Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Double Class Last Night

My family was away for the day so I took the opportunity to get two classes in. I woke up a little tired actually from the seminar but I pushed ahead anyway.

Mr. Mulligan was teaching for Bob. I'm not 100% sure but I think Bob went away to a seminar in Ireland. Anyway, we stuck to basic stuff which was good because I want to practice everything. Some times it's nice just to do nikkyo for a night. This night.... For the most part we were doing all kinds of sankyo all over the place. For this class I encountered a new kind of resistant partner. Young guy, resistance. Hadn't seen much of that in a while. I think this guy is in college.

He was an interesting partner. Good for my technique anyway. He wouldn't move for me unless it was under direct pressure or pain. He's been around a while so it's not like he doesn't know the technique. He's resisting on purpose. For what reason I'm not sure. I asked him if he realizes he's resisting some and he said yes... he likes to do that and don't worry about hurting him. So for the most part I take the attitude of ok.... I'll do what I can without injuring him. I hope he likes pain because that's usually what you get when you resist.

So.... I have him in a sankyo dancing around like my personal meat puppet and I go to cut him down and ..... I can't get him down low enough. I never realized it but I needed to change the way I cut uke down. Mr. Mulligan picked up that I was doing more of a half hearted cut. So.... I start cutting him down correctly and then crank his arm to get him to lie down for the pin. We are generally taught to keep the sankyo arm at a 90 degrees and use it as a lever to force uke down. There are other ways of course and I've experimented with them but this day I was doing a standard sankyo. So anyway.... I crank him down, I see he is headed down to the mat so I let the crank go and he tries to pop right back up. My other hand was still on him so I re-restablish the 90 degree crank on the arm and try to bring him down to the ground. From then on I couldn't let up(hole in my technique). Most times this worked... once or twice he just wouldn't want to go down or on one occassion rolled out of it. So I'd say all in all I got him to comply about 75% of the time. The rest of the time I was too afraid of causing real injury to press it.

Some day he'll come across the wrong personality type or someone less experienced who feels the need to finish the technique regardless and he may get injured. Hopefully he'll figure things out before that happens.

Anyway.... good class for me. Found a couple of holes. Got to screw up the ura version many times. Plenty more time to fix that.

The second class at NSA started a touch late. We were all too jazzed and yakking about the seminar yesterday and most of us were at least still a bit tired from it. Mike led us through a few of the seminar techniques. I had an opportunity to work on the koshinage a bit. I was quite happy that I made some improvement with that version. I didn't try and reverse it. I tried to get my feet together in the right place at the right time, get low enough and wham. I think I even got low enough most of the time. Even for the shorter members of our group.

Then we worked on some kind of otoshi. Go for a wrist grab. tenkan, grab the top of uke's sleeve/wrist, lead him forward, up and then behind(pivoting) going to one knee. Use your opposite hand for a hip push or something. Fun one. Reminds me of a similar version I've practiced with Peter on Sundays. Same technique but for a shomenuchi strike. You move in, slip down and kneel at the same time. Lead uke over and push with the other hand in the same way. The trick to that for me was staying close to uke. Don't kneel far away.

There was another technique that had uke in a similar position for a throw/breakfall except as uke goes into the fall you can do a shove/hip bump. The first time Matt did this for me I felt like I had tons of hang time. I was up in the air for what seemed like a while. It's disconcerting at first to have so much air time but it's a comfortable fall really so no big deal.

Somewhere between the two classes my knee started feeling tweaked a bit. It's getting better. Feels lots better today. I'm find of glad I don't usually go to a class until Friday. Give it time to rest. Thumb still aches. Judging from the weakness, range of motion and the pain level I'd say I moderately sprained it. I don't think anything tore. I've had something like this in the past from the same thing actually. It feels better today as well. During class last night I stuck to judo grabs with that hand so I didn't involve the thumb.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Seminar at North Shore Aikikai Sunday

Instructors teaching....

