Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday Morning Small Class

There were just three of us and the instructor (Matt). As a result we kept to line techniques the whole time. This was very cool. For some reason I wasn't plagued with my usual Sunday morning stiffness. The class start is usually at 8:15am so moving your body around at that hour can be tough. It's even worse in the winter.

A couple of the techniques were familiar although for one of them I was doing an outside version of it rather than stepping inside. I must ahve seen that at some point one night. Most of the techniques were simple in their form but hard to execute properly. In order to do them correctly you really needed to get the right grip.... or move your center just the right way, or rotate your hips just so. I went first a lot because of where I was in the line. This meant I didn't get to benefit from anyone else doing first. So... I had probably more things going wrong that I could have fixed. Overall, I did ok though.

As for ukemi, I was having a reasonably good morning. At one point I got thrown straight down by nage. I usually like throws that have me projecting away because I have more time to do something ukemi-wise. This one wen't straight down and it really wasn't supposed to be. Add to that my nage was quite strong (muscle wise - This guy does triathalons) and I had a tough ukemi. I couldn't get an arm down in time. I guess instinctively I curled up really tight and got my shoulder down and rolled. I had barely a twinge of discomfort from that.

That was a fun class. If I'm not dead tired, I may go to the advanced class Monday night after my regular class. I miss the line work.

Wrist still hurts a bit from long ago. Actually.... it doesn't hurt... but I can tell it won't take much abuse before it does start hurting again.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Wrong Hanmi Practice

Friday night.... Alan taught.

Did tsuki kotegaeshi with random foot position. When you get the wrong hanmi you just step in quickly.
Then did Shomenuchi Ikkyo with the wrong hanmi. He wanted us to take a step but sliding in and then stepping felt more natural to me.

Then suwari waza versions of the standard ikkyo.

Wrist not getting better or worse.

Wednesday Night Is Test Night

First class had no test requirements....
Mike had us doing something similar to what I've seen in the advanced class.... and I ate it up ukemi wise. I was having one of those classes where I felt like I couldn't be hurt. I was trying high breakfalls and lots of rolls. I had a lot of fun. One of the students who was about to test sat out after a bit, because he didn't feel as though his ukemi was up to it an he didn't want to kill himself just before his test. I understand the thought.

For the test there were 5 5th kyu tests.... and 2 4th kyu tests.

I thought I did only fair for the test. I did have an unfamiliar uke..... but that didn't matter too much. I just feel like I was missing a lot of fine details. Such as.... Cutting across the back for iriminage with my other hand. Keeping my kotegaeshi nice and crisp. My uke was giving me too much here I think... it was hard to tell. He may have had to go down that fast because I was doing it right. One thing about the test. I think for the most part I kept moving. Bob used to always say to me, if you are going to make a mistake... make a big one. In other words, one of the worst things you can do s just stand there wondering about your next move.

Overall, my balance was way off. I finished up one shihonage and I had to take a small step to recover my balance. I'm certain this was from tiredness. I worked fairly hard in the first class and I think it took its toll.

At Shodokan we also have an ukemi test even though its not a USAF requirement. It consisted of the same rolls that we usually do at the beginning of class. I did these so so.... being tired, a couple of the rolls didn't feel as good as they should. Nothing horrible. Sort of like my test. There was one hitch though. For the past 3 weeks Matt kept mentioning that we should watch the ukemi portion carefully and don't take anything for granted. During one class he rolled on the wrong side for his hanmi as an example of something that they may do. It's our job to prove we are paying attention and copy it.

The only thing I thought I saw was a series of rolls that was not done left/right/left. I believe I saw it as right/right/left. So... thats what I did. If that wasn't what to watch for, I have no idea what he did.

After the test Jim mentioned he he liked how my shihonage was starting out. I was really turning uke. Of course I sort of feel like I just sucked less about that one aspect of the technique. But hey...... this stuff takes time. I do know that I've done better with my techniques overall in the classes. I really wasn't having much test anxiety once I started. Just a little. I was just exhausted from the heat and first class.

