Monday, April 27, 2009

Seminar in Portsmouth

I skipped Sunday morning so I could go to the aikido seminar at Portsmouth aikido.

David Halprin Shihan taught the group. It wasn't a usual seminar. He focused on the various parts that make up a technique.

I had a great time and hopefully learned something. At the very least there was lots to think about.

Still Moving

Despite the ongoing move practice is continuing. I imagine that we may have a couple of weeks of no classes at the start of May but that is a total guess. Lots to do setting up a dojo.

Peter taught Friday night. The first technique was a two hand grab, nage tenkans and throws uke forward. I thought back.... the first time I recall seeing this techinique was the night of my 5th kyu test. We ran through a full class that night and somewhere in the middle Mike had us do this.

Anyway.... we had a good class. Relatively low key.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Refining Nikkyo

Went to Beverly last night. These were used. I'll let you guess what for....

Beverly's new student is sort of like me in a way. He's about my age, had never done any martial arts before and started aikido. He seems to be doing fine. Should be interesting to see how he progresses.
We went through ikkyo and nikkyo. At the end we did a nikkyo to unbalance uke with some sort of throw for a finish. Perhaps you'd call it a tae waza? For the most part though we were all less interested in the throw and more interested in refining our nikkyo. Or should I say.... helping me refine my nikkyo.
There are many ways to get the nikkyo. I made a little bit of a revelation on this one. I thought that I wanted to use both hands for this one to apply pressure on the hand perpendicular to the wrist. The way I practiced it last night however I really wanted to do something more similar to the kind of nikkyo where you cut with the tegatana across the wrist down into uke's center. This was similar. Once I realized that the hand I was moving previously really wasn't the hand doing the nikkyo, everything got more effective. I did one side better than the other but instead of all the wiggling around looking for the right spot, I was able to just do the technique without a lot of fiddling. What I was trying to do previously was more similar to a floating nikkyo but up on my shoulder. I think it's a lot harder to get. At least it is for me right now. I'd like to practice that nikkyo again to get more time with it.
Different people have different sensitivities to various techniques. It was great having Matt as a partner for nikkyo because he gives excellent feedback. He won't instantly fold up at small discomfort. If you don't have a really good nikkyo, he won't move for you or bail out on the technique. Just excellent for learning. At some point it's important to get this kind of feedback so you don't become a victim of friendly ukes. It's too easy to become a legend in your own mind.
I remember my first posts complaining about uke's giving me too much resistance. Nowadays, I appreciate some amount at times. I'm definitely at a point that if I don't get the nikkyo on you.... I want to know it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who Stole the Kamiza?

Moving is ongoing. There were major amounts of stuff moved out at this point. There used to be quite a few items mounted here and there on the walls. Furniture has been moved or tossed in favor of some newer stuff. The most striking change was walking in to find that the larger portions of the kamiza have been removed. The top piece has been removed along with the lighting. The willow tree pieces on the sides and the shelf have been removed.

I've been to 4 classes since my last entry. I attended 2 classes Friday night. Since I haven't been taking notes, I'm unsure as to what exactly we were working on. I do remember however that by the time Alan's class was over I was about as loose and flexible as I get. I think we did lots of nikkyo. I remember this as I stretched for the second class I realized how much further I could stretch.

Sunday's class is more recent in my mind. We did a bit of tanto disarms. We were supposed to be doing a kotagaehsi. The attack was a collar grab with the tanto on nage's throat. But.... what I ended up instead with wakagatame. This is one of those situations where I have enough muscle memory to do 'something', perhaps even something effective. However... this isn't what I was trying to do. Although Peter thought that was a natural reaction to the attack and let us try that one for a short bit. You'd start out with your hands up in the air in a surrendering like position. You grab the knife hand with your hand opposite the attack. So, if the tanto is on your left side of your neck you would use your right hand to push the tanto away. So... what you do is move your hand QUICKLY to grab (under ukes other arm) the knife hand and knock it away from your neck as you rotate your hips some. Move uke's hand out a bit to unbalance them and lead the arm around in front of you as you turn so you can do the wakigatame.
During one of these I ended up with a kaitenage instead and couldn't figure out why until it happened a second time. When I went for the wakigatame, my uke took a big step changing our positions. So... some of the time I was moving with uke to keep the relationship of our bodies in such a way as to get the wakigatame. On a couple of the occassions it was apparently more natural for me to end up with a kaitenage position. Not ideal for a knife disarm but it came naturally and I'm sure I could do something from that position.