David Farrell, Shihan 6th Dan
David Halprin, Shihan 6th Dan
Barbara Britton, Shidoin 6th Dan

I was very pleased to go to the seminar hosted by NSA this weekend. There was a large turnout. I saw lots of familiar faces. It's gotten to the point where I actually remember a few of their names. Some were from New England Aikikai, some from Portsmouth aikido, some from Methuen aikido and a couple from other dojo's that I recognized including a couple of instructors from these dojos as well. I recognized Sensei Dore, Sensei Ringer and others.

The mat area is very large. Even still it was fairly busy. There was still plenty of room to throw but you had to be careful (seems to be the norm for any seminar). When we formed lines there was tons of room and we were able to throw to our hearts content.

Early on I got to work with Sensei Ringer for a nikkyo technique. I think I worked with one of her instructors as well. I believe his name is Aaron. I always see him up at Portsmouth. He and I were working on a hanmi handache wrist grab. Sort of like a corner throw.

For the most part I tried to partner with people I usually don't see in my regular practice. It was awesome. At one point I had a group of four of us. One person was brand new to aikido, another seemed like he had six months or so under his belt, there was me, and the last guy was just amazing ukemi, black belt, guy. I never got his name. I've seen him uke for sensei Halprin in past seminars. Asian guy of relatively small stature. I wish I could have worked with him more to get more of a feel. After some amount throwing, he and I sped up a bit for throwing each other(we both asked for the speed up) and threw the others in line according to what they needed for their ukemi(one of them was rolling out). The technique for that one was one I had done with Peter in our Sunday classes. Uke reaches for a grab, you deflect the hand a bit and tenkan, grab uke's sleeve on top, lead him forward, up and back(pivoting). As you throw back, go to one knee and use your other hand to push uke's hip as they go over. I love this throw.

There was another partner I had who told me he had only been practicing for 2 months. His koshinage felt really good. He liked to pop you up too. I can only assume that's what they taught him in his classes. It was great. I've never met anyone who after 2 months could do a hip throw that well. I'm wondering..... He had to have had some judo background or something. In case you think I'm kidding, as Sensei Farrell moved through the crowd, he looked at my nage, and said "Nice throw". I had problems with this throw. Your supposed to move uke around in a circle, move yourself in a circle and get down in place for the throw. When I have uke moving around in that direction, my muscle memory wants to reverse and do the hip throw in the other direction. Valid I guess.... but I'm trying to do what the instructor is teaching. After a few tries I finally started doing them on the correct side.

At one point we were forming small groups for line throws again. I looked around and found Matt, Mike, and Mark in a line. I joined in hoping I would get tossed around some. At times people go real easy when they don't know you. particularly when you are still a white belt. Also, I wanted to work with Mark a bit. He left the state to go live with squirrels somewhere north and I haven't gotten to work with him since I was around 5th kyu. I was interested in feeling his technique now that I have half a clue. The technique for this line was grab both hands and do something like a tenchinage reversal, grab the back of the neck with your 'sky' hand, pull the neck/shoulder around in a circle (90 degrees), use the other hand to straight arm uke and drive him in the circle and throw. At least... that's what I remember seeing.

When I got home I had a happy blissfullness at getting a good amount of exercise.
The only injury was my own fault. The first time I got thrown up for a hip throw it felt like I was put up and simply dropped. I had myself in a bad position coming down and my leg came down on my hand, jamming my thumb back some. I have some loss of grip strength and a small amount of pain in it but it will be fine in a week. Today it feels pretty good, yesterday I dropped two items(one was a bottle of water) simply because I couldn't grip the bottle tight enough. After that I took it as a hint to USE MY OTHER HAND DUMMY. Oh... and I didn't even notice them until my family said something but I have fingerprints on my right bicep. I haven't had those in a long while. People going for gi and getting my skin instead.

