Monday, January 28, 2008

Maybe It's 99.1% Atemi?

Had a good class. The class focused on kazushi. We were mainly attempting to make sure that we had uke off-balance.

We started with an exercise where uke grabs the wrist. Nage does a tenkan. Eventually we were asked to turn it into some kind of throw like a kokyunage or something. My uke for this was someone who just completed the 8 week beginner class. This presented me with an interesting problem. Whenever I went to attempt to take her balance, she would pivot on one foot 180 degrees and recover. I tried but was unable to affect this. She asked me if she were doing something wrong and what should she do. I told her that she was doing fine and to do what comes natural. If I can't take her balance it's because I'm not doing something quite right.

She's so new that she is giving me her honest reaction. A nice change but a tough puzzle. Technique changes after only a few tries so I was unable to figure it out. I had a similar exercise in Beverly quite a while back. They often times stress the same concepts.

Later on we moved on to kaitenage. This is one technique among many that I seem to take mostly from Peter (who teaches Sundays). The fact is, I think I mimic him subconciously more than anyone else. In fact just last Sunday I noticed that there is a certain step when he does his j-step that I seemed to have picked up.

After this we moved on to kotagaeshi (which I really enjoy) . I had Mike as a partner. This is one of those guys who has been around for a long time. I accidently found an atemi. I was apparently so stiff on one side for tsuki kotagaeshi I was bringing a shoulder up for one side as I entered. This led to me moving my elbow a little higher than normal. The elbow made incidental contact with uke's temple. In all the time I've done that technique I've never actually done that. Well, last week I pinched someone. Seems like I've escalated. Uke went to the ground slowly. I'm not sure how badly I nailed him. I don't think it was too bad. He seemed fine and got up to do some more. After we diagnosed it, I relaxed the arm/shoulder to avoid this. Good to keep in mind If I wanted to do it though.

After this we moved on to shihonage. New partner for me. My old one went for water and he mixed in with another group on the way back. Hopefully, he was just trying to spread his experience around. I hope I wasn't abusing him or anything.

My new partner is a 5th kyu. For shihonage he has this habit of taking the arm way out. On his first one I almost had to breakfall out of it. I really tried to offbalance uke during my turn for this. I also remembered Mr. Mulligan to tell me to just cut down with one hand for the yokomen strike(he mentioned this a couple weeks back). Darn shame I don't get to see him teach much. I think he teaches Wednesdays but I just can't make it as a rule due to reasons of marriage. I still make it to Salem 3 days a week on a regular basis though. That's pretty good.

I grabbed my bokken at home. A couple of weeks ago I was able to pick up an informal sword class with the kendo instructor. This guy is amazing. Somehow, my simple cutting stroke has gotten better. I internalized something he said.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hey, I Found a Working Neuron

Today's class covered quite a bit of moretetori attacks. We did iriminage, nikkyo, kotagaeshi, a few others and yonkyo. Today was one of those moments where the same exact thing was said to me yet again on how to apply yonkyo. For some reason today I guess I finally listened.

I managed to get a good piece of yonkyo on my partner. Better still was that at one point my uke was putting his back to me before I applied the yonkyo. I knew I had to change the angle of my body and grip a bit to compensate. By the time I was done I was holding the yonkyo right in front of my center. What was he doing? He was sort of turning to his right as he turned away from me. This sort of hid the spot you have to get at. So I moved with him fluidly and adjusted things so I could get the yonkyo.

No yonkyo marks on me today I think. Speaking of bruises.... My recent class in Beverly I managed to pinch my uke. I knew it was happening and my mind was stuck in a lock between let go so you don't hurt him more and hold on so you maintain contact with uke. Unfortunately, my body picked the latter. I felt particularly bad as I had him and he went up and over in a breakfall in a nice skin twisting motion.

Ugh..... sorry! Uh.... do I get credit for KNOWING I was doing something uncomfortable?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kazushi Training

Bob taught tonight instead of Alan. He had us go through the same exercise we did for the last couple of classes. Basically, taking attacks from multiple opponents.

At first the movements were planned. Once we moved to 4 people attacking and you don't know what exactly they are about to do, things fell apart a bit. I can't say I was freaking out or anything. I never lose control of my response. I may not have a great response but no matter what I don't get all excited and kill someone. There was one moment where Kim came at me full bore. I moved very quickly back to put some space between us and also between the next attackers. I'm thinking now that perhaps all that space isn't really necessary. In fact, all I think I really did was invite people to feel the need to cover that ground faster.

Perhaps holding my ground for that one would have been better.

I don't see much improvement but I can say I enjoy being both nage and uke for these exercises. I find them fun. There was one or two moments of success. At one point I managed to purposely take uke and plop him down in front of my next attacker.

A couple times I ended up in a strange position. Perhaps in a good spot for a corner throw but that wasn't one of the allowed/suggested responses.

At least in my mind I could picture doing this smoothly. If I could only get my body to cooperate I'd be in good shape.

I came home smiling from ear to ear again. Man, do I love aikido. Always feel great after class.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday Night

What an interesting class. The mat was fairly full with about 16 students on it.

Great class but I had to really work my ukemi for this one. Not because of the techniques per se but more because of how my partners were performing techniques.

For tsuki kotageashi, I had an interesting partner. This guy is really large, really strong, and still working on getting it. I hope he doesn't treat everyone like he does me. He spent a good amout of time resisting strongly so I was presented with an interesting problem. How do I overcome his resistance without hurting him(his ukemi isn't that great and he's really stiff). It was a great practice in trying to keep him off balance. I also learned one other lesson. I can roll some over for the pin two ways. One is to put uke's hand in front of their face and the other holds the elbow while you walk around their head. The other way is hard to describe, you sort of get the angle just right to affect the elbow and shoulder and turn them by moving their arm a certain way. Here is what I learned.... don't do one halfway and then go for the other. Once you pick one, stick with it. When I tried to transition, this strong guy was able to resist me.

