Monday, August 25, 2008

Iriminage Mostly

No sure what to say about tonight. I worked with my test partner pretty much the whole night.

After some of the class passed, we were told that we could pick a test technique and work on it. She picked moretetori iriminage. Somewhere along the way she forgot which of the two she originally picked. I reminded her when it was my turn to be nage.

After class I took ukemi for her so she could go through her test again. Also acted as uke so she could practice her freestyle.

There was one time where my partner used the wrong hand for a shomen attack. Without thinking about it I did a technique (kaitenage). That was cool I guess.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

4 of What Again?

Great morning for aikido. I have no idea if it's because family has me distracted away from aikido this week or I just didn't eat breakfast but I had trouble focusing this morning.

Peter was showing us 3 and 4 variations of a single technique then we practiced them in succession. This is unusual for us. At most we are typically given one or two ways of doing something at once.

I was forgetting one of them. Not how to do something... but what we were doing entirely. I took the attack and wasn't sure what I wanted to do so I would end up starting something. I had a shihonage I was ready to complete, an udekimenage or iriminage... too bad I was supposed to be doing kotagaeshi.

I got a little better as class went on. My techniques however...... eh. The last one was a koshinage. Start with a yokomen strike, cut it down, bring it back up and down into an ikkyo. Lean down for a sankyo, get uke on his toes and then enter for the hip throw. I was doing great except both times I threw uke over my back instead of my hips. I had him too high. I'd like to know what the heck I was doing. Maybe after tomorrow's class I can borrow someone. I don't necessarily need to do the throw... I can just enter and do the lift. Either I have it or I don't at that point.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why Visit Another Dojo?

When I first started aikido I remember Bob telling us that we should attend seminars and visit other dojo's ocassionally. The reason is that there is a wide experience to be had if you get out of your "little pond".

For me, I tend to use the experiences to help focus my training. Sometimes when you see a new instructor they have very different ways of doing things or may show you a technique or throw that you've never seen before. A lot of times I find myself paying even more attention to what is going on because of the unfamiliar environment. I also try to make more of an effort to cover myself when it is my turn to take ukemi. There are some people who are willing to actually hit you for an atemi expecting you to block it. There are others whose attack is less comitted and will stop the atemi before it connects. This keeps you on your toes.

Despite visits to other dojo's I have most of my "aha" moments right here in the classes I take locally. I'm not looking for secrets, techniques, or a quick fix. I'm just trying to immerse myself in a wider experience.

What I've seen when I visit these places is that usually a senior student will grab me to sort of check me out. Once they figure out that you're not a maniac they allow you to work with others. I'm proud to say that in visits to other dojos in the past I was allowed to work with their 6 month beginners. I can think of no higher honor than to be trusted with their newer students.

Took a Trip to New England Aikikai Today

I had today off and I always wanted to see NEA so I took a trip in today for their noon class.

It was terrific and the people there were extremely helpful. We started with some back stretches and then "threw down". The techniques were based on a shoulder grab from the front. Nage would then shomen to get uke to block then we did various things from this position. There was a nikkyo, something I believe referred to as a kokyunage (but seemed more like an otoshi to me), and a couple other things such as shihonage.

One technique started with a nikkyo ura. As uke is rising, you step around in front of uke putting your opposite arm on top of uke's sort of wrapping him tight right next to your chest (uke's arm is now rotated as you do this I think) You then turn and go to one knee all in one motion. I had trouble in the beginning going down on the wrong knee. I was very aware of it and eventually fixed it.

One of the more fun techniques had us starting out with the grab and block. Now you take your hand and move it above the blocking hand to uke's wrist as he's cutting down, let him, you tenkan out of the way and throw (one hand on the wrist, the other on his elbow) by going to your knees and projecting him out.

Why go to another dojo? Hmmm sounds like a good topic for a post.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Helped My Partner Practice For Her Test Some

I'm still trying to balance my family time with my aikido. My wife was kind enough to let me take her normal Wednesday night out so I could work with my partner for her upcoming test.

After class we went through the list of techniques. I made no comments or tweaking. Tweaking now when the test is next week is counterproductive. She's either ready, or she isn't. So, I just shut up and take ukemi. We went through her list a couple of times. At the end Kim showed up and we gave her some freestyle practice. Officially speaking I don't think USAF typically has a freestyle for 3rd kyu but Shodokan has been doing one for the past few 3rd kyu tests I've seen.

The biggest thing we had her work on for the freestyle was entering more. She would frequently finish a technique and rather than advance to the next uke she would retreat quite a bit. We also worked on what to do in case you are 'stuck'. Kim and I told her that once in a while there is nothing wrong with simply getting out of the way by deflecting the attack and entering past uke. After several attempts she was really improving for that moment. She was entering more and was controlling the uke's better. Part of that was our suggestions that she be mindful of moving in such a way to put uke's in line with each other. Sometimes moving even 4 feet to the right will totally block a second attacker.

Aftwerwards, she made a point of thanking us for working with her. It's nice to be appreciated.

Oh... btw... I got to ask her about the nikkyo the other night. Turns out the reason she hit the deck so fast was that she felt the nikkyo. Regardless of whether I did an effective nikkyo, I think it was just cool that I did the nikkyo as a reaction.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Why I'm Not Testing

I've been asked this question a lot lately. I have more than the number of practice days needed to test for 3rd kyu at this point. Actually, I've had enough days in that I could have tested a few months ago.

I have no doubt that I could pass a 3rd kyu test. I'm sure I could demonstrate the required techniques in a proficient enough manner. However, there are aspects of my practice that I'd like to see come along a little further before I test for 3rd kyu.

I feel it's necessary. In my mind, tests should be taken when the time is right. Not just when the bell rings indicating you've put in x amount of days. My rate of progression for aikido will not be changed on whether or not I take the test. Don't get me wrong, I don't avoid testing when needed, I just feel that having more of a 'buffer' for passing is important.

The downside of this of course is that people blow past me in rank and in fact, someone that started aikido much later than me is planning on testing for 3rd kyu at the end of this month. I'm fine with this... in fact, I'm likely going to be uke for her for the test.

Think of it this way..... when the time comes for me to take a test.... any test... I'd rather there be no question in the examiners minds as to whether I should pass or not.

Go for the knock out... Don't leave it in the judge's hands.

Feeling My Way

I was recently working with someone doing a kaitenage of some kind(I think it started with a hand grab actually). I'm in the middle of the technique when all of a sudden I feel a strong amount of resistance. Uke was keeping her shoulder frozen some so that getting the arm down and around was going to be difficult. I'm not sure at this point how much time I spent doing the following but I suspect it wasn't long.

I felt, more than saw, the nature of the resistance and somehow without thinking much about it I just applied a nikkyo. Now, I have no idea if uke hit the floor lightning fast to protect her wrist, because I just applied something very effective, or out of fear. Next time I see her I may ask her if she remembers whether she felt the nikkyo.

Nikkyo was not the technique we were practicing and I asked if she'd be nice enough to resist again and I would try to find a way to do the technique anyway. I found that if I made a larger circle I was able to easily overcome the strength. That is nice of course but I think that from a self defense perspective just flowing into something else like nikkyo is perfectly acceptable.

What I found most remarkable about it was that I felt the nikkyo as nage. I didn't rattle a list of techniques off in my head and pick one. It was just something that I did in response to the resistance.