Brings up a story I think I've mentioned a while back.... a year or two ago I was nage for a technique. I accidently grabbed skin, and knew it. Uke is doing his thing and turning over for a breakfall. So I am left with the choice of no longer supporting, maintaining a connection with uke, or allowing him to twist the pinched skin the whole way around his breakfall. I let uke go as he was experienced enough that I knew he didn't need my support and would prefer to keep his skin intact.

The skin twist..... hmmmm..... maybe there is a technique there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

AI It's Hot Out

I went to two classes last night. The first at Shodokan. Bob taught. Because it's such a hot day (about 95 indoors) we kept the practice at a slower pace. Must have worked as I didn't end up mouth breathing at all. The focus of the practice was so that uke could harmonize with nage. And yes..... nage needed to harmonize as well but the stress was on uke following nage.

We would make a connection, first just a finger... then later a whole hand and do body movement to convert the attackers energy. I had a hard time not doing a technique. For good or bad I'm at a point where some techniques just pop out when I am attacked certain ways. Come to think of it.... this was a similar exercise to one I did at Baltimore Aikido last year.

Later on we practiced moving through multiple attackers. First, just by entering and getting out of the way using the same exercises we did earlier and later by attempting whatever technique seemed appropriate. One of the things in said in general to the class was something I always wondered about my own style of aikido. It was suggested that keeping your feet around shoulder width apart during the freestyle exercise is a good idea. Going to the ground may not be good, spreading your legs out too much may also not be good. I know that for some of my style of aikido I tend to let my stance get a little wide for some throws. It's something I was aware of but haven't focused on tightening it up at all. Maybe I should. One other comment was to make sure are attacks are sincere. When grabbing one hand make sure you continue attacking by facing your center more at nage. Because realistically you are going to attack someone with intent maybe grab with the other hand or punch. I'm not sure I was doing that but I made sure from then out that I had more intent.

At the end we did a slow walking pace freestyle to practice a bit. For whatever reason, I noticed that for yokomen and shomen strikes I tend to block/deflect and enter behind the person a lot. At least thats what came out last night. I notice that my freestyle frequently reflects what I've been working on the past few classes. Not sure why but I found sankyo somewhat frequently too.

After this I headed out to North Shore Aikikai. We did a lot of things to practice ukemi. Started off with our normal forward and backward rolls (same as Shodokan) and then moved on to tsuki sumi-otoshi.

We formed up a couple of lines and did more techniques to help us practice our falling.
Also practiced in there was a kotagaeshi version and an ude garame. The ude garame made sense when I picked up a little detail about trying to hit uke in the face with his own hand. That comment made a huge difference on how it felt.

We slowed the pace a bit with a little ikkyo at one point.

My falling lately is a little wonky. I've been over-rotating a lot lately. I have no idea why. Not enough to hurt anything but enough that I know that I'm doing it. I need more practice falling.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Got Nothing Better To Do??

Watch this one....

Went To Baltimore Again

I drove the family down to the Baltimore area to see family and friends. Family had a blast.

Yes of course I took my gi. I went back to that dojo I hit last year.

This dojo is part of the ASU. The dojo's I regularly practice in are USAF affiliated.

What a great way to shake up the cobwebs. If you ever think you are paying full attention in class..... you aren't. Go to a totally different dojo especially in a different organization. I found myself paying attention to exact positions of feet, hands, and center. It was almost like starting over again.

Just like any dojo the instructors all have their different spin on things. This one was great. He was interested in showing effective atemi, effective techniques. One interesting difference I saw. Sometimes we do a hold down where you are on your knees, uke is lying down. You have your hand on uke's face and his other arm in an armbar on your knee with the other hand. Instead of an armbar threatening a break at the elbow, they showed a different method where nage's knee is on uke's face/neck(we've done this once in a while too) which is nice because I was actually getting a bit of a blood choke from it. The other hand was not threatening an elbow break. Instead, you turn uke's thumb up and then push the arm down. This supposedly weakens uke's grasp (if he's holding a knife). I'd like to play with that a little. I let go of the knife at the appropriate time but I couldn't tell how effective it was from that little exposure. I didn't want to test/resist my partner as I didn't want to confuse things. I figured I could try it at home some day with the understanding that I just want to feel it.