The other bit of challenge I had is one of the 5th kyus was doing what I call evil shihonage. Where your arm is extended out. He wasn't even aware of it. In response I leaned into him in case I had to breakfall but he let go early everytime. Certainly kept me on my toes. I've only done a breakfall out of that position all of 6 times probably.

I was glad to help Mr. Mulligan with a demo for the current beginners group. We started with an ushiro attack. I grabbed his wrists. He showed them how to turn that into an ikkyo. I was holding him with significant pressure. He still was able to easily move. Pure technique. Very cool.

Got home and had the usual warm fuzzy feeling I get after a class. I pretty much always have this feeling after a practice.

Wife Sick..... I Go To Aikido

Wife was sick so since she was home and not planning on heading out, I headed to aikido Wednesday night.

Mr. Mulligan taught. We did a whole lot of yokomenuchi something or other. I believe we covered udekiminage, sankyo, shihonage, a kotagaeshi.

The shihonage was tough. I had someone with a set of stiff shoulders. If I did a proper shihonage I felt as though I would have hurt him so I had to adjust it somewhat. During the session Mr. Mulligan suggested we keep our hands in front of our center. So, even though I adjusted things, I did so again and tried to at least keep my technique cleaner.

Great class.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Had a Few More Classes

My last one was on Monday. I came straight from digging out the snow. We got a good foot or more where I lived. So, I was fairly tired to begin with before class.

Bob started us with tenkan practice. After that we moved to an ushiro iriminage exercise. Uke does a tsuki strike, nage does a tenkan and steps back for the iriminage. At first I wasn't really getting it at all. Such a simple thing, yet I had to see it again before I got something close to what I was seeing. After that I experimented once or twice with rotating my hips into the throw just to see how that felt.

By the end of class we moved on to an exercise in moving fluidly. We all lined up in a row. First uke did a tsuki, nage tenkans past and moves to next nage who does a shomen strike. Nage does an iriminage and then moves to the next uke who then does a tsuki and so forth. So nage alternates between evading an attack an dealing with one. We all started to improve some as we kept this up. I kept having a problem where my footwork was a little off. After a technique I should have taken a step to get into a different hanmi. Because I paid little attention to that detail I either was or wasn't in the correct hanmi. Why does it matter? Well, apparently when someone throws a shomen strike at me when I'm in the wrong hanmi my current reaction is to do a kaitenage. This surprises me a lot. I don't particurlarly like the technique.

After quite a few turns of this. We sort of moved into freestyle positions opposite each other on the mat. We then came at uke in a specific order with the same order of attack. After this was done, we did the same thing only attack order was randomized by lot. Then at the end everyone got a turn to attack with either the tsuki or shomen strike. Uke is supposed to react by evading or by doing the iriminage.

I think Bob was hoping to see an improvement in the fluidity of movement. Moving from one attacker to the next. Good thing we have lots of time to pick all this up.

During one particular run through one of the guys planted this girl for the iriminage. Afterwards I asked him what that was all about. He said it just sort of happened. She is so flexible and he didn't anticipate her reaction well. She was fine but it looked funny in a vindictive sort of way. PLANT ..... SPLAT!!!

My experience with her is she gives up a little too much as uke. Then again there are others that react that way as well so maybe it's me. I don't think so though.

As an aside.... after a great class on Sunday with Peter, we all stuck around after class. Sam gave us a short weapons class. I was fine during the class. I made some nice improvements. The biggest problem was about 48 hours later my shoulders and some muscles I never knew about were complaining.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Ok I've Been Practicing.... Really

I've pretty much gone to classes 3-4 times a week since my last post. I just haven't seem to find the time to write anything down nowadays. I'm doing it now for tonight at least....... at 2am.

Alan taught tonight. I've seen patterns in the teaching lately. The past couple of classes where the instructor was going somewhere with a thought, I've somehow paid enough attention to predict the next technique.

Tonight we started with a line specifically practicing breakfalls. Then, Alan had us to a wrist grab, tenkan, swing uke around with a j-step, turn your hips and extend out for a throw. The whole point of this exercise was to practice extension.

After this we kept to the same opening but instead we slid in after the j-step to slide our arm behind uke and bring it up and tenkan around sort of chicken winging the shoulder. It was at this point that I thought to myself.... we are about 2 seconds away from a hip throw.

Sure enough, after a bunch of these, Alan had us doing hip throws. I had a nervous partner. He was happy to take ukemi but was nervous about doing the throw. I took a few throws from him, never complained but they were really kind of rough. Tough landing.

One nice surprise. Kim showed up tonight. He and I started out in Gloucester together. He was working with Igor and doing terrific. His ukemi looked great and with Igors judo background, his throws looked terrific too. I've seen him for a couple of classes now. He said he wanted to work with me again.

One funny thing... when partners were choosing up, a really short girl got a really tall guy as a partner. This is a huge challenge for both of them to do the hip throw. Was kind of amusing to watch.

I'd say overall I was throwing fairly smoothly tonight. In fact, I was feeling great about everything. I was really happy to be in class. The missed classes due to the holidays was a bummer.

One other thing of note. I've been experimenting a bit with how I am doing the techniques. After something is shown, I noticed that I've been paying more attention lately to how things are working. After a few throws, I remembered something and added it to the practice... etc. I'm not just mindlessly doing the technique over and over without thought. This in my mind is good progress.

I want to work on a particular ukemi soon. I'll let you all know how it goes.