Bob had us bring blindfolds. I thought this was going to just be silly annoying but I eventually got into the spirit of things as time progressed. He had us taking turns putting them on and doing stuff. First it was a simple wrist grab, tenkan and turn uke around exercise. Then… he moved on to responding to ushiro attacks while blindfolded. At the end, he had us doing a sankyo while blindfolded. I actually did fairly well at it I think. I’ve done enough of these that I can just do it without looking. There is no way to tell of course how well you did because you can’t see yourself doing the technique.
I knew when I put the blindfold on I’d have some auditory clues as to where I was and where uke was. You could hear the fans from either end of the dojo, you could hear others chattering away during practice. What I didn’t expect was that you could feel uke moving across the floor toward you a lot of the time. You could feel the movement in the floor and you could feel the air pushing against you as he went past. (My uke liked to get behind me and then grab rather than grabbing in front and then going behind). The one thing I never thought about was that you could get your orientation somewhat by feeling the seams in the mats. If you happen to be standing on a seam you could orient yourself.
The one last thing I noticed was my posture. I think it either got worse when I was blindfolded or I was just aware of my bad posture but I worked on that a bit.
At the end of class, Bob’s comment this week was “no flash”. He basically said that he’d rather see us do basic movements correctly rather than get our test techniques correct. Although I feel as though I should pass the test, I think working on test techniques would be a good thing.
We ended the night with suwari waza. I tried to be mindful about how I was doing it. I tried extending, like Bob likes and I can but at the moment that’s harder for me. Once without even thinking I did it easily another way where I involved my center more. Now I understand that’s that what was what Bob was talking about. It’s a definitively Mike-like movement. I find it more natural and requires less strength. I’ll continue to practice both ways for a while.
Now you’re thinking, how could you top a blindfold class? Easy, it’s “attack the elbow night” at Beverly.
Beverly did some awesome stuff last night. Instead of normal ukemi practice, Mike started us out jumping over the jo a bit. For whatever reason I have a good technique with the jo. I don’t even own one. Somehow I find moving with it quite natural. Mike had us practicing breakfalls over it. I really focused on it and did quite well. Mike gets all jazzed up when he sees me doing something correctly. Aside from being a morale booster, it’s good feedback to know that you are actually doing something right.
Mike has been building a progression of classes. Balance, posture, now this week it was working on timing. We did an exercise where we wanted to time uke’s attack and blend with it. Uke pushes nages shoulders a couple times each. Then the next step was to step back as uke comes in so they are only touching your shoulder the whole way back. Then you receive uke’s power by staying a little ahead of the push and doing a technique. Through various grabs of the hand top or bottom we managed to do shihonage, udekimenage, Ikkyo(omote and ura), and one other technique I think was called kaitmime. The last one you do by grabbing the top of the hand as uke comes in. You then move uke into an ikkyo position and then pull it toward you and bring some of it down. The next position you are in, you have one hand on his wrist doing a nikkyo, your second hand is on uke’s forearm on the backside in a sort of reverse yonkyo grip. Uke is down and you have his whole arm under yours with your elbow/arm pressing down on uke’s elbow. This drives uke to the ground in a hurry. Put another way, its almost as if you took a standing nikkyo where the style has your arm on top of uke’s arm and uke is driven down by the pressure on the elbow (not from the nikkyo). You sort of pretend you are rowing a boat with uke’s arm. Mike comes over to me while I’m practicing it and says, “I like what you’re doing, you have excellent control (of uke) and your posture is excellent but you need to put the grip on right away like this (and he shows me). I like this feedback.
Mike caught me going easy on Scott for the udemikenage. I don’t like to push people’s elbows directly, especially if I don’t think their ukemi is up for it. I had someone as a partner who was barrel rolling last night. I know he can do better most nights but I was guessing he wasn’t comfortable with the technique so I backed off of his elbow and pushed at the upper arm and shoulder. Mike told me to stop going easy on him and showed the class how to control the pressure on his elbow.