Saturday, September 30, 2006

Attended a Class With Shira

A large number of instructors have moved on from Shodokan. One of them has taught a free aikido class at Salem State once a week. I emailed to show my face say hello and practice. Matt was unavailable and he asked Shira to teach so off we went.

What I expected to see was a group of young students who have had 2 classes. What I ended up seeing were some familiar faces.

Shira warmed us up (tons of stretching) and we did the normal ukemi practice. I'm starting to dissect my ukemi a little. I can land safely enough and rolling is obvious but for the weeble rolls.... I was wondering if I'm doing a true weeble roll or something between a weeble roll and a breakfall. In other words I don't think I'm turning over like I should be. I'll have to look at this more.

We did some line work with a few different kokyunage. I'll be darned if I know the names. I've done most of them before.

We did some extensive tenchinage work. First working on the earth hand and then the heaven hand. One of the obvious things was something I was missing. For the earth hand you need to bring them down in the correct direction. Basically the hand goes down and you want to bring uke's hand to where he has no balance. This is usually perpendicular to where the legs are set. In other words, think of ikkyo. When you pull the '3 legged table' you pull toward the missing leg.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Exercise Your Center

Or more to the point..... our awareness of our centers.
Gotta stop waiting most of the week to blog. Bad habit. As a result my details are sketchy.

Start with some tenkans as part of warm up exercises.

So we did a few exercises designed to help us move along/with our centers. I remember doing similar exercises with Bob at Cape Ann. There was one point where he was stressing keeping our shoulders relaxed and open. I don't know about other folks but this used to be and likely is still a problem for me. I tend to push in and most of the time I'm not even aware I'm doing it. I might have a lot of bad habits but this one is at the forefront of my mind and always has been. I even notice it when I'm doing simple cuts with a bokken. Somehow I have trouble getting into a relaxed posture.

Maybe if I start practicing with my bokken at home more I can get my shoulders to relax and open up.

So, we continued the exercise which really was a kotagaeshi really slow. At one point Bob worked with me and tried to fix a spot in my technique where I was just disappearing. He thought perhaps I wasn't entering deep enough. But at the point I disappear (I'm no longer pulling uke off-balance and I'm neutral) I'm in a position that would make you think that being a little ahead of uke would be a good thing. I think perhaps I simply wasn't moving my arm out enough. So if we do this again in the future I'll be stepping in deeper and paying attention more to where my arm is to off-balance uke.

There were plenty of other things that we did but as usual waiting too long to record what we did has me forgetting what exactly went on. I know this was Matts first class in a while. Bob's son Matt showed up. Bob used him as uke to demonstrate the effects of atemi on an attacker. He didn't actually make contact or anything but Matt has a background of full contact so Bob could count on his reactions. Nice to see him.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Fuzzy Headed Sunday

No big surprise but there were only two of us plus the instructor for Sunday's class. It's a small class anyway and there is a seminar in the area with Ellis Amdur that lots of people are headed for. I myself would have loved to see him but couldn't go.

I was a bit fuzzy headed yesterday morning. Worse yet, because there were only the two of us I was best able to taje ukemi for demonstrations. I find it hard at times to do a technique when I haven't seen it. Feeling it is helpful.... seeing it a few times is a good way for me to start out.

From what I recall... we did...

yokomenuchi kotagaeshi, yokomenuchi attack with a throw of some kind.
Cut the attacking hand down into you other hand(grab it). and sort of step in with palm up lifting is arm up by levering it and turn arm over with an unbendable arm and throw.

yokomenuchi ikkyo, and yokomenuchi shihonage

I swept the floor and then left.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Almost Landed On My Head

Tonight I think everyone was distracted and didn't notice the time. As a result we didn't line up until Bob stepped on to the mat. Ah.. oops.

Before class we just sat a little extra time in seiza while Bob spoke(although we were invited to sit crosslegged if needed). Aside from just general information I'm sure having the students lining up late may also have been the impetus for this particular talk.

We did a quick round of stretching and warmed up with some line work. A couple of simple, grab the hand and drop your center type of 'throws'. Toward the end I was realizing that I was doing something more akin to a weeble roll. I noticed some of the students all doing a forward roll so I purposely did a couple of forward rolls at the end just to make sure I could. Although they feel less natural for me, the forward roll with a tenkan allowed me to get up a lot faster. Really, I should practice this more.

One of the exercises was to grab uke with both hands and sort of fall/sit backwards. Pulling uke with your center forward. Everyone pretty much did it the same way from my perspective except there was this one guy who is just a big guy. When he pulled me forward it was like being tossed from a flywheel. He had a solid connection to my wrist and pulled VERY fast. I was practically pulled off my feet. For the ukemi, I did a roll with no arm and tucked my head in. The roll was slightly uncomfortable but really fine. I didn't really whack anything. The other thing about it was that the ukemi was pure instinct. There was no thinking involved because there was no chance to think. Although not pretty I'm sure, I was fairly happy to take a fast throw without getting mangled.

