Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Knife Work In Beverly

This happens a lot by the way. Knife attacks in Salem…. Knife attacks in Beverly. No idea why. I think they channel each other sometimes.

From there we went to knife attacks answered with shihonage, and something similar to a kotegaeshi. At the end of class we did a morotetori kokyuho. I tried to do it the way Mike was teaching it. I found half of it quite easy. The other half a little difficult. I started making improvements.

After class Mike mentioned an etiquette, procedural, thingy. The gist of it was that during class we needed to bow the weapons into and out of practice. We can’t really bow out of class if the weapons haven’t been bowed out first. No one ever mentioned it to me before. Glad he did.

Started Out With Shihonage

Bob started us out with shihonage. Recently I commented about how I recall doing my shihonage similar to Bob's. Now, I perceived him doing it differently at this class. Maybe it was the same..... maybe not. Isn't learning fun?

He called me up as uke for it. It was really an odd feeling. When uke's hand is returned to his shoulder I always refer to that as nice shihonage. When uke's arm is torqued outwards(set up for a breakfall) I always call that evil shihonage. Depending on your partners experience level and what you agree upon is which one you practice. What Bob was doing felt really odd. Now, mind you ... this is only my perception of things, not necessarily reality. It almost felt like he started off in a nice shihonage and at the very end went slightly evil. Cause every time I didn't feel the need to attempt a breakfall until the very last second, after I was already offbalance and falling. I wish I could have seen it. It was quite uncomfortable.

Anyway, after that we did some knife disarms with shihonage. We then did some more knife disarms with gokyo. The last technique he had us cover was similar to wagitikame(no idea how its really spelled). Then he was forced to close class about 15 minutes early. He had gotten a phone call that called him away. So I stuck around for 30 minutes or so and worked with Eric on 4th kyu promotion techniques. We went through the first 5 techniques briefly just to see what he remembered of them. I really have to ask Mr. Mulligan which version of shomenuchi nikkyo he would like to see during tests. I showed Eric the more traditional one. This is not the one I did for my test.

After that, Eric and I worked on our breakfalls together.

Sunday George Showed Up

Wow... everyone is coming out of the woodwork.

Sunday's class was excellent. We did a bunch of techniques. Sankyo sticks out in my mind. I'm starting to think that sankyo is becoming a favorite for me.

Thats it for now....

Friday Night Greg Showed Up

I hadn't seen Greg in quite a while. He floats around quite a bit and visits lots of dojos.

As soon as we entered the dressing area with the instructor for the evening(Alan) Greg started asking questions. This is his usual thing. He asks questions almost constantly. I asked him about it once and he said he asks because he forgets stuff.

The oddest thing is that usually, he does things (as far as I can tell) really well. In fact, I think he's gotten better in the past year. So... even if his brain is forgetting, I don't think his body is.

Alan kept us to a simple exercise having us repeat something that John Rogers did when he visited recently. For ikkyo ura instead of doing a tenkan and hauling/leading uke around, he had us enter deep and pivot 180 on our feet bringing uke's arm down and in front of our center. Then move with uke with a tenkan. At times, it felt as though this really applies lots of pressure on the elbow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Baseball What?

I went to aikido in Salem last night. It was my intention to watch the end of the ball game but I’m glad I didn’t waste my time. It’s not like there would have been much suspense.

John led us through stretching and ukemi practice. For the weeble rolls I practiced something they were doing in Beverly. I was trying to do those super quiet gentle ones. I was fairly successful. The reason you want to do it more gently is so your feet down slam down all the time. Assuming I had no other choice but to do a weeble roll in the street, I'd slam my feet down hard on pavement and it would kill.

Mr. Mulligan taught last night. He said we were all there because we didn’t pay $1000 for a baseball ticket……. He followed that with a “Shame on you”. I guess he likes baseball.

Last nights class consisted of 4 students when you include me.

Mr. Mulligan made it a test technique night. We did tsuki kotagaeshi, yokomenuchi iriminage, kotagaeshi, ushiro tekubitori sankyo (omote and ura) and finished up with moretetori kokyuho.

