Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hey.... A Test Technique

Wife wasn't going out tonight so I took off for aikido.

Beverly had a relatively new student that just did amazing. I've seen people with other martial arts skills start before and they may have some skills that they manage to carry over into aikido but this guy was excellent. I suspect he'll advance his technique relatively quickly.

I worked with Matt mostly. We started with ikkyo, then later moved to a couple of different nikkyo's. For the nikkyo ura, I actually needed to smooth out some wrinkles. I was doing a bit of pulling and not enough leading. Once it was pointed out I was able to do something immediately.

We moved on to a kaitenage. Good practice actually as that's on my next test.

At the end of class Mike told Rob and I to try a kokyu dosa or seuo nage or some other kind of throw. I didn't have these down well so I ended up puttering a bit.

Nice class.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Box Delivery

It is very likely that the Salem dojo will be moving locations soon. The call went out to ask people to bring boxes in so we could pack up. I may be wrong but I'm thinking that moving will be no trivial task. I almost feel like everyone is underestimating the effort. That dojo and Mr. Mulligan's office in particular has a great deal of stuff. I'm guessing that we'll need 15 boxes minimum just to move the office. I'm particularly concerned with the new space and any possible work that needs to get done.
Anyway.... I brought a bunch in along with packing material. If I can, I'm going to see if I can get another bunch from somewhere else.

Class last night focused on fluidity of movement and intent. We set lines up. The first person does a tsuki strike and you tenkan/roll around that and move with intent to the next person who will do a collar grab with the intention of striking you.

So we were practicing different aspects of this. We practiced the tenkan/roll against the tsuki strike and then we did some collar grab exercises. What we were supposed to be doing at one point was to come under the grab hand, backhand uke's face (putting your hips into it) and when uke reacts by blocking... take it into an ikkyo to sankyo. Then he had us take the sankyo and step back, pivot and throw uke behind you. It's a dandy little movement actually. Uke really has no choice but to follow because your moving with your center.

As we were practicing the individual elements I found myself automatically responding a few times. I think this is probably a good thing. It's become annoying though. I'm attempting to do the ikkyo from a collar grab but the instant my collar was grabbed, I reacted with a nikkyo. I very nearly started the nikkyo motion and had to stop myself so I could do what was being practiced. Now... this wasn't one of those... I 'think' I'll do nikkyo moments... it was an instantaneous reaction to being grabbed in that manner (there was no thought involved). Sort of like the collar grab flipped a switch. I just barely stopped myself before I did any real movement on it.

The other interesting moment was somehow my uke was bent over when I wanted ikkyo but I had an arm and I ended up with a nice wakagatame. It wasn't something I thought about. The arm was just there so that's where I ended up.

Then I had the usual moments of uke stiff arming me during ikkyo.... and without thinking went into an ura version to go around the force. I honestly didn't even realize I did it until Bob came over. Bob said that was fine to do even though that wasn't what we were doing exactly but I should keep in mind to throw the person in the correct direction as really... that's what the lesson is about. It isn't the individual techniques per se that matter but the thought of moving from uke to uke, getting them in each other's way and such.

I did help demo a couple of times with Bob. One time surprised me. Even though he did an atemi earlier I wasn't thinking about it. He did an atemi relatively quickly and I managed to react in time to block my face. Very cool. I'm not actually worried about getting hit, it's not like anyone is trying to mangle you. It's just cool that I reacted. I know at least two fellow students with lots of experience who don't react to an atemi. It's kind of funny. I can only guess that they've never been hit in the face before.

For those who've asked about my knee.... the knees is still a bit sensitive so backward rolls bother me still. Overall... it was just a bad bruise I think.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ushiro Ryokatatori

Mr. Mulligan had us work with ushiro ryokatatori. We went through ikkyo, sankyo, kotagaeshi, shihonage, koshinage, and kokyunage. A lot of them felt rather natural. The kokyunage is always challenging for me. There are some kokyunage that I can do without issue. The one tonight was a puzzler for me. In the end I was showing some improvement but didn't feel I had it quite right. When Mr. Mulligan had us attack dynamically and pull backward, the kokyunage got a lot easier for me to do.

For a sankyo I inadvertantly tortured Chris. I didn't think I had it that tight on him. I think he had an elbow injury I wasn't aware of. When I took the slack out of the sankyo, I expected him to move. Instead I actually got a yelp. I felt pretty bad. He's real experienced so I was surprised I hurt him. He said his elbow was already hurt. His elbow must have been really messed up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Throw Night

I got to be demo boy for Bob last night. We did lots of interesting stuff including some otoshi, koshinage, and something I think you refer to as ippon seoi nage (Tony's favorite).

Some of it seemed natural enough. I worked quite a bit on timing, and keeping my eyes from looking down at the floor. I think I was generally positioning myself well for the various throws.

My biggest problem was with the phone call throw. You have uke's lapel, swing him behind you and bring the hand that has the lapel towards your ear to load him up, then throw him. I was having all kinds of problems with this throw. At some stages I was leaving uke behind me essentially putting myself in a position to shihonage myself. I was having other issues as well. It's just one of those techniques I need to observe more and practice. Eventually I'll get it.

