Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We Had a Visitor

I believe his name was Robert. He happened to be in town for business and decided to come to a couple of classes while he was in this area. That to me seems like an excellent idea. If I ever had to travel I'd go to the local dojo for the experience. He was from Water Oak Aikdio in North Carolina.

Their website has a quite a bit in it including photos of the dojo construction.

We did some suwari waza sankyo. The ura version is hard for me as I have trouble getting out of my own way.

We also worked on yonkyo a bit. Unfortunately, at the time I was paired up with our visitor Robert who unfortunately is quite competent at yonkyo. He likely, did it better than any other student we had in class that night. Before I really got a chance to work on it(after corrections) we moved on.

The second class was just Robert and I(although Igor joined us for the jo kata). We did some runs through the 31 jo kata, ushiro versions of kotagaeshi and kokyunage. Robert had some pretty breakfalls for the kotagaeshi. Watching him gave me a clue as to how to move. I think I want to try a few breakfalls at some point for practice. Let me be clearer.... Although I have done breakfalls, I've never done one out of a kotagaeshi.

There are a couple hand changes of the kata that I know I'm not getting. I did notice though that even though I hadn't done this in a while I was doing the basic motions better. I think some of it must have digested over time somehow.

Freakin yonkyo. Left wrist still weak.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fantasitc Sunday Morning

Sunday morning was brutal because it was so cold in the morning its hard to get going.

I always feel better after class and this one in particular was fantastic. It reminded me a great deal of the advanced class that used to run a while back.

Hanmi handachi one hand grab/draw arm out to the side(seemed to me to be like a sword draw) rotating at wrist a bit, step deep under arm, bring ukes arm down and around then up the back rotate hips and throw with a step.
We did one version and then the outside (soto?) version.

Then we did some kind of ikkyo like technique. It has a name but I don't recall it. Start with a two hand grab, nage does a tenkan and a j-step ( arm is in an upright position 90 degrees to your elbow, give uke this to rotate around) bring arm down into an ikkyo. Now get down as if you were doing a sankyo, but instead of reaching under the arm... you reach over the arm and grab your own arm/wrist. Then rotate your hips, bringing the whole mess up and around/over.

We did a Moretetori Shihoinage. Got the same correction for this teacher I've heard before last time I did this with him (maybe a month ago). I am not doing anything with my other hand. He wants me to have the other hand be live even if it isn't being used on uke.

And some... irimi nage - two handed, bring head down to shoulder so when you rotate the hips uke is thrown.

Kotagaeshi - same beginning as the weird ikkyo.... tenkan, j-step, grab for the hand and take two steps back and tenkan for the throw.

We did jujinage. I've done this a few times. In some ways a tough ukemi. Both your arms are crossed so it leaves little time to get an arm down for a roll. I just rolled over my shoulder

Finished with moretetori kokyuho.

For whatever reason, I left this class totally jazzed. I felt good, the aikido felt good. It's been a while. We did an awful lot though.


Attended Alan's Class Friday Night

We'll see if I can remember anything from it at some point....
I know at least we ran down a lot of the 4th kyu requirements. My nikkyo was excellent for omote and horrible for ura this time. This is usually the other way around. For whatever reason rotating my hand around came very naturally and was just a piece of cake. For the ura version I was all thumbs.

We had an odd number of people so while I was waiting for my turn sensei Mulligan calls me over to work with the new class. I was happy to help. My ushiro needed work apparently. I think I got as many corrections as everyone else. I probably benefited more than the new folks.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

That Elbow Is Actually an Atemi to the Head.

We started out with our stretching and actually did some rolls to begin class. Probably for the benefit of the beginner class. I took as much advantage of it as I could.

A good deal of time was spent once again on sort of a free practice. We aren't going full out or anything, just practicing between a few people with them coming one at a time.

I don't really think it was an accident... maybe it was.... but Bob moved people around and at one point I was with the two strongest people in the class. This was awesome. After a few corrections I was really doing the motion correctly. I was putting so little effort into moving my hands to where they needed to be, I just assumed they weren't really trying very hard. They said they were. So at least I got one aspect down ok.

One of the techniques had you moving your elbow under uke's chin and you can flip your arm over so he falls. It was pointed out however this is just for practice and in reality what you really might want to do is elbow the guy hard and then move your arm over.