I’ve always done the kokyuho a certain way and liked it. Since Mr. Mulligan was teaching so I did it the way he was teaching it that night. Instead of fitting in my elbow towards uke’s face/neck and flipping the arm over and out, Mulligan did something more like a spear hand out. I’m guessing that’s a more traditional way of doing it.

The ura version of the sankyo needed help. Again, Mr. Mulligan’s teaching is so clear that when he gives you a correction its usually easy to follow. There are times someone tells me to do something and its like talking to a wall. I seem to fare better when Mr. Mulligan is teaching. What I was missing all this time was when you draw the foot from in front of uke to behind, you put it behind uke more rather than just simply stepping back. At the same time you also cut uke down, grab the arm and tenkan all in one motion.

For iriminage I had John as a partner. He’s older and built like a tank. His hands and wrists are huge but he’s as strong as an ox. For iriminage, it’s tough to get him to bend down, once down, he’s supposed to come up when you let go of him. After all, who just stands there bent over if you are in a fight. So as a result, it’s really difficult to do iriminage with him. Mr. Mulligan was suggesting I go down lower with him so he’ll be forced to come up and thus give me the energy/position to do something. Except of course…. He doesn’t come up. So I start pretend punching and kneeing him sort of hinting that he just shouldn’t stand there bent over doing nothing. It’s hard for him to bend over or get up.

I did fairly well in that whenever Mr. Mulligan had a suggestion I was able to implement it. It’s been so long since we did these techniques that I’ve obviously forgotten some of the details.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday Night Late Practice

I couldn't get to Salem tonight as I was needed home. I'll try and get there on Wednesday though(which is unusual for me).

Matt taught tonight.

We started with the usual ukemi practice. One weird thing though. I know I haven’t seen Beverly folks in a few weeks but all of a sudden they were all doing weeble rolls much more silently. Shira and Mike were always quiet, but everyone else was louder. Now, all of a sudden I noticed that all of them are whisper quiet. I guess a class or two ago, they all started practicing falling softer. I started practicing it as well. I am now much quieter on one side but the other side needs work. The gist of it is to do the roll but keep your feet off the floor more and spread your legs nice and wide.

We started a line of jumping over the end of the jo. On Shira’s turn she put the jo at a fairly high height off the ground for me. I took a good breakfall for it. For some reason I was less comfortable with using the jo tonight. I still enjoy it though.

We did tsuki kotagaeshi, katatetori shihonage, shomenuchi ikkyo, and ushiro tekubitori kotagaeshi. At one point during the shihonage I realized that the initial hand grab I do like Bob. It’s not conscious at all. I must do it that way from watching him over and over again. I tried to do it Matt’s way. Always have to pay attention to what's being taught. Always a challenge to not just do the same thing. I always try to practice techniques like the instructor. Another aspect of this technique is how you do the beginning. Jim likes to immediately push you to the side and walk straight with everything in front of him. Matt was suggesting you can torque the elbow immediately into an arm bar before moving anywhere. In any event, getting to practice this from a hand grab was good for me.

At the end of class we had a practice test. I was able to be uke.

I'm guessing she did well enough to pass a 5th kyu test. There were lots of little things for her to fix up but in general it was really good. In fact, the stuff she was doing right…. She was doing really right. I was off balanced quite a bit for a couple of the techniques. One of the minor details she needs to work on is her vertical pins. Apparently, because I am so flexible, she is able to move my arm to the incorrect side for a pin. This had the feeling of lots of pressure on my elbow. At the time I had no idea what she was doing. After the practice test, Matt mentioned it to her and explained with detail what she was doing. From watching him I finally realize how flexible my shoulders really are. I knew I was flexible because people have told me but I had no idea that I could stretch out that far.

The only thing she really has to work on was remembering how to do the last technique. She didn’t match the name up with the technique. Once it was quickly described to her she instantly remembered it. Considering she still has practice time before the test, I'd say she's in great shape.

As for me, I felt like I was doing eeehhh most of the class. This is what I get for missing a couple of classes in a row. I didn’t do anything particularly well or poor. I have the ukemi to work on now though which is nice. I also want to work on my shihonage a little more. Maybe I can grab someone before class on Wednesday.

As a side note. I haven't injured myself in quite a while which is why I hadn't mentioned anything. The thumb I hurt so long ago has at this point is 99% all healed up. At least I finally have stength back in it. For a while any technique that required a little thumb strength was difficult for me. Even holding on as uke.

