Monday, July 16, 2007

Tonight....All I Had Was a Hammer

Bob started us off with some ukemi practice. Some of the familiar forward and backward rolls. He made a few comments and had us try again. The last ukemi I haven't seen in a while. Turn all the way around and do a forward roll. I was fairly successful at it which is better than I did in the past for this one.

We stuck to one attack. I think it was kate menuch or something like that. Basically, uke grabs the collar/shoulder and also attacks with the other hand.

One response was catching the second hand early and doing an ikkyo. Another possibility was shihonage, and yet another was iriminage. I was having a heck of the time with the shihonage. My uke was constantly twisting out of it. Now, usually that means you need to get lower. What she was doing was totally mirroring me. Every time I got lower, she did too. I kept trying. Not sure what to do about it if I'm limited to shihonage. Ah well. There was yet another version where you grab both arms by wrapping your arm around them and then throw by pivoting your hips and pushing their hip or shoulder. This exercise seem to flow well.

Toward the end of class, Bob gave us a chance to do some freestyle for those who are interested. The attack was the same that we were using the whole time in class. We could have responded to it in any way but I think Bob was hoping for one of the techniques we did tonight. Number of uke's was dependent on the experience level of nage. I got three which I was confortable with. The one thing I did right was being fairly aware of where my attackers were at all times and more than a couple times I managed to put uke's in the way to slow things down a bit. My problem..... After responding to a few attacks I ended up falling into irminage like I was a skipping record. It was actually a good response to the attack and allowed me to place uke's where I needed them but it would have been nice to vary things a bit. I know in past randori sessions I've changed things up now and then. I can say this though. My iriminage felt good at least.

Off to Beverly now.....

Jim taught tonight. Did a bit of two handed grab for the attack. Do a tenkan, j-step, then ikkyo. After that we did the same start but instead of ikkyo, bring your arm down and do something similar to an udekimenage. There were a couple more versions... one similar to a koshinage but is more of a hip bump.

I was trying to do the two handed grab and got some lessons on the attack. Since I don't know any better I sort of gave nage a shihonage-like twist as I grabbed. It was subconcious. I did that about half the time. Both Shira and Matt thought it was an interesting problem to get around and asked me not to let go while they looked at it for a second. Both came up with solutions to deal with it. Later on, Matt got my arm in the same position. I'm not sure but I'm guessing it was intentional. Right away I thought of a solution, it might be a bad idea but it seemed to work well. Instead of immediately bringing my hand up for the tenkan/j-step, I curled my hand down and in towards my center as you tenkan and then brought it up. It seemed really fluid. The only thing I think might be bad is that you are drawing uke in a little doing it that way.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Terrific Class

Let's see. Today we did some udegarame, jujinage, shihonage with lots of moretetori attacks. Also there was a cool nikkyo where you start with the jujinage.....

So, moretetori attack, tenkan and j-step with your arm up to bring uke around. Start the jujinage grip, then duck under the whole mess. On the other side you have one hand in with a nikkyo on the wrist, place it on the shoulder for a nikkyo.

The shihonage was good. Grab one arm for omote, grab the other for ura. My foot work was wrong at first and when the instructor came over to make a correction I saw that immedicately and one other thing I could improve on. He was grabbing uke's hands differently then I was. When I tried it his way it was much easier to turn uke.

I was pleased to be able to help with a couple of demos today. Sometimes they can be the most fun because you really don't know what the instructor is going to do. This means you have to follow and blend as best you can. One problem I have though is while taking ukemi I don't necessarily notice everything the instructor does. Sometimes I have to see it one more time to get it.

After class Mr. Mulligan asked us to help with some weeding. He said he had a weed wacker. I was thinking gas powered nylone line etc..... I learned that what he meant was a scythe of some kind. I believe they call it a weedwhip. So I put my hips into it and whacked away. It was kind of fun. You could clear out a whole section with one big whack.

Oh, and a few of you would be please to hear that I did my usual which is to shut up and train. Even when my partner was way the heck off, I let him fumble away. It wasn't long before the instructor came over to help. Then again, there is a difference in my mind between trying to teach and giving appropriate feedback. My mind hasn't been changed as yet there.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Was I A Good Partner or Bad ?

We did yokomenuchi shihonage, kotagaeshi and udekimenage.

Seems like I was helping my partners a lot tonight. For shihonage I noticed my partner wasn't turning me at all. There was barely any twisting to affect my balance. So I repeated the twist a couple of times, she nodded and on her turn she attempted to turn me more. Better.

