Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday Night Jujinage

Got to Alan's class barely on time. I work about a 65 minute drive away from the dojo so once in a while when there is traffic I end up being a touch late.

It was quite crowded. We practiced.... an ushiro kotagaeshi, a hanmi handache sankyo, and a hanmi handache jujinage. This was a lot of fun. An interesting group of techniques to practice.

After class I was approached by someone else asking if I could uke for them for the test. I told them I was already helping someone else for their test but if they couldn't find anyone I'd be happy to help. I'd be surprised if I were out of gas after the first test. I also suggested a couple of names of people he might look for on test night who would be excellent uke's as well.

Being uke for the first guy is one thing. The second person however has amazingly strong technique. I love working with him. Whoever uke's for him will have to be on their toes.

I told him he can count on me if no one is available. I'd make sure he has a test partner. I probably have enough hours to take the 3rd kyu test myself at this point but I don't feel as though I'd had enough practice with some of the techniques. I could likely pass.... but I always like to do more than just pass. I may not accomplish it but its a goal.

After class I worked on my movement again. Trying to move around on the mat on my knees in a more fluid manner.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ok... So It's Been A While

I haven't posted in a while. So much going on right now.

I've probably been to a dozen classes since my last post. Most at Salem and some at Beverly.

The classes that stick out in my mind are the choke class....

Yep. We spent one night just doing choke techniques where poor uke is getting choked. I actually don't mind these too much. A got a few good ones in. The biggest part of these chokes is to get that knuckle right on the neck in the right spot.

Another class that sticks out a bit was the recent Friday night class with Alan. I was lucky enough to get the kendo instructor for a partner. He's absolutely amazing, and his ukemi is so good you can really apply a technique and not have to worry about hurting him. We did some awesome iriminage. We had each other spinning around totally offbalanced the whole time. Some times you can miss things when you go fast. The couple things I was messing up he helped me with. At one point I had him so off balance there was no way for him to get out. In other words, I was doing the technique well at that moment. I also remember doing hip throws that night. I got Eric as a partner which is getting to be a good thing. His hip throws have been improving steadily, and his ukemi has been getting better as well. This particular hip throw was one of the easier ones for me. I spent the whole time trying to make it better.

Another class that sticks out was Monday's class in Beverly. In fact the past couple of Monday nights have been interesting. Lots of tae waza. Lots of otoshi and ogoshi. He's working us towards something. I believe it's called makikomi. I'm guessing that there are many ways to get there but you start off with a close body connection and come down on top of uke (leaving some space if you like their ribs intact) and you are in a dominant position on the ground. More judo than aikido I'm guessing but still fun to learn. Along the way are the slews of otoshi and ogoshi we've done. I can see how easy it is but somehow it isn't percolating 100%. I just don't get down low enough for most of these. I know it... and yet... I am still not fixing it. I'm wondering if this is a lack of concentration on my part. It's one thing when you don't see a problem. It's another when you see it, know what you should be doing, and don't anyway.

Sunday was interesting in that I had a new instructor called Ray (he's actually been around quite a while but hasn't taught in a bit). I haven't seen enough of his aikido yet to tell what his style is all about. I've seen him around a few times over the past couple of years but never on the mat. We were working on controls that day. He kept stressing that uke should never really be comfortable. I love this concept for controls. Particularly sankyo. Uke should feel the control at all times. Never let it loosen.

He kept things kind of light which was ok. It gave me time to work on some things. I'd like to see more of his classes.

My latest efforts are just spending 5 minutes or so on my knees before/after class. I want to be able to move more fluidly on the ground. It's funny. It's so not interesting to most people that you just don't see a lot of youtube video's on it. However, I saw one with a guy speaking Japanese (I think) showing a way of moving around. He was doing it slowly enough to see where he was putting his knees and more importantly, his balance. I've seen a few videos where someone is just cranking around on the floor but no one is showing you how they do it. Now... I can knee walk and tenkan fairly well but not move like that. So... I'm working on this a little. Does it have a practical purpose..... eh... not as much as other things. Still, it's something I've seen and want to learn. This is why I like Aikido, you can spend your life just picking one little thing after another trying to improve something.

After the past couple of Friday/Sunday classes I've been helping Eric still with his test. He actually asked me to uke for him. I'm trying to clear the decks so I can come on a Wednesday for the test.

Wednesday's are near impossible for me. Short of a special occassion, I can't escape for aikido. Lately, I've missed a slew of monday classes at Salem but I've been able to make it to Beverly's later class time. I usually like to do them back to back but I have to help out at home still. At least I'm able to hit the mat for the late class. There are days I wished I worked in town so I could hit Cambridge for a lunchtime class. Think of all the class time I'd get in then!!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Friday Night Freestyle

We worked on a few answers to a yokomen strike. One was a kotagaeshi, another was an iriminage, and the last was something I hadn't seen in over 2 years. I saw Bob do this once in Gloucester. I had lots of trouble with it back then but I had fewer problems now. What was it?

It's a direct entry. As uke comes in, you catch the yokomen arm early, almost spear hand to stop his arms movement and off balance him. You then use your other hand on his shoulder/chest area as a strike to push him the rest of the way. I did a few rounds of it with someone who then asked Alan a question about it. I'm so glad he asked a question, because at that point, Alan used me as uke and I got to feel it. It felt different from what I saw. I didn't realize how much that first arm was there to unbalance. At first I thought it was mostly to stop the strike. Feeling this difference I started doing it differently. I was able to really affect my uke with no need to batter him in any way. One time I even accidently managed to get him so off balance with that one hand that he fell before I could hit him with the other.

I definitely did this technique better than when I first saw it. One other interesting thing. On several occassions as uke I found myself automatically putting my other hand up to stop the atemi to the chest. I wouldn't even think about it, my hand just would come up. I had to actually stop myself from doing that so my partner could practice.

After practicing these three possibilities Alan asked the more experienced of us to move to one side of the dojo, form a circle around one nage and allow him to do a technique to each of us one at a time. He would make eye contact with you to let you know it was time for you to attack. So it wasn't a rondori practice.... but it was good in that you got multiple attacks in a row with no break in between. They came fast, one by one.

Overall I did well for this but my kotagaeshi which I did well earlier fell apart a bit. That direct entry technique was excellent. I did it to Eric who wasn't expecting it and he went down quickly. There was some laughter, and then I moved on.

After class I asked him what people were chuckling about. It turns out he really wasn't expecting that technique (even though it was one of the three we were supposed to do) and he was caught so unawares he was disoriented. Afterwards he made a face just to be funny. He said he was standing there one moment and found himself on the mat the next. All I saw was him taking a normal ukemi so I moved on the next guy.

Class ended with some kokyuho exercises.

I stayed after to help Eric study for his 4th kyu test. We did a few of the test techniques and then left the mat so the Friday night class could warm up. We moved to the karate dojo space and we worked on the sankyo portion of his test a bit. Usually, I do my best to just take ukemi and let people practice but when I can say something simple and it's not class time I try to give them something to think about.

I basically told him that once he has a good sankyo, keep it. Keep the pressure nice and consistent. Don't even let it up for the hand change. I did a sankyo to him and asked him if he felt me let the sankyo go loose for the hand change. He said "No!". He'll either get it or he won't but he may be mindful of it during a practice and figure it out. I'm not likely going to bring it up again as I'm sure he'll eventually get it.