's just the way I am.

One other thing that came to mind..... I've always been told to keep uke's arm in tight for shihonage, presumably because I'm a beginner. These two guys wanted me to crank them a bit so after a couple of corrections, I did the more advanced version torquing the elbow out just a bit. I could have done that all along but was told not to. I guess I have to judge my partners skill level and practice accordingly. Or.... have a quick agreement as to what's ok to do.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Roll Therefore I Am

I'm pretty sure I exist. If I didn't I wouldn't have pain the next day. I seem to be having a small problem where the sensei of our dojo doesn't either recognize or remember me for some reason. Maybe I have just one of those faces. I didn't think much of it but a week ago we had a dojo spring cleaning.

After Sunday's class I managed to hang around to pitch in. I started with helping to sweep the hallway out so the carpet could be cleaned. Moved some furniture. Cleaned under some couches and in them. Then sensei himself sent me outside to help somone pick up. The person doing the task decided that raking everything up was a better idea. So the two of us raked and bagged about 10 bags of material including dead plants, glass bottles, nips, a saw blade, and one very interesting adult publication. After it was done, sensei sent me on my way and said everything was completed. He was quite happy with the turnout.

So... Last week before class started he asked that the aikido folk do the usual in-house cleaning before practice. Apparently, very little had been done. He said that the beginners were excused from the cleaning and one other guy because "he had come in to help last weekend". So... either sensei forgot I was there... or doesn't know my name.... so seeing as I was not excused, I picked up some glass cleaner and went at it. I don't mind helping out. Fast forward to last night.

I couldn't go to class Monday night so last night I came in really early. I got to the dojo before sensei even had actually. I had stayed in my car for a few minutes because I wanted to read something. So, I basically said hello to him on the way in while he was getting stuff out of his car. Actually, I offerred to help and he said no thanks. I dress, and bow on to the mat. Since I had a ton of time I stretched, practiced shikkyo and tenkans with a wood disc on my head. Did a few rolls. Then I hear someone come in for aikido. Then when the instructor showed up, sensei made some comment about the class increasing 50% and that the other person had come in. Almost like he wasn't registering my existence for yet a second time. Really odd. I know when he's teaching he sees me fine. I can tell by the fact that I get a good number of corrections from him.

Anyway..... off to last nights fun. The Tuesday night class is a little shorter than the other classes as we have to leave the mat for the judo folks. As a result the instructor wanted to have a really vigorous class. So we ended up doing lines for most/all of the class(3 students and the instructor) where the instructor also took turns as nage and uke. Mostly we were doing varying kinds of kokyu ho. I couldn't begin to tell you the names. I did so so as nage but I was very happy with my ukemi overall. 95% of the ukemi was a roll. Mostly the rolls were those funny wobble rolls I described. I did a bunch of them right. A few wrong and the rest just ok. It was definite improvement for my ukemi. About three quarters of the way in I realized I was breathing hard but since the more experienced student next to me in line was also winded I didn't feel too bad.

During one throw, I wasn't moving in the direction that I was supposed to as uke.... so nage grabs my head and tried to move me. It didn't hurt at the time but I think it resulted in a stiff neck.

Neck stiff this morning.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Oh, My Knees

Yes, it's suwari waza time. We did a few techniques this way. Before even starting we put a block of wood on our head and walked and shikkyo'd around a bit.... then we did a tenkan drill. I did real well that night. I think I lost my block only once and it wasn't even during the tenkans.

On to suwari waza... When doing the Ikkyo I found the ura version to be a lot easier than the omote. I can tenkan on one knee(and fivekan on the other)..... what I have problems with is following uke. I stop the strike early and "step in" to off balance but uke seemed to fly backwards so fast I had to scoot forward just to keep up with him.

Then at one point we got to do some tenchinage. As usual, I had the instructor correct my extension. It seems to be a general problem that I have that I always need to watch out for. It was kind of nice doing ikkyo and tenchinage in one night. It helped me gauge where I am for the most part.... especially since we hadn't done either one in what seems like months. My ikkyo is still fine for my level. I needed a correction for tenchinage regarding my posture but I seemed to work it out.

After class I did a couple of normal forward rolls..... no problem. Then I tried a couple wobble rolls. I didn't do them as well as I did last class so I decided to quit while I was ahead.

Wrist/arm still healing up from previous weeks

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Weird Wobble Rolls

So I went to class on Tuesday night this week instead of Monday. Instructor was not able to come so another instructor was nice enough to fill in for him. As a result class started a bit late. Sensei popped his head in and told us to warm up so when she came we could start right in.