New technique, new partner.
For kotagaehi, I myself improved a bit. I got the kotagaeshi without 3 hand changes. I just keep contact the whole time. Way better. I started getting it right when my partner asked the sensei a question. When he showed us the technique again, I was able to make the improvement. My partner did farily well but she was doing a really strong kotagaeshi on one side and almost nothing on the other. I went with it for a while, she wasn't changing it or improving it. I decided to 'help'. The next time she did her technique, I just stood there. Yep, there was nothing there, no technique. It wasn't a matter of my struggling or anything. I was simply able to just stand there. After that she figured out why that side wasn't as good as the other and changed it.

Ok... so I tried to help two fellow 5th kyus. In one case by exagerating a part of the technique for my turn . The other I helped by just resisting the technique.

There are some people I've come across who would suggest that I shouldn't have done anything other than fall down. Maybe I shouldn't have an opinion but I wasn't trying to teach anything subtle, it's my believe that at 5th kyu, both partners would be able to make the adjustment to fix major issues.

So, was I a good partner or a bad one tonight? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kachow - I Am Speed

I had some unexpected free time and headed straight for the dojo. I arrived a few minutes late but came in during the stretching.

Lots of stuff covered, even in a short Tuesday class. udekimenage, iriminage, nikkyo, sankyo. Oh how I love sankyo. If you do it correctly, you should be able to move uke around any which way you like. You're not just limited to spinning them in one direction. I hope to get good enough one day to be able to move uke like a marshmallow at the end of a sword.

One of the more fun techniques I have no name for. Uke starts with a tsuki, you move offline and deflect the arm just a little, then slide your arm under theirs and make a big circle throwing forward. Uke has to pretty much turn a bit and roll/fall to that side. It seemed like an ideal time to practice that ukemi that got 'fixed' in Beverly the other night. It seemed to work great. The fall is comfortable and I am able to stay with the technique longer.

The nikkyo was a tsuki nikkyo but was still useful practice for my test. Although it's improved somewhat I'm still not overly smooth getting uke's hand to my shoulder. I just need more practice I think.

For one particular technique the instructor was telling us what to do if the strike comes fast. So, I came in very fast. Although it wasn't full speed I think I surprised him a touch. In all the time I've been in the dojo, I've never moved full speed. As uke, I'm not ready to deal with a full speed response. As nage it's just inappropriate as your response should match uke's attack. Blend....blend...blend. People most likely think I am sloth-like and that's ok by me.

Class was great and was over shockingly fast (1 hour class because it's Tuesday's schedule).

I'm jazzed because I made it to Sunday class, 2 Monday classes, Tuesday class, and Friday is coming. I honestly believe that if I had fewer responsibilities I'd train every day I could.

Monday, July 09, 2007

He Can Do It Blindfolded

Well.... actually, he can do it blind. One of our fellow dojo members has pretty much lost his sight. He still comes to practice. Sometimes he sits aside doing bokken cuts.... at other times he joins in when circumstances allowed. We did a great deal of line techniques that start with a wrist grab. This meant he was able to join in. We sort of made up a system where the last person in line would call him over after he finished his ukemi. We'd also call him over for to act as uke as he reached the front of the line. We'd call him over and tell him what hanmi we were in. It worked out pretty well.

One thing I noticed tonight was when I ran around uke too slowly I had to take a harder ukemi. Committing to the attack is actually easier on you.

Overall, I noticed that my ukemi was particularly soft tonight. Someone even threw me funny and pushed up on my belly a bit as I went over. This resulted in my somehow landing square on my back but it was totally in a roll. So it felt quite comfortable.

After class at Salem I headed for.....


Tonight was an unusual night. Mike doesn't often spend a whole class on this stuff but he had us doing lots of ki building exercises. One in particular I did tons of back at Cape Ann. Uke grabs your wrist, you do a tenkan. Very simple. At one point I had a 3rd kyu resist me like crazy. Because I've done this on many, many, many days in Cape Ann, I still had no problem moving my uke and staying balanced and relaxed. He did however show me a hole in my subsequent movements ( with an atemi to my face).

Nice class.

Great Class Sunday

At this point I have no specific recollection of what was covered other than I remember enjoying it a great deal. Buddy stayed for a few minutes after class to help me with my 4th kyu test techniques. The two folks I've been helping for their 5th kyu test didn't show. One I know is nursing a knee injury, the other works odd hours and the morning class is the equivalent to 1am to most of us.

