Friday, January 30, 2009

Woohoo Wednesday Night

I don't often get out Wednesday nights. After the kids went to sleep I was able to head out for a late aikido class in Beverly.

Rob taught. It's really interesting seeing him move now that I know a little more. His movements are really fluid. Oddly enough I seemed to have less difficulty trying to do things Rob's way than in the past. I'm not saying I was doing things 100% right or anything. It's just that some time ago when I took a class I was unable to even come close to doing things in a similar way. Things felt wrong. Now.... it didn't feel that way at all. It could be that I'm just a little more experienced... or it could be that how I do aikido now as I try to make it 'my aikido' is a little closer to what Rob is doing then what I have done in the past.

We did some work on our entry. Then eventually started in with a yokomenuchi iriminage (yay... test technique... thanks Rob!). So I tried to do the technique how Rob was teaching it. I tried to stay focused on getting uke to my shoulder as usual but I was also working on my kazushi in general.

Another technique we did was one that originally came from Peter. We've done it in a class in Salem once too. You start off with an iriminage but in the case where uke gets away from you, you can move uke's head around just a bit more and you end up next to uke almost at a 45 degree angle maybe. At this point Peter would have us grab the head/neck and do a throw (supporting the head for uke). Rob modified this a bit so no head grab is done. Keep the handhold on ukes arm and neck and push uke for the throw (yoko I believe).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Promotion Requirements

Matt was aware that I was interested in taking my next test at Salem. Since he was teaching last night he put a couple of my test techniques in the mix.

Yokomenuchi kotagaeshi. Everyone does their aikido a little different. Sometimes it's from their teacher but often times it's from body type or just making aikido your own. For my kotagaeshi, I am used to a cutting/blending uke's hand down to my center, doing the hand change and then doing a tenkan as I do the technique. Perhaps I might sidestep to keep the circular motion going and keep uke moving/offbalance. Matt had me try doing it a different way. Once you have uke's hand in front of your center, move, drawing uke with you. They take a stutter step. As you are moving draw uke down and then when you come back up you finish the kotagaeshi. When done this way, it feels more like a throw as uke has to move to keep up. It's less on the wrist and more on the whole arm/elbow/shoulder. I'll have to try it a bit more. The ukemi for it is certainly more fun. I have a feeling though that although I like practicing this, it isn't going to become my 'goto' way of doing it. I'll give it some more time. We'll see how it works out.

Yokomenuchi iriminage. Once again, I get uke's arm in front of my center but instead of keeping it moving as above, you reverse uke's arm direction, enter behind uke. Now here is the difference to what I was used to and what Matt was showing me for this one. At this point I was cutting straight down with my arm, right in front of my center. Because I'm cutting right in front of me, I'm in a perfect position to exert force on uke without my using much force. Then I get uke's head leaning in to my shoulder so I can use my whole shoulder to finish the iriminage. What Matt showed me for his variation on this was just plain cool. instead of the strong cut down, you grab uke's sleeve or arm, lead them forward just a bit and around. If you do it right uke, ends up right on your shoulder and you've done very little. Uke is just plain off balance and you essentially are just leading them around. Absolutely sweet. I'd like to practice this a bit more.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beef.... It's What's For Dinner

So... I forgot to mention it. Sunday mornings the arnis class is in full swing. They are in the karate dojo right outside the aikido dojo. This is just a different room in the same building. Basically right outside the open doorway.

Most mornings they play some kind of music and I'd say between that and the thwack,,,thwack..thwack of the sticks I pretty much screen everything out. I really don't even hear it. I'm usually too focused on my practice to even hear it.

The music they play is really unusual... usually sounds like the highlanders are coming over the hill in full kilts and battle axes or something.

This morning was a riot though. It was so incongrous I heard it immediately. If you're old enough you'll remember a commercial that was on tv quite a long time ago. It was a beef commercial.

So... I'm sitting there stretching... and all of a sudden I hear......

Kaeshi Waza

This morning was not a good morning to be half asleep. Peter started teaching kaeshi waza.

