Saturday, December 30, 2006

Complacency aka "Oh .. that again?"

I hadn't mentioned it but I got a simple yet effective kick in my complacency from Peter the past few classes. I'm not sure if he does this to see how awake I am in the mornings or just to keep things interesting but his ukemi practice may vary from time to time.

Not typically on Bob nights but on other nights we usually do a sequence of rolls which gives you an opportunity to work on your ukemi during class time. Personally I think my rolls although safe have degraded horribly. I wobble like I'm drunk. Right handed rolls are off line by about 6 inches and left handed rolls I'm just off silly. Maybe I always sucked and now I'm just noticing it. Who knows.... anyway....

I recall the past couple classes Peter mixing it up a bit... Like .. do a kneeling forward roll... a standing forward roll, then two weeble rolls. He may even mix up left and right. I try to follow them when I see it.

Makes me wonder how often I miss stuff like this.

We Had Some Company

It was an interesting night. It's not often that people travelling stop in to for a class. She joined us for class. She said her name was Dawn. The internet being a wonderful thing, I took a stab and within 20 seconds came up with this. I'm not 100% sure but I do believe this was her. Normally, I wouldn't point out a link but if you look at the page at some of her work (click portfolio) you'll be glad you took the time.

Anyway, Bob taught instead of Alan for some reason. He started class off as he put it "adding hot air to the dojo". He spoke of the New Year coming.... the old year that passed, and getting out of the classes what you are looking for. I'm not sure where that last point came from. It seemed out of context with the other points.

Overall, this was an unusual class. Bob has been heading somewhat martial but this was one of the more aggressive classes yet.

I think I remember starting with kotagaeshi. I was lucky enough to have Dawn as a starting partner. At one point she exaggerated a movement which kept me off balance by moving out and then relatively low. Maybe thats the way she does things... maybe she was in teaching mode... but I try to pick up on these things and repeated the motion when it was my turn as nage. I noticed a small smile on her face. No idea if it was related but maybe she got a chuckle that I was trying to follow her example.

One thing she was doing was this really cool pin. I couldn't see it but describing what I felt... it was sort of like she was not pulling up in a standard grading pin... she was sort of chicken winging me. Made me tap out relatively quick. Wish I got to see it.

At one point Bob asked me to help him show a technique. This was a tsuki night so I strike. He was entering behind me and turning me around. Then he asked me to keep my center and not move. He showed how doing the technique incorrectly doesn't necessarily get you movement. Then he moved correctly and I had no choice but to take the throw. I couldn't just stand there. Overall, kind of a tough thing to do. I'm used to protecting myself by moving. Asking me to stand there and not anticipate, is a whole other ball of wax. I did ok but it was a little more jarring trying to follow something because you have to rather than following because you are supposed to.

We moved on at one point and did a Sankyo. Now... I've seen suwari waza versions... versions from different strikes. Different entries. They all almost look the same. You end up with a sankyo then cut. Never have I seen this. He put me in a sankyo and just went..... yep... he took off so that I had to move backwards with him. Now... I have no idea what the heck Bob was trying to show us. We tried it a couple of times and I didn't get anything out of it other than a sore wrist. Hopefully, someone else found it useful. After class I asked him what I should have been doing as uke. He gave a very nice answer saying that I really shouldn't have had a choice as uke and that I was doing nothing wrong as uke. That he was just getting a bit exuberant. In retrospect it reminded me a little bit of the sankyo's being done at the Woburn dojo except that they were really ended up feeling like a reverse ikkyo. This sankyo Bob had me in felt higher and constantly felt like sankyo. He had pressure at all times.

Was this what he meant in his pre-class remarks about getting stuff out of a dojo? If he did, he's way off the mark. His sankyo was nothing like theirs.

We moved on once again to a couple versions of tai otoshi. For whatever reason I was off and my breakfalls were quite lousy this night overall. No bellringer falls but nothing real smooth either. I have no idea how Rachael was faring. It think she has been around for only maybe 3 months or so. She attempted to rollout but I know she dinged her shoulder on at least one fall.

Then at the end we did a junior round of randori. Bob adjusted the number of attackers with the nage being attacked. I had two people. We were limited to tsuki attacks and Bob asked us to try and keep it to the techniques that we learned tonight. He did say that if you find yourself doing something else and uke can handle it then fine.