I'm looking forwarding to getting on the mat tomorrow night.

Last Friday Night

Hot night so we kept an easy pace. Since it's been over a week I'm fuzzy on the details but I do remember two things. I was having some trouble doing a relatively simple technique. We switched partners. The partner I had me doing things 'his' way the last class had this technique down pretty well and I was able to use his correctness to do the technique correctly myself. Not an unusual occurrence. Just don't want everyone to think that one odd incident was the total of this persons practice. He does like to teach his way of doing things but he also gets a lot of things right.

For the freestyle portion at the end I had Buddy. He attacks so fast and with such committment that I at times end up doing something fast. One technique in particular I've done with Peter and with Mike teaching in the past. Yokomen attack, step into in front of uke and sort of catch and lead uke's strike as you go to both knees. If he uses your connection as a spot to breakfall out of you can float him by rising up and moving your center forward. It's a fast response. Perhaps not great to go to the ground but fun and frankly.... he was coming at me so fast that's what came out.

This was the last class before I took off. See next post for details.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Selective Resistance

In my early posts I used to go on a bit about how my uke's were choosing to resist and how it was usually a bad idea. Later on as I trained I took the occasional bit of uke resistance and used it as best I could to make sure I was doing the technique correctly. Basically.... I almost welcomed some resistance at times. If I'm not delivering a proper control, I want to know it. If I don't know it then I can't fix it. I have now gotten to the point where I can usually see if I'm being effective. I may not know how to fix a particular problem, but often times I will see the problem even as the sensei is giving me a most welcomed correction. So at this point I don't mind resistance or none from my partners. I just use whatever is given.

The other night however, I had what I consider the worst kind of resistance. I had a partner who felt as though I was doing the technique wrong. Rather than allowing me to work it out they were giving me corrections very different from what sensei was teaching. This was compounded by the selective resistance they were applying. He resisted me very much until I applied his correction. When I did(experimenting) the technique in the way they asked they stopped resisting totally. Of course it was easy to complete the technique but I recognized immediately what was going on. He offerred no resistance when doing it his way. This of course proves nothing. In my mind, this is ego at work.

I read a bit online and came across this story about resistance. It's definitely worth the read.

My favorite part is actually not about resistance at all but at the nature of aikido. The fact that in an instant you react to what is going on..... you don't plan on doing a particular techinique.

Staying Sticky

Matt taught last night. We did some kind of ikkyonage and a few other line techniques that all involved staying sticky with your partner in some way. Using the stickyness to lead your uke off balance and then throw. Very challenging class.

I gave it a little thought and I think I know why on that staff technique people were falling a little funny. It was basically a nikkyo and a throw with a staff. After the nikkyo was completed, when uke bounces up, nage was moving the staff forward for the throw. Maintaining connection meant that uke took a step. So left hand has connection to staff, back is to staff.... but instead of going over staff, the staff moved along that line. Uke would take a step. All our weight is now on the right foot and because the staff was swooping for a foot sweep as well we wanted to breakfall but were in a weird position for it. For me.... I didn't land on my back but I did the breakfall on the wrong side and somehow corrected mid air. So I landed comfortably on my side. Others landed square on their back because it was a breakfall on the wrong side and the connection was still on the staff.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bummer.... No Class Today

I headed off this morning for practice and found the mat occupied by the arnis folks. I immediately saw the sign up on the bulletin board. Assuming it was up there Friday night I have no clue how I would have missed it. I swear it wasn't there. So anyway.... No Sunday morning class until mid-September. Bummer. My plan was to head to North Shore Aikikai for their later Sunday class but I was out with the family. My choice was to either race home and just get there in time or to stay where I was and do some much needed furniture shopping. I was already there and we really needed to look around.

So, I didn't get to practice today. :(

My wife offerred to let me do the double class (one at each dojo) tomorrow but it screws with her and the kids' schedule so bad I can't justify it.