Kaeshi Waza is basically reversals. I'm not sure who is nage or uke in this case but here goes.... uke strikes, nage responds with a technique, and uke then responds to that to do his own technique on nage.

This isn't something they usually teach until after you've been around for a bit. The reason is because beginners would just be reversing their peers like crazy and wouldn't give nage a chance to understand a technique or even develop some muscle memory.

Peter had us start with shomen strike. Nage responds with ikkyo, uke then responded with ikkyo, nikkyo, yonkyo, kaitenage, iriminage, shihonage. There were two reversals that we covered. One is ... as nage starts his ikkyo, uke enters and brings the arm back and around. You can get your hips in on this. So you end up with your own ikkyo. From ikkyo, you can get to a lot of the other techniques. The other reversal was instead of coming back over with your own ikkyo.... you could leave the arm down... and then bring it back up in a circle in the direction its already headed.

Later on we tried a yokomen strike instead... and let that lead to a kotagaeshi. This felt kind of natural for me actually.

I was thinking how to get to udekimenage. I think you could do it similar to the shihonage. Do a sort of sword cut motion to get uke in position and then you have ude.

Great class. Very different for me anyway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Double Class Monday Night

Mr. Mulligan taught last night. He had us working on exercises to stress us relaxing, moving with our center, and focusing on kazushi. I got a lot of it very right. I got some of it kinda eh... and some I improved on as time went on. Great class.

Beverly had a test night. Things went well enough. Before the test though we did some techniques to help with ukemi practice. I have no idea what was up with Matt. He was keeping up quite a pace. So... he pounded on us.... we pounded on him. I was a little fumbly for some reason. My timing was off so I found certain grabs to be tougher.

Reminds me a story of one of our students at one of tbe two dojo's. I won't say which. :)
He used to keep a big pace going. One of the other students told me how he use to handle him. He would try to push the pace even harder. After some number of repetitions, the other guy would get winded a bit and slow down. I laughed when I heard he was doing this. Defintely not recommended if you can't handle it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday Night at Beverly

Someone is ready to take their 5th kyu test. There was some focus on the test techniques. Did some of those. shomenuchi iriminage, tsuki kotagaeshi. ryotetori tenchinage.

For the iriminage, I got one of their newer folks for a partner. Always kind of fun to have someone new. It's always a challenge to do the technique correctly without hurting uke.
Because I was getting natural reactions I was grabbing some gi for some of the iriminage. I wanted to make sure I moved him where I needed him for that first movement of uke after you enter. I was focusing on getting his head in the correct place and keeping him off balance. He did really well picking up aspects of the technique as we practiced.

Di and I did the kotagaeshi together. Excellent practice. I need to make sure I do a full tenkan for that one. Once or twice I caught myself getting lazy.

I would like to test next time there is one. I really need to start working on the test techniques.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Plodding Along

I've been going to classes fairly regularly all this time. I've just had a tough time keeping this blog up to date.

Sunday was extremely fun. Peter had us doing lots of knife disarming techniques. I remember an ude garami, a shihonage, a wakagatami, some kind of otsohi. There was a whole bunch of various techniques. I love otoshi. I have no idea why but they are all fun.

Monday I got held up at home but was able to at least make the Beverly class. Matt taught. He did a bunch of techniques including some sword disarming. A few of the techniques are what I think of as his 'gravity' techniques. I've had classes in the past where he might do something like this. Whatever the technique, you end up getting drawn/sucked in off balance and there is usually some kind of throw at the end. At first look you think he's using muscle but really what he does is connect an arm to his center and moves you with his center.

I really need to work on my list of techniques for the next test. At this point I'm comfortable with the thought of testing for the next kyu but really would like to polish things up and review everything. In some odd way I was more prepared for the test months ago when I uke'd for someone else. Although now I feel that my aikido is improved I have to work on the test techniques to get those back up to snuff.

Quite a while ago I twisted my ankle. It's probably about 98% back to normal now. I am comfortable standing on it but when I stretch it in a particular direction for warm ups its still a bit tender.