I always like these. I think I get slightly better each time we've done them. The first time I spent half my time standing there wondering what to do. The next time I only did that a little. This time I did something.... not necessarily what I planned on... but something. I was never just standing there. Odd thing was... since sankyo was on the list I wanted to try an entry where you go under uke's arm (it's nice and fast) but somehow I never did.

Turns out that planning what I was going to do went totally out the window and I just went with it. I did a couple of the friendlier tai otoshi and slipped into a kaitenage once or twice. I think I managed a kotagaeshi once. My breath control was fine. Although really, there is no real stress here for me. There are only two people attacking and I know damage to my body is quite limited in reality so the stress level is down. I still did ok. Frankly in a real situation, I'd be twisting people up a lot harder than we do in class. It's unlikely I'd ever be in that position but if I'm ever attacked I'm hoping the other guy is real drunk.

We had two girls watching the class. No idea if they were friends of anyone but I think they got the brochures from Mr Mulligan so I can only guess they were interested in classes. They didn't strike me as the physical types though so I'm wondering how they'll do.

DAPI: 1/3
You say Huh? Why two numbers? Right wrist feels fine for normal motion but I can feel that it's been strained. If I try to move it in a full range of motion it hurts a little. (someone please steal Bob's wheaties)Small abrasion on left wrist. Guess I was bleeding and didn't know it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Outdoor Plumbing

Ok... question for the guys here. I'll put this as delicately as I can..... Have any of you taken a hip throw and felt some compression in places you'd rather not? This has only happened to me twice but I was wondering if my foot/leg position is wrong for the ukemi. This happened once this class and one other time. The discomfort was mild enough to ignore and I already have kids so I'm not overly concerned but I try to avoid pain where possible.

So.. I attended Tuesday nights class. People in attendance were .......


Yep.... just me as the sole student and Peter teaching. Luckily Peter is one of those few teachers who never seemed to mind taking ukemi.

So with just me we did a slew of yokomen strikes and a whole different bunch of responses to it.

There was a koshinage, kaitanage, kokyunage, kotagaeshi, iriminage, jujinage, tao toshi... a bunch of other stuff I can't recall... or perhaps describe. Some of it was done in the past couple weeks worth of classes.

One technique reminded me of the ude gamae ikkyo thingy.... except, instead of reaching over to grab your own hand and stepping around you cut with one hand on the inside of uke's elbow and as he comes up use uke's arm to throw him back (while rotating your hips).

Once again I had an interesting experience where I saw the tao toshi again and saw something different about it that I missed the first time I saw it.

Seems as time goes on, I see more and more. I guarantee the first time I saw tao toshi I was mostly concerned with how to take the ukemi. Now this is less of a concern so I am noticing more. On this occassion I realized the hand position was different then what I remember it.

A few of the techniques Peter chose had me doing some breakfalls. One of them felt awesome. It was as comfortable as sitting down in a chair. What was the difference? I slapped at just the right moment with some force. For whatever reason, I'm not focusing enough in general on the slap. So.. although my body position is mostly fine, I still don't get the most gentle fall all the time.

For the tao toshi I was sort of trying not to throw Peter hard, but all that accomplished was screwing up my timing. I left him behind me as I pulled forward. He asked me to try and correct the timing. Unfortunately for me(or him) that meant going at a slightly faster clip. In my mind I know you can get timing right and go slowly but I'm not capable of that yet. I'd say my pace was medium. I threw Peter I think much better that time. He looked like he landed fine but it had to be more uncomfortable than other throws.

It was a fairly neat class buzzing through many techniques. If nothing else I imagine Peter got a good idea of where I need help the most.

Neck was a bit stiff after that class but woke up fine.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday's Has Everyone Away

This class was just Steve and I. This guy is interesting. He's extremely strong and in incredible shape. But... he's not very flexible in general. Any nikkyo or pin and he taps out immediately. I think he does triathalons or something.

Now... In sharp contrast to earlier in the week, Steve wasn't doing the sankyo correctly but I didn't stand there. I moved for him.... and I wondered... why did I move for him and not for the girl at Woburn? Then I realized... simple... he's strong enough to hurt me if I let him. So.... right or wrong I have to move for him and hope that the instructors will fix him when they feel he's ready. I think in retrospect, I should have moved for the girl in Woburn as well.

There was an iriminage with unusual entry .

One of the more fun techniques I first saw when I was back at Cape Ann Aikikai. The attack is a shoulder grab from behind. You step out with a foot, step back with the same foot getting one arm and your head through uke's arms, then you do an kokyunage kind of thing with your arms (turn your hips).