We also did, shihonage, kotagaeshi, kokyunage. Peter even showed us an otoshi of some kind.

About two weeks ago shortly after passing my 3rd kyu test I was having a conversation with someone about teaching. I think I was asked from a purely theoretical standpoint if I thought I could teach a class (this was just a question and not actually being considered). I believe my reaction was one of total apprehension. It just seemed to me to be totally inappropriate. My answer was..... I could keep people busy but teach? No.

I combine this with another comment made by an instructor. He cautioned us to keep mindful of our practice as new people do watch. So it's best to be doing techniques/ukemi as correct as possible for that reason as well.

On a daily basis of my practice I guess I am teaching sort of. I rarely tell someone to move this way or that. I'd rather they learn by figuring it out. The times I will outright break this rule is for safety. If a partner is changing the pace of a technique drastically or if I can offer help with some ukemi, I tend to be more vocal. This is the extent to which I can 'teach' right now. So hopefully my partners benefit from my training. In my last post I believe I spoke of teaching someone some proper ukemi for a hip throw. The way he was going he could have broken his wrist by sticking his hand down. This was one of those examples. I think it would be wrong of me to throw a partner who was not protecting himself in some manner.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Dojo Space Looks Great

Stayed for two classes Friday night. First class was particularly fun because we were doing some kind of koshinage. First of all... for whatever reason this version felt really natural to me. I was entering smoothly and usually in a good position. The second reason this was fun was because I got to help someone get comfortable with falling from this correctly.

Start off with a same side wrist grab. Tenkan, turn uke around by swinging the arm(I added an atemi here), and enter, then uke just goes over your back. Keep your arm and uke extended the whole time as you turn.

Alan started class with the usual ukemi practice. Afterwards he had us start a line practicing breakfalls. We went through a few times.

We started class with a nikkyo. This was nice. Change of techniques brought us.... a throw.

We did a whole bunch of lifts/fitting in and my partner said he was ready to take a fall. I said great and did my thing. Uke neglected to grab my gi or hook my arm or anything. Instead he went over and planted his hand down on the mat. I was on him immediately to see if he was ok and then told him he needs to hold on to nage's gi and fall like we did with the preceding breakfall practice. After this he started holding on sort of but not in the best spot so I made sure I grabbed his arm. After a while it was obvious that he was much more comfortable taking this throw. I kept at him a bit trying to get him to grab my gi in the right spot as the next nage won't know to support him. He needs to learn to protect himself. By the time we changed techniques he was taking the throw pretty well as uke. He started to improve as nage as well. Always makes me feel good when I can help someone advance in some way.... in this occassion his ukemi.

Later on I took the second class with Mr. Mulligan. We started out with a judo exercise in off-balancing. Grabbing opposite shoulder and elbows, you try to move uke in 8 directions while staying on balance yourself. I remember doing this exercise once before about 3 years back in a Bob class. We tried some different techniques but the point of them was to be mindful of the kazushi. Excellent practice.

After class I heard that someone was headed to the new dojo space so I figured I'd tag along so I could get a look and figure out exactly where it is. Very, nice building. Probably less parking so we'll be hitting the street for some parking when there are nights when multiple arts are training (such as arnis).

Inside, the space had been demo'd some to suit our needs. It appears that the interior walls were insulated which they usually only do for soundproofing. Nice construction. The aikido space is more square then our current space and perhaps larger. Hard to tell. I'm not sure what we'll be doing but I'm hoping we putting down a layer of foam puzzle mats or something before we drop the mats. The floors are solid concrete. With have high quality zebra mats but what you put them on makes a huge difference in how they feel. I've visited more than a few dojo's over the years and I've seen what the different surfaces feel like. I'll adapt regardless so I'm not majorly concerned.

I saw a lot of nooks for storgage. I'm not sure what the room is going to be but there was one room that was on a corner that had nice openable windows lining two walls. It would make a great office. Anyway. The building looks great. Everyone seems very excited about the move.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jo Night

Not many people showing for class tonight so Matt took the opportunity to teach a jo class. Very nice. Hadn't done much with weapons in a while. Even that short exposure I know I made some improvements. The jo still feels like a big thing in my hands. When I see Matt using it, it looks like a toothpick. He can make it move with no effort (perfectly balanced?).

I think I made some progress.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Moving Time

We had a cool class today. It was a two handed collar grab but from the front. Usually this double collar grab is done from ushiro.

So ... we went through kotagaeshi, sankyo, kokyunage, shihonage, and koshinage.