Monday Wrist Grabs

Bob had us start out with suwari waza kokyuho. We did that for quite a while. Later on we worked on a kokyunage of some kind. Uke comes in for a wrist grab, you allow the motion to continue forward, have uke move past you even a little bit, bring the arm way up and then behind uke in a big circle. You almost end up with a shihonage at times. You're supposed to end up in a stance where your arms are out and you turned your hips all the way around. The hip turning is what is really moving uke in this case. We did a couple of line techniques. One was, uke coming around for a shoulder grab. Nage sort of bows to the opposite corner propelling uke further around and does a roll out. After a line of these, Bob added another part. When uke comes around you bow somewhat but instead of trying to make them come all the way around and fall you bow a little and then come back the same way you came to get your body on the other side of uke. At that point you have an arm to grab and Bob had us projecting uke. The motion was exactly the kind of motion we did with his son Matt back in Gloucester for one of the last few classes we did. Except... that was standing. This was seated. As uke grabbed nages wrists from behind you'd step out taking uke with you and then step back the way you came, ducking under uke's arm. At this point Matt had us do a kokyunage.

Small Sunday Class

Class consisted of just Tony and me. Peter had us running through each of the controls…
Ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, yonkyo. No Gokyo I guess. This was good as I hadn’t had yonkyo practice in quite a while. I still can’t quite get it. Tony was getting it well enough that my arm/wrist hurt for the rest of the day. Still a tiny twinge in the arm even today(next day).

Then we stuck to a shomenuchi attack. Peter had us doing, kokyunage, kaitenage, kotagaeshi, iriminage, shihonage, koshinage.

2 Classes For Friday Night

Alan had his usual class. We mostly worked on sankyo, both standing and hanme handache. I had a few partners but made it a point to work with the newest beginner. Sometimes I notice stuff about my aikido when the pace slows down while I’m working with them. He was kind of funny though. He’s always asking tons of questions. He said he wants to do the technique perfectly. So I asked him if he had to do it perfectly by today. After class he mentioned that he was going through a period of feeling as though he’s not learning anything. I told him not to worry. That the feeling will come and go even as you get more experienced.

Bob came to teach the Friday night class. He made an announcement that everyone was invited to the second class. Even though I had plans, this was only the second invitation to the advanced Friday night class since I’ve been there so I stayed. After Chris warmed us up, Bob set us up in a line. In fact, we did pretty much nothing but line practice for the whole class. It was quite a workout. He was showing nuances of hands and feet and body position. I did so-so. I got the hand motion correct but spent so much time focusing on it that I had my other hand not doing things quite right or sometimes my footwork was a bit off or I wasn't low enough.

At the end of class, Bob asked if anyone wanted to practice some freestyle. Since the class was all wrist grabs, he was expecting us to all attack with wrist grabs. I myself recognized this pattern in his other classes so I did wrist grabs as uke. Others did not realize and were throwing all kinds of strikes. I didn’t feel as though I did particularly well for this freestyle. A couple of times I had great position but was unable to perform a technique. I sort of locked up. I was trying to do one of the 3 techniques he asked us to do as a response. It’s kind of hard to do when you’re expecting a wrist grab. Not impossible, just hard. All I could think of was, I have this guy turned, punch him in the face or break his elbow. Of course, you can’t do that so I stand there. I hope my aikido is good enough at some point that I can do something else other than brutally respond.

Before bowing out Bob suggested we pick a favorite technique. It’s basically a judo concept. Pick a technique and practice it like crazy and learn to do it from anywhere. (He was implying that if you’re ever stuck at least you can do your favorite without thinking about it.). My last freestyle was better in that I never hesitated, but I was told I could do anything I wanted for that one. In this freestyle I was trying to limit myself to the four responses that we just practiced. Three were variations on a line throw, one was kaitenage.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Great Class

Last night was a success or sorts. At least I was paying attention to my surroundings. A couple times during the night I was thrown in such a way that I had to be careful not to land on someone. One throw had me going into the wall or sensei or something. I glanced quickly picked the most open spot I could find and rolled that way. The second was my taking a kotegaeshi from someone. They were doing it so strongly that I felt the need to breakfall out of it. Unfortunately, there was a third person sitting on the mat waiting for his turn right where I needed to land. So after glancing and taking it all in, I did the breakfall and tucked my legs in a little to avoid hitting anyone. I was pretty psyched.