We ended with a few koshinage.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Swimming In Another Pond Again

I went to Woburn again as I knew I couldn’t make Friday nights class. Although this is a ‘basic’ class, there is still plenty for me to learn by attending. In particular, I really like how they teach attacking for ushiro versions of techniques. They teach that you’re not supposed to grab early. This I’m used to. What’s different is that uke forces the forward hand down as he comes around. The other wrist is grabbed and uke actually pulls back while still maintaining balance through it all. So, in the unlikely event someone does want to grab both your hands from behind, they likely will try to pull back some. This is a great exercise as far as I’m concerned. By the way… when I say there is a difference about forcing uke’s hand down, I suspect that this is has been done at my dojo all along but I notice things like this more elsewhere. It’s too easy to fall into familiar patterns and only half pay attention to what you are doing. Going to other places to train I think actually sharpens my observations. I’m actively looking for differences in technique and thus find things that I may be doing wrong in my own dojo. Now when I go to Shodokan, I’m going to watch the higher level kyu’s do the ushiro attack. I’ll see if they are pushing that forward hand down.

During one exercise, we were doing sankyo. The two other students hadn’t seen it before. I obviously had seen it lots so I got to be uke for the demo. This means I didn’t get to see the technique and I didn’t pick up on the differences right away. I know it felt different but I couldn’t put my finger on why. So my first attempt, I just did Sankyo like we do in Salem. After I got to see Mr. Dore do one I realized what was different. I was taught that after cutting down and tenkan around in front of uke to more or less keep the forearm 90 degrees to the rest of the arm and use it as a lever. The way it was being taught in Woburn was to think of it more as an ikkyo where you’re in front of uke. The other two students who hadn’t seen it did well for their first time. I tried to emulate what they were doing for a couple reasons. I wanted to try out the other way to see how it felt, and I wanted to give the other students a consistent view of the technique. Things can be confusing enough trying to learn a new technique without your partner doing something different than what is being taught.

Practicing in a different dojo is good in that you see different ways of doing things. There is a drawback however. I’ve been doing this long enough such that it is unlikely I would ever hurt my uke while doing a familiar technique. However, I have not been doing this long enough to figure out what someone’s skill level is just by observing them bow or take a hanmi. One of my first attempts at sankyo, I had uke down with me in front but she was too close to the wall so I attempted to turn her just a bit. I didn’t really want to apply a lot of pressure so I applied just a little. She didn’t move and I didn’t think it worth hurting anyone so I backed off and just tried to bring her down as far away from the wall as possible. No problem. Later on when one of the students attempts a sankyo on me she had her hands totally out of position. So, now I’m in a quandary. Do I move with her or not. I don’t feel anything even close to a sankyo. I chose to not move which was probably the wrong thing to do in this case. I thought that perhaps the teacher would notice the hands and come over and fix it. When I was taught sankyo, great care was taken to pay attention to the hand position. I guess I haven’t been in enough ‘small ponds’ as yet to know how much resistance to give uke when somewhere else.

This of course got me a relatively long talk in the responsibilities of being a good uke. Nothing I didn’t really know already. Give too much resistance and nage can’t do the technique and no one learns anything. Don’t give enough resistance and the same result. Perhaps I was resisting the sankyo the new student applied inappropriately. I honestly wasn’t thinking that I will teach her, I was thinking that moving would be too little resistance as she didn’t have a sankyo grip on me. Really though, she got all the basic movements correct and I know lots of instructors who will let me do something not quite perfect to build some muscle memory up. They just tweak me later. Perhaps that’s what he was doing. Oops… my bad. Of course, there is always the chance that the sensei didn’t see her hand position. I have no idea.

I also got a speech on not breaking uke. This was from the earlier sankyo where I tried to move uke away from the wall. I agree with the sentiment although I thought it unnecessary. I didn’t think it appropriate to ‘correct’ sensei while on the mat although I really wanted to explain I was merely trying to gently move uke. At no time did I apply enough pressure inappropriate even for a beginner to follow. Perhaps if I were more experienced I could have moved her. Perhaps if I were more experienced, I wouldn’t have needed to move her in the first place.

At some point, sensei mentioned that he thought I had good instincts for kneeling with uke as you take him down for the sankyo. Really, it’s not instinct at all so much as I’ve done this hundreds of times before. Also, with the way we do it levering the arm, it’s even more important to go down smoothly with uke.