After the test we had 12 minutes left of the normal second class period time so I stuck around and did what was left of the second class. It was a lot of fun. As I said.... I was having a good ukemi night. I may have only done fair for the test but I'm pretty sure it was well enough to pass. The first test they are little lenient but after that things tighten up. The class itself and the one after was just awesome. That made me really miss the advanced classes. I've been missing them for a bit. I'm going to try to hit them again.

If you look at my progress from day one though, I think I've improved quite a bit in a lot of areas. My overall health is better, my ukemi has progressed to be pretty fair(I had the worst ukemi of any beginner I've ever seen to date), and my techniques are coming along slowly.

Wrist... still.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Monday's Class - 5th kyu stuff.

monday - matts class had us doing ukemi warm up by rolling over the jo.... That was nice.
katetori kotegaeshi, ikkyo, iriminage, moretetori kokyuho.
Has us form two lines for a throw where you offer your hand and sort of move it around in a circle, uke goes behind you and you then cut down throwing uke forward.

We have a guy that started in open enrollment maybe a month or so ago. He is coming along.
He starts going around me and rather then going all the way around he sort of runs back into me. So I have him go for it again. This time as I threw him I couldn't get him to come around me again so I helped him a little by moving one step to my left. Now he had a clear path and I just cut down normally. Bob who was my first sensei liked that I was helping the beginner in this way. You can't expect someone that new to be able to pick right up whats happening and where they need to go. Actually, I myself went where I was led. In the case of one nage, he left his hand out and I tried running around him the wrong way because I wasn't thinking and thought he was leading me that way. Matt showed us how he should be baiting me on the other side.

For my turn, I figured out the throw just as I had finished. I did ok... just not stellar. I can do this better if I see it again I'm sure.

When it was Bob's turn to throw everyone, I lost my grip a bit and he and I grabbed each other on the hand to maintain the connection. He was throwing really well with his center so it felt strong. When he cut me down I thought to myself that it was a tad fast but no problem. So I rolled out nice and fast out of it.

Wrist still not healed up ... but not getting worse.

Sunday - Matt taught

In preperation for the upcoming test we covered ikkyo, iriminage, and ushiro kotegaeshi. It's been too long at this point for me to remember many details. The ushiro kotegaeshi is still a little bothersome for me.

I stayed after class with two others and we each did a practice run for the test.


Friday... Allan is back

Alan's ukemi warmup is a little different. He doesn't have us do weeble rolls but does have us do a roll that is hands free and you just roll over and unroll into sort of a judo-like breakfall. A lot of instructors will have us do this but not hands free. I do fine with these as long as I try not to think about it too much.

Typical Alan class we worked on sankyo, suwari waza sankyo. Alan has a tendency to pound on 2 or 3 techniques all night rather than doing more. The good part of this is you really get a chance to work the bugs out. The bad part of this is that your wrists can get abused in the same way over and over.

Wrist still a bit tweaky

Thursday, July 20, 2006

How Do You Tie Your Belt?

One of the first things I wondered about was tying your belt. Now.. most people can just learn from their sempai. Where I started there were like no students to learn from. Cape Ann was just starting out.

My sensei tied it for me the first time but I never really figured out what he did from one showing. So, after some research on the web I found this link.

If your a visual person, it's quite helpful. The person that thought to do this is a genius. If anyone ties their belt a different way I'd love to hear it. It seems a lot of people at Shodokan seem to do it this way anyway.

Contributing Means More Than Paying Dues

I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on how I personally have contributed to the Shodokan dojo. I think others could benefit from knowing this as well.

I've helped with monthly cleaning chores.

I've helped with spring cleaning including pulling all the trash away from the building on Franklin St (10 garbage bags that included saw blades and broken glass as the more pleasant of items).

I've recently helped scrub the mats down.

I pulled down and cleaned fans for the hot weather.

I've offerred to help on the website several times but the help was refused.

I sweep the mats pretty much at every opportunity after class. Except for the one time I was told I was "exempt" from sweeping because I helped scrub them last weekend.