Overall, I felt much better about my ukemi for this class than last weeks. I tried doing more rolls instead of just flopping onto the mat. Once again I had to roll with no arm down a couple of times. In one case my rolling arm was grabbed by nage on purpose for some reason. Since it sort felt like a throw and not a projection I just went with it. I rolled over my shoulder with no arm down. The only other thing I could've done was to breakfall but I just did whatever without thinking about it. Basically making the subconcious choice to do what was most comfortable and therefore hopefully safer.

Kim and I did the second session alone with Bob. Just like old times at Cape Ann. Bob continued what we were doing from the first class except that we had a projection throw of some kind to start with. Rather than tiring ourselves out normally with the exercise, Kim get's ambitious and wants to dynamically grab uke. So we do that instead. I guess it was a good workout. Frankly though, I'd just like to get the technique down before I try to add to it.

As an aside.... One of my friends sort of faked a punch to my chest area the other day. It was at full speed but he was obviously going to pull it. Without even thinking about it I had deflected the strike and started moving behind him. I guess without thinking about it I was going for an irimi nage. Neat. Some of this is becoming wired in.

(Wrist is better from Friday now)

Friday the 13th - When things go wrong

We had our usual Friday class with Alan. There was really just me and three of the people who just started so we combined the beginners class with the basic class (since I was in a class by myself). The class was taught for the beginners but even still I didn't mind at all. It gives me a feeling of helping out. Also, it gives me a chance to go back and smooth out some of the kinks that I may have accumulated.

The second class, normally an advanced class taught by sensei Mulligan was replaced by the traditional Friday the 13th class. On this class day sensei Mulligan likes to go over what happens when things go wrong. Since it wasn't a normal class I was invited to join.

Included in the things that go wrong were.....
Grabbing a hand differently, grabbing a hand without a foot under it, too high a shihonage allowing uke to spin out of it, spinning into a sankyo. There were many more. Grabbing a hand with the wrong foot forward actually was very difficult... it seemed the more advanced the student, the harder it was for them to grab you incorrectly.

The most memorable moment was pain related of course. During the sankyo exercise my partner(a very experienced student) started to pretend to throw elbow atemi's at my head (stopping short of course). We were wondering why such a gaping whole was there... so we asked sensei Mulligan. He said that we weren't bringing uke up. So he grabs me, puts a sankyo on me and has me on my toes in an instant. The movement was so sudden and painful, it didn't occur to me to tap for a moment. So... on my turn I put my partner in such a strong sankyo, he actually couldn't spin out of it. For the rest of the practice I was looking for that weaker sankyo. What I ended up doing most of the time was the good one and I just let up on it letting him spin into it.

If nothing else, I patched a major hole in my sankyo. Now maybe I can find the smaller ones.... next.

(My wrist is a maraca from that sankyo)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday Night Tenchinage

Apologies for the length of this post but I attended two classes Monday night.

I started out with stiff neck and shoulders from moving heavy objects in my house but it didn't seem to matter. When I finished I was still stiff but during practice I had totally forgotten about it.

Once again working on moving from our centerline. I understood the point but I seem to have trouble getting the motion to feel natural. At the very end of the second class I started improving.

We had a real good two classes. Both classes stressed the same things and we slowly built up. In the end Kim and I went back to the simpler version of the technique just to practice one aspect of it. Kim commented that it was one of the best Bob classes ever because we stayed in the same technique (flavors of tenchinage). Even the line work used tenhinage or something else where the main aspect was maintaining the centerline.

We did a few drills during the course of the class. One drill has you moving in a sideways motion putting a foot in front and twisting your hips at the same time. I chuckled when I first saw it because it really is just the hora done very fast.

Later on when Bob was trying to get us used to fitting in for hip throws he had us do a drill where we were putting our hands against the wall, stepping in with both feet and turning our hips... then stepping out and doing the same thing to the other side. I got a chance to try and lift Bob up for fitting in for a hip throw. After a couple of corrections I was getting it fairly well. It was really easy to lift someone in that manner too. It's a real basic grab the lapel and arm and pull uke in a bit and lift up.