So the whole class was basically spent doing sankyo.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Weapons Work Continues

We practiced entering while Sensei Bob did a strike at us with a practice sword. I've done this in the past with him. It amazes me that even after all the training my fist instinct was to lose my posture and duck. I did better with subsequent runs through. I guess I need more practice. At least I got out of the way.

We did all kinds of things.... we did some knife disarming using shihonage. We also did a simple exercise where both uke and nage have bokken and sort of knock the bokken aside and enter. I focused on trying to maintain my attention on my partner and not on the tip of his bokken. I did fairly well at it for most of it. The natural instinct is to look at the sword.... but as it's been said so many times in class... the sword isn't the problem.... the attacker holding the sword is the problem.

I noticed a slow change in some of my attitudes over the past year. Quite a while back Bob asked me to strike at him with my hand and he didn't look like he was going to move. So, I pulled the strike last second. I said at the time I just couldn't bring myself to hit him. Well, for whatever reason, this is no longer true. I could easily hit him if he instructed me to do so. Now.... I'd feel bad about it, but I could do it.

After class ended Igor and I hung around and did that jump over the jo exercise I hadn't seen in a while. We took turns. Basically you hold the jo and uke grabs the end with one hand. You sort of move uke in a circle and down and uke does an ukemi over the jo. We used to do this more often when Mike and Matt were around I think.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Morning Is Going To Be Crowded Suddenly

Dave and Christina came this morning... in fact, they sounded a lot like they were going to start coming on a regular basis. This would be kind of nice. Most Sundays now is just Tony and I and maybe one other. Since Steve just started Sundays we may end up with classes of 6 all of a sudden.

It was kind of fun seeing their reaction to the cold. Sunday mornings are brutal in the dojo. The heat doesn't come up until you're really halfway into the practice. The cold mats feel harder, your body doesn't feel as flexible.

Some of the techniques we covered were.....

Shomenuchi Nikkyo
Shomenuchi kotagaeshi
Some line work....
With shomenuchi attack... tenkan next to them while hooking under their arm... turn them around and push at shoulder and arm for throw.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

I Visited the Woburn Dojo

For those of you interested a new dojo opened in Woburn. They are nice folks and I will no doubt drop in again sometime.

They are in a hard to find spot. I think I pounded around the area for 15 mintues looking for it. Basically... there are a couple of office buildings and they are in the next building. These folks originally came from New England Aikikai.

There were 5 of us plus the instructor tonight. The instructor said his name was Jim.... was that actually James Dore from Methuen?

I noticed for the first couple minutes I was watched carefully, probably to make sure I wasn't some kind of maniac coming off the street. I took my usual care with my uke's(too much as usual).

It's always interesting to learn from a new teacher. In this case.... this teacher hadn't been trained in the same places that a lot of my other teachers had been. As a result, they have a different focus on things.

We covered yokomenuchi irminage and yokomenuchi kotagaeshi. We also focused on kokyu dosa.

The iriminage was good because I never understood how to effectively offblance someone to make that version work. This is the one where you step off the line, block the hand coming at you and feed it into your other hand. The waiting hand takes it sandwiched between both hands and turns uke with a shihonage like opening. It was a lot like a sword cut with the arm going out and your hips rotating with it. Although I was probably only doing so so.... at least now I have it straight in my mind as to what I'm shooting for. In fact... now that I think of it, this is one of their strengths. They really focus on unbalancing and how to achieve it here. Now... I've been told in the past to unbalance.... but not to the extent where they have me stop doing a whole technique and just focus on the opening. Very interesting teaching difference.

I noticed one other thing right off. For whatever reason, none of the students (not inclunding the high ranking one I never got to work with) did a strong kotagaeshi on me. They were all kind of weak. Problems I saw included... letting the grip get too high, allowing uke to get balance back, not keeping the grip in front of your center, and right or wrong... no one did a tenkan or any kind of movement when executing it.

One of the students ukemi was pretty decent so I did stronger ones for him and I lightened up a long ways for the newer students. Were they just going easy on the stranger? Are they just practicing a 'quick' version that needs no tenkan? I have no idea.

Another difference is when someone takes you down from a kotagaeshi, I was taught to get ready to protect my face area with my other hand. Jim insisted that I keep that hand down by my side so that when I get rolled over I can have a free hand to tap. I never really had a problem freeing that hand. Besides.... I was taught if you can't tap your hand... tap a foot on the mat... or yell out if you have to. So.. this is one of those things I'll have to do differently depending on where I'm practicing.