I stretched a whole bunch as usual and even did a few rolls. First from squatting... then standing... then did a few backward rolls. I practiced walking around and shikkyo with a piece of wood on my head. I did better at it the other night in class. I tried a few tenkan during shikkyo. My right side is easier for me but I'm improving overall.

When the instructor arrived we bowed in and started right up with ukemi practice. Did a bunch of the usual rolls.... then we did the wobble rolls. It seems like I see these in every weekday class now. It's basically doing a roll from a standing position sort of off to the side. You roll off one shoulder and end up sitting sort of. I never seem to get my legs in the right position at the moment but I have bigger problems with it. The first few times I tried it a week or so ago I nailed my lower back. It felt like I had muscle spasms in the small of my back for 5-10 minutes. Well.... last night since there were only 3 students the instructor was able to give me a little extra attention. I started improving. I wouldn't call them comfortable but at that point they weren't hurting as much.

We moved on to doing techniques.... we did lots of tsuki. We did a kotegaeshi, a shihonage(omote and ura) and some other technique I don't know the name of. The kotegaeshi, I would love to do more of. It's on the first test and mine needs work still. I have an ingrained habit apparently. Whenever someone does a tsuki strike and I step back offline I go for an ikkyo grab. So I had to remember to grab from underneath instead of over. I still am not smooth for this. I need to do 1000 more please.

Then we tried doing a technique that has uke rollout with a wobble roll. Apparently you can take a forward roll but it is more naturally handled with the wobble roll. My first few were not good. With some help and practice they noticeably got better. They may not have been correct but they were mostly comfortable. Either that or my tolerance for pain has gone up? :) I'm just hoping that when we do them again on Friday that I can remember how. The one thing I remember the most was when I gave a little push off and put more energy into it, somehow it got easier.

The shihonage was ok. I have to think less about this one. Perhaps because we have been doing it lately.

I got a few corrections for all techniques and tried my best to improve. At one point the instructor said that I did the shihonage a lot better than the previous one and looked as though she wanted to know what I did different. I entered deeper. Frequently, right after I do a technique I realize what I just did wrong. Unfortunately, in "monkey in the middle" practice you have to wait a while to try it out again and thats assuming the instructor doesn't switch techniques on you.

Still old things hurting but getting better. Banged my knee Sunday as uke on kotegaeshi. Left arm is at 99% still from bad nikkyo aggravating the bad kotagaeshi I took which aggravated the original ikkyo pin injury.
Chad Gadya anyone?

Also... as an fyi, you can assume from week to week that I have small bruises on my wrists and arms. Since they don't really hurt I don't mention them much or at all. Currently I have one thumbprint on my left bicep.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What Just Happened?

Sunday morning was a good class as well. We did a lot of stuff requiring a tsuki strike. One technique coming to mind was a nikkyo where you step back.... grap with the crosshand and at that point it's just like shomenuchi nikkyo (omote). We spent a chunk of time on how to pin people a certain way for that. With one hand on the elbow, you scrap sort of toward the hand. The other hand has uke's hand in a nikkyo and just pushes in right back.

My partner was having some trouble getting the nikkyo on me. I suggested she just pin my arm up higher and that gets me feeling the nikkyo more. I got a taste of my own medicine as it were.... in discussing the pin, the instructor asked me to pin him. I pushed as hard as I possibly could and couldn't even affect him. That must be what it's like for others trying to pin me. I don't know if its having strong wrists... or loose wrists that help but I seem to have them to some extent. Remember a few posts ago.... Cape Ann was down to Kim and I at one point.... when Kim starting doing techniques to people he was killing their wrists. He had never worked with anyone else to any degree. Once he realized that I wasn't normal he started backing it down a bit for other people.

Now that I think about it.... I actually wake up from sleeping with a wrist bent way down. I nikkyo myself at night.

Then I think I remmeber us doing a kotegaeshi. I banged my knee up a bit trying to receive a faster one. I watched others do it. It seems as though I'm not throwing myself down correctly. That I'm bending the knee as I'm going down and I'm not always hitting my side. So I hit the knee with my full body weight on the way down.

What Just Happened!?
At the end of class we did these judo hip throws. Very simple... you have to step into uke, stick your hip out, get low, grab as low as you can, and wheeee.