For techniques, we did a repeat of last week. We did a tsuki kotagaeshi where nage steps back and cuts with the cross hand down. Keeping that hand live but with relaxed shoulders. Then grab the hand for the kotagaeshi and tenkan. My uke kept giving me a fist so I followed the fingers with my own.

Then we did a kotagaeshi with an uppercut as an attack. We still step back but blend with the attack and grab the fist and follow the fingers and sort of push uke straight down. I helped Bob demo this to the class. I actually forgot that I have loose shoulders and forgot to tap early. Frankly I was just enjoying the stretch. He sort of smiled and said "Good". He was pleased to see that I was flexible there. I apologized to him after class if I wasn't a good uke for the demo and that if this were a real fight I realize that he could just break my elbow among other things. I really wasn't trying to be a wise-ass or anything. I really do just tap out usually. I just forgot this time.

In fact for the standing pins we were doing for the kotagaeshi I was just tapping out early again.

At one point in class we did an exercise where we had one nage sorrounded by 7 or so uke's. Nage would make eye contact and that uke would come in with a tsuki attack. Bob asked us to try and keep it to the one kotagaeshi exercise we were doing earlier. By breathing for this one was easy and even because I knew where the attack was going to come from. In contrast, when we did this with the two knives a while back my breathing was erratic and I had a lot of wasted motion. This is because with the knife attacks I didn't know exactly where the next attack was coming from. The key to these quasi-randori things seems to be breathing. I try to stay relaxed and focused. For tonight's version I missed a couple of the throws because I stepped back too far or something like that. I really should have just moved back in. Aikido is about harmonizing with the attacker. I have to do that better somehow.

Took a small poke to the eye with my partner doing suwariwaza koyuho of all things. I was getting back up and must have leaned into her outstretched hand. Ouch. Eye bothered me for about 5 minutes and then felt normal. You'd think I could have at least blinked. Isn't that supposed to be autonomic?

Everything's fine. Even my head/shoulder is fine from the surprise fall.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cool.... a Repeat of Last Sunday

This is two similar classes in a row so I'm guessing this will be the format for Sunday's. Peter, who teaches this class has us do a kokyunage of some kind. A line technique of some kind and then a technique(probably from a test).

Today's line technique was similar to a technique I had done in the long gone advanced class I used to attend. I believe Peter called it a jujinage. Basically, uke walks up and grabs the same side wrist. Nage does a tenkan while raising his hand up with blade side out. Take a step back and pull uke around to face you... grab the attacking hand with the attacked wrist hand. Use your other hand to grab the other arm/wrist and use one arm to pin the other by crossing uke's arm. Do this while taking a j-step.

The one in the advanced class a long while back had the second hand grab precipitated by an atemi to uke's head, When he blocks you grab the second arm and then do the throw.

Most of the class we started out with moretori attacks.

We did do some suwari waza ikkyo at one point as well.

I feel fine.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Alan Didn't Remember The Name But I've Done This

We did a technique I've seen in the old advanced classes.

Uke does a tsuki strike. Step off the line. Grab uke's attacking arm with both hands. Your hands end up crossed as you grab the arm. Step forward with foot closest to uke and kneel down on the back foots knee. Throw. Timing here is real important.

We were doing monkey in the middle practice for this technique.... One of my two uke's would try and throw me over his head rather than over the shoulder. So I always had to attempt a breakfall.

Kotagaeshi - 3 ways.... We did the original long way that you see in the 5th kyu test.... a quicker way where you enter and tenkan forward immediately back in front of uke.... and a third method where you just sort of grab the arm and wrist/hand and do the kotagaeshi(very minimal motion).

Looked over at the new students for about 2 seconds.... they started shihonage today. There seem to be 4 of them now. The new guy is a Salem State student who like me has never done any martial arts before.


Line Ukemi As a Warm Up

Ukemi practice was interesting. After stretching, Bob had us set up a line where he threw each of us several times. Various rolls were needed for the ukemi. Nice warm up.

Since almost a week has gone by I can't remember much of this class. My apologies.

I do remember a choke that we did for a few minutes. My partner was a lot taller than me so to get the choke, I had to practically jump up and grap his gi lapel from behind. Pull so that the gi cuts across the neck. The other hand has got his arm tied up and I believe I had my hand behind his neck.

I do remember that this was fun class.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday Morning's Started Again Finally

By the way... as it turns out last Saturday's class was actually cancelled. Apparently it was announced on Wednesday and Friday night but that didn't do me any good as I only made it to Tuesday's class.

Peter McDade taught the Sunday morning class. He gave an excellent class with quite the varied group of techniques. It was just this morning but we did some much I don't think I can recall it all. We started with a koykuho of some kind. Moved on to tenchinage, then kotagaeshi, and then sankyo. They might seem totally unrelated but the common thread was the similar entry. We started with a two hand grab and either moved the hands up and over uke's in a double nikkyo forcing uke down or.... we went to the outside with the hands and did the kotagaeshi.