So overall... it was not an overly vigorous night. I have to say though that I dropped in what was supposed to be their Basics class. I was fun for sure and I think it gave me a lot to think about in improving my technique.

Another difference that I was warned about is that they don't really do any ukemi as part of the warm up. They also line up in the opposite order from what I'm used to. After class I asked about it so when I go back someday I can take my correct place at the end of the line.


Monday Night

This list is straight out of Bob's website. My own brain has taken a powder. I will however recount tonight activities in the next post with some reasonable detail.

Tsuki IriminageMae-Geri
Tsuki Iriminage
Tsuki Kotegaeshi
Hanme HandacheKatatetori
Kaitennage(Uchi & Soto Muwari)

Hurt my ankle somehow

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm Really Starting To Appreciate Peter's Teaching

It's really interesting how each teacher has his or her own spin on things. Occassionally they differ on fine points. I even have seen teachers both correct me on how to do a warm up exercise. One likes a leg in one position... the other in a different position.

In this class, Peter went through ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, and then yonkyo.

Man, do I hate yonkyo. Normally I could say something about some techniques like "it feels so good when it stops". But... yonkyo. That's the gift that just keeps on giving. If you get nailed in the same spot repeatedly, it just sensitizes the whole nerve and hurts for a couple hours.

Keep in mind... it only hurts for a couple hours because the people practicing with you are being nice.

I myself can't seem to get the right spot on people. Once in a while I get it right. It's not practiced much so there aren't many opportunities to figure it out.


Koshinage But No Throw

I always have mixed feelings when Alan teaches koshinage. On one hand I like taking and giving a few hip throws. On the other, Alan has a tendency to do one technique for a really long time. I was in one class where he had us do koshinage for like an hour(with throws). That was brutal.

At one point I started to get the throw down a lot better. This is the one nice thing about working on something for a long while. Once in a while it can help to work things out.

One thing I noticed.... I swear half the time I get a correction from Alan, I was doing something to account for or protecting my uke.... or sometimes I'm just plain doing something wrong.... he isn't watching me the other 20 times where I actually did it correctly.


Monday, December 04, 2006

2 Dojos... 2 Classes

First Dojo we covered....
Knife disarming with shihonage.

The second dojo Shira was teaching. We started with suwari waza ikkyo. Moved on to standing version. Then we did Sankyo omote and ura versions. We did some tsuki kotagaeshi. sankyo/ line technique where we start off similar to a truki kotagaeshi but you grab uke's arm from underneath. Turn uke around just like a normal tsuki kotagaeshi... but instead... you place one arm on the shoulder and another around the elbow joint... and push.

I have to say the mat was particularly amusing. It was a gymnastics mat which is super cushiony. I wish I did my first few months on a surface like that one. Now though its a little tougher to determine if you are doing you ukmi correctly. You can really screw up bad and still not get hurt. This isn't good.

At the end I couldn't resist.... I just had to jump into the big box of blocks. It was a pit of foam block blocks for the gymnists to use.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Stiff As A Board? Over You Go.

There were about 12-14 people in class tonight. 4 or so were new students that mulligan sensei were working with on the other side of the mat. There was also one perspective student who sat and watched just off the mat.

With lightning speed the bulletin board had the results for Wednesday's test. We now have a new 5th kyu and a 3rd kyu. For some odd reason when the last test occurred the results weren't posted for some weeks... perhaps even as long as 4 weeks later. I find the inconsistency strange.

I wish I got to see the tests. Unfortunately, Wednesday night is not a night I can usually go.

So, tonight was kaitanage night. We started with an uchi version and then did a soto version. I got to work with a number of people tonight which is really nice. Everyone from the new beginners to people who have been around longer than me.

At one point Alan commented that I had the basic motion... after a few more I felt as though I would have liked to hear what was missing. I think I could have perhaps improved if he made some corrections.

At the end was our suwari waza kokyuho and I got the newly minted 5th kyu. He's a really strong guy and likes to resist a lot so this was a nice change from the run of the mill partner. I really had to do things right to move him without strength. I did fairly well actually. Once thing I noticed was that at one point he was using a ton of strength and he felt as stiff as a board. All I did really was change the angle of my hand and flick my wrist gently and he went over hard. Moving one small piece of him moved his whole body. For all the strength he put in, he was so off balance, it took very little to push him over.

Before leaving I saw someone I hadn't seen in a while. I wish I could've stayed to talk but I had to leave right away.... and you didn't look like you were in a social frame of mind. Anyway... it was good seeing you again if only for a moment.