Bob commented that he thought my ukemi was good tonight but it didn't seem that way to me. I had to think about the comment and realized he probably was thinking about how I took a couple of hip throws fairly well. I was in the correct position for the side breakfall. Frankly, as long as your willing to just go for a ride there really doesn't seem to be much for the ukemi. I have a post about hip throws I wrote a while back where my biggest problem was that I wasn't keeping a firm enough center. So when I was thrown I would bend at the waist and my legs would come slamming down hard on the mat as they followed my body. Because of Matt's corrections I now keep a firmer center, not stiff as a board but firm. Doing this will make sure you land your whole body all at once which is more comfortable. Also, for reasons I can't explain, these falls are more comfortable now then they were when I started. It could be the weight loss I experienced.... or perhaps that I'm simply more relaxed when I impact.

Also, perhaps Bob saw my emergency ukemi. You always want to get an arm down there if you can but on occassion I just can't. There is a guy that looks like a linebacker in the class who throws fairly hard. One or two of the times he threw me I didn't have time to get an arm down so I just rolled starting at my shoulder. I'm actually not too bad at these because Alan has us practice them every Friday.

As far as where I'd like to improve my ukemi..... I think I've developed a sloppy habit. Out of a throw I will frequently roll over my shoulder and plop down on the other side. Sort of a combination between a weeble roll and a breakfall. But this is awful. I mean... if you have to fall this way then fine... but I think I'm falling this way too often because its just plain easy and comfortable. I think I need to do more forward rolls. So, I've been making an effort to be more concious of this. Falling this way leaves me on the ground not prepared for what comes next. There is also another reason not to fall this way..... you slam your feet down on the mat as you come down the other side. I can't imagine how much that would hurt if I did that on the street somewhere. Although... I suppose I'd likely be wearing shoes which would really cushion the impact. Anyway.... it could be that all I need to do is to pull my feet up under me on those. I started doing that when we got more dynamic. It seemed easier for me the more I was moving. I think thats just par for my ukemi. The more I move the better it seems to get. Probably because I have no time to think and I can do something useful with the energy.


Another Groggy Sunday

As the weather turns colder it gets harder to get up for the Sunday morning class.

We worked on a lot of shomenuchi attacks.


Friday was a Special Memorial Class

The delay in blogging was mostly because the home office was being re-carpeted. So, basically my home network was ripped apart. Funny thing about computers, it takes me one night to rip it down but three nights to get it all back up.

The second class...
Some time ago Sekiya Shihan used to travel to the United States and teach at Shodokan. This being the 10th anniversary of his death, the dojo wanted to honor him by showing some video and focusing on the kinds of training and techniques that he taught. He focused on staying soft.

The first class for Friday was for beginners. I showed up anyway. I figured if sensei really meant it was for the new folks that just started that maybe I could join anyway and just be available. Turns out about 4 others showed up early as well and were playing around on the other side of the mat. We took turns taking tsuki strikes at the guy in the middle and nage got to try and do something with it. Although a few techniques have been internalized somewhat.... I was surprised to find myself doing a throw I didn't expect. It's the one where you keep moving uke forward, you grab the arm with crossed hands, step in front of uke and sort of kneel as you do a sword cut down. I also remember doing another one where you tenkan, grab the arm from underneath and spin uke around. Push the arm back down and uke is thrown.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tuesday Night Pete Still Sick

Peter who teaches Tuesday normally is still sick apparently. Sensei Mulligan filled in for him.

We did.....

Ushiro Tekubitori Sankyo
We tried a few sankyo dynamically.
We did a few koshinage.

This was one of the nights where I saw sensei doing the sankyo dynamically and making it look trivial. Yet... it's not. I get this feeling occassionally during classes. It seriously came to the forefront for this section of the class. All it looked like he did was to take a step, grab a hand and bam ... you're there.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday Morning Class Quasi Cancelled

Peter showed up to let us in and tell us that he was unable to teach. He was sick... and boy did he sound bad. I hope he gets better soon. Tony showed up and it was just the two of us so Peter suggested we have an open practice.

Those who have been following along should know by now that a missing instructor won't deter me. I got used to it a while back. So... Tony led me along(he's been around a while). We warmed up with a bunch of kokyunage. He had us doing all kinds of stuff. Irimi's.... shihonage, kotagaeshi. We were all over the place... we even did a few hip throws (Jim would've been proud).