So... I probably do more than the average student. Now.... I don't need a medal or a pat on the head for doing what I should be doing anyway but for those of you confused about whether I am helping out...... perhaps now you can make more informed decisions. Perhaps next time.... you should just ask why I am not helping sweep the mats. I didn't sweep... because I was told not to.

Maybe someday in the future... I won't be able to sweep because I have to visit a sick friend. The point is.... you can't make assumptions based on one observation. If I miss sweeping one time does it really require you to physically push me?

Lighten up and go with the flow.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

100 Degree Day

Sensei Mulligan wanted to take over the class for Tuesday to do a 100 degree class. That's how hot it was outside the dojo. Inside had to be worse I'm sure.

We concentrated on basic exercises at first. Doing some kokyuho movements and having a partner test you. Also did some blocking to a shomen attack and had a partner test our finishing posture. Relaxation was stressed. We moved on to some simple jujitsu basically teaching us to get away from a simple wrist grab, cross grab and two hand grab. At the end we started working on two techniques. One was simply taking hold of someones hand as if to shake it and driving your uke to the ground. You sort of did it by bending the wrist a bit and turning and spiralling the hand down. The second technique was once you were on the ground you could use your feet to scissor uke's leg to drive him to the ground.


I'm Red Faced

No... I'm not mad.... I'm hot.... REALLY HOT !!!

Never in my life has my face ever turned red from just merely being hot. Until last nights session. When I got home my wife asked me where I had been. She thought I had a sunburn on my face. It was all from the heat. As soon as I cooled off my face was normal. I made sure I drank water as soon as I got home. This is in addition to all the water I drank at the dojo.

Tonight looks like it's going to be worse. But.... Tuesday nights tend to be shorter classes typically as we have to make way for the judo folks.

Last night we basically went through the whole 5th kyu test again. The people testing for 4th kyu just did tsuki iriminage instead of shomenuchi iriminage and so forth. Overall I did things pretty well. I still think my rough spot is doing kotegaeshi ( particularly the ushiro version).

For corrections I was asked to make my ura version of ikkyo a bit smoother. I sort of did the tenkan in two parts. My uke was large and I had to lead/lug him around as he didn't really follow me. I'll have to work on keeping him in my center so I can move him more easily.

My irminage was ok but it was suggested that I can make adjustments if need be. Don't feel stuck just because you slid into that spot. You can still move around a bit. If nothing else use the flexibility in your hips and knees and stay soft. Also... since my uke was coming around kind of fast try to stay out of the way. I noticed I get better results with this technique if I go slower.

My shihonage went ok. My ura feels better than my omote. It seems to be a lot smoother and my timing is better for some reason. I'm doing better with my hands and arms for this technique again. Although..... I remember in other pracice sessions doing an atemi that we don't seem to practice lately. Maybe that was for a different attack.... or perhaps its just not necessary for 5th kyu and we have enough to think about.

Tenchinage was fine as well. I tried to work my timing out so that my hands are working in unison. Seems like a simple technique but in reality I think its a tough one to do correctly.

Tsuki kotegaeshi was fairly nice. I do ok with this at this point. I even remember to keep uke's hand in front of my center and give a good tenkan. My toughest part on this is working out how to get the blade edge of their hand tucked into my arm for the pin. I frequently twist it the wrong way.

Ushiro tekubitori kotegaeshi. I still have some questions on this. I think for this one I'm better off just doing it and not thinking too hard about it. You scoop and step out into a hanmi with uke's hand in front of your center than I believe you need to step back and tenkan.

Moretori kokyuho went very well. I had a strong partner for this one. This guy tends to resist a good amount. I was relaxed and pushed him right over with no problem. He told me I was using too much strength. After looking at the technique, I realized that at the beginning of the movement I was using a little strength to pull him forward before coming up and through. I stopped it and just used my center. Uke thought I was still using strength but I'm convinced I was just doing it correctly. I really was totally relaxed. Nice to be able to do one thing fairly well(for my level).