Techniques he has us doing included, tenchinage omote and ura versions, a couple different kokyunages. I did really well on one of them. You start with a two hand grab, do a tenkan, bring one arm across the front of your body and use your arm to push uke down. Mr. Mulligan thought I did that pretty well.

Then we did a wrist grab version of kotegaeshi. Turn your body and arm, slip the wrist out of uke’s grip, re-grip and tenkan for the kotegaeshi. Mr. Mulligan moved me into a different pair for this technique. There was some new guy on the mat who hadn’t trained in about 10 years or so. So, even though he looked like he was in reasonable shape he was sucking wind somewhat fierce. I tried to keep the pace slow for him. A couple of times he asked me and Ariel to take another turn so he could rest. This was actually the guy who had the strong kotegaeshi. I got tired of him almost torquing my wrist so I started breakfalling. Once I started doing that he really started cranking on me because he knew that I’d be fine. That’s when Mr. Mulligan made him back off and do it in a more friendly way. I was fine but maybe the next guy that works with him wouldn’t be.

Mr. Mulligan has been nice enough to give me a few corrections once in a while. I still look down for kotegaeshi. This screws up my posture. One time he told me to relax a little more for a technique.

Great class.


Wife was too busy to go out Wednesday so I went to aikido.

Mr. Mulligan taught. Started us with a yokomenuchi shihonage. Went to a variation of the technique for tsuki. Where you can step back a bit. Grab the arm and then pull it a bit to offbalance uke and bend the arm back into a shihonage position by just pulling their hand back to their shoulder. We did that for a while then from there Mulligan changed it up a bit so instead of finishing with a throw, you put your arm under uke's arm and across his throat/neck, wrap around to grab your own hand and use your head to sandwhich him in. Uke is now bending over back some offbalance and nage is on balance in a comfortable position.

Mr. Mulligan came up to Ariel and I and asked us to let out a kiai when we practice. He was quite pleased with all the noise.

Towards the end of class we ended up with Yokomenuchi iriminage. I never used to be able to do this version at all. You step off line, cut uke's hand down, wrap it around him and then do the throw part. For whatever reason I did the best ones I'd ever done in my life. Mr. Mulligan made it look easy enough that I was able to do it.

Found a Late Monday Class

I was needed at home so I had to skip the first class I usually take in Salem.

I headed off to Beverly. It was a lighter night overall but still fun. We started with lots of ukemi practice.

One of the techniques we covered was a collar grab nikkyo. Step off the line, turn uke's hand, get the z in the arm by bending uke's elbow and there you go. I was actually having some trouble. When I tried to get uke's hand and arm in position he was resisting a bit. This was a good exercise as it became obvious that too many partners of mine just let me rotate their hand around easily. That may happen... it may not. Shira was teaching that night and suggested that I make it more dynamic. Once I did I had better luck moving him into position. The tough part is overcoming his resistance without having the nikkyo applied suddenly or too hard.

On one of the last nikkyo turns Matt did something I’ve done but only once in a class about a year ago. Rather than stroking the arm with your hand or pushing with both hands/thumbs or many other ways, you come from underneath the arm and pull towards you. Now, when I saw it a year ago we were pulling from underneath at the elbow to bend the arm. Matt did it up closer to the wrist. It was devastating. I hit the floor like a ton of bricks. Then he continued the technique by roughly hauling me over(I was out of "normal" position) and pinning me. Very nice. No, I'm not kidding. I have no problem with someone applying something strongly. After class though there was no residual pain in the wrists at all.

We also did an ushiro version of kotagaeshi. It was really interesting seeing Shira do this. She makes everything look so fluid, it’s amazing. I practiced with Diana for this one. A couple of them felt really killer strong. Very cool.

My posture was corrected for pinning. Seems I have to pay attention to this here as well.

Time Flies

I blinked and nearly a month went by somehow.

Here are a few brief posts with what I can recall about classes I attended in the past weeks.