The tenchinage was similar to how Bob teaches it. Slide in and tenkan while keeping the earth hand in front of your center. Then turn your hips back and do the throw.

We did the kotagaeshi from a line. That was kind of nice. Peter asked if I had done breakfalls out of a kotagaeshi and I told him no. I have wanted to learn it but just haven't had to opportunity. One thing I noticed is that when Diana is in a line she usually throws just like she's supposed to. That means that I can expect a really strong kotagaeshi. So... when she did it I tried to go up and over. Sure enough... I was right. She did the techinque fairly strongly. My ukemi although ugly was fine. I had a blast.

Usual problem though..... We went through a technique a couple of times and just as I get a correction such that I think I can do it better we stop and move to the next technique. We always seems to stop just one round too early. Of course... that could just be because I'm always learning. If we did it three times I'd think four would have helped. If we did it six times.... then I'm sure I'd think seven would have been nice.

DAPI: 1.5 (same day)
Wrists worked but not bad at all..... probably will feel fine in the morning.

Can't Get Enough Ikkyo

We started off with Alan teaching. He warmed us up with some stretches and then some rolls. He then started us off with suwari waza ikkyo. I was doing pretty well with this. Then he moved us on to a standing technique of some kind..... then around this point sensei Mulligan asked if I would be a partner for one of the new people.

A long while back in one of Shira's Tuesday night classes a group of three younger folk came in to watch. They signed up and apparently started. They were practicing an ikkyo starting from a crosshand wrist grab. Move the hand in a big circle up and around and then into the ikkyo. This was one of the most interesting classes I've had in a while. It's rare for me to actually train with someone who has lots less experience then me. I did my best to be a good uke for him. Right or wrong I decided rather than just simply moving my hand around I'd keep it in front of me and start moving with my hips so I am moving from my center. Then I would come down with really nice extension and then take a step or two for the pin. Sensei Mulligan commented that he liked my upright posture and extension for this. Nice to know I can get some aspects of a technique right.

A little ways in sensei Mulligain asked if I wanted to continue with the regular class and I offerred to stay with the beginners so the new guy would have a partner (there were 3 of them). Sensei was quite appreciative. It was really no big deal and there is always some aspect I can always refine. Also, I had an interesting experience being sempai for a change. Pretty much everyone in the dojo has more experience than I do.

One of the funniest things working with the new guy was that I was pinning him slowly to be careful and he started struggling to get up quite a bit just as I was putting his arm down slowly on the mat. Sensei looked over and laughed and said.... "He's going slow and being gentle with you and your fighting". He was getting no where and he was still getting pinned but I imagine he was getting tired faster. I must have been doing the pin correctly because I found it quite easy to keep him there.

I forgot to mention it to sensei but I meant to tell him that he was hyper extending my elbow on the ikkyo pin. He wasn't doing it hard enough to cause any damage and released it when I tapped but I'd be concerned that if he did it to someone else they could take some elbow damage.

Other interesting things I noticed were things like..... his confusion over who's attacking who and what wrist to grab with what hand. These are all familiar to me. It's been a while since I had those particular issues but I do remember it. He also had tried resisting in different areas occassionally.

One thing I noticed was his physical condition. I think the ikkyo pin was hurting him and he wasn't tapping out.... I'm not sure. I kept asking and I wasn't getting a clear answer. I tried to be careful.

Here is a guy probably half my age that seems so off-balance when put down in an ikkyo.... and seemed out of breath at times just from a light workout. It's really given me an appreciation for the benefits I've gained in the past year from aikido. I hope he sticks with it.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

How Is the Dojo Cat Surviving?

My twins birthday was on Friday and although we are having a party for them on Sunday my in-laws insist on giving them their gift on their 'actual' birthday and at the worst possible time. Since they are giving the kids bicycles... there is no way I can miss their first rides. As a result, there is no way I can get to class. There is no choice here.

So... I missed Friday night's class. To make matters worse, I attempted to go to the Saturday class. It appears that either the times for Saturdays class have changed or the class was outright cancelled with no notice. Checking the website says that class begins at 10:30am. The schedule posted on the board in the dojo has the class beginning at 10am or something like that. When I arrived there was an escrima class going on and a bunch of kids showing up for what I think was the judo class. No aikido to be seen anywhere. No signs or postings reflecting a cancellation.

This situation is really frustrating. I've offerred on at least 4 occassions my help in updating the website. Each time I've been refused. It just isn't that hard to change the schedule so it would be correct. In my mind there is no excuse for this. and yes..... I feel like I do get to complain because I've offerred to fix the problem.

There were signs posted that there is no class on Monday so I can't go then.

I sincerely feel like all the missed class problems from the Cape Ann dojo are now occurring at the Shodokan dojo. Only... it's worse. Why? Because between the website... bulletin board or class announcements there is plenty of opportunity to communicate schedule changes. It just doesn't seem to be a priority to keep the students informed.

It would take so little effort to make problems like this go away. I simply don't understand how a situation like this can occur. This is not the first time I've experienced this either.

Makes me wonder how the dojo cat actually survives.