During practice my old sensei from Cape Ann commented that he thought I was looking more fit. This is definitely true. In the past 6 months I've lost 25lbs. I'm pretty much back down to the weight I was at when I got married 13 years ago. I really do miss the dojo in Cape Ann. We had fresh sea air and a beautiful wood floor under the mats(which felt softer). It had a nicer feel to it overall. We did not however have much room.

I've started looking at the paperwork for the upcoming test. I have to count days/hours. This is where my blog will help out. I need to look over when I started and include all days I had taken a class from an instructor. There were a few days back at the cape ann dojo where class was cancelled but we practiced anyway. I'm not counting those. Actually, I have just about 60 days at Shodokan alone so really.... I'm all set for hours. I just have to document them.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Scrub The Mats

After class on Sunday we scrubbed the mat down. We had four people in a row moving down the mat with a couple others replacing the buckets of water/disinfectant. I guess the first time they did this it was quite bad. This time I could see the mat looked better but not a huge difference. I will say this though..... One thing I did notice was when I was all done and I looked at the knees of my gi and saw huge yellow stain from where I dragged my knees across the entire mat. A little bleach added to the wash took this out no problem.

For techniques that day we did
Ikkyo (omote) - This was ok. Matt suggested that I pin the shoulder down as I am kneeling down.

Iriminage - Ok.... I haven't done enough of this lately.... I forgot to use my other hand on uke's back. In fact, I didn't remember this until the next day. For this technique Matt suggested that I get my timing better. I was lifting uke rather than letting uke rise on his own. I also had a tendency to clothesline more than I usually do. You really want to go up and over sort of on the chin I think. Not across the neck.

Ushiro Kotageashi (by request) - Matt asked if anyone wanted to see something. I picked this. Since I had only seen this in a few classes. Seems straightforward enough though. Step out.... then do it.

I was hoping to have myself checked out again after class but since we had to clean the mats and I had to go there was no time afterwards.


Tuesday class

Again, I think I've waited to long to write this so I've forgotten at this point most of what we were up to.

I remember starting out with a couple of line techniques. These went ok.
At one point we were doing ushiro tekubitori kotegaeshi. When you step out, you end up with an incorrect hanmi for the tenkan. So.... She suggested you need to take a step forward and then tenkan. This is exactly the opposite of Matt telling me to take a step back. I think perhaps there may not be a 'correct' way of doing it. I'm starting to slowly realize that aikido is very situational and not a cookbook.

In one instance stepping back may be correct.... in other's I could see stepping forward being a better idea. A lot of it would depend on what direction uke's energy is being directed.

The more I learn.... the more I suspect I know very little.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

5th Kyu Class

Matt had us do the entire 5th kyu test for class last night. It felt good just to do everything once. It's been a while since I did some of the techniques.

In general I did ok. I got corrections almost with every technique but I didn't feel as though I was just standing there befuddled.

The toughest one for me was the ushiro tekubitori kotegaeshi because I hadn't seen in much at all .... ever. So ... it was like learning something new. Realistically... it's just a simple matter of stepping forward out and taking uke with you.... then doing a kotegaeshi.

The other nice thing was that we worked with different people for every technique. This is nice in a lot of ways. Some people have no flexibility, some resist, some do the techniques amazingly well, and some do the ukemi great. It's just nice to get exposed to everyone.

This was the most fun I've had in a class for a while. I really would like to get the kinks out before testing but I don't know if that's possible.

I still have a tendency to break the techniques down into steps. So as a result my motions aren't always as smooth as they could be.

Wrist tweaked by a fast kotegaeshi I didn't follow well.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Uh... Hello Again Jim

I guess Jim couldn't escape teaching. He's back for now.

I've been trying to roll a little less square.... I'm trying to roll more from shoulder to hip like most people do. I've been rolling on my spine a little more than I should.

We worked on shihonage and kotogaeshi in class.
After class I watched both people going for 4th kyu do their pretest.
Then Matt asked me to go through the 5th kyu requirements.

I Stood there befuddled most of the time. My performance was so bad that Matt couldn't sign off on me. He was puzzled.... he has seen me do the techniques fine in class. In fact... once I got going he said I did them well enough.