This was my very first throw as uke. I got into position with nage and then blinked.... one second I was standing there, the next I was on the ground. It seemed near instantaneous. My hip felt like it took a little harder hit than the rest of my body but not too too bad. The instructor was there the whole time to observe me. He asked.... how'd that feel? I said.... I don't know, what's it supposed to feel like? He said.... "well... your getting up quick enough and you landed great"

Overall.... I land perfectly every time but I didn't effectively slap the mat every time. It's just that the throw is happening so fast that there is no time to think. I have no idea which way is up until it's too late. I imagine as I get used to it I'll be slapping the mat automatically. We do some judo rolls at the beginning of most classes for ukemi practice. I can see how this is going to make those feel easy in comparison.

Knee hurts a little. Left wrist just a touch weak in one direction from previous injury.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hey Mom Look... I Can Rollout

I had a great night. At this point I can't remember everything we did but foremost on my mind was a technigue where uke had to rollout. This is the first time I ever did rollouts comfortably. Aside from the class I did a long time ago that hurt my ribs. I've never done a class that needed more than 3 or 4 rolls. In this class I must have done something like 20 I'm sure. Now... not all of them were pretty... but every single one of them was comfortable and few of them I think were actually correct. This is a huge breakthrough for me. Don't get me wrong.... I still need to work on rolls, but at least I can go to a class and not have massive pains doing a rollout. My thanks to my partner Rebecca. She was excellent in throwing me in such a way to aid in my rolling. She almost made it easy.

We switched partners quite a bit. Once again at one point I had the guy who cranked me a couple times in the past couple weeks. He's improving his control. He's finally figuring out my limits I think as he was generally taking it wasy on me. Not only did he not hurt me this time, but gave me some good advice on how to be a better uke for the particular technique we were practicing. We were doing a lot of shihonage I believe.

All throughout the night I was getting a good number of corrections from the instructor. I actually like this and am used to it. When I was in the other dojo with just two students there is not hiding. Everything is commented on. She was wondering if I felt picked on.... not at all. I'm happy to have the attention. Hopefully I was able to make the corrections.

One correction that amuses me was to do a tenkan after the rollout to face your opponent. A great idea and habit from a budo point of view. No one ever told me to do it since I never really did rollouts. Great practice for my ukemi.

This was just an all around great class.

I did have one odd experience though. At the end of the night we did some suwari waza kokyuho and my partner was trying to tell me how I should be doing it. He asked me to do it the regular way and he resisted a little. When I did it the way he asked he didn't resist at all and just fell over without my doing anything. I thought it was kind of funny. And.. no... it wasn't that the technique that he asked me to do was a bad idea. It's just that he "took a dive" to prove his point. Still it was interesting to listen to as the idea behind it was good.. I just wish I could try it against someone who actually will resist it a little. He was suggesting connecting my center to the motion and sawing upwards (not a bad idea as you always want to move with your center) .

Gotta go for now...

Leftover pain from previous weeks

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Uh Oh.... I Think I'm Falling Behind a Bit

So we did shomenuchi nikkyo, shomenuchi sankyo, and shomenuchi kotegaeshi. I think the class is moving on practicing more advanced techniques as I'm guessing the current class all passed their 5th kyu test or better.

The nikkyo I did great getting to the point where I have the person down.... then I was having some trouble finding the nikkyo grip at times. I've done better other nights. Toward the end I was improving a tad. I did a couple of them that looked and felt right. I even got a nod from my partner on one or two. Oddly enough this is the same partner I had a while back that almost put me into a wall, threw and pinned me too hard for my ukemi level and constantly yakked at me..... he was like a totally different partner for this practice. Although his first nikkyo did put me onto the floor in pain and felt a bit too strong, he was generally a better partner. Although he seemed bored/distracted and he kept attacking from the wrong side, he never really hurt me. If anything, he was being too gentle. Also... he didn't talk.... I was learning by watching his technique. As for the first nikkyo.... It takes a good nikkyo for me to feel it usually. Most people will nikkyo kind of slow so you have time to tap out. He didn't. It went from nothing to instant bam.... I think maybe I am supposed to be anticipating it and throw myself down and tap. I think I've seen that for 4th kyu tests. Usually, I wait for the pain to start moving. I am now rethinking this concept. If I remember I think I will ask someone.

Am I supposed to anticipate the nikkyo and dive for the floor and tap out? (Don't wait to feel pain. Keep in mind you have to crank me to feel pain for nikkyo)

I like how Matt taught us the sankyo. He broke it down into about 3 pieces. Doing each piece and then putting it all together at the end. I was doing ok at this once I got a few corrections. It think my footwork needed more work though. I don't think that ever got right. I was however getting the sankyo and doing the pin.