After class, I headed over to the Beverly dojo for a second class that night. Rob was teaching. Talk about fluidity. He had us doing some basic stuff at first. He made some tweaks... then later he added some more complex techniques. Pretty neat. I got my knee tweaked on a hip throw of some kinds. It still hurts a bit from impacting the mat a while back. It's generally ok except for backward rolls and when I fall incorrectly.

We Were Awake Somehow

Peter was doing some real interesting techniques. Real... aikikai flowing type of things. For whatever reason we were all generally picking them up fairly well. There are some mornings that you could show me something 10 times and I'm just not seeing stuff. This particular morning we all seem to be getting the gist of things on the first run through.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Woohoo.... Double Class

The stars all aligned and the wind blew the right way. I actually was able to attend two classes in Salem last night. It's been a while since I've been able to do two classes in a row. Definitely makes me happy. By the time I got home I was tired enough that I soundly fell asleep early.

I was disappointed about one thing. Scott from was in town. He was planning on coming to Salem for a visit and a class but he manged to get the pox or something. He decided that taking it easy was better than falling under a bus or killing someone on the mat. He's no fun.

Well... he missed a really fun class or two. Alan's class started with typical ukemi practice but instead of having us do breakfalls on our own, he started a line with a cross hand grab to have the newer folks practice breakfalls with a little help. Those were fun. Good practice, even for me. Why? Because I'm hoping to try different things to see what happens.

Alan kept us quite busy. We did moretetori iriminage, shihonage, kotageashi, udekimenage, suwari waza ikkyo. I had various partners during the night. At one point I had Casey who is a newer guy. Real strong. He resisted a technique at an appropriate time so that I could feel that I was actually doing something wrong. I thanked him and immediately started doing things correctly.

Later on I had Joanna as a partner for the udekimenage. After a bit of practice I showed her how to protect herself as uke by grabbing nage's wrist. It's a good way to protect your elbow if nage is pressuring it too much. I also suggested that she not do that unless she is really feeling like she needs to so she doesn't frustrate nage. After some more practice, I also mentioned to her that you can use that connection with nage to do a breakfall. This puzzled her so I did a couple. Then she did some and thought it was great.

For the second class we did a Friday the 13th class. "When things go wrong". This class consisted of uke grabbing the wrong wrist with the wrong foot underneath, reversals such as shihonage reversals.... and so forth. Great class.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Almost Went To A Wednesday Class

Wife was too tired to take off but I had so much work to do I was pinned home anyway. Would have been funny if I went though. I actually got to the past couple of Wednesday nights.

I did however get to a Monday night class. My initial goal was to get to Salem's early class but once again, life got in the way and I was only able to get to the late class.

It was an unusually quiet night. Since it was just a couple of us and we were more experienced, Mike took the opportunity to polish some things up a bit. We first started with polishing some ukemi. After that we worked on some techniques.

At this point I don't believe I remember exactly what the various techniques were.... other than I believe they were mostly tae waza. All I remember was doing one of the techniques not quite right and plowing my partner into the mat. Not cool. Not what I intended.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Koshinage to Start

I was able to make it to the first class tonight in Salem. Alan started us off with a little light HIP THROWS!!! Actually, it was quite comfortable. When I land correctly, the banged up side of my knee is not involved. So basically, I got some exercise and blood flow in the area and it felt better after class than it did before.

So Alan asks me to help demo the throw and asks me to throw him. It's been a little while so after a quick hint from Alan I remembered which one he was interested in. I did fairly well with these tonight. Somehow I ended up in a threesome. This was fine though. We kept a good pace up... not too fast. Not too slow. Just consistent practice. It was nice. My two partners were improving. One of them was taking the ukemi funny. For those new folks that might actually read this thing.... you want to firm up your center. Don't allow yourself to be draped over nage's back like a coat. You want to be more like a plank of wood that gets flipped over in the middle (but in a relaxed sort of way). One of my uke's was constantly draping himself over nage's back. The other guy was having some difficulty with it so when it was our turn I mentioned it. He didn't quite get it but I wasn't going to harp on it. Now that he knows to think about it he'll eventually get it.

Alan had us work on shihonage some. He called me up again for the demo, put me in a position where I normally would have to breakfall.... he had my arm extended out. Then he paused, asked if I wanted to breakfall... to which I replied "ehhh... why not?". The problem I had though was one of timing. Because the throw was stopped and then started I didn't have the timing for the ukemi quite right. My gumby shoulders saved me a bit by buying me another moment as I did the breakfall. Very comfortable. Hadn't done too many standing breakfalls for shihonage. As soon as we picked partners, my partner seemed tentative. He told me he was concerned that everyone had to breakfall out. That was kind of funny. I said... no. Just normal shihonage. The throw wasn't important. Alan was more interested in our learning the entry.

At one point I got to work with Joanna for iriminage. We were just taking turns having a blast. At one point she was shaking her head and telling me my iriminage feels strong. I never really thought about it. One thing I like to do if I can is off-balance uke so that he has his head right on my shoulder. I noticed she wasn't doing that.