I'll likely see them Friday.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Beginners Review

There are a few things that every new person goes through. Maybe I can help with right here in this post. I invite everyone to add to the comments of anything they thought was useful for someone just starting out.

"Did I do that Side?"

Don't worry about it. Get into the habit of doing the left then the right and you won't have to remember which side you did last.

"How much do I resist?"

At the very beginning, probably not at all. Provide feedback to your partner but don't resist.

"How fast should I attack?"

Nage will react to the speed of your attack. If uke attacks slow, nage should respond slow. Keep in mind that if you visit a different dojo they won't know you. Attack at the speed appropriate for your ukemi level.

Don't follow a techinique with a verbal "Sorry"

Don't be sorry. Just keep practicing. You're already covered with the onegaishimasu at the beginnning.

"How do I tie the belt?"

Ask one of your sempai. Or.... Check my main page for a link to a nice video someone was kind enough to put up.

"Who's turn is it to be nage?"

Someone just attack.

What a Treat

Saw a couple new faces tonight. Actually, I think they were old faces. I didn't get to work with one of them but I did get to work with the other. He was a black belt called John. My understanding is he used to practice with Shodokan way back when they used to be located on Canal St.

Alan had us start with suwari waza ikkyo. I worked on a couple of issues that John made obvious for me. I really liked the feel of his technique, I would have loved to experience more of it. At one point he did an ura version probably because that's what he had. I wasn't expecting it at all but was able to blend with him well for this. That was nice. He kept me honest by letting me know that I wasn't always unbalancing him enough. He asked me as his uke to attempt an atemi to his face. If I touched him or got close, he knew he wasn't unbalancing me enough. He showed me the difference. So on my turn as nage I attempted to keep uke offbalance.

After this we changed parners and did some shomenuchi nikkyo omote and then shomenuchi kotagaeshi. My partner for the kotagaeshi was doing the technique so strong I had to either drop to the ground instantly or breakfall to relieve the pressure. Excellent.

At the end we finished up with a kokyunage. I had two partners for this. One was a 5th kyu and the other was the kendo instructor. It was an interesting mix. Sam showed me where I could improve my technique. When going down he would use one hand on the wrist and the other would slide the arm forward and down.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My Understanding of Ukemi Has Changed

I attended two classes again tonight. I started off at Shodokan where Bob taught.

We covered tsuki kotagaeshi, yokomenuchi kotagaeshi, HH kotagaeshi, and some shihonage. For the shihonage we really paid lots of attention to where we are placing uke. Luckily we changed partners a bit. I usually like mixing it up. My knee held up well. After class someone else asked me to help them for their 5th kyu test. I'm happy to help.

Then... off to Beverly I went. The only thing I want to mention was the ukemi aspect. We were doing a lot of the techniques I remember doing last week except my understanding of the ukemi has changed. After watching me a bit, Mike (who was teaching) said, "I'm going to fix you". "I'm not sure how... but we are going to fix that". He watched me a couple more times and determined what was wrong. The technique called for a side ukemi. What I was doing before was trying to almost jump up and over. What I needed to do is to bend way over with one foot in the air and one foot planted, then go up and over. I don't know how may times I witnessed this but yet never really saw it. I didn't see the details. So for the most part I was doing this better for the whole class. Now that I'm aware of it, I can work on it a bit. If nothing else this has been one of the largest learning steps I've had in a while.

Two classes made me tired. I'll sleep well tonight.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What DId We Do Today? ANSWER:Yes

I got off to a late start this morning but made it in time to catch the end of stretching. We then did our ukemi practice and then..... lots of everything.

This is only what I can remember....
Started with suwari waza, omote versions of ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, yonkyo, and gokyo. My messed up knee held up ok. It was a little bit uncomfortable but fine.

Then at different points we did udekiminage, kaitanage, iriminage and kotagaeshi.

After class, I worked with Eric again for his upcoming 5th kyu test. We reviewed his techniques. With just a bit more practice it should be a strong test. He tends to offbalance uke fairly well.

I asked him to help me with my shomenuchi nikkyo ura. My biggest problem is getting the initial hand to the shoulder for the nikkyo. I straightened myself out a little bit to where I'm not messing around looking for the grip finally.

I'm guessing that my next class will be Beverly's late class. There's stuff going on at home that requires me to miss the early Salem class. I was hoping to hit both again.