I seem to have gone backwards on my kotegaeshi. From a tsuki strike it seemed a lot easier. For some reason even though everything is almost the same, I was having trouble with the yokomen strike version.

All in all it was a good night. It was particularly interesting switching partners so much. One moment I got a really big guy, the next moment I get a girl over 100lbs lighter. Actually, at one point she was doing a sankyo on me and it occurred to me that if I felt like it, while she had me bent over and was going for the sankyo, I could've just picked her up if I wanted right off the ground. Sankyo isn't a technique I think you'd try for real unless the circumstances were right. Although you should know her aikido feels excellent to me most of the time. When she gets you in a technique, you can feel it. (and she has nice control too)

Left wrist cranked a bit once. Overall not bad. Should be fine soon.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Late Again ?!!

For the second week in a row I was late for the Sunday morning class. Somewhere in my head I thought it started at 8:30am. It actually starts at 8:15am. The first time I thought maybe they just started early or something since it was a full house. Since I was the last to show up yet again the second time, it was enough for me to question myself... and sure enough..... I was confused. Pretty bad when you can't even get the start times right.

So I came in, on the middle of stretching. I missed the leg stretches and thats about it really. Jim the instructor had pity on me and had the class do some suwari waza kokyuho to warm up. Then we did our ukemi practice. My rolling was fair. I'm still not doing everything perfect but nothing hurts when I roll. My biggest problem is that you want to keep your body facing forward. I have trouble reconciling that with the fact that my arm has to be out in front of me. I used to put it out in such a way that I turned my body a little, which makes me roll sideways/wobbly a little. This is what I'm working on now. I did have one or two that Jim liked.... of course the one he liked the best was when he positioned my body perfectly before the roll. Since he can't follow me around all the time I guess I'll have to learn the correct posture on my own.

We did some kind of throw that ended in a rollout. So nage sort of has uke by the wrist pulling down almost and your other arm was almost palm up and slid up under uke's upper arm(instructor likes avoiding the elbow for now). In this position nage can apply upward pressure to get uke off balance and a little up. Then nage sort of turns the arm into an unbendable arm and pushes uke off. Uke does a rollout. My partner for this part of the class was a beginner who started fairly recently. He's still working on his rolls as well. He wasn't quite getting the technique right. At one point he was taking an extra step and rolling on the wrong side. Then he complained I was holding his arm too long. Thankfully, the instructor came over and told him that he was supposed to roll on the other side. He wasn't picking it up when I was uke. When he rolled on his left finally, it wasn't really great. He sort of rolled across his back and not over at all. I frankly don't think rollouts are a good idea for him at this point. My rollouts weren't great either but mostly because I was not extending and getting down enough.

I think part of my problem is that I am so passive that I am waiting for nage to throw me.... when in fact at some point I need to take over and do my ukemi. In fact, now that I think about it.... John Rogers made the same comment to me when he went to throw me. "I'm not going to throw you.... you need to do the work". Maybe I'll try that next class. Try and take over more when appropriate and not be such a soft uke waiting to be tossed like a dishrag.

Ok.... so now we do something judo like to defend against a mid-level side kick. You sort of step off line a bit to accept it, grab the ankle with one hand. Grab the back of the knee with the other hand and pull. It seemed to me that you're likely going to have to do a front breakfall so I asked Jim what ukemi I should be shooting for. His answer...... "anything you can". My beginner partner was having some trouble kicking high so I lowered my center and tried to keep good posture and did the same technique. On his first attempt as nage he grabbed my ankle/foot with both hands and turned. I sort of turned my whole body as I fell to keep myself safe. After that one he did fairly well.

Next up we did some kind of judo thing which was uke attacks with a yokomen strike. nage gets off line by steeping the back foot off to the side and squats sort of in a hanmi. Then nage grabs uke's ankle and pulls while simultaneously using the other hand like a blade to move across the inside of the knee. Uke falls.

We did some Yokomen iriminage. This was a no brainer for the most part for me as we did tons of this in the past. One improvment I'm trying to make is trying to j-step behind uke so when he's pushed back, he's further off balance by my leg/hip. It never felt right to me as nage. I think I'm missing something there.

Ok... its much later and I'm still have trouble reconcilling in my mind rolling on the unbendable arm and yet still rolling in a straight line. How is it I can extend out... not turn my body and still roll on my arm. I think I'd like to see someone do a correct roll with me in front of them.... so they roll toward me.

DAPI: 1.5
Twinge in my wrist from who knows what. Previous pains all gone 99.9%