We started to noodle around with it some. Then she just got crazy and started resisting for the heck of it. For her trouble, she ended up with several faux atemi, to the face, ribs (under the armpit), and kidneys. Other times she ended up in an ude garame, where my tegatana was on her shoulder/arm joint.... a nikkyo, shihonage, and a kokyunage that came out of nowhere. She had said after one or two of them that she wants to try and remember that. The thing of it is.... In my mind it's not about remembering to do x when y is happening. It's a matter of just letting uke stick themselves in a position and you just sort of let them get there.

On my drive home I was thinking about how I could have done the technique anyway if she stiff armed me. I came up with two ideas. One was to move around her rather than having her move around me more.... the other idea was to offbalance her in one direction and then scoot behind her.

Ah well... knee feels ok... Still tender though.

Learning Lag

Wife was laid up and unable to take off Wednesday night. So.... after I get the kids to bed, what do I do? Run off to a late aikido class!! Ahhh.... she'll be fine.

I swear sometimes when I hit the mat, some aspect of my technique is suddenly improved. This happens even if I hadn't practiced that particular technique in a while. Quite a while ago Mr. Mulligan had us practicing a simple hip throw where uke comes in with something like shomenuchi and you push it back just a bit ikkyo style, step in and do the throw. It's relatively simple and yet I was giving my partner no hip to speak of and generally having a bad time of it. This night for whatever reason I was having more success. I was paying lots of attention on getting my feet together, getting them in the correct place in relation to uke. I wasn't getting low enough for some throws but really... the throws were much improved over the last time I did them.

So I managed to bang my other knee up a bit. The left knee feels great again.... just in time for me to take a bad ukemi and land on the right knee. Nage had done a few of these throws I described above, popped me up in the air and it was neat. You felt like you were floating up there. I'm not sure how high up you really get but when he pops you like that it feels like you're floating way up. Unfortunately, on one throw something about it was different. I frequently can correct my body position a number of ways but I wasn't able to do it. I came down over-rotated so instead of landing flat on the left side.... my right hip was turned more to the ground so that my right knee slammed into the mat. No tendons/ligaments or anything were damaged bad. From the feel of it, I think it's just a bad whack. The skin is still tender to the touch. Suwari waza would be hard for me right now. I've iced it the last couple nights. It'll be fine, it just may hurt for a while. The throw didn't hurt.... just the mat. Darn that mat! I still think that although some injuries are unavoidable, it really is up to uke to protect himself. I'm not sure if there is much I could've done different for this one though.

One thing I want to experiment with. As was mentioned to me.... When doing the technique and starting to push back a bit on uke. I know you don't want to go too far. What I was told to try though was to move uke laterally. So... if you have uke's right arm, aside from pushing back a bit you would also move him a bit to your right. Uke almost has to take a step. This creates a hole for you to step into and uke is easier to get you your hip(rather than our hip getting to uke).

The previous technique was a nice shomenuchi sankyo. Hey... a test technique. Woo hoo. Very cool. Jim gave me a few suggested tweaks to work on.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Nice Class.... For a Gorilla

A new person showed up for class. She had a martial arts background already. Some kung fu and other stuff.

It always fascinates me how people have several martial arts under their belt. I didn't find anything until I started with aikido.

Took it easy for the most part in this class. We started out with a little ukemi practice by doing some kind of otoshi from tsuki. It's a great way to practice breakfalls.

Afterwards we did some ikkyo omote and ura. I worked with this guy who is newer. Without thinking much about it, the first ikkyo I did I just did normally. Then I realized that I needed to slow things up a bit to get my uke used to things.

Towards the end of class Mike told Diana and I to do a little ude garame from the same entry. I noticed that she does it a bit different from me. She was sort of pushing the arm in the direction it needed to go. I learned this from Peter in Salem. What I learned to do is get uke into an ikkyo so we are standing over them with hands on their elbow and wrist.... then instead of sliding behind uke's arm for a sankyo.... you reach on top of... then under to grab your own wrist. Take a big step in front of uke and turn the whole mess over. As uke is hitting the ground let the hold go and pressure the elbow to help uke turn over for a pin. We were plowing each other down. It was a lot of fun. One of the ones she did on me was so small and tight, I had no room to do anything other than flip over. Very cool.

Oh ... once in a while I watch a youtube video where someone is doing something so well, it's just amazing to watch.

My ukemi is relatively fine..... but when I look at this I think I move like a clumsy gorilla.

Easy Friday Night

At some point I stretched a ligament in my left knee. So.... I'll just be standing there and it kind of feels like my knee hyper extends. I also have had the feeling that the kneecap wants to slide in the wrong place.

A few days have gone by and now things are pretty much fine. I can tell it's almost healed up. You say to yourself.... what did he do to get that? Twist hard? Nope.... I'm convinced that all this bad weather had me wearing heavy winter boots. I tend to tuck one leg underneath the other when I sit. I think the extra weight pulling at the knee joint mattered. Weird... but I got into sneakers for two days and now everything is fine.

Friday night was a relatively laid back class. We did some suwari waza and so forth.

Wife needed me home so I didn't get to stay for the second class. Ah well.