When I was in threesome there was a little downtime waiting for my turn. During this I frequently watch others. One thing I noticed people having a problem with... The kokyunage from this attack was a step out to take uke with you. A step back in the direction you came from. Thread your arm between uke's two arms which are still on your shoulders. Then pivot your hips and finish. One thing I saw was when people were coming back through they started back for the throw early. Why does it matter? I noticed that if you rush to the throw an important bit of unbalancing is left out. You need to come all the way through before coming back. If you don't, the moment of unbalancing just isn't the same.

The koshinage I seem to have no problem with. This was a go off the line some, push the inside of the elbow down so the elbow gets planted into your other hand. Grab the gi at the elbow, turn push up, throw. Is that considered a koshinage? Well... anyway, I'm spotty with this technique. Last time I did this I had a few problems. This time I was ok.

Oh... I was on the promotion list so I passed my 3rd kyu test. Associated with that I wore a brand new gi to practice today. Trying to keep a beginners mind as they say. It's all too easy to go through the motions without thinking. Most days I'm pretty good at dissecting my practice. Sometimes I don't figure out things until I've been off the mat for a few hours.

I had no idea people were doing a little moving work today. I might have been able to arrange for time to help. It appeared as though they were going to remove the front sign off the building. No minor feat. From my view on the ground it looked like it was lagged into the side of the building. Although the sign didn't look huge it looked fairly heavy. From my view on the ground I noticed a couple of c screws or eye screws coming out of the top. I made the suggestion before I left that maybe they would consider running a line over the steel arm(that holds the light) and down to sign just for safety. I believe when I left their plan was to just grab it and walk it down a ladder on each side without bothering with my idea. Uhhh ok. Hopefully, they got it down without incident. Makes you wonder how they got it up there to begin with.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Slight Pause

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Family comes first. In order for me to take Wednesday's test we had shift things around a bit. I will end up missing class tonight because of that. So, I'll be absent but not because I don't want to train. My normal 3 day per week schedule should resume shortly (Sunday morning).

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

3rd Kyu Test Tonight

We started the night off with a normal class. Typcially for test nights no test techniques are really done. We did some katatetori shihonage. We then tried doing all 4 directions for it. Oddly enough we don't practice this much I guess. At least I don't. It's become obvious that I should practice east and west more often. The partner I had for this is one of those large muscular bulky kind of guys with no flexibility. So trying to get his arm to go around in the right way, maintaining control, and not having a hole in the technique was difficult. He made some suggestions for me which worked really well. I'm very glad I got to work with him.

It was test night. After a long wait I finally tested for 3rd kyu. I was very relaxed for the test and tried to focus on technique. For the most part the test went as I planned. I was interested in showing variations of technique. As long as they didn't force me on to a new techinque I figured showing 3 or 4 versions of something would be nice. As it is I managed to squeeze in a few versions for each iriminage and a couple versions of kotagaeshi. I was interested in showing the seldom used uchi version of kaitenage but they called for a new technique before I had the chance.

Honestly I think my practice was better than the techniques during the test but I did well enough. I think it was a good demonstration. I think my sankyo rocked. Jim recently had me practicing taking uke down in a controlled manner. Not just taking a step or two and following uke but cranking him down to the mat with nage in control. I did that well for the test. Is this something new? Nah. My teachers for years talked about doing this. I finally reached a point where I am actually listening. At least for that.

I must confess I had a 'senior' moment at one point. I wasn't sure what technique we were on, so I figured I'd just let Dave attack and I'd figure it out. That plan actually worked fine. As soon as he attacked I knew what we were doing.

Dave did a tremendous job as my uke. Odd thing is, I asked him to uke for the test maybe 3 months ago but I haven't seen him since. We never really worked on the mat together except for the test. It's a good thing he's a great uke.

Even though it isn't a USAF requirement we do a freestyle for most 3rd kyu tests. I was effective but sloppy. I've had lots better freestyles for sure. I did manage to get off a shihonage, kaitenage, kotagaeashi, iriminage, and udekimenage. I'm shocked I didn't do a sumi-otoshi. I was hoping to get off a hip throw or something. I just was not smooth. But... that's fine. Something to work on. I did at least manage to dump one uke in front of another a couple of times.

Everyone's test looked fine. Serge took a 1st kyu test and did excellent. It was fascinating to watch. Particularly the tantotori. Serge is 100% blind. Yet.... he heard the scrape of a foot, a swish or maybe he felt the mat near him move. Somehow, he was reacting to the incoming knife attack amazingly well.

Thanks to everyone involved.