I was really out of it for some reason. Maybe test anxiety..... I'm really bothered by the kotogaeshi. Particularly the ushiro one. I've seen that one maybe 4 times total. When I told Matt this he said we just did it... I said 'Wednesday right?' I can't come most wednesdays.

He suggested I work a little extra after class or before... just grab someone. Particlularly, he suggested that I just start each technique. Don't even do the throw. Just start each one and get going and then do the next one.

When I left the dojo I was pretty bummed out. Aside from the kotogaeshi.... I'm sure I know the techniques well enough. I really felt like I shouldn't be testing. It seems odd. I honestly think if I had help after classes and I was able to make it to class for a month that I'd be fine.

But.... I've missed a couple classes.... had to go straight home because of family on other nights and missed out because of the holiday weekend(no classes for the 4th).

My wife is getting me there an extra day this week. Maybe that will be enough to jar my brain.

As for testing... I'm conflicted. On one hand I almost don't care if I ever test. On the other... I really should take the test to mark progress. Although I feel better than I did this morning..... I'm still quite discouraged.


Friday's Class

Sensei Mulligan taught the class.

We did a couple of 5th kyu techniques..... a couple of 4th kyu techniques. It's a blur now of course but we did work on tenchinage and shomenuchi nikkyo at the very least.

It's been a while since I've done tenchinage so that was cool. After a couple of corrections, sensei gave me a verbal pat on the head. I was able to actually listen to his suggestions and successfully apply them.

My shomenuchi nikkyo was ok this night. I had more trouble with the hand transition than anything else.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Good bye Jim and ... Thanks !

Jim has been teaching Sunday morning classes since I started at Shodokan. It was today that he announced he was 'taking a break' for a while. Several of the other instructors seem to come by to say goodbye. I wanted to say goodbye to Jim but he was running through some stuff with Sensei Mulligan and I didn't want to interrupt.

I hope he comes back at some point. I always thought his aikido was interesting. More martial perhaps.... less flowery.

For his last class, Jim had us do shomenuchi ikkyo, shomenuchi nikkyo, yonkyo, and koshinage. I think the first two were for those of us taking the upcoming tests. The last two seem to be Jim's current favorites. It is likely I won't see much of either technique for a while now that Jim's gone. Although..... Allan did do an entire night of koshinage recently.

I'm curious to see who will be filling in for the Sunday class. Waking up that early particularly in winter to teach takes a certain kind of dedication.... or is that insanity?

Matt was already coming to the morning class, so it woudn't shock me to see him take over the class. This means I will likely die.... I'm not sure I can do a weeble roll that early in the morning.

I asked Matt on Friday if he were coming Sunday morning. He said yes after a moments pause. I was hoping he would be able to work a little longer with me after class to help evaluate where I need help for the upcoming test. Basically, the test is in a few weeks and I have had very little prep for it. Worse yet.... the 4th of July is here so I can't go Monday or Tuesday night. Matt came in to say goodbye to Jim but didn't have a gi or anything with him. I figured today was not the best day to be asking him for help. I'll try and catch him some other day.

I'm guessing that I need kotagaeshi help more than anything else. I don't seem to see this much in class. At this point I'm wondering where I need work. I'd feel a lot better if I could have someone take a look to see where I am. I just found out about the test and with the 4th of July holiday and such, I'm not going to get the extra training time that most people seem to get before a test.

This is the requirements list. I'd be taking the 5th kyu test.

(What can I say..... yonkyo)

No News??

No news is good news? For whatever reason the people at the paper chose not to attend Friday night. They missed out. We had a pretty packed house with a lot of the black belts attending.

Sensei Mulligan had us doing several techniques all designed around moving with our center. After some practice I managed to improve a bit on most of them.

At the end, the class split up into two sections. The higher ranks on one side of the room were led by sensei Mulligan and the lower ranks were led by Jim. What a suprise when one of the techniques turned into yonkyo.

(Yonkyo ouch)